Dr. Zahidee “Saidie” Rodriguez is a pediatric cardiologist and intensivist at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. In this role, she cares for critically ill children with congenital heart disease and their families. “The ecosystem around them is an extension of them,” said Dr. Rodriguez. “The child is most compassionately cared for when their ecosystem is also cared for.” For Dr. Rodriguez, this means spending time with her patients and families to build relationships filled with trust and understanding of their values.
She is committed to going the extra mile to help the patients and families in her care. She will often arrange care conferences for her patients even when she is not on call. Because she takes the time to build these relationships, the families know that they can lean on her during their most difficult moments.
A colleague said, “I have been in the room as she has run a code. I’ve sat next to her as she’s told parents that their daughter will likely succumb to her illness. And I’ve stood in a circle of peers as Saidie has led a debrief from a traumatic code and death of a patient. In each of these circumstances, Saidie allows space for sadness and grief, but she also maintains and leads with hope. She is truly extraordinary.”
Dr. Rodriguez knows that the caregiving team is a critical part of a patient’s “ecosystem.” She works closely with her colleagues to make sure they are supported, so that they are empowered to deliver the best possible care. “I want to be sure I offer support, nurture, validation, advocacy, and empowerment to all of the key personnel so that they in turn can commit to not just the medical care of the child, but the human connection, empathy, inquiry and acknowledgement of all that makes up this wondrous child before us,” she said.
As a teacher, she is constantly seeking new ways of learning and sharing her knowledge. She has created teaching sessions, recorded educational videos, and co-created mentoring opportunities for students, fellows, and junior faculty.
She is passionate about advocating, promoting, and supporting wellness for physicians. She served on the Children’s Heart Center Physician Wellness Committee in 2020. She is also the physician liaison and a champion for the Schwartz Rounds.
She is dedicated to promoting equity within her organization and community. She was recently selected for Emory’s Implicit Bias Training Subcommittee, which seeks to address the challenges and craft strategies to overcome inherent biases in medicine. “She frames her values and perspectives on practice as deeply rooted in compassionate person-centered care – extending beyond the child and caregiver to the other members of the healthcare team,” said a colleague.
“I can’t imagine a better physician to take care of the world’s most fragile hearts,” said a colleague.