MAY 2009

Mary M. Canobbio, R.N.

Transitional care provides support for adolescents, young adults with congenital heart disease

Congenital heart disease (CHD), one of most common birth defects in the United States, affects one out of every 120 babies. But with major advances in diagnosis, medical treatment and surgical techniques, up to 90 percent of these infants will live into adulthood. The Division of Pediatric Cardiology and the Ahmanson/UCLA Adult Congenital Heart Disease Center recognized the need for a seamless, gradual transition for their adolescent patients and partnered to create the UCLA Transitional Care Program for Adolescents/Young Adults with Congenital Heart Disease, coordinated by Anthony Chang, M.D., and Mary M. Canobbio, R.N.

The program prepares teens, young adults and their parents to move from child-focused to adult-based healthcare by providing comprehensive treatment for adolescents ages 15 to 20 years old.

The monthly clinic provides education about the importance of life-long cardiac care, self-management and an understanding of critical lifestyle choices facing adults living with CHD, including exercise, nutrition, medication coverage, health and life insurance and psychosocial development. Additionally, a number of noncardiac services have been added, including gynecologic services.

“Teaching the patient to assume responsibility for his/her own care and feeling confident about it is a very important goal of our program,” Mary observes. “Everyone needs a support group, and we hope we can provide that to our patients and their families.”