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Extracorporeal life support program receives ELSO excellence award

Jul. 27, 2023, 8:53 AM


by Matt Batcheldor

Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s extracorporeal life support (ECLS) program has received the platinum level award for excellence in life support from the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO), the organization’s highest honor.

VUMC’s ECLS program offers a life-saving medical treatment called ECMO, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, a life-sustaining mechanical system that temporarily takes over for the heart and lungs of critically ill patients, allowing them to rest and recover. The ECMO program, first operating out of Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, has been serving patients for nearly 34 years. It is the first and largest in Middle Tennessee and one of the largest in the nation, serving about 200 pediatric and adult patients per year.

“I am so proud to be a part of a group of incredibly talented clinicians who can help some of the sickest patients at both at Vanderbilt and in this region,” said Lynne Craig, RN, BSN, BS, RN, VUMC ECMO coordinator and VUMC Temporary Mechanical Circulatory Support Committee co-chair. “I believe our clinical education, protocols, research, and team members are among the best in the country. This team works tirelessly, and we are thrilled to receive this recognition from our colleagues at ELSO.”

The ELSO Excellence in Life Support Award recognizes ECLS programs worldwide that distinguish themselves by having processes, procedures and systems in place that promote excellence and exceptional care. ELSO’s goal is to recognize and honor ECLS programs that reach the highest level of performance, innovation and quality.

“The VUMC Adult ECMO program has emerged from the COVID pandemic strengthened on all fronts: improved decision making, robust quality improvement and a world-class, truly multi-disciplinary team,” said Ashish Shah, MD, professor and chair of Cardiac Surgery. “The ELSO platinum status simply reflects smart people doing hard work, and it’s a well-earned recognition. There is no ECMO program in the city, state and region like the VUMC adult ECMO program.”

As a designated Center of Excellence, VUMC’s ECLS program demonstrated achievement in the following three categories:

  • Excellence in promoting the mission, activities and vision of ELSO.
  • Excellence in patient care by using the highest quality measures, processes and structures based upon evidence.
  • Excellence in training, education, collaboration and communication supporting ELSO guidelines that contribute to a healing environment for families, patients and staff.

“The ELSO Award for Excellence in Life Support signifies to patients and families a commitment to exceptional patient care,” according to ELSO’s description of the award. “It demonstrates to the health care community an assurance of high-quality standards, specialized equipment and supplies, defined patient protocols, and advanced education of all staff members.”

ELSO’s platinum-level designation for VUMC is for three years. The organization previously honored VUMC with its gold level award in 2020.

“The platinum level award is recognition of excellence in the ELSO program’s true purpose, providing the best possible care for the patients that we serve,” said Todd Rice, MD, MSCI, associate professor of Medicine, director of the Medical Intensive Care Unit and director of Medical ECMO.

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