CHOC Children’s Honored as a National Leader in Driving Employee Engagement

CHOC Children’s was recently awarded The Advisory Board Company’s 2016 Workplace Transformation Award and the Workplace of the Year Award for its commitment to fostering and maintaining high levels of employee engagement. CHOC is the only organization to receive both awards.

“CHOC’s mission to nurture, advance and protect the health and well-being of children is accomplished through ongoing feedback from our employees. Engaged employees are more innovative, enthusiastic, productive and committed to provide the very best patient and family care. This critical feedback that CHOC leaders receive each year, drives our commitment to our employees to be the best place to work,” said Tom Capizzi, CHOC’s vice president, human resources.

Engaged employees, as defined by The Advisory Board Company – a leading health care, research and education performance improvement firm – are those who exhibit both loyalty and commitment to the organization. The award recognizes CHOC’s commitment to creating a best-in-class work environment for its employees.

“Our award winners have demonstrated an impressive ability to inspire an increasing level of engagement in their staff – among the largest transformations across the country,” said Steven Berkow, executive director, Survey Solutions at The Advisory Board Company.

CHOC was among five award recipients to receive the Workplace Transformation Award, and among 20 award recipients to receive the Workplace of the Year Award.

In the Spotlight: Jessica McMichael, M.D.

A new orthopaedic surgeon with special training in orthopaedic trauma has joined the CHOC Children’s Orthopaedic Institute team. Dr. Jessica McMichael specializes in the care and treatment of fractures and a variety of pediatric musculoskeletal disorders, including limb and foot deformities, and cerebral palsy.

Jessica McMichael, M.D.

“There is incredible talent here,” Dr. McMichael says proudly of her team. “Several of my colleagues have been amazing mentors.”

Dr. McMichael is working with the CHOC team to develop a multidisciplinary comprehensive bone health program, which would serve children with osteogenesis imperfecta, muscular dystrophy and other conditions that impact bone health.

After completing medical school and her residency at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, Dr. McMichael served as an orthopaedic surgeon in the U.S. Air Force in Korea. Later, she provided trauma care training to military personnel as an adjunct faculty at the Center for Sustainment of Trauma and Readiness Skills in St. Louis, Missouri. Dr. McMichael completed her pediatric orthopaedic surgery fellowship at Shriners Hospitals for Children Northern California/UC Davis Medical Center.

It was during her fellowship at Shriners that Dr. McMichael became captivated by her young patients’ resilience.

“It was so invigorating to take care of someone who just wanted to play and get better,” she says. “It’s like kids are programmed to do well. That helps in their care and recovery.”

A fierce advocate for families, Dr. McMichael strongly believes in treating her patients and their parents exactly how she would want herself and her family to be treated.

“I like to take the time to listen to their questions,” she explains. “I know that if they’re at the clinic or hospital, they have probably taken time from work, school or other duties, and I want to show them that their time is valuable to me.”

This dedicated physician is a board-certified orthopaedic surgeon with the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgeons. She is a member of the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America, the Orthopaedic Trauma Association, and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, among other professional organizations.

In her spare time, Dr. McMichael enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter, reading, camping, and any Disney-related activities.

To contact Dr. McMichael, please call 714-633-2111.

Learn more about the CHOC Children’s Orthopaedic Institute.

Meet Dr. Sarah S. Field

CHOC Children’s wants its referring physicians to get to know its specialists. Today, meet Dr. Sarah Samimi Field, pediatric allergist and immunologist.

Dr. Sarah Field

Q: What is your education and training?

A: I attended Saint Louis University School of Medicine, and trained in Internal Medicine and Pediatric/Adult Allergy and Immunology at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

Q: What are your special clinical interests?

A: Eosinophilic esophagitis, asthma, urticaria, food allergy and allergic rhinitis.

Q: Are you involved in any current research?

A: We have been actively enrolling patients in research trials for asthma, chronic urticaria, eczema and allergic rhinitis for many years.

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

A: Almost four years.

