CHOC Employee Gives Back Through CHOC Walk

For Devin Hugie, director of facilities, a tiny patient close to his heart makes it extra special to participate in the CHOC Walk in the Park.

Devin’s participation in the CHOC Walk began more than a decade ago – long before he was an employee. His wife was looking for a community event in which their family could get involved. Their daughter Ashlie, in junior high at the time, would voluntarily go door to door to raise funds, he recalls. The family was well aware of everything the hospital did for children in the community and they continued to support the CHOC Walk throughout the years.

Devin Hugie

In 2012, when an opportunity opened up to work for CHOC, Devin jumped at the chance to become part of the CHOC family. As an employee, he became even more involved with the CHOC Walk and formed “Team Hope.” The 50-member team, including Devin’s family, as well as friends and partners of the facilities department, has raised $9,340 this year. They hope to reach their goal of raising $10,000. Devin has personally raised $4,250, making him one of the top fundraising walkers.

Proceeds from the CHOC Walk help to fund education, research, and advance the health and well-being of children. More than 15,000 people are expected to attend this year.

“I’m blessed to be at CHOC. It really is about the kids and I can’t think of a more awesome cause,” Devin says.

In March 2014, this important cause hit even closer to home. Devin’s grandson, Noah, was unexpectedly admitted to CHOC’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for an infection in his lung. It was a scary time for Devin’s daughter, Ashlie — Noah’s mom — and the rest of the family. Today, Noah is a happy and healthy toddler, and the family is even more inspired to give back through the CHOC Walk.

“I’ve always known the great work that we do, but when a loved one becomes a patient it becomes more real. The care that my grandson received made it even more amazing to be a part of CHOC. I am so grateful,” Devin says.

The dedicated, fun-loving grandfather hopes his story will inspire others to get involved and give back.

“The morning of the Walk is filled with excitement,” he says. “You see all the various teams and the pictures of the many kids whose lives CHOC has touched; you feel grateful to be part of the bigger picture.”

The CHOC Walk in the Park presented by Disneyland Resort will be held October 30, 2016. Register and learn more. 

CHOC Children’s Breaks Ground for Pediatric Mental Health

As part of the transformative mental health initiative that CHOC and other Orange County leaders launched in May 2015, CHOC celebrated the start of construction on the first inpatient mental health center in Orange County.

To commemorate the important milestone, more than 150 leaders from CHOC and the community, including elected officials and members of the mental health task force, gathered for a ceremony at CHOC in support of the initiative, which will ensure children and adolescents with mental illness get the health care services and support they need. Speakers included Kimberly Cripe, CHOC ’s president and chief executive officer, Dr. Heather Huszti, CHOC’s chief psychologist, and Rick and Kay Warren, co-founders of Saddleback Church. The event included a brief tour of the inpatient mental health center currently under construction, highlighted by Kim Cripe breaking down a mock brick wall, as a symbolic display of breaking down barriers associated with mental health.

Rendering of CHOC Children's Inpatient Mental Health Center, scheduled to open in early 2018.
Rendering of CHOC Children’s Inpatient Mental Health Center,.

Scheduled to open in early 2018, the center – located on the third floor of CHOC’s Research Building on the main campus in Orange – will provide a safe, nurturing place for children ages 3 to 18, and specialty programming for children younger than 12. The center’s innovative floor plan was designed with guidance from national experts and incorporates elements of several exemplary programs. It will feature 18 private patient rooms in a secure and healing environment including an outdoor playground area to promote exercise and movement. Additional amenities include a multipurpose room, classroom, and a variety of rooms that support activities for children of different ages and needs.

Since the announcement of CHOC’s initiative last year, CHOC has made tremendous progress including the launch of an outpatient co-occurring clinic, in conjunction with Orange County Behavioral Health Services, for patients whose physical conditions are complicated by mental health challenges; the launch of mental health screenings for all 12-year-olds at their well child visits in the primary care setting; and through a grant, CHOC’s cystic fibrosis (CF) program expanded its social worker’s availability and has a designated psychologist to help patients and caregivers. CHOC is also completing a pilot in the primary care clinics where a psychologist is present to help the medical team screen for and address mental health issues, and help families address childhood obesity.

Staff training and recruitment is currently underway.

To learn more about CHOC and how it’s changing the way pediatric mental health is treated in Orange County, please visit www.choc.org/kidsmentalhealth.

