Fetal heart care center opens on Montefiore’s Hutch campus

Susan Gutfreund (c), wife of the late-John Gutfreund, a board member at Montefiore for decades for whom the new pediatric heart center is named for, cuts the ribbon on the new facility on Monday, December 11. She is standing next to her son JP Gutfreund, a current board member, on her left and Dr. Steven Safyer, Montefiore CEO.
Photo courtesy of Montefiore

A new medical facility to treat neonatal heart conditions opened with fanfare at Montefiore.

Montefiore held a ribbon cutting on Monday, December 4 for its John H. Gutfreund Fetal Heart Program at Montefiore’s Hutchinson Campus, dedicating a new cardiac care center to serve pregnant women and their families.

The program goal is to provide mothers with the most advanced, comprehensive and state-of-the-art cardiac care in the fetal stage and for newborns, said Dr. Nadine Choueiter, program director and an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

“The Bronx is an underserved community and (the idea for the center) came from a need to provide the community access to fetal cardiac care,” said Choueiter. “It is very important in this time and era to diagnose especially critical cardiac disease before children are born because it definitely affects the chance of survival after delivery.”

Heart disease is the most common inborn condition affecting newborns, with some 40,000 cases each year in the United States, said Choueiter.

“Diagnosing cardiac disease before a baby is born decreases the chances of a baby being very sick,” she said. “It allows us to counsel the parents and families and to prepare them not just from a medical standpoint but from a social standpoint.”

The care and preparation before birth allows families to better prepare to manage the needs of a child with heart disease, as well as avoid more serious cases of new-born heart disease which can sometimes worsen and affect other organs if not treated in utero.

Mothers who are especially prone to having children in need of fetal heart care, something that is typically determined in the second trimester, include moms who have diabetes or lupus, said Choueiter.

One of the exam rooms of the new center of fetal heart care.
Photo courtesy of Montefiore

The center’s team includes cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons, social workers, child-life specialists, quality-in-life specialists, obstetricians, maternal-fetal medicine specialists, neonatologists and nurse practitioners in decision making from pre-natal diagnosis to post-birth surgery.

The center, situated in the Hutchinson Metro Center, is part of the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore and is close to Weiler/Einstein hospital.

Weiler Hospital is home to Montefiore’s labor and delivery services and neonatal intensive care unit, making for easy collaboration and transport between the facilities.

Funding for the program came from a $1 million grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, an international foundation that makes grants in medicine, as well as arts, culture and education.

The fetal heart program is named after Gutfreund, a Montefiore board member for decades who had a strong commitment to serving the medically under-serviced.

His son J.P. Gutfreund is now a Montefiore trustee, and said that he and his family are thrilled about the opening of the center.

“In my father’s more than five decades of devoted board service to Montefiore, CHAM was always a part of the organization that held a special meaning to him,” he said. “I know he would have been a great supporter of the amazing work that will be done at this center by heart specialists Dr. Daphne Hsu, Dr. Giles Peek, Dr. Nadine Choueiter and their team.”

The waiting area of the John H. Gutfrefund Fetal Heart Program at the new Montefiore facility at the Hutchinson Metro Center.
Photo courtesy of Montefiore

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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