As one of the first hospitals in the United States to offer Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO), Children’s Mercy Hospital has become a leader as an ECMO provider and ECMO training center. “Since its inception in the 1980s, Children’s Mercy’s ECMO program has grown into a thriving ECMO Center,” says Eugenia Pallotto, MD, Medical Director of ECMO for Neonatology, Children’s Mercy Hospital. “We have a busy ECMO program with good outcomes compared to national statistics. Many physicians come to train in our center, then go to other centers and become leaders in their ECMO programs. Our ECMO leadership team has contributed to internationally utilized training manuals for extracorporeal life support and participates in committee work at the national level. Throughout the years, efforts from our team have resulted in publications and presentations at the national ECMO meetings.”
As part of its QI program, Children’s Mercy recently implemented an approach to decrease bleeding risks related to ECMO. “Our team has developed a standardized bleeding algorithm, and we’re now monitoring outcomes to continue to improve our management of these patients,” says Pallotto. “We also invested in a new monitor, called a TEG [Thrombelastograph] monitor, which will assist us in directing treatment strategies in our surgical and post-surgical patients requiring ECMO support.”
Another recent initiative that Children’s Mercy has undertaken to enhance its ECMO program is simulation training. “Our hospital system already has an active simulation program, and we’ve already been doing some low-tech ECMO simulations and training, but we’re in the process of taking ECMO simulation to the next level,” Pallotto says. “We sent a group of ECMO leaders to Arkansas to observe what they’ve been doing, and we’re now in the implementation phase of our new simulation program. We believe that simulation is an important part of improving education and maintaining excellence in clinical care.”
Over the past few years, Children’s Mercy has expanded its ECMO program from the neonatology unit to the pediatric ICU. “We have a huge, collaborative, unified team that includes not only neonatologists, but also general surgeons, cardiac surgeons, providers in the pediatric ICU, nursing, and the perfusion team,” says Pallotto. “We’re working together to streamline our processes, implement new approaches to our treatment strategies, and maintain excellent patient care outcomes.”
Children’s Mercy is a three-time winner of the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization’s (ELSO) “Excellence in Life Support” award, which recognizes centers of excellence in patient care, training, and promoting the mission of the ELSO.