Children's Hospital Colorado
Heart institute
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Heart institute

The Heart Institute Wellness Program at Children’s Hospital Colorado

At the Heart Institute at Children’s Hospital Colorado, we are committed to supporting patients and families in navigating medical stressors and fostering overall wellness and quality of life for infants, children, adolescents and young adults. We understand the impact that cardiac illness can have on a child and their family and we strive to decrease the burden of medical care for families with personalized, team-based care plans. That’s why we organized a Wellness Program: to focus on the strengths of families and offer ideas and resources to help children with heart disease and their families thrive.

Our Wellness Program team members are available across the Heart Institute in both inpatient (Cardiac Intensive and Progressive Care Units) and outpatient (Cardiology Clinic, Pre/Post-Surgical unit, Multidisciplinary Clinic) care areas at the Anschutz Medical Campus. Our team members come from medicine, social work, child life, psychology and spiritual care.

Why did we create a Wellness Program?

Diagnosis and treatment of a heart condition can be very difficult for children and families. Youth with a cardiac diagnosis may face unique challenges throughout their development and childhood. Despite obstacles, most families remain strong and resilient, finding healthy ways to cope and adjust to a child’s disease – and our Wellness Program is here to help.

Addressing mind, body and development challenges for patients with heart disease

Our multidisciplinary team is available to address the unique psychosocial and developmental challenges of growing up with a heart condition that are often overlooked throughout medical treatment elsewhere. All of our services are provided by clinical team members who have specialized training and experience with children who have acute or chronic illness, including heart disease.

What services are available as part of the Wellness Program?

Medicine

Our nurses and medical providers build trust and alliance with families, provide medical teaching at the developmental level of the child, coordinate complex care across several medical specialties, and advocate for holistic care of patients that is respectful of child and family preferences in treatment decisions.

Social work

Our social workers help families cope with and adjust to social, financial and psychological needs associated with their child’s illness, lengthy hospitalization and outpatient treatment. Our social workers also provide:

  • Caregiver emotional support
  • Psychosocial assessment
  • Support around new diagnoses and adjustment to illness
  • Identification of family strengths and vulnerabilities
  • Connection to financial and community resources
  • Support for parenting or custody concerns
  • Crisis intervention
  • Pre-transplant psychosocial evaluation and support throughout the transplant process

Child life

Our child life specialists utilize therapeutic play, age-appropriate education and coping techniques to help children or teens and their families adjust and cope with the hospital or clinic setting, chronic illness and the treatments involved. Our child life services include:

  • Preparation and support for procedure or surgery
  • Diagnosis teaching
  • Coping with hospitalization
  • Medical play
  • Expression of feelings
  • Compliance with treatment
  • Sibling support
  • School re-entry program to assist with successful reintegration back into the classroom following a difficult new diagnosis, heart transplant, etc.

Psychology

Our pediatric psychologists provide assessment, consultation and interventions to address developmental, behavioral, emotional, social, and academic concerns and support overall child wellbeing. Our psychologists provide support for:

  • Difficulties adjusting to chronic illness
  • Emotional symptoms, such as anxiety/panic, depression, or medical post-traumatic stress
  • Concerns regarding development, behavior, social functioning, or school performance
  • Adherence to a medical regimen
  • New diagnosis or changes in disease status
  • Pre-transplant psychological evaluation
  • Neuropsychological and neurodevelopmental assessment
  • Consultation with psychiatry
  • School consultation

Spiritual care

Our chaplains provide support to children and families of all faith traditions and spiritual expressions. Chaplains are available to:

  • Pray
  • Listen
  • Create and /or facilitate rituals
  • Connect you with a leader from your faith tradition if desired
  • Explore your sense of God's presence or absence
  • Talk with you about the meaning of illness, explore sources of healing and hope
  • Be an extra support when you feel alone, afraid, or discouraged during your time at the hospital

Contact us

Email us at HIWellness@childrenscolorado.org or call 720-777-4599 for more information about the Wellness Program.

Additional support and news from the Wellness Program

Join our Transplant Parent Group

We offer a monthly Solid Organ Transplant Parent Group to form a supportive community for caregivers of transplant patients. Families benefit from connecting with each other throughout the transplant process – when you find out that your child will eventually need a transplant, when your child is recently listed for transplant, when he or she is undergoing evaluation, or even many years after receiving his/her solid organ transplant. Social work and psychology will facilitate the groups and when there is parent interest, we may invite speakers.

Please email HIWellness@childrenscolorado.org for additional details about the group.

Sign up for Wellness Program emails

We have organized an email listserv for us to distribute information for parents regarding activities or events for children or teens with heart disease and their parents or families. Don’t miss out! Email us at HIWellness@childrenscolorado.org if you would like to be added to this email list.

Learn more about your visit to the Heart Institute.


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