In the Spotlight: Joffre Olaya, M.D.

Dr. Joffre Olaya performs the full range of pediatric neurosurgical procedures, including epilepsy surgery. He joined CHOC Children’s earlier this year after completing pediatric neurosurgery and epilepsy neurosurgery fellowships at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and Seattle Children’s Hospital, respectively.


Dr. Joffre Olaya had his eye on CHOC Children’s long before coming here. During his pediatric neurosurgery training, he became increasingly interested in epilepsy surgery. And he was impressed by what he heard about the CHOC Comprehensive Epilepsy Program, the only children’s hospital program in California to receive the prestigious Level 4 distinction from the National Association of Epilepsy Centers.

But first, Dr. Olaya decided to complete an additional fellowship in epilepsy surgery through the University of Washington at Seattle Children’s Hospital. In March 2014, he joined the CHOC medical staff and performs the full range of pediatric neurosurgical procedures, including the treatment of brain/spine tumors, cerebrovascular lesions, chiari malformations, neural tube defects, craniosynostosis and hydrocephalus, as well as intractable epilepsy.

Dr. Olaya is further developing the CHOC epilepsy surgery program, working closely with the other pediatric subspecialty services, and continuing to foster a multidisciplinary approach for optimal patient care. He is interested in the leading-edge technology that is making pediatric neurosurgical procedures safer and less invasive.

“I am particularly interested in the use of endoscopic techniques for treating hydrocephalus and craniosynostosis, as well as laser ablation for tumors and focal epilepsy,” said Dr. Olaya.

Dr. Olaya’s interest in treating epilepsy was sparked by a landmark article he read during his residency training.

“A randomized controlled trial showed that for patients who failed two medications, surgical treatment of epilepsy resulted in much greater seizure freedom compared to medication alone,” Dr. Olaya said. “I realized that for a select group of epilepsy patients, I could make a huge impact in their lives by offering them surgery.”

Dr. Olaya’s clinical interests encompass other neurological disorders, as well. His research on deep-brain stimulation for treating childhood dystonic cerebral palsy was published in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics October 2014. A related study on this topic was recently presented at the Pediatric Neurological Surgery Annual Meeting in Toronto and published in the November 2013 issue of Neurosurgery Focus.

This past April, Dr. Olaya presented his research into the use of resting-state functional connectivity MRI to assess memory lateralization in pediatric epilepsy surgery patients at the American Association of Neurological Surgeons Annual Meeting. He is currently working on a CHOC institutional review board-approved study evaluating the use of helmet therapy for treating plagiocephaly.

Dr. Olaya is a graduate of the University of California at Davis School of Medicine. He completed his neurological surgery residency at Loma Linda University Medical Center. As a resident, he also performed an elective rotation in pediatric neurosurgery at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. He is an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at UC Irvine School of Medicine.

Fluent in Spanish, Dr. Olaya has privileges at CHOC and CHOC Children’s at Mission Hospital. He is in practice with Dr. Michael Muhonen and Dr. William Loudon at CHOC Children’s Specialists in Orange.

For more information or to arrange a referral, please contact Dr. Olaya at 714-835-2724.




Bringing Together the Best Minds in Pediatric Cancer Care

CHOC Children’s is taking the concepts of second-opinion consultation and tumor board planning at least six steps further. CHOC has partnered with CISCO to bring top pediatric oncologists from six leading institutions into the same “virtual” room. The hospital is the hub for the Virtual Pediatric Network (VPN), which offers an unprecedented, collaborative approach to treating some of the rarest, most complicated cancers in children and adolescents.

The VPN is comprised of five medical centers and one research institute for genomic medicine: CHOC, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, Kapi’olani Medical Center for Women & Children, Duke Children’s Hospital & Health Center, Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego and the Translational Genomics Research Institute. All are connected through the CISCO TelePresence video conferencing system, a secure network made available by a grant from CISCO to the CHOC Children’s Foundation.

