Heart Failure Intensive Care Unit

Children with ventricular assist devices (VADs) and those who have had (or are listed for) a heart transplant are cared for through the Advanced Cardiac Therapeutics (ACT) ICU, one of only two programs of its kind in the country. At Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), the dedicated ACT-ICU team provides critically ill heart failure and transplant patients all needed services in one place.

A world-leading team

In the ACT-ICU, patients are cared for by world-renowned experts in the fields of heart transplant and mechanical circulatory technology. From novel treatment techniques, to specialized nursing leadership, to precision heart monitoring, the team takes a highly personalized approach, augmenting care as needed according to each patient’s complex needs.

Specialized rehabilitation

Heart failure, VAD, and post-transplant patients require intensive rehabilitation to strengthen their bodies and relearn many activities of daily living. At CHOP, dedicated cardiac occupational therapists, physical therapists and rehabilitation physicians provide this rehab in the ACT-ICU setting, as well as partner with the core care team to identify and overcome any barriers to recovery. This team provides enriching settings to help babies and young children achieve developmental milestones and skills, which is a challenge when connected to life-sustaining machines.

Multidisciplinary, collaborative care

In the ACT-ICU, surgical, medical, transplant and cardiac ICU providers work in collaboration with other team members, as well as divisions across CHOP, to best meet the complex needs of heart failure and transplant patients. Weekly meetings provide regular opportunities for education and quality improvement, ensuring ACT-ICU patients receive the highest quality of care. When a patient is ready to be transferred to the Cardiac Care Unit (CCU), the full care team rounds together to (with parent input) align on patient needs, solve for any potential problems and ensure a smooth transfer of care.