Ryan Hansen Named Director, CHOC Children’s Heart Institute

Following a nationwide search, Ryan Hansen has been named director of the CHOC Children’s Heart Institute. In his new role, Ryan will work closely with hospital and physician leaders to advance strategies designed to make the Heart Institute a leading destination for pediatric and adolescent cardiovascular care.

“CHOC is clearly an organization on the rise with a talented medical staff, engaged employees and a very supportive executive leadership team dedicated to the hospital’s mission and vision. I look forward to bolstering CHOC’s excellent cardiovascular services, including embracing innovation and new technologies to better serve the children and families in our community and beyond,” said Ryan.

Ryan joins CHOC from Texas-based Memorial Hermann Health System, where he served as director, hospital operations, Heart & Vascular Institute.  During his six-year tenure there, he launched the Advanced Heart Failure, Heart Transplant and Lung Transplant Program, which has become the second largest transplant program in Texas and 13th largest in the nation.  Under Ryan’s leadership, the program developed into the top implanting center in Texas for transcatheter aortic valve replacements (TAVR) and total artificial hearts (TAH), while maintaining quality with clinical outcomes superior to national averages.  Additionally, Ryan was instrumental with the construction of the flagship, multidisciplinary advanced heart failure clinic and network of five cardiology clinics.

Prior to Memorial Hermann Health System, Ryan was the administrative director for the division of cardiology and heart failure at Baylor College of Medicine in the Texas Medical Center with responsibilities for the academic, research and clinical missions.  Ryan also served as a project manager in the institution with a focus on physician revenue cycle optimization and new EMR implementation.  He bridged the practice of medicine and the business of medicine to increase practice profitability and efficiency for the college.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in biology from The University of Texas at Austin, Ryan completed the dual master’s degree program (MBA/MHA) at University of Houston Clear Lake.  He currently resides in south Orange County with his wife and three young children.

“I am very excited to be in Southern California and to have the opportunity to partner with CHOC’s talented and highly-skilled medical staff to advance education, research and evidence-based medicine practices for the Heart Institute.  In addition to playing a vital role in preventive cardiology and improving the cardiovascular health of Orange County children, CHOC will be the healthcare provider of choice for advanced cardiac therapies,” stated Ryan.

Ryan can be reached at rhansen@choc.org.

CHOC Children’s Expands Fetal Cardiology Program

Approximately 1 percent, or 40,000, babies in the United States are born with a congenital heart disease each year. That’s almost 5,000 babies in California alone. In order to catch problems as early as possible, fetal cardiology specialists at the CHOC Children’s Heart Institute work with pregnant women to evaluate, diagnose and manage babies in utero who may be at risk for congenital heart defects, heart failure or rhythm disturbances.

CHOC offers the only comprehensive fetal cardiology services in Orange County, and our team has advanced training in fetal echocardiography, fetal magnetic resonance imaging, electrophysiology and genetics.

“Fetal echocardiography is a powerful tool that helps identify significant abnormalities and allows for family, delivery and interventional planning as necessary,” says Wyman Lai, MD, who recently joined CHOC from Columbia University in New York to lead CHOC’s non-invasive cardiac imaging program.

Fetal cardiac imaging is performed using ultrasound machines with the highest resolution imaging available, including 2D and Doppler analysis, as well as 3D technology. This allows us to perform first trimester screening so that patients can be referred at the earliest stages of pregnancy.

CHOC board-certified cardiologists perform fetal echocardiograms in their offices to help detect heart abnormalities before birth. At the time of appointment, patients receive a comprehensive diagnosis and care plan. Depending on the child’s condition, referrals to other experts, such as cardiac interventionalistscardiac electrophysiologistscardiac surgeons and heart failure specialists will be provided as needed. Early intervention improves the chance of survival after delivery for babies with severe defects.

Who Should Have a Fetal Echocardiogram

Pregnancies may be at risk for congenital heart disease for a variety of reasons.

Fetal risk factors include:

  • An abnormal appearing heart
  • Abnormal heart rate or arrhythmia on routine screening ultrasound
  • Aneuploidy (chromosomal abnormality)
  • Increased nuchal translucency thickness at first trimester evaluation
  • Noncardiac fetal structural abnormalities
  • A two-vessel umbilical cord
  • Identical twins
  • Fluid accumulation in the fetus.

Maternal risk factors include:

  • Maternal diabetes, lupus or other systemic disease that involves the heart
  • First-trimester use of known teratogens
  • Assisted reproduction technology
  • Maternal congenital heart disease.

Familial risk factors include:

  • A history of a previous child being born with a heart defect
  • The father being born with a heart defect
  • Other close relatives being born with heart defects or syndromes known to involve the heart.

Fetal Cardiology Referrals

If a pregnant woman is at high risk for delivering a child with congenital heart disease, our fetal cardiology specialists are available for consultation and referral. They can be reached at 714-509-3939, or you can find a fetal cardiologist here in our directory.

