Pediatric Cardiology Associates was established in Baton Rouge in 1995 and since that time have referred hundreds of patients to surgical and interventional centers across the United States for the best cardiac care available. While this allowed Baton Rouge and south central Louisiana access to state of the art medical care, families often had to endure significant financial hardship. Especially concerning were non-covered medical costs, non-medical expenses such as travel and lodging, and high out-of-pocket costs due to varying plans for covered items. This issue came to the forefront in 1996 when Thibodaux Mayor Warren Harang’s granddaughter was born with multiple holes in her heart. She required life-saving surgery that was deemed too risky at many centers. The family chose to fly her to San Francisco to a top specialist for surgery. Throughout this journey, Mayor Harang witnessed the huge expense that the family encountered, from the medical flight, to hotels, to living expenses, all while being away from work. He wanted to help.
Upon his grandchild’s return home, Mayor Harang met with Dr. Crapanzano of Pediatric Cardiology Associates to discuss his personal desire to help any family who ever needed financial help in getting their “heart child” the best care possible. Dr. Crapanzano wholeheartedly agreed and also realized a need for family support, especially if the pediatric cardiologists were to continue to be able to send patients to the preferred locations for care. This vision became a reality in 1997 when they formed the Harang Pediatric Cardiology Foundation, through which Mayor Harang made personal contributions to help families from south central Louisiana. By relieving unnecessary financial burdens, families were now able to travel across the country to top-rated centers of excellence.
Through this private foundation, awareness for the burdens of pediatric cardiac patients increased and the idea of support gained more and more momentum. In 2001, the assets of the Harang Foundation were transferred to the Louisiana Pediatric Cardiology Foundation, and our public foundation was formed.
Since its formation, hundreds of grants have been distributed to families in need. To support its mission, LPCF board members and volunteers hold annual fundraisers. In 2012, LPCF began its “Save-A-Heart. Save-A-Life.” program, providing free heart screens for high school athletes to identify undetected abnormalities. To date, over 7,200 students have been screened with 4-5% requiring a follow-up evaluation. Three have received life-saving open heart surgery to correct a previously “hidden” abnormality. The enthusiasm and support for “heart kids” in south central Louisiana has continued to grow as the needs grow each year as well.