CHOC Children’s Chief Nursing Officer Honored for Excellence in Leadership

Melanie Patterson, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer (CNO) at CHOC Children’s Hospital, was recently honored with the Excellence in Leadership award by the Association of California Nurse Leaders.  Given to an inspirational leader committed to providing expert, compassionate care for children and their families, the honor is awarded for making a significant contribution to nursing leadership.

In Patterson’s three years as CNO— within a total of 24 years at CHOC—she has focused on building leadership skills for nurse managers and ensuring the highest level of patient care quality. She supported the Nursing Research Fellowship and Evidence-Based Scholars programs to empower nurses to develop competency in the research process. She helped launch Innovation Beach Day, an off-site summit of registered nurses and other health care professionals, facilitated by innovators including representatives from Google. Melanie is also a strong proponent of CHOC’s nurse residency program, dedicated to training the next generation of pediatric nurses.

“This award is a testament to CHOC’s overall commitment to support our world-class patient care staff as we work to nurture, advance and protect the health and well-being of children in our community,” Patterson says. “I feel honored to have seen CHOC through so much growth, and to be part of caring for the hundreds of thousands of children entrusted to us.”

Patterson originally joined CHOC in a volunteer capacity and has served in various roles through the years: bedside nurse, charge nurse, clinical coordinator, nurse manager, and executive director of neonatology, Heart Institute and the Hyundai Cancer Institute. She also served as executive director of south tower activation when CHOC opened a new state-of-the-art patient care tower in 2013.

Introducing CHOC’s Newest Physicians

Please join us in welcoming the newest members of CHOC Children’s medical staff.

Ngegha Abongwa, MD – Urgent Care
Abisola Ayodeji, MD – Anesthesiology
Kai-Wen Chuang, MD – Urology
Elisa Corrales, PhD  Psychology
Lawrence Eichenfield, MD – Dermatology
Caroline Grantz, MD – Psychology
Josephine HaDuong, MD – Oncology
Beena Kazi, MD – Emergency Medicine
Olivia Kim, MD – Neurology
Carlos Konishi, MD – Psychology
Dyllon Martini, MD – Emergency Medicine
Sherif Meckael, MD – Anesthesiology
Elizabeth “Annie” Moroski, MD – Critical Care
Christopher Nguyen, MD – Anesthesiology
Patricia Riba, MD – Pediatrics
Lisa Tran, DDS – Oral Surgery
David Chang, MD – Otolarygology
Andrea Guardenier, MD – Critical Care
Amy Lau, MD – Neonatology Hospitalist
Emilina Lim, MD – Rheumatology
Ryan Peterson, MD – Hospitalist
Suhas Radhakrishna, MD – Rheumatology
Sneha Taylor, MD – Neonatology Hospitalist
Dean Todd, MD – Hospitalist
Victor Wang, MD – Oncology
Eric Won, MD – Hematology
Minkkwan Wungwattana, MD – Hospitalist

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Former CHOC Residents Head Electrophysiology Conference, Feb. 20-21

It was 2003, and two newly graduated physicians had just set foot at CHOC Children’s Hospital for their pediatric residencies. Dr. Anthony McCanta and Dr. Vincent Thomas remember the first time they were each called “doctor,” and became responsible for treating sick children. The responsibility drew the two together, initiating a friendship that remains strong today.

“We went through the trenches together. It was nice to have someone there there that you could run something by and that you could trust. That is something we can still count on from each other today,” Dr. Thomas says.

Dr. Anthony McCanta

The two, Dr. McCanta, a pediatric cardiologist specializing in electrophysiology at CHOC, and Dr. Thomas, a pediatric cardiologist specializing in electrophysiology at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center, Omaha, have joined forces again as co-course directors of the PACES Advancing the Field Conference, being held on Feb. 20-21, 2017 at Florida Hospital, in Orlando. Along with co-course director, Dr. Bhavya Trivedi, they’ve put together an exciting symposium to promote different diagnostic and treatment approaches for pediatric and adult congenital patients, and encourage collaboration among renowned experts in the field.

Dr. Vincent Thomas

The first half of the conference will focus on adult congenital electrophysiology, while the second half will focus on pediatrics. This includes discussions on innovative technology, such as leadless pacemakers – a minimally invasive device the size of a pen cap, which does not require the use of wire leads and is implanted directly in the heart. The new device is currently in research trials and has not been used on children yet.

Both physicians credit their mentor at CHOC, Dr. Melville Singer, a beloved and well-respected cardiologist who recently passed away, with the idea of continuously learning and exchanging ideas; which is perhaps the most important theme of the conference, explain Drs. McCanta and Thomas.

“Mel Singer was a great teacher and friend, who was instrumental in our interest of cardiology and what it entails,” Dr. Thomas says. “He was constantly trying to learn new things and that is really the whole idea behind this conference – to not just talk about what we already know; medicine is constantly changing and in order to provide the best care for our patients, we need to adapt to new challenges.”

The inaugural PACES conference in 2014 was well received due to the emphasis on open discussion, something Drs. McCanta and Thomas wanted to continue to see in their 2017 program.

“Most conferences have speakers just talking to you. We wanted a conference that focuses on discussion, including limiting the experts’ talks to 15 minutes or less to leave time for longer discussion. You learn so much from the audience; they have incredible insight,” Dr. McCanta says.

Plans are already underway for a 2019 conference. To contact Dr. McCanta, email To contact Dr. Thomas, email

Learn more about the PACES Advancing the Field Conference.  

Learn more about CHOC’s electrophysiology program.

