The 30-bed Acute Cardiac Unit of Rady Children’s Heart Institute provides cardiac inpatient care for people of all ages (from newborns to adults) with congenital or acquired heart disease. It is a unique space within the Hospital solely devoted to all levels of inpatient cardiac care, from admission to discharge, with a focus on family-centered care.

In order to meet the needs of all patients, the unit consists of two components: A cardiovascular intensive care unit (CVICU) and a cardiac step-down unit (CSU). Staffed by critical care cardiac physicians, advanced practitioners and nurses, 24 hours a day, the CVICU cares for cardiology and cardiovascular surgery patients when they are most critically ill. Many patients are admitted to the unit within hours of being born.The CVICU also cares for patients with heart failure, heart transplants and those requiring assist devices. As patients recover from their critical illness, they progress to the CSU, where their care is continued under the supervision of cardiologists and cardiology advanced practitioners until they are ready to be discharged home.

Newborn infants with heart disease may also be cared for under the close supervision of neonatologists, who are experts in the care of infants, in collaboration with the cardiac team. All 30 beds in the Acute Cardiac Unit are capable of functioning as a CVICU-level bed or CSU bed, assuring an appropriate level of care based on the needs of the patient. To ensure continuity of care, the teams that care for patients prior to their procedures continue to care for them in the unit afterwards. And since these teams care for all cardiac patients admitted to the unit, patients who return to the Hospital for subsequent procedures will recognize the doctors and nurses.

A full range of cardiac services and critical care services are provided, including:

  • Intensive patient monitoring
  • Lab testing
  • Radiology exams and cardiac imaging
  • Ventilation, invasive and non-invasive
  • Renal replacement therapies, including peritoneal and hemodialysis
  • Advanced life support therapies, including ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation), an advanced technology that circulates blood so that oxygen can be supplied to the body when the heart or lungs are not working

Patients also receive dietary services, social services and child life services.

The state-of-the-art unit was created to care for the growing number of cardiac patients requiring specialized services and advanced technology. Our renowned Cardiovascular Surgery team performs about 400-500 operations each year.

For information on all of our Critical Care services, click here.

Team

Rohit Rao, M.D., M.B.A.,
Medical Director, Acute Cardiac Unit and Pulmonary Hypertension Program

Cardiovascular Surgery

John Nigro, M.D.
Division Chief, Cardiovascular Surgery

Christine Montesa, M.D.
Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery

 Cardiac Intensivists

Thomas Do, M.D., M.S.

Harjot Bassi, M.D.

Jesse Stringer, M.D.

David Werho, M.D.

Neonatologists

Denise Suttner, M.D.
Director, Neonatal Cardiac Intensive Care Unit
Director, San Diego Regional ECMO Program

Brian Lane, M.D.
Director, High-Risk Infant Follow-Up Clinic;

Jose Honold, M.D.
Director, Neuro-NICU Program; Director, Rady Children’s Hospital Emergency Neonatal Transport Team; Medical Director

Jeanne M. Carroll, M.D.

Nathaly Sweeney, M.D., M.P.H.

Nurse Practitioners

Erin Stone, M.S.N., CPNP-AC/PC

Kelly Branch, M.S.N., CPNP-PC

Deborah Walter, M.S.N., CPNP-AC

Melissa Campbell, M.S.N., CPNP-PC

Kristen Browning, D.N.P., CPNP-AC

Stacey Grohall, M.S.N., CPNP-AC

Vanessa Kalis, M.S.N., CPNP-AC

Deborah Raleigh, M.S.N., CPNP-AC

Sarah Olson, M.S.N., CPNP-AC

Adam Denson, M.S.N., CPNP-AC

Nursing Leadership

Cheryle Pillow, R.N.C.-NIC, M.S.N., CPNP
Director, Acute Cardiac Unit

Natalie Jasa, R.N., M.S.N., CCRN

Manager, Acute Cardiac Unit

Brandi Bjelland, B.S.N.
Clinical Supervisor

Jill Whittley R.N., M.S.N., CCRN

Clinical Nurse Educator CVICU/ACU

Other Providers

Mike Hurley, R.T.
Respiratory Supervisor

George Sutherland M.B.A., RRT-NPS
ECMO Coordinator

Sean Daley, Pharm.D
Clinical Pharmacist

Arlinda Stephany, R.N., B.S.N.
Case Manager

Ruth Pletcher, R.N., IBCLC
Lactation Consultant

Marelys Padilla, LCSW
Social Worker

Melissa Adamy, LCSW
Social Worker

Maria Fanjul, LCSW
Social Worker