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Blythedale Celebrates 15th Anniversary of Ventilator Weaning Program

Blythedale Children’s Hospital is proudly celebrating the 15th anniversary of the enormously successful ventilator-weaning program. To date, more than 1,500 medically fragile infants and children have been successfully weaned from mechanical ventilation. 
     This intensive program is run by Blythedale’s pediatric pulmonologists and is complemented by a 24/7/365 in-house staff of board-certified pediatricians, 20 full-time pediatric respiratory therapists, and experienced nurses, many of whom have trained in NICUs and PICUs. 
     The pediatric ventilator weaning program also consists of a multi-disciplinary staff, including board-certified rehabilitation physicians, child neurologists, child development specialists, pediatric physical and occupational therapists, nutritionists, and social workers.
     More than one-third of all children admitted to Blythedale are referred for ventilator weaning and respiratory care. We are very proud of our results:
80% weaned from the ventilator,
85% of our patients are discharged home, and 
After six years, 97% of the children weaned remain ventilator free.
     "Our high rate of success is the direct result of the committed efforts of a finely honed team, with many years of experience in all aspects of caring for infants and children with complex medical needs,” said Blythedale Chief Medical Officer Joelle Mast, Ph.D., M.D. "We are admitting patients with multi-system involvement, complex congenital anomalies, and complicated cardiac and pulmonary diseases. We are very proud of the superior outcomes we are achieving with these extraordinarily fragile patients.”
     Frequent communication with referring physicians is critical, Mast emphasized, and extensive caregiver training is a "vital part of the protocol.” A full-time discharge planning nurse coordinates equipment needs and home care.
     According to Milicent Mitchell, M.D., Blythedale’s Chief of Pulmonology, a simple measure of the Program’s success is the stack of holiday cards she receives from the families of her former patients. 
     "Our families come to us at the most uncertain time in their lives, and we are able to help their children reach their maximum potential,” she said. "It is enormously gratifying to hear from our ‘graduates’ and learn of all they have come to achieve following their discharge from Blythedale.” 
     For additional information, please contact Director of Clinical Outreach Theresa King at 914-831-2431, or email her at And read more about Blythedale’s Ventilator Weaning Program in the upcoming issue of Pediatric Insight. 

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