Q: Are there any new programs or developments within your specialty? 

A: Yes, in our EoE (eosinophilic esophagitis) clinic; see CHOC’s EoE website. I collaborate with GI and nutrition to offer a one-of-a kind EoE clinic for Southern California and beyond.

Q: What are your most common diagnoses?

A: Asthma, seasonal and perennial allergies, food allergy and eczema.

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

A: As allergists we also treat and manage asthma. We also encourage any patient with food allergy to be evaluated in our clinic for management and testing. We do a lot of education that patients and families can benefit from. In addition, we see both adult and pediatric patients in our practice.

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

A: As a parent myself of two young children, I am always motivated to treat my patients with the same care I would want for my own family. I like to empower our patients with the information and newest research available to make the best decision for the treatment of their specific conditions or diseases. I am always humbled to take care of patients who have been part of our practice since they were children, some of them have been with us for over 30 years. Many times they bring their children, even grandchildren!

Q: At what moment did you decide you wanted to be a doctor?

A: I decided at a very young age I wanted to pursue medicine, motivated in part by my father who is also a physician.

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

A: I would pursue a creative job, I love stationery and invitations. I love the sentiment and whimsical nature of a handwritten note as paper seems to be obsolete these days.

Q: What are your hobbies/interests outside of work?

A: I love spending time with my family. I’ve recently also started Pilates, it has fast become my new favorite activity.

CHOC Children’s Mental Health Initiative Making Remarkable Progress

One in five children experiences a diagnosable mental health condition before turning 18.  That’s about 150,000 children in Orange County alone; yet there are no inpatient mental health services for children younger than 12 in the county, and a shortage of inpatient beds for adolescents.  A year ago, in May 2015, CHOC Children’s announced a landmark effort to ensure children, adolescents and young adults with mental illness get the health care services and support they need.  Since that time, CHOC, with the support and encouragement of other community leaders, has made tremendous progress.

Outpatient Support

Young children with serious and chronic illnesses are two to five times more likely to face mental health disorders than their healthy counterparts.  In September 2015, CHOC, in conjunction with Orange County Behavioral Health Services, launched an outpatient co-occurring clinic for patients whose physical conditions, such as diabetes, cancer or epilepsy, are complicated by mental health challenges. Psychologists and psychiatrists are available to provide specialized care for these children in their medical clinics, in the hospital, or in a special outpatient mental health clinic.  In the upcoming months, additional psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers will join the clinic to allow it to serve more children.

In addition, CHOC’s cystic fibrosis (CF) program recently received a grant from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation that enables the team to expand its social worker’s availability and have a designated psychologist to help patients and caregivers.  They will provide screenings, evidence-based guidelines and follow-up care for depression and anxiety, as well as develop a community referral network of mental health providers.  CHOC’s CF model, if successful, could be replicated in other specialty clinics.

In the primary care setting, CHOC has rolled out mental health screenings for all 12 year olds at their well child visits.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children be screened for depression during routine medical visits as many teenagers (up to 13 percent) have depression but do not receive any treatment.  Children that screen positive for possible depression receive information about depression and mental health, and can receive referrals for mental health treatment if needed.  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.

Emergency Department

Due to the lack of inpatient mental health services, children and teens who require inpatient psychiatric services are waiting lengthy periods of time—usually days—in local emergency departments until beds become available or they are stable enough to return home.  CHOC is developing strategies to begin treatment in its emergency department, to connect patients to follow-up care and other community resources, and to track outcomes.  As part of this effort, CHOC has increased a social worker and psychologist’s time in the emergency department — an additional eight hours a day, seven days a week.  Patients get screened to determine the need for inpatient services or access to other resources, and staff is following up with families to ensure coordinated care.  Plans are to expand these services to include a specialized evidence-supported treatment that can be given in the emergency department to help families address their children’s needs in the home whenever possible.  This treatment was developed at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Recruiting Mental Health Experts

Orange County has fewer psychiatrists, psychologists and licensed social workers than the state average.  CHOC is working with its partners on strategies to attract experts to the region, as well as to increase specialized training of students in local counseling, psychology and nurse practitioner programs.  Most recently, the hospital has hired two psychologists, one neuropsychologist and two part-time board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrists.  Additional staff training and recruitment is currently underway.

