Cardiology & Cardiac Surgery

Helping Hearts Grow Stronger.

The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital (BBCH) is home to the only comprehensive congenital cardiology and cardiac surgery program in Northern New England and the only hospital in Maine to offer pediatric open-heart surgeryWe provide comprehensive diagnostic assessment and the most advanced treatment options for patients with congenital (present at birth) heart disease as well as children with acquired heart disease (conditions that develop during childhood).

Why BBCH is the region’s hospital of choice for the treatment of heart problems in children:

  • We have an overall 2 star rating* from The Society of Thoracic Surgeons
  • We offer both interventional diagnostic and therapeutic procedures in the catheterization and electrophysiology (EP) laboratories.
  • Outstanding inpatient care from cardiology-certified nursing staff and one of only three hospitals in Maine to earn Magnet™ designation, the highest honor an organization can receive for nursing care.
  • A dedicated pediatric ICU, staffed by specially trained pediatric cardiac nurses.
  • The only hospital in Maine to provide extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).
  • We staff Maine’s first and only cardiologist with expertise in cardiac MRI and we staff Maine's first and only pediatric interventional cardiologist.
  • High-quality care that is reflected in patient outcomes that meet or exceed national benchmarks.
  • A remarkably collegial, collaborative and patient-centered environment that facilitates shared decision making among everyone involved in a patient’s care, including the family.
  • Use of, when appropriate, our Pediatric Short Stay Unit – an extension of BBCH on the main floor of Maine Medical Center offering convenience in a private, secure setting.

*Rating is based on the overall observed-to-expected operative mortality ratio for all patients undergoing pediatric and/or congenital cardiac surgery.

Congenital Heart Disease & Acquired Heart Disease

There are essentially two types of heart disease in children, congenital and acquired.

Congenital heart disease is a heart defect or structural problem that is present at birth. Congenital defects can range from holes between chambers of the heart to the absence of one or more heart chambers or valves. Types of congenital heart defects we treat include:

  • Patent ductus arteriosis (PDA)
  • Atrial septal defect (ASD)
  • Ventricular septal defect (VSD)
  • Atrioventricular (AV) canal defect
  • Valvular defects – The valves control the heart’s blood flow and can have the following types
    of defects:
    • Stenosis (thickening or narrowing) which prevents the valve from fully opening (pulmonary valve stenosis is the most common valve defect)
    • Atresia which occurs when a valve doesn’t form correctly and lacks a hole for blood to pass through
    • Regurgitation which occurs when a valve doesn’t close completely so blood leaks back through the valve
  • Tetralogy of Fallot
  • Transposition of the Great Vessels
  • Truncus Arteriosus
  • Single ventricle heart defects including hypoplastic left heart syndrome and tricuspid atresia
  • Arrhythmias
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Coronary artery fistulas (CAF)
  • Pulmonary hypertension

Acquired heart disease is a condition that develops sometime during childhood. Types of acquired heart disease include:

  • Kawasaki disease
  • Rheumatic heart disease
  • Infective endocarditis
  • Cardiomyopathy

Our Team:
Jon Donnelly, MD
Maribeth Hourihan, MD
Adrian Moran, MD
Shari Wellen, MD

Nicole Mizner, NP
Megan Smetana, NP

Cardiac Surgery

Planning heart surgery for your child is stressful, so we have a dedicated care team who are designed to give your child the best quality of care of care during their stay at The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital. Here are some of the people who may be a part of your child’s health care team:

  • Pediatric cardiologist: Heart doctor that specializes in caring for children with heart conditions
  • Cardiothoracic surgeon: Surgeon that will repair your child’s heart in the operating room and coordinate care after surgery
  • Pediatric intensivist: Doctor that cares for children in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) after the surgery
  • Pediatric anesthesiologist: Doctor that gives anesthesia so your child will sleep and not feel pain during surgery
  • Resident physician: Doctor that helps to coordinate the care between all members of the treatment team
  • Registered nurse: Nurse who cares for your child at their bedside in the hospital
  • Respiratory therapist: Therapist that helps with breathing treatments and machines after surgery
  • Pharmacist: Pharmacist that coordinates medicines given to your child with other care team members
  • Child Life Specialist: Trained professionals who help children cope with the stress and uncertainty of illness, injury, disability and hospitalization

Our Team:
Sunil Malhotra, MD
Meghan Sprague

Community Support

To make BBCH's expertise in the treatment of congenital heart defects more accessible and convenient, our cardiac specialists also conduct outreach clinics at community hospitals throughout southern, central and western Maine and in eastern New Hampshire.

Franklin Health Pediatrics
131 Franklin Health Commons
Farmington, Maine 04938
Phone: (207) 778-0482

Saco River Medical Group
7 Greenwood Avenue
Conway, New Hampshire 03818
Phone: (603) 447-3500, Ext. 12

Precious Hearts Support Group for Parents of Children with Congenital Heart Defects
c/o PICU at BBCH

Pam Schlichting, BSN, RN
22 Bramhall Street
Portland, ME 04102
Phone: (207) 662-2273

Diagnosis & Treatment

Diagnosis

To ensure accurate diagnoses, we offer the full range of tests including:

  • Non-invasive imaging
  • Diagnostic catheterization
  • Testing for arrhythmias (heart rhythm abnormalities)

Treatments

Treatment of congenital heart disease is based on the severity of the condition. Some mild heart defects require no treatment at all. Others can be treated with medications, minimally invasive procedures or surgery – all of which are available at The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital.

Complex congenital conditions often require open-heart surgery to repair the defect, and we offer all the latest procedures and devices used to surgically treat children with congenital heart disease except for cardiac transplantation. In fact, ours is the only pediatric cardiac surgery program north of Boston, led by Maine’s only Board certified, fellowship-trained pediatric cardiac surgeon.

Today, interventional cardiologists can repair many congenital heart defects without surgically opening the chest by using a procedure called cardiac catheterization. This procedure is less invasive and allows for faster recovery time than traditional open-heart surgery. As home to the only pediatric catheterization lab in the state, BBCH sees a sizeable volume of patients and performs a range of procedures – a depth of experience that translates into high-quality care and consistently excellent patient outcomes.

For children who require a heart transplant, BBCH has forged a partnership with Children’s Hospital Boston. Through this integrated program, patients can be comprehensively assessed by cardiac experts here in Maine, travel to Boston for the transplant surgery, and then come back for comprehensive follow-up care. It’s a seamless system with exceptional continuity of care – and convenience – for patients and their families who live in Maine.