The Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO) recently awarded Akron Children’s ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) program with a Gold Level ELSO Award for Excellence in Life Support – recognizing the hospital’s processes, procedures and systems that promote excellence and exceptional care.
As a designated Center of Excellence, Akron Children’s demonstrated excellence in patient care by using the highest quality measures, processes and structures based on evidence and excelled in the areas of training, education, collaboration and communication that support ELSO guidelines and contribute to a healing environment for families, patients and staff.
ECMO is a life support system that does the work of the heart and/or lungs by providing oxygen, ventilation and circulation for patients who are in respiratory failure, cardiac failure or both. According to Dr. Patricia Raimer, medical director of the ECMO program, it’s used in patients who are critically ill, but are thought to have a reversible condition.
“ECMO is a last resort when you have escalated all medical support, but the patient is still in organ failure,” she said. “The key factor is if you think the patient’s condition can be reversed.”
Dr. Raimer said the ELSO award is significant because it shows patients and families the hospital is committed to exceptional patient care.
“This achievement is only possible through the dedication and collaboration of our multi-disciplinary ECMO team, which includes experts from the NICU, PICU, general surgery and cardiothoracic surgery teams,” she said.
Akron Children’s opened a neonatal ECMO program in the 1990s that supports several infants each year. Since becoming available in the PICU in 2017, the volume of pediatric patients has steadily increased. The program has even successfully supported several young adults.
“Prior to having pediatric ECMO, patients who might have a need for such support had to be transferred to other hospitals – creating a risky situation for the patient and further stress on the family by taking them farther away from home and their support system.”
“These are by far the sickest patients we care for, and a quality stamp like this reinforces the much-needed confidence that a family needs when their loved ones are fighting for their lives,” said Dr. Shefali Mahesh, chair, department of pediatrics.