Renowned doctor, noted for opening the first area NICU and helping found SHCH, retiring

Renowned doctor, noted for opening the first area NICU and helping found SHCH, retiring

Dr. Hrair Garabedian has been credited with helping found the Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital, pioneering the first neo-natal intensive care unit in Spokane, and forging the foundation for the first pediatric cardiology practice at the hospital as well.

Garabedian started practicing in the Lilac City in 1970’s and has been helping patients young and old for the last 40 years.

“The neo-natal unit began as four little cubicles and a little box that keeps the baby humid and warm, that was it. None of the tools were made by the manufacturers for newborn babies, everything we had, we had to adapt to newborn babies,” said Dr. Garabedian. “There were days I sat with the same patient continuously because we didn’t know what kind of response we’d get.”

But it was that pioneering, that pushing of the envelope that saved lives. Back in the 1970’s in our region, it was a grim prognosis for children with heart problems.

“Back then, any kid born with a heart defect doomed to die, physicians wouldn’t even send them to us,” said Garabedian.

Forty years later, technologically things have changed significantly, and children that once were one written off, have grown into happy, healthy adults with their own families thanks to Garabedian.

“Now everything is monitored, you can sit in a different room and understand what is happening with the patient with the vitals, blood gasses, everything,” he said. “When you are here 40 years, and have treated over 60,000 kids, someone knows someone that I have taken care of.”

As Garabedian steps down leaving behind a remarkable legacy and leaves it to his team of doctors, his office will however still keep his name. One of the doctors taking the torch, is his son Dr. Carl Garabedian.

“His patients love him like crazy, these are big footsteps to follow” said the younger Garabedian. “He’s always been a mentor to me, and all ten of us in our practice, what one person used to do, what he used to do, there are now ten people doing here at the hospital.”

He says his father’s legacy has only grown, because of the successes of his pediatric work, the hospital has added new programs.

“My father’s previous successes, who are now adults, required us to expand our care for adults with congenital heart disease. He’s an amazing role model, and mentor, and I’m very proud to be his son.”

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