Erin Faherty, MD, is a pediatric cardiologist who treats young patients in Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital. She sees newborns in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), and older children and teenagers who are admitted because they are experiencing heart-related issues or need emergency surgery.
Dr. Faherty says her work is different every day and sometimes quite intense. “I'm often seeing those patients who are the sickest,” she says. “If there is, for example, a question in the NICU about a new diagnosis or even a question about a heart murmur, we assess that patient in the hospital.” This involves examining the patient, taking a comprehensive family history, and reviewing the imaging. “We may diagnose new heart disease. But there's also the other side of that, where a baby might have a new heart murmur, and we can tell the family that the baby's heart is perfectly normal.”
When Dr. Faherty is talking to a 10-year-old or a 20-year-old, she uses language they can easily grasp. “When you're speaking to a family with a new diagnosis for a baby, you're not only talking about what's happening that day, but also what's going to happen in the weeks or years after, and for the rest of his or her life,” she says. It helps to have a close team of cardiac specialists and surgeons, nurses, imaging specialists, child life specialists, and other providers. “We have all these specialists working together to provide input and care,” she says.
Sometimes the conversations are difficult. But, “Kids are so resilient. It's amazing. Just last week we had a 4-year-old who had open heart surgery and was running around the room in a matter of days. They're incredibly resilient, and they're just a really special patient population for so many reasons,” she says.
Yale Medicine, Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital