A heart-to-heart with Dr. John Phillips
March 15, 2021
A heart-to-heart with Dr. John Phillips

    Heart month is every month when you’re a pediatric electrophysiologist

    After 20 years at WVU Medicine Children's Hospital as director of pediatric electrophysiology and the chief of pediatric cardiology, Dr. John Phillips paid a visit to CHoR.

    But luring him to Richmond was going to take some doing – and it needed to be special. Fortunately, we have special in the bag. Dr. Phillips was going to be part of a team that was building a pediatric heart center unlike any other in the region.

    “I wouldn't have taken it just to do another job. It needed to be something that drew me to it. And having been in administrative positions for a while, I was ready to just get back to being a cardiologist and doing what I love doing. Building a program here is really exciting.”

    We had a vision and were driven by a commitment to offer the best cardiac care for children, and part of that requires attracting experts who lead in their field, like Dr. Phillips.

    Today, Dr. Phillips is the area’s only pediatric-trained electrophysiologist.

    While his training makes him an expert – his bedside manner and years of experience caring for children is what puts families at ease during a stressful time. 

    Though the electrophysiology behind arrhythmias in kids and adults may be the same, it’s not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison. Dr. Phillips specializes in treating children and the specific needs that come with being a kid.

    electrophysiologyCardiac electrophysiology is the study of abnormal heart rates and rhythms, or arrhythmias. If a heart isn’t beating normally, it has trouble pumping blood to the rest of the body such as the brain and lungs. This can result in your child complaining of an irregular heartbeat, palpitation, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, shortness of breath and fainting.

    Children’s smaller frames can’t handle things like adults. The risks are greater. Imaging and procedural guidelines are also different – but we’re used to that – because we’re kid-focused. From offering the region’s most advanced imaging and testing services for children with heart abnormalities – to understanding that a fasting 5-year-old isn’t the same as a fasting adult before a procedure – Dr. Phillips and the team know how to manage the unique needs of kids and families.

    Pain control and sedation are also very different in children. And then there’s the communication aspect that requires a certain skill and understanding that pediatric specialists practice regularly.

    “When you have a pediatric patient, you don't have just one patient. You have a child and their parents,” explained Dr. Phillips. “It demands much greater education, explanation, time and understanding. We're treating the family as a whole.”

    Since 2012, Children’s Hospital Foundation has pledged more than $36 million to establish the new Pediatric Heart Center and build out its team of specialists.

    But it’s the community that has made it happen. The Heart Center would not have been possible without the investment that brings experts like Dr. Phillips to our community to deliver the best possible care to children.

    “My gain will be from the success of the children's hospital and of the area,” said Dr. Phillips. “Where no longer will families have to leave our area to get pediatric cardiology care or pediatric electrophysiology care. We offer state-of-the-art care for pediatric arrhythmias comparable to any children's hospital in the country. That’s what we do.”

    Dr. Phillips and the entire CHoR team are passionate believers that children should experience childhood to the fullest, even when they’re receiving care. When it opens in spring 2023, the Wonder Tower will bring together the wonders of childhood with the wonders of modern medicine – giving kids the chance to just be kids.

    Find out more about the compassionate, comprehensive heart care offered for kids and families, close to home, at CHoR.

    Learn more about our pediatric heart center

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