OU Health Expands Pediatric Cardiology Services

Published: Wednesday, February 16, 2022

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Children’s Hospital OU Health has announced the completion and opening of its new pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU). The 25-bed unit is the only pediatric CICU of its kind in the state, dedicated solely to the care of children with a range of heart conditions. One of the unit’s distinctive elements is comprehensive care for children who are heart transplant patients. Jon Hayes, President of Oklahoma Children’s Hospital, said the CICU expansion represents strategically planned growth that makes the heart center at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital the best choice for superior cardiac intensive care. 

“Now as never before, treatment available at Children’s Heart Center offers greater promise for normal and active lives – what we all want for our kids. From pre-op to discharge, every specialist, care team and staff member at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital goes above and beyond to coordinate and implement the most innovative treatments for heart and vascular conditions.”

Harold Burkhart, M.D., Chief of Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery, and acting CEO for OU Health, said new and expanded services will impact children well beyond the borders of Oklahoma. “We share another proud moment with this CICU expansion, which was envisioned even as we opened the renovated Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) two years ago, with plans for a dedicated unit for cardiac intensive care,” he explained. “Our commitment to excellence compels us to make world-class care possible and accessible to every child, and cardiac-specific treatment and care are benchmarks of this mission.”

Morris Gessouroun, M.D., OU Health Pediatrician in Chief, said the CICU expansion sets in motion a positive domino effect, as it will allow more full and efficient utilization of all the hospital’s intensive care services - pediatric, pediatric cardiac and neonatal.

“With a total of 59 pediatric ICU beds, in addition to 96 licensed Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) beds, we are better positioned to provide the most appropriate level of care for serious and life-threatening heart conditions. Children’s Heart Center offers the most sophisticated treatment options for this special population,” he said. “Previously, PICU beds were often occupied by patients whose needs were more aligned with CICU care. The availability of 25 CICU beds will not only ensure more focused, comprehensive care, but will decrease the occurrences that require us to divert patients to facilities not as well-equipped to provide the robust measures these patients require.”  

Monica Kraft, MSN, R.N., NE-BC, CPHON, Director of the Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, said the renovation and expansion have immense significance for the broader scope of pediatric care available in the state. According to Kraft, the data is impressive, but doesn’t reveal the bigger picture.

“We can make statistical projections, but the numbers don’t capture the most meaningful part of the story. Over the first five years, we expect CICU admits on average to increase by at least 80 patients annually. That creates more capacity in our PICU for children recovering from surgeries, long-term illness or trauma,” she said. “Because we can move NICU heart babies to CICU, we have the ability to care for 50 more neonates each year – critically ill newborns who need this level of support for a chance at life. We have the capacity to perform more than 300 open heart surgeries annually, and are now developing pediatric heart transplant and VAD (ventricular assist device) programs. These are remarkable advances in capability and care. As a result, hundreds of children with a range of congenital heart conditions will experience better outcomes. They grow up to live healthy and fulfilling lives with families who cherish them. The multigenerational impact is vast.”

While family-centered patient care is foremost at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital, other advantages follow the expansion. The state-of-the-art unit also creates additional employment opportunities; Oklahoma Children’s Hospital expects to hire more than 50 healthcare professionals with extensive training and expertise in pediatric cardiac intensive care.

Hayes said, “Oklahoma Children’s Hospital received the 2021 Mended Hearts International Regional, Divisional, and National Hospital of the Year. Our enhancements for pediatric intensive care, especially related to cardiology services, support this designation as we continue to deliver unsurpassed care that encompasses patients and their families. I can’t adequately convey my deep gratitude for the collaborative effort that has made this vision a reality.

“In the best case, children and families wouldn’t face crises that require intensive care. But we’ve never been better prepared to walk alongside, supporting them with the most compassionate care and advanced measures to restore health and promote healing.” 



At Oklahoma Children’s Hospital OU Health, pediatric staff blends years of training with education, research and technology to improve the lives of children throughout the region. The obstetric emergency room at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital is a regional referral center for the state, and the neonatal intensive care unit provides the highest level of newborn care in Oklahoma. Oklahoma Children’s Hospital is also home to the only 24/7 pediatric emergency room in Oklahoma City. With a family-centered approach to healing, Oklahoma Children’s Hospital offers resources from pet therapy to child life specialists who help families cope with hospitalization and illness. From advanced surgical services to general pediatrics, oncology care and more, Oklahoma Children’s Hospital provides cutting-edge research and treatments through hospital-based and outpatient services. To learn more, visit oklahomachildrens.org.


OU Health is the state’s only comprehensive academic health system of hospitals, clinics and centers of excellence. With 11,000 employees and more than 1,300 physicians and advanced practice providers, OU Health is home to Oklahoma’s largest doctor network with a complete range of specialty care. OU Health serves Oklahoma and the region with the state’s only freestanding children’s hospital, the only National Cancer Institute-Designated OU Health Stephenson Cancer Center and Oklahoma’s flagship hospital, which serves as the state’s only Level 1 trauma center. OU Health’s oncology program at OU Health Stephenson Cancer Center was named Oklahoma’s top facility for cancer care by U.S. News & World Report in its 2020-21 rankings. OU Health also was ranked by U.S. News & World Report as high performing in these specialties: Colon Surgery, COPD and Congestive Heart Failure. OU Health’s mission is to lead healthcare in patient care, education and research. To learn more, visit ouhealth.com.