Breathing Institute

About the Ventilator Care Program at Children’s Hospital Colorado

Contact Info

Ventilator Care Program
(720) 777-6181


The Ventilator Care Program is an interdisciplinary program that provides care to infants with chronic respiratory failure. Many conditions can cause chronic respiratory failure in infants, including interstitial lung diseases and bronchopulmonary dysplasia, the chronic lung disease associated with premature birth.

The Ventilator Care Program is offered in the Breathing Institute

The Ventilator Care Program was created to improve the complex care that these children require and to make life easier for families. The Program includes three overlapping components: the Pediatric Respiratory Care Unit, inpatient consultation  and outpatient and in-home care.

Pediatric Respiratory Care Unit 
The Pediatric Respiratory Care Unit (PRCU) is a centralized, inpatient care center for tracheostomy and ventilator-dependent children, children who require non-invasive ventilation and other patients who may require specialized respiratory care services. A team of experts from many disciplines works with these kids with special health needs.

Inpatient consultation 
Our inpatient consultation service provides assistance for patients who need long-term ventilator support and related airway care within the NICU, PICU, CICU and other units. These consults involve an interdisciplinary team of doctors, nurses, and therapists who help with ongoing breathing problems and address the developmental delays of these infants and young children. 

Outpatient care 
Our outpatient program links inpatient care and outpatient consults or referrals from other centers with long-term outpatient/home care. The Special Care Clinic currently follows a large number of patients with tracheostomies and chronic ventilation and plays a very important role in the outpatient program along with our ongoing Pulmonary Clinics.

The neonatologists at Children’s Colorado also play a critical role as liaisons between the inpatient and outpatient programs. These specialists are actively involved with our inpatient conferences, assist with the transition of our patients from inpatient to outpatient settings and help coordinate care with the rest of the team. 

Our care team 
Our team includes experts from pulmonology, respiratory therapy, nursing, neonatology and critical care, in addition to developmentalists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, physical therapists, nutritionists, case managers, social workers and other care providers.

Respiratory therapy is central to the care of these children and the education of their families and caregivers. We help to coordinate appointments for patients so that they can see Pulmonary, ENT (ear-nose-and-throat), and other specialists on the same day when possible.

Why choose the Ventilator Care Program at Children’s Hospital Colorado?

The Ventilator Care Program provides key features that are required for the successful care of children with chronic ventilator needs by linking inpatient and outpatient care, and by bringing together an interdisciplinary team of care providers with expertise and focused interest in providing the highest quality of care to these patients and their families.

Our Program also aims to involve and educate patients and families in all aspects of care, including the technology used by the patient. We have successfully discharged well over 100 infants, children and adolescents who require part-time or full-time mechanical ventilation to their homes. Living at home with routine follow-up outpatient care to our program allows these patients to participate more fully with their families, attend school and have a more normal childhood. 

Conditions we treat

The Ventilator Care Program provides care for a broad range of disorders including:

  • Central hypoventilation syndromes
  • Congenital airway abnormalities
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Severe scoliosis, abnormal thorax
  • Severe congenital heart disease
  • Central nervous system (CNS) disease
    • Head trauma, asphyxia and infection
    • Severe cerebral palsy
  • Osteogenesis imperfecta

Services offered

The Ventilator Care Program offers multidisciplinary care in the inpatient and outpatient settings, as well as family education and support services.We help hospitalized children who are dependent on medical technology for breathing assistance transition back to home and school and wean children from ventilator dependency and oxygen therapy. Our staff also offers long-term, follow-up care for prevention of acute respiratory illness.

Research

Clinical-translational research is a priority of the Ventilator Care Program. Our clinician scientists conduct local and multi-center studies to examine the disease mechanisms that result in chronic respiratory failure and to identify novel therapies.

In addition, the program prioritizes quality improvement initiatives to ensure that the highest standard of care is available for our patients. Drs. Chris Baker and Ann Halbower serve on a national committee of the American Thoracic Society to develop guidelines for pediatric chronic home ventilation.

Learn more about the Breathing Institute Research Program at Children’s Colorado.