Dina Ferdman, M.D. is a mom of three kids five and under (!) as well as a Yale Medicine pediatric cardiologist who sees patients at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital. She is the the Director of the Pediatric Echocardiogram Program and Co-Director of the Fetal Care Center at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital, and an Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics (Cardiology) at the Yale School of Medicine.
This busy mom lives in Westport with her husband and children Asher (5), Rafael (3) and Leila (6 months), as well as their fur-baby, Mocha. After moving from NYC seven years ago, Dr. Ferdman and her family lived in Greenwich before settling in Westport. “I’m originally from the Boston area and Eric grew up in Westchester, so raising a family in CT works for both of us, where we are now close to family,” says Dr. Ferdman. “We came to Westport for the schools and community and have loved spending time here – especially in the summer! Compo beach is the best,” she shares. Dr. Ferdman and her family take advantage of all the area has to offer, from Longshore’s pool to concerts at the Levitt Pavilion, and says the walkability and amazing foodie scene have made the city to suburb transition smooth. “Even though we aren’t living in Manhattan anymore, I really appreciate being able to walk to a restaurant for a nice dinner,” says Dr. Ferdman.
For this week’s Meet a Mom, we spoke with this doctor Mom about her impressive career, experience as a working mom and more.
Can you please share a bit about your background?
I’ve been a practicing pediatric cardiologist for 7 years. I’m on the faculty of Yale School of Medicine and see patients at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital Pediatric Specialty Center locations in Greenwich, Trumbull and New Haven. The Pediatric Specialty Center in Trumbull is right at the Fairfield border, so it’s nice to be working close to home! We also have a Norwalk office that is covered by one of my colleagues. As pediatric cardiologists, we see kids from newborns through teenagers who have either a history of heart disease, or a new concern for a cardiac evaluation. In addition, I practice fetal cardiology at these same locations. This care is for babies in the womb who may be at risk for or are affected by congenital heart disease or abnormal heart rhythms. This is through Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital Fetal Care Center, which specializes in care for pregnant patients and their developing babies who have a medical issue.
Why did you specialize in Pediatric Cardiology?
I went into pediatrics since I enjoyed caring for both children and their families. Kids have an amazing resilience and surprise you with what they can accomplish – and how fast they can heal! I also loved learning about congenital heart disease. There is a huge variety in types of cardiac malformations, and the severity of these. I’ve always enjoyed the breadth of types of patients I encounter and facing challenges together with their families. During my training, I learned how most congenital heart disease is diagnosed in-utero, typically midway during pregnancy. Fetal cardiology is special because I meet families at the very beginning of their journey.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Absolutely the best part is watching my patients grow up, having known many of them since before they were born! The majority of my patients born with congenital heart disease go on to live completely normal lives. Many types of defects resolve with growth. There is a smaller number that do require an intervention and/or surgery. For these families it is a privilege to be there for them and help guide them through a challenging time. Again, kids are surprisingly resilient, and I’m constantly amazed how quickly a child will be running down our Pediatric Specialty Center hallway after healing from heart surgery.
What is a typical day like for you?
“Typical?” It’s always hard to predict with 3 young kids! Will always start with a little “controlled chaos, trying to get 3 young kids up, dressed, fed and out of the house! After that – it depends on the day of the week. In Greenwich and Trumbull, I’ll see fetal cardiology patients in the morning and pediatric cardiology patients in the afternoons. I’m fortunate to work with a great team of cardiac sonographers, nurses, medical assistants, and child life specialists – all who make the experience as pleasant as possible for our youngest patients and their families. When I’m in New Haven, I work with my colleagues at the Fetal Care Center, at 1 Long Wharf Drive. We see patients for joint consultations as well as have collaborative meetings to review complex cases. I’m the director of the Children’s Heart Center Pediatric Echocardiology Lab, so on my days at the main Children’s Hospital, I’ll spend time reading transthoracic echocardiograms, and performing transesophageal echocardiograms in the Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery Operating Room and the Pediatric Cardiac Catheterization Lab. One thing I love about being a part of the faculty at Yale School of Medicine is we always have a great group of pediatric cardiac fellows who are learning about congenital heart disease. Teaching keeps me on my toes to stay current and up to date! And I’m always learning new things from them too.
What is Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital’s Fetal Care Center and why is it so unique?
Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital’s Fetal Care Center brings together top multidisciplinary experts to create a complete care plan for pregnant women whose obstetrician has detected a medical condition that is of concern in their developing baby. The strength of the center is in the coordinated multidisciplinary care. I work closely with colleagues from maternal-fetal medicine (high-risk pregnancy), neonatology, pediatric surgery, and other pediatric subspecialties, in addition to genetic counselors, nurse coordinators, and social workers. We use a “patient-centered model”. As you can imagine, having a pregnancy affected by a fetal diagnosis can be stressful to say the least. Our goal is to have multiple team members at each visit, so the patient and their family aren’t making multiple trips for multiple consultations. Our locations throughout Fairfield County make this specialized care more accessible to patients and families without having to travel far from home. Additionally, in some cases, we offer intervention in-utero that could favorably alter the prognosis for the growing baby. This is made possible thanks to the expertise of the amazing team I get to work with
Anything else you’d like to share?
I’ll just say as a working mom it’s always important to try and remember to do something for yourself – every day if possible – even if it’s just 5 minutes to zone out and listen to music. I have some good recommendations for podcasts if anyone is interested! I try and do some form of exercise most days, mostly for my mental sanity! And when not possible, cuddles from my 3 kids are always the best!
This story is sponsored by Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital.