News from CHOC Pediatrician-In-Chief, Dr. Nick Anas

I would like to wish you a very happy and healthy new year.  As we leap into 2017, I’d like to take a few moments to reflect on just a few of the milestones that were achieved at CHOC Children’s in 2016. Each year we raise the bar in providing the best care possible to the children and families that we serve, and 2016 was no exception. We added faculty and staff, launched several programs and services, broke ground on two new inpatient units, and made great strides in clinical research.

CHOC Children’s Pediatrician-In-Chief, Dr. Nick Anas

Many of you are aware that CHOC was once again named a “Top Children’s Hospital” by the Leapfrog Group for providing the safest and highest quality services to our patients. This is a highly prestigious designation, as CHOC is one of only nine children’s hospitals in the nation and the only children’s hospital on the West Coast to receive this honor.

This distinction helps us to recruit the best and the brightest to CHOC, and in 2016, we welcomed nearly 40 new medical staff members representing 22 specialties. While this allows us to better serve Orange County families, we continue to treat patients traveling to CHOC from other counties, states and even countries, seeking our expertise through specialized programs such as our world class feeding, epilepsy/neurosciences, and orthopedic surgery programs, just to highlight a few. The Pediatric Subspecialty Faculty (PSF) and CHOC Children’s Specialists (CS) alone is now comprised of over 150 medical and surgical specialists.

In April, we opened our Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Unit within the Hyundai Cancer Institute. Our new AYA Unit provides an inpatient treatment setting designed to meet the needs of our adolescent and young adult patients. CHOC recently added oncologists specializing in the unique needs of adolescent and young adult patients.

In September, we formally broke ground on the CHOC Children’s Mental Health Inpatient Center. This will be an 18-bed mental health unit with outdoor recreation space, serving children from ages 3 through 18 years old. When this unit opens in early 2018, it will be the only inpatient program in Orange County serving children under the age of 12.

In 2016, we also began the build out of our state-of-the-art, expanded Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Scheduled to open in the summer of 2017 on the fourth floor of the Bill Holmes Tower, the NICU will offer 37 rooms, of which 36 will be private, designed to allow parents to comfortably remain at the bedside while we care for their critically ill newborns. The new unit will also contain our recently expanded neurocritical services, offering increased capacity for whole body cooling and long-term video EEG monitoring for prevention and early detection of seizure activity in newborns.

We also expanded our outpatient adolescent/teen program, now located in the Centrum North Building. By adding services, offered by both male and female physicians specializing in adolescent medicine, CHOC is able to better meet the unique needs of our teenage patients.

In 2016, CHOC clinicians published more than 330 manuscripts and delivered more than 200 lectures. The CHOC Research Institute had 369 active IRB-approved clinical research studies across multiple specialties. A prime example of our emphasis in research is the recruitment of Dr. Jeff Huang, a PhD scientist, who is partnering with Dr. Raymond Wang, a physician scientist. Together, they hope to advance the understanding of Pompe Disease. Through our partnership with UC Irvine and the Institute for Clinical and Translational Science, we awarded five promising pilot research grants. And the Hoag Foundation awarded CHOC Principal Investigator Phil Schwartz, PhD with a three-year $1,048,168 grant to advance pediatric stem cell research with the goal of filing a “Pre-Investigational New Drug” application with the FDA.

The Sharon Disney Lund Medical Intelligence and Innovation Institute (MI3) at CHOC continues to grow, advancing the culture of innovation and supporting thought leaders from around the world to join together in pursuit of innovative approaches to improve the lives of children. This year, MI3 launched the first innovation education/training program at CHOC, which included an innovation challenge. The first place challenge winners were invited to present at the International Peds2040 Conference in Miami this month. Institute director, Anthony Chang, MD, leads with the philosophy that “The best and fastest way to innovate, is to collaborate.” The result of this philosophy was the creation of The International Society for Pediatric Leadership (iSPI), now comprised of 33 children’s hospital members (and growing). Last summer, nearly 100 future healthcare innovators participated in MI3’s Intern Program.  Also in 2016, Dr. Chang became the president of the OC/SD Chapter of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs (SoPE). To close a successful year, MI3 hosted the AIMed Conference in December, with over 400 participants.

And finally, this year CHOC launched our refreshed 2020 Strategic Plan, which will serve to guide us in 2017 and beyond as we continue to reach new goals in expansion and enhancement of patient care. One of the major initiatives in the strategic plan is our population health strategy. With the creation of the CHOC Children’s Network, we are taking transformative steps toward seamless integration of specialty and primary care providers, with primary care as an increasingly important part of the continuum of care. As one of only 29 healthcare recipients nationwide and the only pediatric institution, CHOC received a four-year Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative Grant totaling $17.8 million. Working in partnership with Rady Children’s Hospital, we are launching new care model designs across the care continuum for enhanced coordination of inpatient, primary, emergency, urgent care and specialty care services.

While I wish that I could list all of our accomplishments from calendar year 2016, it is simply not possible, as there are far too many to mention here. Suffice it to say, we should all be very proud. With everything else going on in the world around us, we can say that we continue to focus on the health and well-being of the children and families that we serve, providing expanded, higher quality care, setting the stage for a great 2017. I would like to congratulate you all on a job well done. The future at CHOC is bright!

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2017.

Nick Anas, MD

CHOC Children’s Pediatrician-In-Chief