The Pulmonary Hypertension Association rewards the Pulmonary Hypertension Program at Riley Children’s Health with a PHA-accreditation. Efforts to strengthen the overall quality of care and outcomes in patients with pulmonary hypertension have been afoot since 2011, Riley Children’s being among the few pioneers to move these initiatives further.
Co-directed by Gregory Montgomery, MD, pediatric pulmonologist at Riley Children’s, and Michael Johansen, DO, pediatric cardiologist at Riley Children’s, the program cures pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), a serious medical condition that affects the arteries in the right side of the heart. Though the disease is serious and likely fatal, proper diagnosis and treatment can improve a patient’s quality of life.
“Our program is a fully integrated partnership between the divisions of pediatric pulmonology and pediatric cardiology, guaranteeing a complete evaluation of each patient's unique cardiopulmonary physiology,” Drs. Montgomery and Johansen said. “It is truly a situation where two physicians collaboratively sit face-to-face and discuss each patient in detail, challenging each other's assertions and creating the most effective diagnostic or treatment plan.”
Accredited centers are chosen based on a certain level of expertise in PH care, and the program at Riley Children’s in particular has aimed for the commission since its inaugural year. “From the beginning, almost 10 years ago, we used the detailed guidelines for the PHA’s Pediatric Comprehensive Care Centers as a framework and guide to carefully construct this program over time,” Dr. Montgomery and Dr. Johansen added.
Additionally, the Pulmonary Hypertension Program at Riley Children’s is Indiana’s first and only initiative of its kind to provide care for children with pulmonary hypertension as a primary diagnosis, where Drs. Montgomery and Johansen take a personalized treatment approach to combat the condition.
“There are a limited number of medications that are formally approved by the FDA for use in children with pulmonary hypertension,” they said. “To address this, we continue to actively enroll children in several investigative clinical research trials that are looking at the effectiveness in children of PH medications already approved for adults.”
While the PHA-accredited program is successfully underway, Drs. Montgomery and Johansen will develop another project to study pulmonary hypertension in children with a certain type of severe congenital heart disease that requires a Fontan procedure. Still, the two are finding greater solutions to a pulmonary, cardiac approach, and their established program is no exception. “For us, receiving accreditation from the PHA is validation that we have built a program of national distinction that provides exceptional care for children with what is often a very concerning, even life-threatening diagnosis,” they said.
The cardiology program at Riley Children’s is acclaimed for treating pediatric patients with congenital heart diseases, known as a national leader with mortality rates below the benchmark. Likewise, the pulmonology program is home to one of the largest cystic fibrosis programs in the nation, providing expert care for patients in Indiana and elsewhere. Learn more in our annual report.