Two Oncologists with Special Interest in Immunotherapy Join Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s

The Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s has added two oncologists, Dr. Josephine HaDuong and Dr. Ashley Plant, to its team of nationally recognized specialists. Both physicians were fellowship trained at two of the country’s top cancer programs, and share research interest in immunotherapy and targeted therapies.

Dr. Josephine HaDuong and Dr. Ashley Plant

Dr. Josephine HaDuong

Board-certified in pediatric hematology and oncology, Dr. HaDuong was drawn to the Cancer Institute for what she refers to as its gold standard of care. “The Hyundai Cancer Institute is a growing center that strives to be among the best. The team provides patients access to cutting-edge clinical trials that may lead to breakthroughs in pediatric cancer,” says Dr. HaDuong.

A published author and principal investigator in a number of studies, Dr. HaDuong’s major research activities include exploring developmental therapeutics in solid tumors using immunomodulatory and targeted agents, as well as functional imaging in bone and soft tissue sarcomas using magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Her research is driven, in large part, by her clinical interest in caring for patients with solid tumors.

Following medical school at the University of Pittsburgh, where she earned a full tuition merit scholarship, Dr. HaDuong completed her residency and pediatric hematology/oncology fellowship training at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.  She was honored with the Fellow of the Year, Excellence in Teaching Award.

Dr. HaDuong is a member of numerous professional associations, including American Society of Clinical Oncology, American Society of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, and North American Consortium for Histiocytosis. In addition to English, she speaks Spanish and Vietnamese.

Raised in Orange County, Dr. HaDuong is thrilled to be back in her hometown. “I have always wanted to return home to serve the children and families in Orange County. I look forward to being a part of an incredible team who works relentlessly to end cancer,” explains Dr. HaDuong.

Dr. Ashley Plant

Committed to growing CHOC’s neuro-oncology treatment program, Dr. Plant is eager to bring new and exciting therapies to patients with brain tumors. “I look forward to collaborating with academia and industry to bring early clinical trials to CHOC, especially in the area of immunotherapy. I am also excited to partner with my new colleagues to advance the work the Cancer Institute has been doing to reduce the long-term toxicities of cancer therapy,” says Dr. Plant.

A published author, Dr. Plant’s research interests include early phase clinical trial design for pediatric brain tumors. Her most recent project is a phase 1 clinical trial for a neo-antigen heat shock protein vaccine for diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, a fatal brain tumor. She hopes to enroll patients in this trial within the next year. She considers herself fortunate to have worked under world-renowned immuno-oncologists Dr. Glenn Dranoff and Dr. Jerome Ritz at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. There, she won the Young Investigator Award for a project evaluating clonality of T cell receptors in pediatric gliomas.

Following medical school at Stanford University, Dr. Plant finished her residency at University of California, Los Angeles. Her fellowship training in pediatric hematology/oncology was completed at Boston Children’s Hospital. She received additional training in clinical trials and public health at Harvard Chan School of Public Health.

“I was attracted to CHOC because the hospital prioritizes excellent clinical care of patients above all else,” says Dr. Plant. “The hospital’s commitment to patient-and-family-centered care is something I wholeheartedly support. Cancer affects everyone in the family – physically, emotionally, psychologically and sometimes even financially. If we fail to address these issues, we are not completely caring for our patients and their families.”

Occupational Therapy Celebrates 100 Years

By Lauren Francis, occupational therapist at CHOC Children’s

Occupational therapy is turning 100! The specialty’s roots formed in 1917 as “reconstruction aides” who helped rehabilitate wounded soldiers returning from battle in World War I. Today, occupational therapists apply a holistic approach to help children and adults engage in meaningful activities.

CHOC’s occupational therapists (OTs) are highly skilled and trained to help children of all ages who have unique needs. Some key components of OT are:

Feeding Specialists

CHOC’s occupational therapists help treat a wide range of feeding issues, including babies who have trouble with breast and bottle-feeding, children who have oral motor or sensory difficulties and cannot manage textures of food, and teenagers who may have had an injury or procedure that affected their ability to eat. OTs at CHOC are also highly skilled in specialty therapies such as feeding tube weaning and swallowing therapy.

Sensory & Developmental Specialists

CHOC’s occupational therapists have advanced expertise and techniques to offer children and families with an assortment of developmental challenges as well. From supporting a child to stay strong and active through chemotherapy to helping a child recover from a neurological disorder or brain injury, occupational therapy can be a crucial part of a multidisciplinary care team. Children who have difficulty with sensory processing, learning delays, challenges with self-care, visual motor or visual perceptual deficits, difficulty coordinating their arms and hands, or who aren’t meeting developmental milestones, can all be excellent candidates for occupational therapy intervention.

Parent/Caregiver Collaboration

Perhaps one of the greatest roles occupational therapists play is working with the parents and families of the children we serve. Parent education and involvement in therapy is an essential component to ensuring a child meets his or her goals. Through CHOC’s commitment to patient- and family-centered care, our OTs closely partner with parents to create individualized treatment plans, offer customized home programs unique to each child’s needs, and engage them in all aspects of care.

Preventative Care

CHOC OTs work tirelessly as part of an advanced team to screen children who may be at risk for developmental delays. They apply years of clinical experience and expertise along with standardized testing to assess a child’s movement, mobility, hand use, interaction with the environment, and feeding skills. For children who require a long hospital stay, OTs help provide developmentally appropriate stimulation to help each child continue to grow and develop during their hospital stay.

Learn more about rehabilitation services at CHOC.