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.

CHOC Children’s Network: An Update on Our Progress

CHOC Children’s has made tremendous progress on our strategic goal to create a comprehensive system of care for population health management.  Our efforts have centered, in large part, on building CHOC Children’s Network, a community of primary and specialty care pediatric providers who are dedicated to a new model of care designed to improve outcomes and enhance the patient and family experience.

Most recently, CHOC’s division of population health announced the first primary care practices to join CHOC Children’s Network:  Sea View Pediatrics, Southern Orange County Pediatric Associates, CHOC Primary Care Clinics and Pediatric & Adult Medicine, Inc. With 14 pediatricians and two nurse practitioners, Sea View Pediatrics has been serving children and families in four locations in south Orange County since 1973.  Southern Orange County Pediatric Associates, comprised of 12 pediatricians and four nurse practitioners in four offices, has been in practice since 1977. The CHOC Primary Care Clinics, with more than 15 pediatricians in four locations, have been serving the children and families of Orange County since 1965.  Pediatric & Adult Medicine, Inc., comprised of nine pediatricians in one location, has been serving the children and families of Orange County since 1978.

CHOC Children's Network

These practices will serve as the nidus for innovative care model redesign that includes care teams and enhanced clinical collaboration. CHOC looks forward to the new relationship with these providers and to advancing a coordinated pediatric system of care focused on proactive illness prevention, chronic, acute and post-acute care, as we continue to offer a broad range of opportunities for physicians to better align with CHOC.

In addition to the growing CHOC Children’s Network, the organization’s $17.8 million Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation “Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative” population health award is progressing nicely. CHOC, in partnership with Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego, has enrolled more than 100 percent of its targeted physicians (1,453); and collaborated with them to complete innovative practice assessments aimed at identifying opportunities to enhance clinical care, and built six evidence-based clinical care guidelines for common pediatric conditions. These guidelines are being embedded in EMR systems to help guide clinical best practices.

Check out the video below with Dr. Mike Weiss, physician executive lead, population health at CHOC;  Dr. James Korb, medical director, CHOC Primary Care Clinics; and Dr. Jan Johnson and Dr. Eric Ball, from Sea View and SOCPA respectively, on what this exciting initiative will mean for their patients and families.

*Pediatric & Adult Medicine, Inc. joined CHOC Children’s Network shortly after this video was created.

For more information about CHOC Children’s Network, please contact Dr. Mike Weiss or Shahab Dadjou, CHOC’s division of population health, at 714-509-9229.

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.

Dr. Diane Nugent Profiled as a Leader in Hematology

The chief of CHOC Children’s hematology division has been featured in a leading publication as a leader in her field.

Dr. Diane Nugent, a nationally recognized expert in pediatric hematology, was profiled in a recent American Journal of Hematology supplement as one of 11 women who are making a significant impact on the specialty.

Dr. Diane Nugent

In the piece “Women Leaders in Hematology: Inspirations & Insights,” Dr. Nugent is recognized for her expertise in rare blood disorders, including platelet disorders; her research in platelets and factor XIII; and her strong advocacy for female physicians.

Dr. Nugent and her fellow subjects were selected based on frequent nominations by their peers. Their profiles were based on interviews conducted by other women who have been mentored, trained and colleagues of the subjects.

To that end, Dr. Nugent was interviewed in the piece by mentee Dr. Loan B. Hsieh, a CHOC hematologist who first met Dr. Nugent as a medical student.

“Dr. Nugent leads by example and consistently makes time for people, whether it is a researcher interested in collaborating with her or a team member needing her advice,” Dr. Hsieh says in the article. “She is committed to her faculty’s growth, and never misses an opportunity to connect them to other experts in the field.”

In the article, Dr. Nugent’s enthusiasm for teaching and clinical care is credited with attracting younger women physicians to the field.

The article notes that though men still outnumber women in medicine, female physicians have made significant gains in the field of benign hematology, most notably in hemostasis and thrombosis.

Read the full article, and learn how to refer patients for hematology services at CHOC.