Pingmd, Secure Texting App: Q&A with Dr. Grant

CHOC Children’s has partnered with pingmd, a secure, HIPAA
compliant messaging app, which allows you to securely send text messages, videos and images to our specialists available within the network. We spoke with Dr. Kenneth Grant, pingmd physician champion and assistant division chief of gastroenterology/nutrition division at CHOC, to give us an update on this new tool.

Dr. Kenneth Grant

Q: What are the main benefits of using pingmd?

A: Communication is much more efficient with this platform, and less likely to interfere with normal workflow. The triage of messages is also more efficient. Moreover, answering through pingmd takes much less time than a traditional phone call, given the ability to answer quickly from a smart phone, tablet or computer.

Q: What has your experience been so far with the new app?

A: Phenomenal. I can respond to a lot more requests in a more timely manner. The app has been working very consistently and speed has notably improved recently.

Q: Do community physicians have direct access to CHOC specialists with this tool?

A: Yes. Any of our community partners may have access to the directory of specialty providers who are actively using pingmd. Messages are marked when sent and viewed. The app makes it clear when a user is offline.

Q: Is there a cost to sign up?

A: There is no cost for CHOC or community physicians.

Q: Who should physicians contact to learn more or to sign up?

A: Please contact CHOC Children’s Business Development at 714-509-4329, or, provide your email, address and practice info to


Meet Dr. Alejandra R. Suzuki

CHOC Children’s wants its referring physicians and patients to get to know its specialists.  Today, meet Alejandra R. Suzuki, MD, FAPA, child psychiatrist.   Born and raised in Argentina, she is of Japanese descent and is fluent in English, Spanish and Japanese. She joined CHOC’s medical staff in 2015, and is proud to be part of the hospital’s mental health initiative.

Dr. Alejandra Suzuki

Where did you complete your education and training?

After finishing medical school at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, I entered a residency program in ophthalmology.  My interest in neuro- ophthalmology sparked research opportunities for me in Japan.  A few years later, I came to the U.S. to continue my research in neuro-otology at the University of Miami.  I had always been interested in the brain, but the mind intrigued me.  I decided to change career paths and pursue psychiatry.  I completed my psychiatry residency at USC, followed by fellowship training in child psychiatry at UCLA.  There, I became interested in autism and participated in research on morphometric MRI studies in children with autism.

I am board certified in general psychiatry and child psychiatry.

What excites you most about CHOC’s mental health initiative?

I am honored to have joined CHOC as it announced its commitment to a mental health initiative.  CHOC envisions the integration of physical and mental health.  Our mental health care delivery focused on the individual and benefits the patient as a whole.  I’m very excited about collaborating with primary and subspecialty providers at CHOC.  Given my multi-cultural background and past experiences, CHOC is the ideal place for me to practice.  I look forward to contributing to the growth of our mental health initiative and to providing excellent care to our patients.

If you weren’t a physician, what would you be?

If I weren’t a physician, I would probably be a musician.  I used to play the piano and love classical music.

What are your hobbies and interests outside of psychiatry?

Being from Argentina, I love the Tango, though I have to admit I am not the best dancer.  I also love the music of Astor Piazzola.

In the Spotlight: Raj Vyas, M.D.

A pediatric plastic surgeon specializing in reconstructive plastic surgery has joined CHOC Children’s. Dr. Raj Vyas sees patients with a variety of complex conditions including clefts and craniofacial anomalies.

“Care at CHOC is delivered in such a multidisciplinary fashion, allowing for complex higher-level discussions and nuanced treatment planning in both standard and exceptional circumstances. There is also an emphasis on safety and process improvement, both critical for a state-of-the-art facility serving a complex and diverse patient population,”Dr. Vyas says.

Dr. Raj Vyas

The Southern California native attended UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. It was during his third year of medical school that he learned plastic surgery was his newfound passion.

“I unexpectedly fell in love with plastic surgery, particularly craniofacial surgery, after rotating on the service,” Dr. Vyas explains.  “I had little appreciation for the depth or breath of plastic surgery before this experience. I remember seeing a child with hypertelorism undergo a facial bipartition and I was fascinated.”

Following medical school, he completed a plastic surgery residency in Boston at the Harvard Combined Plastic Surgery Residency Program. He then completed a craniofacial surgery fellowship at New York University Medical Center, in New York, where he treated children and adults undergoing facial reconstruction for congenital anomalies or after suffering trauma and cancer. He also gained expertise in microvascular surgery and virtual surgical planning.

Dr. Vyas is working with the team at CHOC to build a multidisciplinary program in facial reanimation. By combining craniofacial surgery with microsurgery, he hopes to restore facial form and function in children and teens with facial paralysis.

“We have a great team at CHOC. Dr. Daniel Jaffurs has been an incredible mentor,” Dr. Vyas says. “My goal is to help make the program the best in Southern California and beyond.”

Dr. Vyas enjoys working with virtual scanning and 3D modeling technology available at CHOC, as it helps him plan and ensure optimal safety and precision before a procedure.

