Cardiovascular Critical Care and ECMO Program

Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute’s critical care team includes fellowship-trained intensivists, cardiothoracic surgeons, cardiac anesthesiologists, nurses, consult specialists, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, dieticians, perfusionists, physical and speech therapy specialists, and clergy.

Saint Luke's critical care services provide:

  • Highly trained critical care physicians
  • Current evidence-based care
  • Advanced cardiopulmonary support in the form of ventricular assist devices and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)

ECMO Program

ECMO is used for patients with life-threatening heart or lung disease or damage. It provides short-term support of the cardiac or pulmonary system when conventional management fails. ECMO can fully support the heart and lungs until the underlying problem is resolved or organ transplantation occurs.

The Heart Institute is the region’s most experienced adult ECMO Program, established in 2009.

In 2016, Saint Luke’s renamed its ECMO program the Kevin K. Nunnink ECMO Program. Nunnink was one of Saint Luke’s first patients to undergo ECMO therapy.

A well-respected businessman, Nunnink died from heart disease in 2009 at 57.

To continue his legacy, a foundation was established in his honor. Today, the Kevin K. Nunnink Foundation provides much-needed funds for cardiac research to help prevent and cure heart disease.

Thanks to ongoing support and generosity from the foundation, Saint Luke’s has been able to expand its program with additional ECMO machines—saving even more lives.

Award-winning care

Our program is a member of and actively participates in the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO) data registry for national and international ECMO centers. ELSO monitors quality standards for member ECMO centers worldwide. Our rate of survival to hospital discharge exceeds the national average reported from all centers participating in the ELSO registry.

In 2015 Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute received the Gold Center of Excellence in Life Support Award from ELSO for 2015 to 2018.

Cardiac ICU

Saint Luke's Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) specializes in caring for patients who’ve been diagnosed with coronary artery disease, heart failure, or unstable rhythm disturbances.

Our team is certified to care for patients facing acute conditions while nurturing their physical and emotional needs. Our critical care certified nurses provide the full spectrum of care, from admission to discharge.

Patients in the Cardiac ICU have such conditions as:

  • Hypothermia in post-arrest
  • Acute MI
  • Cardiac rhythm disturbances
  • End-stage heart failure

Patients may also be in the Cardiac ICU for:

  • Pre-heart transplant care
  • Intra-aortic balloon pump
  • Hemodynamic monitoring
  • Post-care after complicated procedures

Visiting hours and guidelines

  • Two visitors at a time.
  • No visitors during shift change: 6:45 – 7:30 a.m.; 6:45 – 7:30 p.m.

Nursing staff may ask visitors to step out of the room temporarily to allow for private patient care.

Cardiovascular ICU (CVICU)

The Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU) is designed for the care of postoperative cardiac and thoracic surgery patients. The CVICU provides patients with the most sophisticated care from a team of dedicated experts who are directed 24/7 by a trained physician credentialed in critical care medicine.

Surgical Intermediate Cardiac Care Unit

After patients have recovered from surgery in the CVICU, they’re transferred to the Surgical Intermediate Cardiac Care Unit. They receive 24/7 care from advanced nurse practitioners.

Liaison nurses

These nurses meet with patients’ families the day of surgery and keep them updated through every step of the operation and recovery process. They also address the family’s needs and provide detailed instructions for ongoing care prior to a patient’s discharge.

Pre-op Clinic

A hospital setting for patients to get their questions answered prior to undergoing cardiac surgery. Cardiac nurses conduct a comprehensive evaluation and provide in-depth information about the specific procedure. Tours of this space are available.

Visiting hours and guidelines

  • One family member may remain at the patient’s bedside at all times.
  • No visitors during shift change: 6:30 – 8:30 a.m.; 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.


Nurses may ask visitors to step outside during patient care treatments.

Contact us

Call 816-932-5784

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