A 40-person cardiovascular-thoracic surgery team was involved with the hospital’s 400th heart transplant this fall for a 2-year-old girl from Moline, Illinois. Lurie Children’s Pediatric Heart Failure and Heart Transplantation Program is the only program of its kind in Illinois and a leading transplant program nationally, having been in the top three hospitals in the country by volume for pediatric heart transplants since 2018. The hospital’s three-year survival rate is 95%, higher than the national average. Part of the reason is the acclaimed Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) program, which supports the heart while a patient waits for a donor heart. Lurie Children’s VAD team leads nationally with a 100% survival rate and successful bridge to transplant, while the national registry data notes a 33% mortality rate for children awaiting heart transplant.
Though children suffer fewer health effects than adults from COVID-19, the pandemic’s mental and behavioral health consequences have been significant for children. At Lurie Children’s, FY21 psychiatric outpatient visits increased more than 28% over FY19, and there was a 20% increase in Emergency Department visits for mental or behavioral health reasons in the last year. Staff in the Pritzker Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health have been seeing two to three patients per day for suicidal ideation, compared to two to three per month prior to the pandemic. A recent community survey by the hospital found that more than four in 10 children and adolescents have experienced an increase in one or more mental health symptoms over the last six months.
In the past year, Lurie Children's Digital Front Door initiative launched to improve access and engagement for our patients and families, deploying technology to meet patient-family expectations of convenience, flexibility, efficiency, and accessibility. Online scheduling is now available for 23 specialties through our patient portal, MyChart, as is self-scheduling directly through the website for Immediate Care, COVID testing, and newborn appointments. In parallel, the access center was optimized to streamline call handling, resulting in over 80 percent of patients calling having a one-call resolution to schedule and register for an appointment.
Sandi Lam, MD, MBA, Division Head of Neurosurgery, brought injectable replacement brain enzyme therapy to Lurie Children's this year to improve outcomes for children with Batten disease, a rare and incurable genetic condition. She treated two young sisters with Batten disease, which ultimately destroys a child’s coordination, mobility and cognition and dramatically shortens their lifespan. Within weeks of treatment, the older sister’s deterioration in walking stopped. With early genetic testing, before symptoms developed, the younger sister is the second youngest patient in the world to receive treatment. With continued dedication to innovation, genetic and cellular therapies in the brain show hope for a cure is within reach.
The Patrick M. Magoon Institute for Healthy Communities, the hub for all community-focused initiatives at Lurie Children’s, completed its first year of operation. The launch of new mental health and parent/caregiver support initiatives, neighborhood programs and an active mobile health program along with staff expansion laid the foundation for a new level of engagement with the communities around us. The Magoon Institute’s work benefits our community, essential to Lurie Children’s mission as a not-for-profit hospital. Lurie Children’s also absorbs the cost of unreimbursed charity care because of our commitment to treat all children regardless of ability to pay; one-third of our patients live in under-resourced Chicago neighborhoods and 55% are uninsured or underinsured. In FY21, the institution invested $231 million in unreimbursed charity care, under-reimbursement from caring for patients insured by Medicaid, and community benefit programs.
patients treated via telehealth
reduction in hospital-acquired conditions
The Chicago Institute for Fetal Health, a regional leader in integrated care for pregnant women with fetal complications, expanded its services this year to offer an innovative fetoscopic option for spina bifida repair, a procedure that often significantly improves recovery and outcome for both mother and baby. The team also marked the important milestone of completing 100 fetal surgeries, underscoring the Chicago Institute’s reputation as regional leader and pioneer in interventional fetal medicine. The institute continues to expand, pioneering research to further enhance therapies and treatments for conditions such as congenital diaphragmatic hernia, fetal lung lesions and congenital heart defects.