In the Spotlight: Michael Recto, M.D.

As an internationally-recognized expert in interventional pediatric cardiology, and division chief of cardiology, CHOC Children’s Specialists, Dr. Michael Recto’s goal is to provide world-class cardiac care. He treats children with serious congenital heart defects, and performs both diagnostic and interventional cardiac catheterization procedures.

Dr. Michael Recto

Prior to coming to CHOC, Dr. Recto served as both chief of pediatric cardiology and director of cardiac catheterization at Tulane Medical Center in New Orleans. Previously, he was chief of pediatric cardiology and director of inpatient transplant services at Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville.

Dr. Recto takes great pride in having worked throughout his career with some of the top cardiologists in the field. When he joined the CHOC Children’s Heart Institute in 2013, he witnessed the same level of talent and knew instantly he was in the right place, he says.

“Everyone on the CHOC team is an expert in their field. We have experts in echocardiography (fetal, transthoracic and transesophageal echo), cardiac MRI, electrophysiology and cardiac intensive care. I am proud to be part of such a talented team,” he says.

Dr. Recto enjoys spending time in CHOC’s state-of-the-art cardiac catheterization laboratorities, where he is able to diagnose problems and if needed, perform an intervention and help a patient right on the spot, he explains.

Dr. Recto is board certified in pediatrics and pediatric cardiology. He attended medical school at University of the Philippines College of Medicine, followed by a pediatric internship and residency at New York University Medical Center in New York City. He completed a pediatric cardiology fellowship at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, and a pediatric interventional cardiology senior fellowship at Texas Children’s Hospital, Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, under the tutelage of Dr. Charles E. Mullins, known as the Father of Modern Interventional Pediatric Cardiology.

In addition, Dr. Recto is a fellow of the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and a fellow of the Society for Cardiac Angiography and Interventions (SCAI), among other professional organizations. He has co-authored numerous articles in publications such as Pediatrics, Pediatric Cardiology, and Journal of the American College of Cardiology, to name a few.

Long before Dr. Recto was treating serious heart conditions, however, he thought of becoming an engineer or architect.  His mother asked if he had ever considered a career in medicine. Although unsure about this career path, he decided to give it a try. After his first semester as a pre-med student, Dr. Recto felt that he had never studied as much in his life, he says jokingly, and decided he better continue the hard work he had started. He was eventually accepted to the University of the Philippines College of Medicine, where only a small number of students are accepted every year.  The young doctor was first exposed to pediatric patients during his rotating internship at the Philippine General Hospital, where patients with some of the most complex clinical problems are sent for care.  That experience solidified his passion for pediatrics.

Today, Dr. Recto’s approach to delivering care is to treat his patients and their families the same way he would like his family to be treated. He has learned a lot from his patients and their families along the way, and is still surprised at the touching moments he experiences on a daily basis.

“I had a patient just the other day with an atrial septal defect and I explained to this child’s family that this particular hole between the two atria was going to be hard to close. The patient would possibly require open-heart surgery,” Dr. Recto says. “The patient’s father looked at me and said, ‘We have a lot of faith in you.’ I was indeed able to close the defect in the cath lab. When I came out of the procedure and told the entire family the good news, they stood up and applauded and the father gave me a big hug. I was not expecting that. A moment like that is one of the best things you can experience. It was truly gratifying and humbling.”

When Dr. Recto is not caring for patients at CHOC, he enjoys spending time with his wife, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at CHOC, and their three grown children. He and his wife enjoy eating out and traveling.  Dr. Recto is also an avid tennis player.

Dr. Recto is open to questions from community physicians, and encourages physicians to call him or use Pingmd. To contact him, or to refer a patient, please call 714-509-3939.

September is National Sickle Cell Month

Sickle cell disease is an inherited disorder wherein the red blood cells are misshapen, and can lead to painful episodes and even hospitalization.  The disorder is usually diagnosed at birth during newborn screening tests.

In honor of National Sickle Cell Month, we spoke to Dr. Geetha Puthenveetil, a pediatric hematologist and director of blood and donor services at CHOC Children’s, about the multidisciplinary care and other resources available to sickle cell patients at CHOC.

CHOC Children's

Q: How do patients with sickle cell benefit from CHOC’s comprehensive red cell clinic?

