Pediatric Heart Care: Programs and Services

Photo of Kristine Gutshall, RN, in Doernbecher Children's Hospital
Kristine Gutshall, RN, is one of the many Doernbecher nurses who focus on caring for young heart patients. U.S. News & World Report gives our program a top score for our level of nursing staffing.

We are the only pediatric hospital in Oregon and southwest Washington to offer comprehensive heart care, from fetal therapy to adulthood. You’ll find the region’s top specialists working together in a child-friendly environment.

Fetal care

Care for expectant moms, developing babies and newborns

We offer seamless care for women expecting a baby with a heart condition. Learn more about our fetal heart care.

  • Prenatal/fetal care: We offer the highest level of expertise and technology to diagnose heart conditions in the womb. We care for both the mom and developing baby, and we plan every detail for delivery.
  • Newborn care: We’ll be at your bedside to provide care the instant your newborn needs it. If needed, we provide award-winning intensive care in our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). U.S. News & World Report also ranks our neonatal care program among the best in the nation.
  • Heart treatment: Our specialists offer the highest level of skill and technology to treat your baby’s heart condition. Our catheterization doctors can treat many conditions without surgery. If surgery is needed, our surgeons are available 24/7.
  • Recovery care: Our Pediatric Intensive Care Unit combines expertise with devoted care for children recovering from surgery. Each nurse cares for only one to three patients at a time.
  • Brain development monitoring and support: All newborns who have heart surgery get a full brain development (neurodevelopment) assessment. Monitoring and care continue through childhood to make sure patients reach their full potential. Read more about our Growing and Thriving with CHD program below.
Photo of a pregnant patient receiving a fetal scan and smiling

Fetal Link

Services from fetal diagnosis to age 1

Our Fetal Link team is the only one in Oregon that tracks babies with heart conditions from fetal diagnosis to their first birthday. Doctors, a nurse, a nurse practitioner and a social worker coordinate your baby’s care. They also answer your questions and make sure you receive the support you need.

In addition, the Fetal Link nurse will:

  • Attend your first fetal heart scan and other doctor visits.
  • Check in with you after delivery and call you to follow up.
  • Help you plan appointments.
  • Connect you with resources and services such as lactation support.

Screening for heart conditions

Doctors flag some children for screening during routine medical exams and sports physicals. If your child’s doctor recommends screening, we will thoroughly evaluate your child’s heart using advanced diagnostic tests.

We provide same-day results from our on-site labs. Most children we screen do not have a serious heart problem and can safely return to full activity.

Growing and Thriving with CHD

We bring together a team of providers to monitor and support healthy brain development (neurodevelopment) in babies, toddlers and children with congenital heart disease.

Heart disease can put a child at risk of thinking, learning and emotional challenges. Our specialists help young heart patients build the brain pathways they need to reach milestones and fulfill their full potential.

Services include:

  • Screening tests
  • Neurology (brain and nervous system) exams
  • Support from a social worker to find programs and resources
  • Referrals to other specialists if needed

Lipid disorders program

Certain types of high cholesterol can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke in adulthood. Other types are linked to diabetes and may increase the risk of pancreatitis. Our team treats many conditions that cause high cholesterol in children.

A children’s heart doctor and registered dietitian will work together to evaluate your child’s:

  • Cholesterol levels
  • Family history
  • Diet
  • Exercise habits

They will provide counseling on a healthy diet and lifestyle changes tailored to your child’s needs.

Transitioning to adult heart care

Patients born with a heart defect need monitoring throughout their lives. At OHSU, our pediatric and adult heart teams meet weekly to discuss the best care for patients with congenital heart disease.

When your child is about 18 to 21 years old, the teams will work together to transition your child to the adult congenital heart disease program at the Knight Cardiovascular Institute. The program is the only one of its kind in Oregon and southwest Washington.

Learn more:

Healthcare providers Adrienne Kovacs, Ph.D. (left), and Dr. Abigail May Khan
Providers in OHSU’s adult congenital heart disease program include Adrienne Kovacs, Ph.D. (left), and Dr. Abigail May Khan.

Additional services at Doernbecher

You and your family will have access to a range of other services, including:

  • Speech and occupational therapy
  • Help with feeding
  • School readiness and ongoing support
  • Evaluation for heart disease that runs in the family

Visit our Resources for Patients and Families page to learn about our:

Photo of a Doernbecher patient with one of the therapy dogs
Visits from specially trained therapy dogs are among services to support children’s well-being as well as their health.
  • Support group: Heart to Heart Family Connections
  • Parent mentors
  • Heart registries
  • The Rood Family Pavilion guest house
  • Child life specialists
  • The Bridges Program (pediatric palliative care)
  • Specially trained therapy dogs

You’ll also find:

  • Information about community resources
  • Links where you can learn more about children’s heart conditions

For families

Call 503-346-0640 to:

  • Request an appointment.
  • Seek a second opinion.
  • Ask questions.

Find resources and support.

Locations

Parking is free for patients and their visitors.

Doernbecher Children’s Hospital
700 S.W. Campus Drive
Portland, OR 97239
Map and directions

Find other locations across Oregon and in southwest Washington.

Refer a patient

‘Even nurses were crying’

Tylan Hibbard, diagnosed with a heart defect before birth, has had lifelong care at Doernbecher. Learn how after one surgery, worry turned to relief for his parents and care team.