Meet Dr. Timothy Hoffman, chief of pediatric cardiology

For Dr. Timothy Hoffman, there is nothing more important than community and the teamwork needed to provide optimal patient- and family-centered care.

Meet Dr. Timothy Hoffman, chief of pediatric cardiology click to enlarge Dr. Timothy Hoffman joined UNC Children's as chief of pediatric cardiology in March 2015.

It’s obvious that community and collegiality is important to Timothy Hoffman, MD. In conversation, it’s a concept that comes up often when he talks about his work at UNC Children’s and elsewhere.

“What’s impressed me most about the Division of Pediatric Cardiology is that this group is a family, and they have welcomed me and my wife, Pam (Pamela Ro, MD), with open arms.”

Dr. Hoffman is a recent addition to the division—joining UNC as chief of pediatric cardiology this past March—but he is outspoken about the quality program he found upon his arrival.

“I have been impressed with the level of care and the commitment to family-centered care,” reflects Hoffman. “It’s always been important to me that the family of a patient be involved as an integral member of the care team.”

Hoffman’s devotion to family and community was cemented in his own early days in Pennsylvania.

“I grew up in Pittsburgh in a blue collar family. We’re the sort of folks who all live within five miles of each other, but I’m the one who has done a bit of traveling,” he says with a laugh. “In fact, I went to Allegheny College which is 90 miles north of Pittsburgh and then to West Virginia University, which is 90 miles south, so I stayed close to home and family.”

After completing medical school at WVU, Dr. Hoffman remained at WVU for his residency and became chief resident. Although he would go to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for his fellowship training and first faculty job—and then on to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, where he spent 13 years and helped establish a heart transplant program—his affinity for his WVU “family” is apparent in his words and reflections.

“I got interested in pediatric cardiology while at WVU, primarily through the mentors I had there,” says Dr. Hoffman. “I was fascinated by the great level of care that had to be taken for these patients and how complex their cases could be. I learned that cardiology also gave you the ability to practice general pediatrics and all aspects of patient care.”

Dr. Hoffman specifically mentions Larry Rhodes, MD, now chair of pediatrics at WVU, as a man “who loves the care of children, especially those with heart disease.” Rhodes was in his time mentored by William Neal, MD, who also helped Dr. Hoffman chose his specialty.

“We talk about the role of mentors quite a bit,” reflects Dr. Hoffman. “They created quite a legacy at WVU and helped do great things in pediatric cardiology. Their legacy of care influences me. I’d like to do the same thing and build on the great foundation already here.”

Now at UNC, Dr. Hoffman is particularly interested in multi-level care.

“Pediatric cardiology is a discipline that involves so many other areas—cardiothoracic surgery, anesthesia, critical care, neonatology, oncology, just to name a few,” he says. “Because the services are so interlinked in how they care for these patients, I’d like to work toward collaborative services across departments and divisions and keep raising the bar on how we care for patients in North Carolina.”

“My vision is that in five years we will have expanded our regional and national footprint and enhanced the delivery of subspecialty services for the region,” he continues. “We also have a goal to be collaborating nationally and have faculty participate in multi-center initiatives to advance the field of cardiology.”

Dr. Hoffman is optimistic about these goals.

“Absolutely, we have been supported by hospital leadership, and the members of the division are on board. We’re a family, and we have the support we need to grow. This is an established division with energetic individuals providing the best care. From this strong foundation we will grow. Our goal is to enhance the overall service line, not only for the hospital but for the region and state.”

But no matter how much the division may grow, it all comes back to patient- and family-centered care.

“In this field, there are tremendous successes and also tragic challenges,” says Dr. Hoffman. “Every patient I’ve come in contact with has some impact on me in some way. It’s always been the joy of my job to talk to the families, getting to know them.”

“It makes you feel that you are special in their lives,” he continues, “And vice-versa. That’s the most heart-warming part of this job.”

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