New Chief of Pediatric and Congenital Heart Surgery Expands Heart Program to Reach More Children in Need

Dr. James St. Louis

When your child faces a heart issue, you want the best care possible. As the new chief of pediatric and congenital heart surgery, Dr. James St. Louis is working to ensure that top-tier care is available at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia.

St. Louis is also working with his pediatric cardiology colleagues in the Department of Pediatrics and Surgery to establish additional cardiology clinics for children throughout southeast and southwest Georgia, since these services are limited and highly specialized.

“Georgia needs two heart programs to fill the needs of the population,” said St. Louis. “The only way you are going to expand a program is through outreach and additional cardiologists and surgeons. We have this commitment from our administration. It’s happening now.”

While leading the team, St. Louis is aggressively recruiting more cardiologists. Two new cardiologists are starting this summer leading pediatric heart care efforts throughout the region. “We are due to open additional cardiology clinics throughout the state,” said Dr. St. Louis. “Dr. John Plowden will be in charge. We’ve never done this before. We’ve never had clinics throughout the region. We are also looking at plans to expand outreach in Albany and the southern part of the state.”

These expansion efforts mean more access to better care for families in Georgia. St. Louis said he is pleased with the progress made in just a matter of months, and he credits his team for their hard work.

“They are dedicated. Everyone wants to work hard,” said St. Louis. “They want to do whatever it takes to make this work. From the person bringing the patient to the operating room on the day of surgery to the leadership of our surgeon and pediatrician-in-chief of the Children’s Hospital. They really want to make this
work, and it has been great fitting into that mentality that exists here.” St. Louis sees patients ranging from the smallest newborns to young adults whose congenital heart defect showed up later in life.

Being a heart surgeon for babies and children is very challenging, but he enjoys building relationships with the parents and seeing the resilience of a child.

“It is the innocence of the patients. Children are just innocent. They didn’t create their problems.”