Rendering: CHOC's Inpatient Mental Health Center private patient room.
Rendering: CHOC’s Inpatient Mental Health Center private patient room.

CHOC’s Inpatient Mental Health Center

CHOC is proud to be building Orange County’s first inpatient program that can accommodate children younger than 12.  The center will have 18 private rooms in a secured and healing environment, including an outdoor area.  It 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 observed by CHOC staff.   Construction is expected to be completed at the end of 2017.

CHOC ‘s vision for a comprehensive mental health system of care is ambitious.  While there’s been tremendous progress, CHOC continues to need community support to help ensure every child and young adult in Orange County who needs behavioral health treatment receives high quality services without stigma or barriers to access.  To learn more, visit

Meet Dr. Perry Eisner

CHOC Children’s wants its referring physicians to get to know its specialists. Today, meet Dr. Perry Eisner, a pediatric anesthesiologist at CHOC Children’s at Mission Hospital.

Dr. Perry Eisner

Q: What is your education and training?
A: I attended the Ohio State University School of Medicine. My internship was in pediatrics at UC Irvine and with all of my rotations spent at CHOC. When UC Irvine no longer had their pediatric residents at CHOC, I transferred to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, where I completed my pediatric training. I then became board-certified in pediatrics, and in 1988, I began a specialized program at the main UCLA campus in Westwood that combined general anesthesiology residency with a fellowship in pediatric anesthesia and pediatric critical care medicine.

Q: Administrative appointments:
A: I have been the chief of surgery at CHOC Children’s at Mission Hospital for the past six years.

Q: What are your special clinical interests?

A: My interest is in making surgery as stress-free as possible for both my pediatric patients and their families.

Q: How long have you been on staff at CHOC
A: Twenty-one years

Q: What are your most common diagnoses?

A: My patients have a range of conditions. We have everything from trauma patients with brain injuries or children with orthopaedic injuries to kids with head and neck problems. It runs the gamut.

Q: What would you most like community/referring providers to know about you/your division at CHOC?
A: At CHOC at Mission, we have four fellowship-trained pediatric anesthesiologists and ensure that children undergoing surgery have not only the safest but also the best experience possible. There is not a hospital in the county that provides a higher level of care.

Q: What inspires you most about the care being delivered here at CHOC?
A: What inspires me the most is the dedication of the entire team that CHOC Children’s has assembled to care for pediatric surgical patients. From the surgeons and the nurses to the critical care physicians and the hospital-based physicians, it is a team that cannot be matched. We have practitioners that were trained in the finest facilities in the country and who care not only about delivering state-of-the-art care, but also care equally about reducing the stress of an illness or surgery for both our patients and their families.

Q: Why did you decide to become a doctor?
A: I became fascinated with medicine when I was in high school and worked in an emergency room in downtown Cleveland as an orderly. I have also loved interacting with children. I found that when one works with kids, you can take a horrifying and stressful situation and transform it into a minor event. That is my goal each day in the operating room.

Q: If you weren’t a physician, what would you be and why?
A: Honestly, I don’t know. It’s all I’ve ever wanted. I didn’t have a back-up plan. It’s not something I’d recommend, but it’s not something that I did. I didn’t have a plan B.

Q: What are your hobbies/interests outside of work?
A: My hobby is playing racquetball. I began playing 40 years ago and play two to three times per week.

Q: What have you learned from your patients?
A: With kids, when they’re going through something stressful, I find that if you can divert their attention by doing something that they think is funny or makes them laugh. I’ve learned though that this works for adults too. It seems so natural with kids, but it works just as well with adults as kids. When there’s something stressful going on, if you can divert your attention to something light or funny, it can get you through anything.