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Precision medicine for children and pregnant women: MedUni Vienna and Vienna General Hospital open Comprehensive Center for Pediatrics

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(Vienna, 17 September 2019) The Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at MedUni Vienna and Vienna General Hospital is the largest paediatric centre in Austria and, as a university department, is responsible for children and adolescents with complex and often chronic conditions from all areas of paediatrics. In addition to this, many other departments of Vienna General Hospital and MedUni Vienna - whether these be anaesthesia, cardiac surgery or radiology - have their own special "children’s team". In order to strengthen interdisciplinary cooperation and to increase efficiency for the benefit of patients, the Comprehensive Center for Pediatrics (CCP) was launched this Monday.

The central focus is to create patient-centred, cutting-edge medical care for acutely and chronically ill mothers-to-be, children and young people, from unborn babies through to young adults – with optimum interdisciplinary cooperation between the many different specialists and professional groups. "By combining disciplines, we our shifting the focus from the individual specialisation onto the pregnant women and the children themselves," explains neonatologist Angelika Berger, Head of the CCP. "In this way we are able to pool the expertise from the different areas even more effectively, thereby optimising the quality of patient care, research and teaching." 

Numerous benefits
"The function of the CCP is to integrate all the areas and professional groups at Vienna General Hospital and MedUni Vienna involved in the healthcare of expectant mothers, children and adolescents. We offer our patients the best possible treatment and, where possible, all in one place without any unnecessary inconvenience. In addition to this, we hope that this close collaboration will lead to an increase in organisational efficiency by improving our process flows," says Herwig Wetzlinger, Director of Vienna General Hospital.

Oswald Wagner, MedUni Vienna's Vice Rector for Clinical Matters, adds: "The CCP will combine competent, interdisciplinary medical care with clinical research and teaching of the highest order. We already have a similar, highly successful centre for cancer treatment and research, the Comprehensive Cancer Center Vienna. Our experience there has shown how important it is to concentrate all the expertise from the individual specialisations within one single centre."

New challenges in paediatrics
Like many other disciplines, paediatrics has changed a great deal over the last 20 years. For many children, there has been a huge increase in the chances of survival – for example those of preterm infants at the limit of viability, children with inherited metabolic disorders, organ failure or rare, complex heart defects. "We now have many new drugs at our disposal, especially in the field of rare diseases, which make long-term survival possible. At the same time, this presents us with huge challenges, because the number of patients with complex chronic diseases, who have very special needs, is constantly increasing and many of these young people can only receive the best possible treatment in a large centre such as our CCP," explains Berger.

Another key feature of the new centre is the excellent level of training of its staff, who receive targeted training courses in the paediatric simulation laboratory, where they can rehearse acute life-threatening scenarios and hone their practical skills, such as inserting arterial lines or intubating new-born babies. In parallel, a new programme has been included in the curriculum at MedUni Vienna, in which difficult conversations with parents are simulated so that prospective doctors are ideally prepared for this aspect of their professional lives – this involves the participation of actors playing the role of patients.