“We can have some very in-depth scientific and clinical discussions about the disease that will allow physicians to think about cancer in ways they have not done so before,” said Dr. Leonard Sender, medical director, Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC. “This will lead to potentially better science and provide pediatric patients the greatest opportunities for survival and quality of life.”

The CISCO TelePresence system offers the highest level of video conferencing technology available. Optimized for exceptional sound and picture quality, the system captures every expression, gesture and voice inflection, creating a collaborative environment that leads to deeper discussion, enhanced information sharing and improved decision making.

“No one institution can be an expert in every cancer, but with the VPN, these hospitals can work together to bring the best care to patients wherever they may live,” Dr. Sender said. “It’s an opportunity to leverage technology to allow for greater collaboration, innovation and, hopefully, collective intelligence between children’s hospitals and cancer programs.”

The VPN has the potential to standardize and improve care for pediatric patients throughout the world, Dr. Sender added. CHOC and CISCO are already planning to expand the network to additional locations and specialties, including pediatric institutions in Australia and the United Kingdom.

Click here for more information about the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s.

Drs. Alexandra Roche and Daphne Wong receive CalOptima 2014 Circle of Care Award

From left: Dr. Roche and Dr. Wong
From left: Dr. Roche and Dr. Wong

CHOC Children’s is pleased to announce that Dr. Alexandra Roche and Dr. Daphne Wong, CHOC Primary Care Clinic pediatricians, were recently selected as recipients of the CalOptima 2014 Circle of Care provider recognition award.

The award is given to distinguished health care professionals, medical groups and allied providers whose dedication has made a lasting impact on Orange County’s vulnerable populations. In particular, CalOptima recognizes those who reach out to the underserved to improve access to care with culturally appropriate services and a focus on quality improvement.

The group of 20 honorees were nominated by a physician or health care and community leader. An award ceremony was held on Sept. 12 at the Doubletree Hotel in Orange to recognize the honorees.

Congratulations, Drs. Roche and Wong, for your unwavering commitment and outstanding contributions to CHOC’s patients and families!



CHOC Children’s Health Center Opens in Huntington Beach

Children in Huntington Beach and surrounding communities now have access to quality pediatric specialty care much closer to home, thanks to the opening of CHOC Children’s Health Center in Huntington Beach on Oct. 17.

In the new, state-of-the-art facility, CHOC offers the following pediatric specialty care services in a convenient, family centered-care environment:

  • Plastic Surgery
  • Pulmonology
  • Urology

CHOC will continue to provide additional services in cardiology, gastroenterology, hematology, nephrology, neurology, rheumatology and pediatric surgery just minutes away at our Newport Beach health center.

CHOC Children’s Health Center in Huntington Beach is located at 19582 Beach Blvd., Suite 380, Huntington Beach, CA 92648. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday.

To make an appointment with plastic surgery or pulmonology, please call 1-888-770-2462. For urology appointments, please call 714-509-3919.

CHOC Children’s Grand Rounds Video – NeoHeart: Cardiovascular Management of the Neonate – Dr. John Cleary & Dr. Amir Ashrafi

Many controversies exist in the cardiovascular management of neonates. This grand rounds video presented by Dr. John Cleary and Dr. Amir Ashrafi strives to fill the knowledge gaps by emphasizing the importance of multi-disciplinary interaction, state-of-the-art technology, and the most current research. The video also includes neonatology history and the latest patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) therapy.

Given that most cardiac surgical repairs occur in the neonatal period, it is imperative that the NICU and CVICU teams learn from each other to provide the best care possible. This grand rounds video will be of interest to physicians, physician’s assistants, nurses, nurse practitioners, fellows, residents and other allied health professionals who specialize in neonatology, pediatric cardiology, pediatric intensive care and cardiothoracic surgery.

In addition to this grand rounds presentation, CHOC is proudly offering an exciting, first-of-its-kind national academic meeting “NeoHeart: Cardiovascular Management of the Neonate” on March 11-14 in Huntington Beach. The inaugural meeting promotes the brightest minds in neonatal cardiovascular medicine.

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