Some of the many members of the Airway Center team: Seated: Kathy Abode, RN; Marianne Muhlebach, MD; Carlton Zdanski, MD; Marianna Henry, MD. Standing: Jennifer Rayburn, SLP; Marjorie Thomas, RN; Leslie Stewart, MA; Mark Hall, RT; Amelia Drake, MD; Cynthia Reilly, NP; Cathy Tutka, LCSW; and Kara Willette, PNP. Photo by Brian Strickland Photographer.

The North Carolina Children’s Airway Center is one of the few pediatric airway centers nationwide. It is part of the North Carolina Children’s Hospital, which was ranked 7th in the nation among the top 30 children’s hospitals caring for children with respiratory disorders by US News & World Report in their 2008 issue of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals. The Center was awarded a grant from The Duke Endowment from 2007 to 2009 for the creation of a center to care for children with aerodigestive problems. It is a unique public private endeavor, brought into existence by funding from the Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery, the Department of Pediatrics Division of Pulmonology, and The Duke Endowment to provide multidisciplinary evaluation and treatment of children with complex airway and swallowing disorders. The Center seeks first and foremost to provide comprehensive cutting edge care for children with these unique problems in an efficient and timely manner. Additionally, the Center will seek to instruct families, medical students, clinicians and healthcare providers, and to perform research into pediatric airway disorders. The North Carolina Children’s Airway Center officially opened its doors in September of 2007. Since its inception, over 500 patients have been evaluated by the multi-disciplinary Airway Center team. In addition, nine protocols have been established for the evaluation of children with airway problems, three collaborative research projects are under development, three presentations have been offered at national meetings, and multiple presentations have been offered at the state and local level.

The Center’s core organizational structure includes Surgical Director Carlton J. Zdanski, MD; Medical Director George Retsch-Bogart, MD; Respiratory Therapist Mark Hall, RRT; Tracheostomy Nurse Cynthia Reilly, MS, CPNP; Speech Pathologists Jennifer Rayburn, MS, CCC-SLP, Leah Thompson, SLP; Administrative Coordinator Leslie A. Stewart, MA; Social Worker Cathy Tutka, MSW; and Program Coordinator Kathy Abode, RN.

The North Carolina Children’s Airway Center provides an individualized, coordinated approach to each patient offering a full range of pediatric medical and surgical services, including anesthesia, radiology, ICU care, feeding and swallowing, sleep evaluation, nutrition, tracheostomy care, social work, respiratory therapy, speech and communication. The clinicians at the Center have an interest in caring for all children with airway problems, including those with existing tracheotomies or with new airway problems. If you have a patient you would like to refer to the North Carolina Children’s Airway Center, please feel free to call the Administrative Coordinator at (919)-843-6858, or the UNC Health Care Consultation Center at (800)-862-6264. To speak with the on-call Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgeon, or Pediatric Pulmonologist after hours, call (919)-966-4131.