Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit

The Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU), a part of the Betty Irene Moore Children’s Heart Center at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, is committed to providing world class pediatric cardiac critical care for patients with congenital and acquired heart disease from the newborn period through adulthood. The unit provides an interdisciplinary environment that includes cardiac intensivists, surgeons, cardiologists, advanced practice providers, nurses and respiratory therapists. Patients range from premature and low birth-weight infants through older adult survivors of congenital heart disease. Patient complexity and acuity are amongst the highest in the nation.  As part of the largest heart failure center on the West Coast with one of the busiest heart transplant programs in the nation, the CVICU admits patients with end-stage heart failure, with some patients ultimately requiring mechanical circulatory support and/or transplantation. Several specialty centers including Pulmonary Artery Reconstruction, Bloodless Cardiac Surgery, and Cardiogenomics yield referrals from across the nation and world.

To meet the ever-increasing patient population requiring high level support, the CVICU continues to expand with a capacity of 36 patient beds, making it among the largest cardiac intensive care units in the nation. To ensure optimal outcomes for critically ill patients outside of the CVICU, a team of cardiac intensivists form a consultation service that co-manages any child with cardiac disease requiring intensive care outside the CVICU.  The team has focused on improvements in peri-operative care of neonates in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) while also providing critical care services to patients in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) and the Emergency Department. Ongoing CVICU collaboration with the NICU and PICU, as well as Adult Congenital, Heart Failure, and general cardiology continue to strengthen the clinical and educational opportunities for providers and trainees. 

CVICU Leadership

In addition to providing outstanding clinical care, the CVICU has been restructured under the lead of Medical Director Dr. Vamsi Yarlagadda to further develop the vital components that define greatness in academic intensive care medicine. The organizational structure of the CVICU is designated by academic pillars to drive excellence at home and contribute to thought leadership nationally.  These academic pillars are Operations, Education, Research, Quality, and Wellness.


Kate Ryan and David Kwiatkowski play a central role in CVICU operations as Associate Medical Directors of the CVICU. They are tasked with maintaining systems to support clinical care and optimize patient outcomes. Dr. Kwiatkowski leads the ICU consultation service and Dr. Ryan leads the Cardiac ECMO program.


Loren Sacks is the Program Director for the advanced fellowship program in cardiac ICU.  He is centrally involved in simulation-based education for our interdisciplinary team and families, and he is the physician champion for nursing education. Dr. Sacks organizes and leads the rotations in the CVICU for the cardiology and critical care fellowships and pediatric residents. He works in conjunction with our Local Improvement Team to gauge the educational needs of the CVICU at all levels to promote best practice.


Sushma Reddy is renown as a consummate physician scientist for her work advancing the understanding of the failing right ventricle.  Through her extensive experience in research, she has established herself as a ready mentor for faculty and fellows.  Dr. Reddy is the CVICU champion and administrative lead for academic productivity and collaborative research within the CVICU.


Andrew Shin is a national leader in the field of Quality Improvement and Safety in Pediatrics.  In this position he leads the collaboration with faculty leaders in quality and safety to promote contemporary value-based care. As part of this position, Dr. Shin is the site champion for the Pediatric Cardiac Critical Care Consortium (PC4).    


Ritu Asija has experience, perspective, and a commitment to physician wellness, a key pillar for pediatric cardiovascular medicine given the importance of well-being, safety and burnout in this high-risk environment. Dr. Asija is one of the lead divisional representatives for Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and has ongoing work which will shape the national landscape in sustainable intensive care.