First patients welcomed at the Jennifer Lawrence CICU

The first patients have moved into the Jennifer Lawrence Cardiac Critical Care Unit (CICU) at Norton Children’s Hospital. More than 60 staff members lined the hallway to welcome caregivers who will be working on the unit and the first official patient in early January 2020.

“This is a very exciting day,” said Deanna R. Todd Tzanetos, M.D., medical director of the CICU and a critical care physician with UofL Physicians – Pediatric Critical Care. “We are moving 10 patients from the shared pediatric intensive care unit to the dedicated cardiac-specific ICU.”

The CICU dedication was held on Dec. 23, 2019, and during the next two weeks the staff put the finishing touches in place and prepared for patients to move onto the unit. The preparation included simulations with the care teams of what it will be like to care for a patient on the new unit.

“The space is bigger, and equipment is stored in different locations, so we wanted to take the time to familiarize everyone with everything,” Dr. Todd Tzanetos said.

The first patient moved onto the unit was 6-month old Addisynn Seay, of Louisville. Addisynn was born with a congenital heart defect and will require three surgeries over the course of the next several years. She had her first open heart surgery at 23 days old in July 2019. According to her mom, Summer Seay, Addisynn was doing well at home on a monitoring protocol until the new year, when she experienced low oxygen levels. Doctors determined that her second surgery would be needed soon, and she was admitted to Norton Children’s Hospital on Jan. 3, 2020. She is scheduled for her next surgery Jan. 28.

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Summer was very excited for Addisynn to receive the honor of being the first patient on the new CICU.

“These children go through so much, and for her to be the first patient is such an honor,” Summer said.

Summer also is excited for the nurses and staff who provide care to have such a great place to work.

“These nurses and therapists are so great at what they do, taking care of Addisynn and supporting me,” Summer said. “I’m really happy for them to have this wonderful space.”

The new unit is part of Norton Healthcare’s $78.3 million investment to renovate several areas of Norton Children’s Hospital. The Children’s Hospital Foundation has committed to raising $20 million, with more than $15 million funded to date. With the Jennifer Lawrence CICU complete, work will begin on renovations to the “Just for Kids” Critical Care Center and two neonatal intensive care units. The entire project will be completed in 2022.

The unit was made possible through a $2 million gift from Louisville native Jennifer Lawrence, along with a challenge to the community to support the initiative. Brave Hearts, a support group of families united by their children’s fight to overcome complex congenital heart defects, is one group that participated in fundraising for the CICU. This challenge resulted in more than $4 million raised through the Norton Children’s Hospital Foundation to support the project.

The CICU is a specialized unit for pediatric heart patients. It has 17 private rooms, including three specifically for newborns. Children and teenagers recovering from heart procedures, including open heart surgery and heart transplant, or who have heart failure and other conditions requiring intensive heart care, will stay in the unit. The CICU will be staffed by physicians, nurses and other providers with specialized pediatric cardiac critical care training and experience and who are focused solely on heart care.

More than 5,000 children a year visit Norton Children’s Heart Institute, affiliated with the University of Louisville, for specialized heart care. It performs more than 17,500 procedures annually, including open heart surgeries, catheterizations, electrophysiology and noninvasive tests, such as echocardiograms.

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