It may surprise a lot of people that Phoenix Children’s treats adults, too.

Phoenix Children’s recently achieved accreditation as an Adult Congenital Heart Disease (ACHD) Comprehensive Care Center from the Adult Congenital Heart Association (ACHA), a nationwide organization dedicated to education, advocacy and research to improve the lives of those born with heart defects. Phoenix Children’s is one of only 38 programs nationwide to receive accreditation and is the only hospital in Arizona to earn this distinction.

“ACHA accreditation signals to parents that their child will receive the best quality of care throughout their life,” said Wayne J. Franklin, MD, FACC, co-director of the Heart Center and director of Adult Congenital Heart Disease at Phoenix Children’s.

Phoenix Children’s is well-equipped to address adult congenital heart problems and provide the increasingly specialized care these patients need. With the shortage of cardiologists trained to treat ACHD, Phoenix Children’s accreditation represents the organization’s efforts to address this deficit in healthcare and provide an elevated standard of care for children who grow up to become adults living with congenital heart disease.

“Not only do we have incredible examples of accomplished adult heart patients, but parents can also have the peace of mind knowing that they won’t have to leave Phoenix Children’s to continue their child’s cardiac treatment as they grow up,” said Jordan Awerbach, MD, MPH, associate director of the Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program at Phoenix Children’s.

With nearly 2 million adults living with ACHD in the United States, the accreditation process aims to address the expert care required for this unique patient population. The rigorous accreditation evaluates the hospital’s commitment to ACHD medical services, site compliance with best practices and protocols, and personnel requirements, including board-certified ACHD physicians, to ensure the quality of specialized patient care and experience to treat this disease.

“There are now more adults than children in the U.S. with CHD,” said Mark Roeder, president and CEO of the Adult Congenital Heart Association. “Accreditation will elevate the standard of care and have a positive impact on the futures of those living with this disease.Coordination of care is key, and this accreditation program will make care more streamlined for ACHD patients, improving their quality of life.”

“Phoenix Children’s is one of few systems qualified to address congenital heart problems from fetal life to adulthood,” said Daniel Velez, MD, co-director of the Heart Center and division chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Phoenix Children’s. “The subset of ACHD is rapidly increasing, and we will continue to provide these patients with our expert care.”

The ACHD Program at Phoenix Children’s cares for children transitioning from pediatric to adult cardiology care and ACHD patients across the broad spectrum of heart disease. The program sees more than 1,000 ACHD patients each year and performs over 50 ACHD heart surgeries annually. It is part of Phoenix Children’s Heart Center, recognized by U.S. News & World Report as a nationally-ranked specialty.