What to expect during your visit

At Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, we treat children, not diseases. The cardiovascular team knows that helping kids thrive physically is only part of our job. Helping patients and families feel more at ease emotionally is a big also part of what we do. Our first meeting with you sets the tone for everything to come, so we make it as informative and comforting as we can.

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Getting to know each other

The way we first meet depends on your child's situation. Our patients are diagnosed with a heart condition at one of three different times:

  • Before birth. Some heart problems are first discovered during fetal diagnosis. In that case, you may have a whole team of doctors working together to give your baby the best possible start in life. In addition to a cardiologist (heart doctor), your team may include a perinatologist (obstetrician who specializes in high-risk pregnancies), a neonatologist (pediatrician who specializes in treating sick newborns) and other specialists.
  • At birth. Some babies are transferred to the Edward J. Phillips Cardiovascular Care Center at Children's – Minneapolis soon after birth for immediate, specialized care. Depending on where your baby is born, you may arrive by ambulance, helicopter or plane.
  • After birth. Some children don't develop issues or don't need treatment until later in life. In that case, our first meeting may be at the clinic (Children's Heart Clinic) after a referral from your pediatrician.

Preparing for a clinic visit

If your child's care journey starts at the Children's Heart Clinic, knowing what to expect helps make the first visit less stressful. Before the visit, talk about it with your child. Show your child a photo of the doctor from our directory. With younger kids, it may also help to draw pictures (stick figures work just fine!). Or act out the upcoming visit with a stuffed animal as the patient.

To help us complete initial paperwork and concentrate on your child's care, it's best to arrive about 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment. That way, we can zip through the registration and insurance process (remember to bring your insurance card and co-pay) and concentrate on what's most important to us — talking with you and taking great care of your child.

In general, the first clinic visit takes about two and a half hours. You and your child will meet with your pediatric cardiologist—a specialist in treating children's heart and blood vessel conditions. The cardiologist will assess your child's health, ask about any symptoms your child is having and go over the results of any tests.

Speaking of tests:

  • If your child was referred to our clinic because of a previous abnormal X-ray, please bring it with you.
  • If the clinic has already received your child's medical records, the cardiologist may order an echocardiogram—an ultrasound picture of your child's heart. To save you an extra trip to the clinic, the echocardiogram can often be done on the same day - before you meet with the cardiologist.

Continuing the care journey

As your child's care journey progresses, we'll partner with you to make the next steps as smooth and stress-free as possible. If you ever have any questions or concerns, please let us know. We always try to make a terrific impression, whether it's our first meeting with your family or our twenty-first.


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