A: I started this clinic for patients with a number of red cell disorders—including sickle cell disease, thalassemia, aplastic anemia, and Diamond-Blackfan Anemia. The clinic is attended by a cardiologist, endocrinologist, and hematologist and provides comprehensive care for patients.

Our multidisciplinary clinic offers continuity of care and expedited service for patients and families that they don’t find elsewhere. Since their entire care team is in one place, families can get more immediate answers to their questions. All members of the team are involved in creating the care plan for how best to treat each patient.

Q: What should parents know about the hematology program at CHOC?

A: Along with other centers, we are a part of a growing number of clinical trials to decrease pain crises in patients with sickle cell, and their amount and length of hospitalizations. We are also part of international study looking at standards of patient care.

Patients can also benefit from neuropsychology evaluations. Our pediatric neuropsychologist is specially trained in working with patient with sickle cell disease, and can help evaluate if their medic al condition is affecting their cognitive functioning, and lay the groundwork for treatment.

We also offer a support group for families of patients with sickle cell. Families who are new to their diagnosis or our program have the opportunity to be mentored by more experienced families who can relate to what they’re going through. This group is open to all caregivers of our patients, from teachers and principals to babysitters and day care operators, who are interested in learning more about sickle cell, and what they can do to offer better care.

Q:  What aspect of pediatric hematology/oncology are you most passionate about?

A: No two patients are alike. Each and every sickle cell patient has their own challenges and battles, and each requires a unique strategy. As a hematologist/oncologist, you need to constantly think outside the box.

Despite all the health challenges my patients are facing, they always keep me laughing. In pediatrics, you’re not just treating the child, but the whole family. It adds to the challenge of providing care, but it’s essential to engage their entire environment in order to create the best outcomes for them.

Q: What impact do blood donors have on patients with sickle cell?

A: Blood donors are of utmost importance, and they are crucial for patients with sickle cell disease. Sickle cells have a shorter life span than normally-shaped cells, which can lead to anemia, or a low red blood cell count. Our patients depend on the generosity of blood donors.

Patients with sickle cell can develop antibodies after their great number of transfusions, so our team is focusing on red blood cell genotyping, so we will be able to more closely match them to specific and regular blood donors. Our ultimate goal is having patients develop fewer antibodies because they’d be better matched with their donor at a gene level.

To contact Dr. Geetha Puthenveetil, please call 714-509-8459. 

Meet Dr. Hoang “Wayne” Nguyen

CHOC Children’s wants its referring physicians to get to know its specialists. Today, meet Dr. Hoang “Wayne” Nguyen, a child and adolescent psychiatrist.

CHOC Children's

Q: What is your education and training?

A: I received a Bachelor in Computer Science with a minor in Electrical Engineering and Technical Writing from Texas A&M University.  I completed Medical School at Texas A&M Health Sciences Center and did a Psychiatry Internship at University of California, Irvine.  My residency in Adult Psychiatry, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and Pediatrics was done at University of Utah Health Science Center.

Q: What are your administrative appointments?

A: Director of Psychiatry, Chair of the Physician Well-being Committee

Q: What are your special clinical interests?
A: Psychosomatic medicine including eating disorders, psycho-oncology, tic disorders, and Autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability.

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

A: Sixteen years.

Q: What are some new programs or developments within your specialty?
A: Our most exciting program is the building of an inpatient child and adolescent mental health unit. We are also involved in integrating psychiatric care and mental health in various outpatient specialty clinics.   We are also a provider for county Medi-Cal program for patients with co-occurring medical illnesses and psychiatric disorders

Q: What are your most common diagnoses?
A: Anxiety, depression, ADHD

Q: What would you most like community/referring providers to know about you or your division at CHOC?
A: We are in the beginning stage of building capacity to see more outpatients.

Q:  What inspires you most about the care being delivered here at CHOC?
A: It’s comprehensive and we are always striving to do better.

Q: Why did you decide to become a doctor?
A: At the age of 19 and having graduated from college, I was working as a software engineer at a startup, and there was a realization that there was more to life than what I was doing.

Q: If you weren’t a physician, what would you be and why?
A:  Ideally, a rock and roll star, but most likely a software entrepreneur because I like to create new solutions

Q: What are your hobbies/interests outside of work?
A: I enjoy being with my five children and participating in their activities.  I’m also very active in practicing my faith.  In my spare time, I enjoy outdoor activities and playing tennis.