Published October 3, 2023
Children’s HeartLink is thrilled to welcome the Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Centre for Child Heart Care to our global family of hospital partners. It becomes the seventh hospital partner in India and 21st worldwide. This partnership marks a crucial step forward in our commitment to improving access to pediatric cardiac care for children with congenital heart disease.
A glimpse into transforming lives, one heart at a time in Maharashtra
Nestled in the heart of Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, the Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Centre for Child Heart Care (SSSSH) has been a beacon of hope since it began operating in May 2019. This charitable hospital is dedicated exclusively to pediatric cardiac care, providing vital services to children with congenital heart disease, all free of charge.
“This is a unique partnership for Children’s HeartLink in India. As a charity hospital, Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Centre for Child Heart Care is operating with considerably fewer resources than its for-profit counterparts. They’re dedicated to providing vital medical care to children with heart disease; care they might not otherwise receive,” said Jackie Boucher, Children’s HeartLink president.
In 2022, the SSSSH team screened nearly 4,000 children for congenital heart disease and performed over 1,000 surgeries and interventions, approximately 60% of the surgeries were on babies younger than one-year-old.
But, it’s estimated that 240,000 babies are born with congenital heart disease (CHD) every year, and 144,297 CHD procedures on infants are needed annually in the country. Even with the incredible work being done by SSSSH and other pediatric cardiac care teams, 90% of the babies who need heart care do not receive care.
Serving more children with heart disease in India
The multi-year Children’s HeartLink partnership pairs SSSSH with medical volunteers from Children’s Mercy Kansas City Hospital for mentoring and training.
After visiting SSSSH, Dr. James O’Brien, co-director of the Ward Family Heart Center and division chief of cardiovascular surgery at Children’s Mercy Hospital and Children’s HeartLink medical volunteer shared, “From the hard-working bedside nurses to the thoughtful, diligent physicians to the enormous support shown by the administrative leaders, it was evident that this is a team that is ready and eager to take on new challenges and expand their program to care for more of the underprivileged children of India. The team’s energy and enthusiasm are palpable, and their teamwork will serve them well in collaborating with Children’s HeartLink and our team from Children’s Mercy Kansas City. We are excited and hopeful that this marks only the beginning of a long-term enjoyable and productive partnership.”
It aims to increase the reach of SSSSH’s pediatric heart care team, so they can screen and care for more children with heart disease and train other heart care teams in the region to do the same, ultimately working to prevent avoidable deaths.
“This partnership shall bring in the latest medical expertise and know-how techniques from reputable pediatric cardiac specialists associated with Children’s HeartLink and Children’s Mercy Kansas City Hospital to Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Centre for Child Heart Care. This will help in providing world class pediatric cardiac care to poor and needy children who are treated totally free at Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Centre for Child Heart Care,” said Dr. Snehal Kulkarni, chief of pediatric cardiology at Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Centre for Child Heart Care.
While Maharashtra, where SSSSH is located, boasts a thriving economy and a high concentration of private practitioners and hospitals, healthcare disparities, particularly in the public sector, persist. The collaboration between SSSSH and Children’s HeartLink aims to bridge these gaps and improve the healthcare landscape in the region. With a total of 100 beds, including 10 in the Intensive Care Unit and 7 in the Cardiac Care Unit, SSSSH is part of the Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Trust, which also serves patients referred from their centers in Raipur and Palwal.
“Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani is a chain of Pediatric Cardiac Hospitals in three states of India and a fourth one upcoming.” Dr. Snehal continued, “While the three centres do over 5,000 surgeries and interventions annually with wide spectrum, this partnership can help upgrade the skillset of doctors, nurses, technicians with latest techniques in the world in Pediatric Cardiac Care and in turn help make this quality health care available totally free for the poor and needy children.”
Transformative focus areas of the partnership
This partnership will focus on enhancing care for children and expanding training opportunities to ultimately save more lives. Through the Children’s HeartLink collaboration, SSSSH will embark on a multi-year training partnership with medical volunteers from Children’s Mercy Kansas City Hospital. Together, they aim to reduce infection rates, handle more complex heart conditions and elevate nurse training to provide the best possible care. The key focus areas for this partnership are:
- Training Excellence. One of the primary goals of this partnership is to train all specialties within the SSSSH Mumbai center to become a Children’s HeartLink Center of Excellence. This includes a strong emphasis on Quality Improvement (QI) practices, ensuring that every child receives the best care possible.
- Surgical Expertise. The Children’s HeartLink partnership will provide support and training in handling complex pediatric cardiac cases. This initiative aims to enhance the surgical skills of the SSSSH team to save more young lives.
- Infection Control. Maintaining a sterile environment is crucial in pediatric cardiac care. Our partnership will focus on infection control measures to minimize the risk of complications and ensure the well-being of every child.
- Strengthen multi-disciplinary team. Standardize practices and strengthen the multi-disciplinary team approach in pre, peri and post operative care.
- Nurse Training. The Train the Trainer model will be employed to empower nurses with the knowledge and skills required to provide the best care.
These combined efforts will position SSSSH as a Children’s HeartLink Center of Excellence, which means they’ll be equipped to train their peers and reach more children in need of care.
The Power of Partnership: Children’s Mercy Kansas City Hospital Joins Hands
This partnership isn’t the first time the pediatric cardiac care team from Children’s Mercy Kansas City Hospital has volunteered with Children’s HeartLink.
“I feel so blessed to be able to use my training to help children in under resourced areas. I am particularly excited about partnering with Children’s HeartLink as I strongly believe in their model of program development. Instead of caring for a relatively few children during visits by volunteer teams, the goal is to develop a relationship that leads to sustainable program growth which then provides exponential benefits,” said Dr. O’Brien. “These partner institutions can then serve as Children’s HeartLink Centers of Excellence and subsequently train other centers further expanding care in the region. This can lead to increased care for thousands of additional children.”
Several years ago, the team began a partnership with Shanxi Women and Children’s Hospital in China to improve access to heart care for children in the Shanxi province.
“This continued partnership with Children’s Mercy Kansas City Hospital is a testament to our shared dedication to improving pediatric cardiac care in underserved parts of the world,” said Boucher. “We’re excited for this volunteer team and Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Centre for Child Heart Care to work together to improve the quality of care provided to children with CHD in that state of Maharashtra and from various parts of India.”
Children’s HeartLink works with medical volunteers from 18 top teaching and research institutions around the world. These volunteer teams commit to multi-year partnerships to train and mentor their peers in six countries to deliver high-quality and team-based care.
This partnership is possible thanks to a grant from Medtronic Foundation. In 2021, Medtronic Foundation made a three-year commitment aimed at training 10,000 health workers and providing surgery and quality outcomes for 10,000 children born with congenital heart disease.
Read more about our work in India including How One State in India Transformed Heart Care for Children and Our Partner in India Performs Ozaki Surgery after Training.
Learn more about Congenital Heart Disease Around the World.