Steven Eisen: Quality care for children with heart disease is right here in Nevada

Editor’s Note: Our sincere thanks to the guest columnists who filled in for Robin Leach during his two months of annual summer travels. Robin has returned from Mexico, and on Sunday we’ll have his story of the 100 new restaurants and vineyards that have sprung up north of Ensenada. We’ll continue with our columnists until his return here for Labor Day Weekend.

Meantime, Happy Birthday to Robin celebrating a milestone today! Today, we turn the spotlight on quality care for children with heart disease and the incredible work of The Children’s Heart Center of Nevada. Our other guest column is by Paula McKenna of Ri Ra Irish Pub at Mandalay Bay who keeps afternoon tea alive and well. Let’s get started with Steven Eisen, CEO at The Children’s Heart Center:

By Steven Eisen

When most of us think of heart disease, we envision people who are older, out of shape or have made poor dietary and lifestyle choices. The truth, however, is congenital heart defects are the most common types of birth defects. They affect approximately 40,000, or 1 out of every 100, births each year.

Imagine being a new mom and having a primary care provider tell you that your child’s heart may not be quite right and you need to take them to see a pediatric cardiologist. Five minutes earlier, you may not have known there was such a thing as heart doctors for kids. Fortunately, children with heart disease in Nevada do not need to leave the state to receive the best care.

The Children’s Heart Center Nevada has been caring for the tiniest of hearts since 1980. Now one of the largest private congenital cardiology practices in the United States, CHCN conducts nearly 50,000 patient encounters, 500 heart surgeries and 500 heart catheterizations yearly. Outcomes are among the best in the nation. Children travel here from neighboring states and countries to receive care.

Thirteen pediatric cardiologists and two congenital heart surgeons trained at Harvard, UCLA, UCSF, USC and elsewhere treat patients at offices and hospitals in the state. Supported by a staff of 120, CHCN provides quality care with compassion to children. Innovative programs have allowed CHCN to achieve a prenatal detection rate for complex congenital heart disease of 85 percent, more than double the national average of 35 percent.

However, early diagnosis and quality medical care is not enough to treat children affected by heart disease. The solution is Children’s Heart Foundation. Founded in 2001 by CHCN physicians and a passionate group of parents, CHF is a local nonprofit with a simple mission. It is committed to making a difference in the lives of heart families through emotional, educational and financial support to inspire a higher quality of life for all.

CHF has four main goals: Provide a free, medically supervised camp experience; educate health care professionals; provide emotional and financial support to families; and support medical research.

Heart families in need may receive financial assistance from CHF for expenses such as AED’s, travel, prescriptions, diapers, clothing, utilities and funeral costs. Families with children admitted to the hospital receive backpacks filled with necessities that they may not have had time to bring.

Admittance to the hospital can be scary, but CHF has a room full of toys to ease that fear. All children undergoing a cardiac procedure are allowed to select something special from “Maggie’s Garden.” It also is important for some families to gather and share their experiences. CHF sponsors support groups in Las Vegas and Reno.

Additionally, more children than ever are overcoming heart disease and living productive lives. CHF awards two $3,000 college scholarships to high school seniors with congenital heart conditions to help make it a reality.

To continue to grow its reach and increase its impact, CHF holds fundraisers throughout the year. Its “Walk With the Heart of a Child” is each February, and its “We Heart Maggie Golf Tournament” is in May. The newest event is “Show Your Heart 5K Run.” Scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 17, registration is now open. To register, donate or learn more about CHF, visit CHFN.org and call (702) 967-3522.

Be sure to check out our other guest column about how the Irish tradition of afternoon tea is alive and well at Ri Ra Irish Pub in Mandalay Bay. Robin was very busy over the weekend on overseas phone calls to Macau and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for stories from the Asian gaming capital and upcoming Summer Paralympics, respectively, that we’ll have in Friday Neon of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

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