Connecticut Children’s Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program is First and Only in Connecticut and 23rd Nationally to Earn Accreditation from the Adult Congenital Heart Association

For Immediate Release: December 7, 2018
Media Contact:

Monica Buchanan
Director, Communications

Dr. Shai and patient Beth
Dr. Shai Upadhyay, MD, Medical Director, Cardiology and ACHD patient Beth Garza, 29, Enfield

Hartford, CT–  In recognition of its expertise in serving adults with congenital heart disease (CHD), Connecticut Children’s has received accreditation from the Adult Congenital Heart Association (ACHA), a nationwide organization focused on connecting patients, family members and healthcare providers to a network of experts with knowledge of CHD.

Individuals with CHD, the most common birth defect diagnosed in one in 100 births, are living longer thanks to advancements in medicine and care.  There are now 1.4 million adults in the U.S. living with one of the many different types of congenital heart defects that range among simple, moderate, and complex. In fact, there are now more adults than children in the U.S. with CHD.

“This ACHA accreditation program is so important because it brings attention to the fact that these patients require specialized care at certified centers,” said Shai Upadhyay, MD, medical director, Connecticut Children’s Adult Congenital Heart Disease Center. “There are many different types of congenital heart defects, and treatment options are constantly changing. Studies have shown that care at specialized centers saves lives.”

Connecticut Children’s Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program provides compassionate and comprehensive care to patients born with CHD through adulthood. This program follows more than 1,000 adult CHD patients annually. Beth Garza, 29, Enfield, is one of them.  She was diagnosed at birth with bi-cuspid aortic valvular stenosis with regurgitation. For more than 2 decades, she has had regular appointments and visits with the Connecticut Children’s cardiology team.

“The care I have received at Connecticut Children’s has been a life-saver, quite literally,” said Garza. “There is something special about the care provided by my cardiology team that is so reassuring and hopeful. They have watched me grow up.  My cardiologist was also present for the birth of my son. There truly is no better place in the world for my needs.”

“Less than ten percent of adults with CHD are seeing a cardiologist who specializes in their condition,” said Dennis Mello, MD, cardiovascular surgeon at Connecticut Children’s.  “Patients are now surviving to adulthood, but it can be difficult for them to find an adult cardiologist with experience in what was once only a childhood disease.  This accreditation will help adult CHD patients find the best care available at places like Connecticut Children’s.”

Connecticut Children’s Congenital Heart Disease program received accreditation by meeting ACHA’s criteria, which includes medical services and personnel requirements, and going through a rigorous accreditation process, both of which were developed over a number of years through a collaboration with doctors, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, and ACHD patients.

“Accreditation will elevate the standard of care and have a positive impact on the futures of those living with this disease,” said Mark Roeder, President and CEO of ACHA. “Coordination of care is key, and this accreditation program will make care more streamlined for ACHD patients, improving their quality of life.”

Connecticut Children’s is the 23rd center nationally to earn this distinguished designation.

About Connecticut Children’s

Connecticut Children’s Medical Center is the only hospital in Connecticut dedicated exclusively to the care of children and is ranked by U.S. News & World Report and Women’s Choice as one of the best children’s hospitals in the nation. With a medical staff of more than 1,000, Connecticut Children’s provides comprehensive, compassionate health care in more than 30 pediatric specialties and subspecialties. Connecticut Children’s Medical Center is a not-for-profit organization, which serves as the primary pediatric teaching hospital for the UConn School of Medicine, has a teaching partnership with the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University and is a research partner of The Jackson Laboratory. Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health is a national leader in community-based prevention and wellness programs.

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