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Interventional radiology

SickKids opens state-of-the-art cardiac unit

TORONTO – The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) has announced the opening of The Mitchell Goldhar Cardiac Diagnostic & Interventional Unit.

The facility will enable Canada’s largest paediatric interventional catheterization program to develop new innovations in minimally invasive alternatives to open-heart surgery.

The Goldhar unit combines the latest technology to diagnose and treat children with congenital heart disease using minimally invasive procedures that can reduce or eliminate the need for open-heart surgery.

The 18,000 square-foot facility includes two new catheterization labs with state-of-the-art equipment, an integrated magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine and a post-anaesthetic recovery area for patients. Designed with children in mind, the unit’s outer space theme provides a fun and stress-free environment in waiting areas, corridors and treatment rooms.

Built-in lava lamps, an interactive “asteroid”, as well as colorful lights and wall decorations are designed to distract patients from upcoming procedures.

“The new unit allows us to explore new minimally invasive treatments that put less strain on children with cardiac conditions,” says Dr. Lee Benson, director of The Mitchell Goldhar Cardiac Diagnostic & Interventional Unit. “Ultimately, we want to improve the quality of care and life for children with heart disease, and [new] unit will help us achieve our goal.”

The establishment of facility was made possible with $23 million in combined funding from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and from a committed group of donors to SickKids Foundation.

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care provided $7.2 million. The unit received funding from private donors totaling $15.8 million. A gift of $3 million from Mitchell Goldhar, owner and CEO of SmartCentres, completed the private funding commitment to the unit.

Other major donors to the unit with gifts of more than $1 million or more included: Gary Slaight and Standard Broadcasting Corporation and their listeners, Ruth and Douglas Grant, David and Judy Galloway, Jennifer Ivey Bannock and the Richard Ivey Foundation.

“People don’t associate heart disease with young children,” said Mitchell Goldhar, owner and CEO of SmartCentres. “But children of all ages do have heart problems, some from the time they are born. It was important for me to invest in an area that I knew would have lasting impact. As far as I am concerned, SickKids is the best place in the world to improve a child’s outcome for a better quality of life and a healthier future.”

Every detail in the unit has been designed to provide a distracting and entertaining environment for children. The entrance to the unit sets the stage for a child’s journey through outer space. Patients will first encounter a large “asteroid” that symbolizes a real meteorite that landed on earth over 5,800 years ago. Funded by the Women’s Auxiliary of The Hospital for Sick Children, the asteroid has many hidden features and stories that children will want to explore on each visit to the unit. The patient reception area also features a virtual interactive game, computer kiosks and a wall of lava lamps that will entertain both children and their families.

The Labatt Family Heart Centre at SickKids is already home to the largest paediatric interventional catheterization program in Canada and continues to be a leader in Ontario for innovative procedures to treat complex cardiac conditions in children. It conducts approximately 90 percent of cardiac catheterization procedures for Ontario children, with 1,000 catheterizations performed last year. Approximately half of these procedures are interventional, while the remaining half include diagnostic, electrophysiological, ablation and pacemaker-related procedures.

SickKids Foundation was established in 1972 and is celebrating its 35-year anniversary. Its mission is to inspire our communities to invest in health and scientific advances to improve the lives of children and their families in Canada and around the world. Its vision: Healthier children. A better world. The Foundation is the largest non-governmental granting agency in the area of child health in Canada.

The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), affiliated with the University of Toronto, is Canada’s most research-intensive hospital and the largest centre dedicated to improving children’s health in the country. As innovators in child health, SickKids improves the health of children by integrating care, research and teaching. Its mission is to provide the best in complex and specialized care by creating scientific and clinical advancements, sharing knowledge and expertise and championing the development of an accessible, comprehensive and sustainable child health system. For more information, please visit