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VCU Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU receive national award for excellence in life support practices and training

The award recognizes centers that demonstrate an exceptional commitment to innovative practices and patient satisfaction.

Team smiles for picture The multidisciplinary team made up of respiratory therapists, physicians, perfusionists, nurse practitioners, nurses and administrators focusing on neonatal, pediatric and adult care. (VCU Enterprise Marketing and Communications)

By Pete Woody

The Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO) recently designated VCU Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU (CHoR) a Gold Level Center of Excellence for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).

ELSO is an international nonprofit that maintains a registry of centers providing excellent care for ECMO. The award recognizes those centers that demonstrate an exceptional commitment to evidence-based processes and quality measures, staff training and continuing education, patient satisfaction and ongoing clinical care. The Gold Level Center of Excellence designation is good for three years.

ECMO is a life-support machine that replaces the function of the heart and lungs during life-threatening conditions that keep them from working properly. The machine is controlled by a perfusionist, or a nurse or respiratory therapist with advanced training.

“Congratulations to our adult and pediatric perfusion teams for all their contributions and support to enable ELSO to designate VCU Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU as a Gold Center of Excellence,” said Michael Roussos, president of VCU Medical Center. “We are proud of the lifesaving work these teams perform, and it is just one of the many ways VCU Health team members demonstrate a commitment to patient-centered care.”

“This designation reflects that when families come to CHoR, they can rest assured that their critically ill infants and children are in the best hands,” said Elias Neujahr, CHoR president. “Our specially-trained teams provide innovative ECMO care for patients of all sizes in a healing environment for them and their families.”

The VCU Health ECMO specialist team is a multidisciplinary group made up of respiratory therapists, physicians, perfusionists, nurse practitioners, nurses and administrators focusing on neonatal, pediatric and adult care.

The ECMO program at VCU Health is led by Jesse Bain, DO, Russell Moores, M.D., and Patricia Nicolato, DO, with perfusion oversight by Christos Calaritis, CPC, CCC, FPP, and Betty Chui, BS, RN, CCP. Chui helped start the ECMO program at VCU Health and has been involved in caring for ECMO patients for 40 years, while also playing an active role in the education and training program VCU Health has developed for ECMO specialists following the ELSO guidelines.

The goal of the ELSO Awards is to recognize and honor programs who reach the highest level of performance, innovation, satisfaction and quality. ELSO states that a designated Center of Excellence has demonstrated extraordinary achievement in the following three categories:

  • Excellence in promoting the mission, activities and vision of ELSO
  • Excellence in patient care by using the highest quality measures, processes and structures based upon evidence
  • Excellence in training, education, collaboration and communication supporting ELSO guidelines that contribute to a healing environment for families, patients and staff.

The ELSO award signifies to VCU Health patients and families a commitment to exceptional patient care. It also demonstrates to the health care community an assurance of high-quality standards, specialized equipment and supplies, defined patient protocols and advanced education of all staff members.

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