Two Miller School Pediatricians Awarded New Board Certification in Adult Congenital Heart Disease

Two board-certified pediatricians at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine were recently awarded a new subspecialist certification in adult congenital heart disease (ACHD).

Satinder “Neena” Sandhu, M.D., professor of pediatrics and Director of the Pediatric Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory, and Sethuraman Swaminathan, M.D., associate professor of clinical pediatrics, are among the first U.S. physicians to be awarded the ACHD board certification by the American Board of Internal Medicine. The certification is designed to recognize the qualifications of physicians’ care of a wide range of adult patients with congenital heart disease.

“Drs. Sandhu and Swaminathan and the University of Miami/Holtz at Jackson Children’s Heart Center have been expertly caring for thousands of patients with the most complex congenital heart disease — from before birth through adulthood — for many years,” said Judy Schaechter, M.D., M.B.A., Chair of the Department of Pediatrics, Chief of Service at Holtz Children’s Hospital at Jackson, and the George E. Batchelor Endowed Chair in Pediatrics. “The board certification exam gives patients the additional reassurance that our cardiac expertise in these specialized areas is nationally recognized.”

Today, about 90 percent of children with congenital heart disease survive into adulthood, according to Sandhu, who leads the UHealth/Holtz Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program and is an expert in cardiac catheterization of babies, children, adolescents and adults with complex congenital heart disease.

“There is a nationwide need for subspecialists to provide lifelong care for these patients, who have different anatomies of their hearts and face a variety of issues as they age,” Sandhu said. “At UHealth/Holtz, we see patients with ACHD every day, and we have the only full-service program in Miami to provide care to women with congenital heart disease when they are pregnant.”

Swaminathan is a fetal echo-ographer, who uses imaging techniques to “see” heart defects in babies before birth, young children and adults of all ages. “The population of adults with congenital heart disease continues to increase,” said Swaminathan, who is also Fellowship Program Director for Pediatric Cardiology. “They go to work, have children and face a variety of diseases and other conditions. We educate them and help them manage their heart conditions to avoid developing complications.”

Schaechter said the two physicians’ subspecialty certification puts the UHealth/Holtz center on the path toward becoming one of the first adult congenital heart centers to be accredited when accreditation begins in 2017. “We believe that it takes a team of experienced congenital heart disease experts, working in concert with both pediatric and adult colleagues in surgery, nursing, adult medicine and intensive care, and with all the necessary support staff, for patients to reach their full potential.”

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