Cleveland Clinic Expands Its Pediatric and Congenital Heart Affiliation with Akron Children’s

Collaboration now extends to all pediatric and adult congenital cardiology

Cleveland Clinic and neighboring Akron Children’s Hospital are expanding their five-year-old affiliation agreement to now encompass both organizations’ pediatric and adult congenital heart disease programs.

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Broadening the scope

When the two Northeast Ohio health organizations signed their initial agreement in 2014, it brought together their respective pediatric cardiovascular surgeons and adult congenital cardiologists to collaborate on patient cases, share best practices and combine outcome data.

The affiliation is now being extended to all of pediatric cardiology and adult congenital cardiology, including clinical cardiology, imaging, interventional cardiology and cardiothoracic surgery. The result is a combined 30 pediatric cardiologists and surgeons who specialize in the care of children and adults with congenital heart disease.

The program, known as the Pediatric and Adult Congenital Heart Center, is led by:

  • Hani Najm, MD, Chair of Pediatric and Congenital Heart Surgery at Cleveland Clinic
  • Tess Saarel, MD, Chair of Pediatric Cardiology at Cleveland Clinic Children’s
  • John Lane, MD, Director of Pediatric Cardiology and the Adult Congenital Heart Service at Akron Children’s
  • Robert Stewart, MD, Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Akron Children’s

Clinical administrative leads are Lars Svensson, MD, PhD, Chair of Cleveland Clinic’s Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute, and John Crow, MD, Chair of the Department of Surgery at Akron Children’s.

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“We are excited to expand the scope of our affiliation with Akron Children’s to include all pediatric cardiac care,” says Cleveland Clinic’s Dr. Najm. “This unified program means that families throughout Northeast Ohio have access to the very best pediatric cardiac care close to home, including surgical care for the most serious and complex congenital heart defects.”

The affiliation blends the capabilities of two distinguished teams, with Cleveland Clinic being ranked by U.S. News & World Report as No. 1 in the nation in adult cardiology and heart surgery for 24 consecutive years and Akron Children’s status as a nationally ranked freestanding and independent children’s hospital.

What the expansion will mean

The combined team meets weekly to discuss cases, giving patients access to an expanded brain trust of experienced pediatric cardiologists. Joint on-call schedules have been established, and team members will share privileges at both hospitals.

“Our goal is to create a comprehensive and clinically unified program between our two independent health systems,” says Akron Children’s Dr. Lane. “By working together, we can strengthen research and quality initiatives, improve operational efficiencies, and enhance opportunities in medical education and physician recruitment.”

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“Living with congenital heart disease requires special attention to even the most ordinary life events and medical procedures, such as a pregnancy or dental visit,” notes Cleveland Clinic’s Dr. Saarel. “The Pediatric and Adult Congenital Heart Center has the expertise to follow patients with these special needs, throughout their lives, through comprehensive diagnostics, lifestyle counseling, medical management and interventional and surgical treatment.”

More convenience for patients

The expanded agreement means patients and their families will have enhanced options for getting care at the location of their choice.

Heart surgeries will continue to be performed at both Akron Children’s main hospital campus in downtown Akron and at Cleveland Clinic’s main campus in downtown Cleveland.

Clinics will be offered as far south as Mansfield, as far north as Ashtabula, as far west as Norwalk and as far east as Youngstown, making affiliated pediatric cardiologists easily accessible to most Northern Ohio families without the need to venture far from home. The newest cardiology clinic recently opened in Marietta in Southern Ohio.