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30th anniversary of the PACH Clinic

A lot has changed since 1988 for those with congenital heart defects, but the team approach to care has remained a constant.

When the Pacific Adult Congenital Heart (PACH) Clinic first opened its doors 30 years ago at Shaughnessy Hospital, patients were slow to come. Children born with serious congenital heart defects (CHD) rarely survived into adulthood at that time. But with medical advances, better surgical techniques and interventional cardiology, that has changed dramatically over the past three decades. Now more than 90 per cent of patients with CHD reach adulthood.

The PACH Clinic, housed at St. Paul’s Hospital since 1993, has more than 3000 active patients from around the province, and is growing rapidly every year. There is also a specialized clinic to support pregnant women with heart conditions. The team includes cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, cardiac radiologists, nurses, psychologists and social workers with specific training and knowledge of adult CHD. The majority of these patients will require lifelong cardiac-focused medical care and repeat cardiac surgery or interventional procedures. The team approach, pioneered at the PACH Clinic, is integral to optimizing the health of this complex patient population. To accommodate the growing population of adults with CHD, a closer-to-home care model is being explored as a way to bring adult congenital cardiology services to additional communities throughout the province.