Cardiac Services at The Children's Hospital at Westmead

Contact details

The Heart Centre for Children incorporates cardiology, cardiac surgery, cardiac research and the Edgar Stephens Ward at The Children's Hospital at Westmead. The Heart Centre for Children has its own website, where you can read comprehensive information about cardiac (heart) services provided to children at The Children's Hospital at Westmead.

The Heart Centre for Children provides:

  • Paediatric cardiology for inpatients and outpatients
  • Paediatric cardiothoracic surgery
  • Congenital Heart Clinic, both paediatric and adolescent
  • Outreach services
  • NSW Fetal Cardiac Service
  • Family support including psychological care for patients and families

Children under the care of the Heart Centre for Children stay in Edgar Stephens Ward.

Clinic appointments and referrals

To make an appointment at one of our clinics, you will need a referral.

Please email your referral to SCHN-HeartCentreForChildren@health.nsw.gov.au or fax it to (02) 9845 2163.

We will then schedule an appointment and get in touch with you.

Your referral needs to be addressed to one or more cardiologists by name and include:

  1. the patient's full name
  2. date of birth
  3. address
  4. contact phone number
  5. email address for the patient's family
  6. Medicare card details (if applicable)
  7. The reason for referral and any relevant background information or test results. 

The Heart Centre for Children provides a range of clinics:

  • Fetal Cardiology Clinics
  • Paediatric Cardiology Clinics
  • Senior (Adolescent) Congenital Heart Clinic
  • Pre-admission (Surgical) Clinic
  • Pacemaker Clinic
  • Long QT Syndrome Clinic
  • Outreach services

Procedures and investigations

  • Ambulatory BP Monitoring
  • Blood gas estimation for perfusion
  • Cardiac catheterisation
  • Cardiac physiological and perfusion services
  • Defibrillator checks
  • Echocardiography (Echo)
  • Electrocardiography (ECG)
  • Electrolyte estimations for perfusion
  • Electrophysiology
  • Event monitoring
  • Fetal echocardiography
  • Holter monitoring
  • Loop recorder checks
  • Pacemaker checks
  • Patient support services including cardiac clinical nurse consultants, psychologists and social workers
  • Rhythm management
  • Specialist paediatric cardiac biomedical services
  • Stress exercise testing

Outreach services

The Heart Centre for Children provides remote services around NSW.  Please call the following numbers for appointments:

  • Armidale: (02) 9845 2316
  • Bathurst: (02) 9891 6800
  • Campbelltown: (02) 4634 4162
  • Canberra: (02) 9891 6800
  • Coffs Harbour: (02) 9382 1872
  • Dubbo: (02) 6809 7082
  • Gosford: (02) 9891 6800
  • Miranda: (02) 9891 6800
  • Newcastle: (02) 4921 3750
  • Nowra: (02) 4421 3088 or (02) 4421 7754
  • Orange: (02) 9891 6800
  • Port Macquarie: (02) 6584 9466
  • Prince of Wales Private, Sydney: (02) 9891 6800
  • Royal Women's Hospital, Sydney: (02) 9891 6800 (including fetal appointments)
  • Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney: (02) 9891 6800
  • Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney: (02) 9517 2011
  • Tamworth: (02) 6767 8740
  • Wagga Wagga: (02) 9891 6800
  • Wollongong: (02) 9891 6800

Talking with your child about their heart operation

For many parents, the thought of talking with their child about surgery can be overwhelming.

Talking with your child before surgery can help them to cope with the experience by knowing what to expect. The hospital environment has many unfamiliar sights, sounds, smells, people and procedures, and these can feel confusing or worrying for a child. If not provided with honest, accurate and age-appropriate information, a child may invent their own explanations or scenarios which may be more frightening for them than the reality.

Research has shown that children who receive preparation and support that is sensitive and appropriate for their age and stage display lower levels of anxiety, show an increased trust in healthcare staff, have a faster recovery post-operatively and exhibit fewer emotional difficulties after discharge, such as separation anxiety and sleep disturbances.