“Today, we are able to use cone beam CTs to significantly minimize radiation exposure while still obtaining high quality 3D imaging. This allows for virtual surgical planning that is both precise and extremely effective in reducing uncertainty in the OR,” Dr. Vyas explains. “In neonates with upper airway obstruction, for instance, who are scheduled to undergo mandibular distraction, we are able to customize bony osteotomies in a way that prevents injury to dental structures and nerves, while optimizing distraction vectors that improve the airway and maintain cosmetic considerations. We can also virtually anticipate the extent of facial movements and design custom splints that facilitate orthognathic (upper and lower jaw) surgery. The benefit of these types of pre-planned procedures are expanding as surgeons utilize this technology in a variety of craniofacial reconstructions.”

When this dedicated physician is not busy helping patients at the hospital, he volunteers with Global Smile Foundation, a nonprofit organization that treats children with facial congenital deformities in underserved countries. Most recently he went to Trujillo, Peru, where he helped over 100 patients.

“It’s so rewarding to work with children,” he says. “Their reconstructions have a long-life impact.”

Dr.Vyas has given many national and international presentations and authored numerous book chapters and peer-reviewed articles in leading specialty journals. He is board certified in plastic surgery and a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, American Society of Craniofacial Surgery, American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association and International Cleft Lip and Palate Foundation, among other professional organizations.

In his spare time, Dr. Vyas enjoys spending time with his wife. He also likes hiking, biking and playing tennis.

To refer a patient to CHOC, please call 1-888-770-2462. To contact Dr. Vyas, please call 1-844-827-8000 option #5.

Meet Dr. Svetlana Gorodetski

CHOC Children’s wants its referring physicians to get to know its specialists. Today, meet Dr. Svetlana Gorodetski, a hospitalist at CHOC Children’s at Mission Hospital.

Svetlana GoradetskiQ: What is your education and training?
A: I attended medical school and had my residency at UC Irvine.

Q: What are your special clinical interests?
A: Hospital medicine

Q: How long have you been on staff at CHOC?
A: Seven years

Q: What are your most common diagnoses?

A: Asthma exacerbation, pyelonephritis, acute febrile illness in neonates, appendicitis, pneumonia, bronchiolitis and acute gastroenteritis

Q: What would you most like community/referring providers to know about you/your division at CHOC?
A: At CHOC Mission, we are a 24/7, attending-only service, easily accessible to outside pediatricians not only if they are in need of hospitalizing a patient but also for any advice or opinion they might need from a hospitalist. We create a continuum of care, starting with outpatient pediatrician and continuing into hospital care, and communicating with the pediatrician upon the patient’s discharge.

Q:  What inspires you most about the care being delivered here at CHOC?
A: At CHOC Mission, we have a very coherent and devoted group of physicians committed to providing excellent care 24 hours a day.

Q: Why did you decide to become a doctor?
A: I wanted to be able to deliver care necessary to sick children at the time when they needed it most.

Q: If you weren’t a physician, what would you be and why?
A: A veterinarian. I love pets! Just like our children, they bring happiness and love into people’s lives.

Meet Dr. Gary Goodman

CHOC Children’s wants its referring physicians and patients to get to know its specialists.  Today, meet Dr. Gary Goodman, a pediatric critical care medicine specialist and medical director of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at CHOC Children’s at Mission Hospital. After graduating from medical school at University of California, Irvine, he served his internship, residency and chief residency training in pediatrics at UC Davis Medical Center.  Dr. Goodman completed a pediatric critical care and pulmonary medicine fellowship at CHOC.

Dr. Gary Goodman

Q: What are your special clinical interests?

A: I am particularly interested in traumatic brain injury, concussions, respiratory failure and shock.

Q: How long have you been on staff at CHOC?

A: I have been on staff for 30 years.

Q: Are there any new programs within your specialty at CHOC you’d like to share?

A: We are now utilizing noninvasive ventilation and physiologic monitoring.  We have developed improved treatment of ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome).  We are also proud of our neuro-critical care team.

Q: What would you most like community/referring physicians to know about your division at CHOC?

A: The division of pediatric critical care provides outstanding and personalized care for children and their families when their need is the highest. We strive to not only provide state-of-the-art medical care, but to also support the emotional needs of the patient and family. Our comprehensive, multi-disciplinary team works together to address every need and concern a patient and family might have.

Q: What inspires you most about the care being delivered at CHOC?

A: For a pediatric specialist, there is no higher honor and privilege than working at a hospital dedicated to caring for children. I am always surrounded by and supported by other practitioners who share my passion for caring for children and who are all pediatric specialists themselves.

Q: When did you decide you wanted to be a doctor?

A: I wanted to be a doctor since I was 5 years old, inspired by black and white documentaries about medicine.

Q: If you weren’t a physician, what would you be and why?

A: If I wasn’t a physician, I would be an architect. I am fascinated by design and how the environment we live and work in can have such positive and even healing effects on us.

Q: What are you hobbies and interests outside of medicine?

A: I enjoy listening to music (jazz and classical), cooking, photography, collecting watches and traveling.

Q: What was the funniest interaction you had with a patient?

A: Just recently, I had a patient, who has a mild developmental delay, call me “the boy.”  I would stop in the patient’s room each morning, at which point I’d get asked, “What do YOU want?”