  • Be honest about what will happen. Use simple explanations that your child can understand to tell them about what they may see, hear and feel. If you are unsure what to say or how much to tell your child, please contact the Child Life Therapy department (details on the back).
  • Help your child understand why they need surgery. It is common for young children to think they have said or done something wrong to cause their heart condition or need for surgery. Reassure them that it is not their fault and that they are not in trouble.
  • Try to use the least frightening language possible. For example, you could say ‘make a small opening’ instead of ‘cut’ or a ‘special medicine that will make you sleep’ instead of ‘gas’ or ‘anaesthetic.’
  • Explain to your child they will not see, hear or feel anything during surgery because of a special sleep medicine. Provide reassurance that they will only wake up after the operation is finished.
  • Reassure them that if something hurts, they will be given medicine to help with the pain.
  • Emphasise that the doctors and nurses are there to help not to hurt them to establish a sense of trust.
  • Let your child know that you will be able to stay with them
  • in hospital.
  • Read age-appropriate books or watch videos about visiting the hospital (see list on the back).
  • Provide opportunities for medical play. Toy doctors kits, dress-ups, dolls and stuffed animals are a great way of supporting children to become more familiar with medical equipment and procedures whilst also allowing them to work through any anxieties or worries they may have. Let your child lead the play and discussion, validating any feelings they express. Provide simple explanations and correct any misconceptions as they arise.
  • Involve your child in packing his or her bag including any favourite toys, books, games, music, movies and photos that will serve as comforters.
  • Do not make promises that you cannot keep such as there will be no needles. Instead, tell your child that you will find ways to cope together with any fears that may arise.

Supporting my child’s siblings

When a child has surgery, their brothers and sisters may also feel worried or confused. They may hear or see things that they do not understand. They may have to cope with being away from one or both parents.

  • Here are some ways that you can support siblings before and during the hospital admission.
  • Include siblings in conversations about their brother or sister’s surgery. Use simple explanations that they will understand.
  • It can be common for siblings to think that their thoughts or actions caused their brother or sister to become unwell, or worry that they will become sick themselves. Reassure them that it is not their fault and that they can’t ‘catch’ a heart condition.
  • Siblings may worry about being left alone or their needs not being met. Let them know who will be caring for them while you are at the hospital and that you will come back as soon as you can. Leave a special item that they associate with you to provide comfort.
  • Try to keep routines such as naps, meals and bedtimes as close to normal as possible. If they attend school or childcare, let their teacher know what is happening so that
  • they can provide support and watch for any changes in mood or behaviour.
  • Siblings may feel jealous of all the attention their brother or sister is getting. Try to set aside some one-on-one time for them if possible so that they don’t feel left out.
  • Siblings may miss their brother or sister. Encourage them to make something for their sibling, like a drawing or card.
  • Provide them with the choice of visiting and if they choose to, explain what to expect (for example what they will see or hear).
  • Provide opportunities to play away from the bedside to help siblings cope with spending time at the hospital. There is a playroom on Edgar Stephens ward which siblings can visit along with the Starlight Room on Level 2. The Volunteers department also run Sibling Care where, for a small fee, families can drop their children off to play. The George Gregan playground is on level one, as is the Book Bunker.

Hospital support services

Child Life Therapy

Child Life Therapists use play to help children understand and cope with their hospital experience. They can support you to prepare your child using a number of tools including books, photos, videos, medical play with dolls and equipment, and tours of the hospital environment.

They can also help your child learn ways to cope with potentially stressful procedures such as blood tests.

If you wish to book a Pre-Admission visit with a Child Life Therapist, please call (02) 9845 3717.

Family Support Team

This team specialises in providing emotional care for babies and children with heart disease and their families. It includes psychologists, social workers, clinical nurse consultants and nurse practitioners.

They can help by providing parents with opportunities to talk about their worries, experiences and questions in relation to their child’s heart condition and surgery.

If you would like to talk to a member of the family support team or to make an appointment to meet, please call (02) 9845 0088.

Staff

Manager of Cardiac Investigations

Mr Peter Jurukovski

Head of Cardiac Surgery

Prof David Winlaw

Head of Perfusion

Mr Killian O'Shaughnessy

Nurse Unit Manager, Edgar Stephens Ward

Ms Jessica Renwick (Acting)

Cardiologists

Dr Steve Cooper
Dr Megan Sherwood
Dr Phil Roberts
Dr Julian Ayer
Dr Christian Turner
Dr Jonathan Mervis
Dr Jon Forsey
Dr Claire Irving

Cardiac Surgeons

Prof David Winlaw
Dr Ian Nicholson
Dr Yishay Orr
Dr Matthew Liava'a

Visiting Medical Officers

Dr Peter Robinson, Cardiologist - Adolescent Congenital Heart Disease

Honorary Medical Officers

Dr David Murphy, Paediatric Cardiologist
Dr David Celermajer, Cardiologist - Adolescent Congenital Heart Disease