Dr. Mary Zupanc joins national pediatric neurology board of directors

A CHOC Children’s neurologist has been elected to the board of directors of a national pediatric neurology organization.

Dr. Mary Zupanc, Division Chief of pediatric  neurology at CHOC and director of the pediatric comprehensive epilepsy program, has been named councillor of the west for the Child Neurology Society, a nonprofit professional association of pediatric neurologists in the United States, Canada and worldwide.

CHOC Children's

“I’m thrilled for an opportunity to expand my work of advocacy for children with neurologic conditions at CHOC to a global level,” Dr. Zupanc said.

She begins her term in October 2016 at the organization’s annual meeting in Vancouver, Canada. The Child Neurology Society’s board of directors comprises councillors of the east, Midwest and west; a president; a past-president; and a secretary-treasurer.

“The Child Neurology Society is fortunate to be able to draw on such a deep pool of bright, capable, community-oriented leaders willing to offer their time and talent to help shape the future of child neurology through the Child Neurology Society,” the group said in its announcement.

Nationally-Recognized Experts to Speak at CHOC’s End of Life Care Conference

Three highly regarded experts in palliative care and pain management, Dr. Betty Ferrell, Dr. Glen Komatsu and Gay Walker, RN, will headline a two-day end of life care conference, presented by CHOC Children’s on Oct. 27-28, 2016 at Saddleback Anaheim.  The three keynote speakers will be joined by others in the field, including members of CHOC’s Pediatric Advanced Care Team (PACT), to present ELNEC-Pediatric Care curriculum, providing medical professionals with the knowledge and skills required to deliver specialized, compassionate care to patients and their families who are facing serious illnesses or end of life.

Meg Mohr, FNP-BC, ACHPN, conference organizer and coordinator of CHOC’s PACT and supportive care program, is committed to working alongside patients and their families during what is often the most challenging time in their lives.  “My goal is to support patients and families in finding a way to embrace healing in the midst of a difficult and scary journey,” she says.  Meg encourages her colleagues in medicine, from critical care specialists and primary care pediatricians to residents and registered nurses, to attend the conference to learn how they can positively impact patients and families who are nearing end of life.

The conference’s 10 modules are designed to review the need to improve focus and the provider’s role in delivering quality care to children at the end of life; cultural impacts on pediatric palliative care; and pain and symptom management.  Specific topics include:

Day One

  • Introduction to Pediatric Palliative Care
  • Cultural and Spiritual Considerations
  • General Pain Management
  • Communication
  • General Symptom Management
  • Ethical/Legal Considerations
  • Perinatal and Neonatal Palliative Care

Day Two

  • Pain and Symptom Management when Death is Imminent
  • Care at The Time of Death
  • Loss, Grief and Bereavement

“There is an increasing number of providers wanting to establish or expand palliative care programs to better serve their patients and families,” explains Mohr. “In using the ELNEC-Pediatric Palliative Care curriculum, the conference will provide a wonderful foundation for caregivers, as well as offer invaluable networking opportunities.  Our goal is to empower attendees to employ tools and techniques for providing high quality end of life care that are appropriate across different communities, cultures and beliefs.”

For more information or to register, visit www.choc.org/endoflifecare.

Dr. Sudeep Kukreja Recognized by California Medical Association for Increasing Local Members

Dr. Sudeep Kukreja, associate medical director of the neonatal intensive care unit at CHOC Children’s Hospital and medical director of the hospital’s newborn hearing screening program, has received the Dev. A. GnanaDev Membership Award from the California Medical Association (CMA). The award is given to the CMA physician member residing and practicing in California who during the past year significantly increased members in his area.

Through Dr. Kukreja’s advocacy, Orange County Medical Association’s (OCMA) membership has grown by close to 300 members.

CHOC Children's

“I feel good that more physicians are learning about the great work that OCMA does and are becoming members,” Dr. Kukreja said. “That really means a lot to me.”

As past president of OCMA and member of CMA’s Legislative Committee, Dr. Kukreja goes to Sacramento a few times a year to provide education and seek reform on current issues affecting the medical profession and health care delivery. He is also a CMA delegate.

Among his efforts, Dr. Kukreja is lobbying in support of proposition 56, which would increase taxes on cigarettes and in turn, fund health care and dental disease prevention programs for underinsured patients, including Medi-Cal.  Funds would also support research for smoking-related diseases, among other initiatives.

Dr. Kukreja has been recognized by the CMA in the past for his extensive volunteer work. Through his nonprofit volunteer medical organization, Arpan Global Charities, Dr. Kukreja and other medical professionals have provided free health care and supplies to countless underserved areas around the world. He and his team of volunteers plan to go on their next medical mission to Colombia, in February. Locally, he participates in many charitable clinics and health fairs.

Dedicated to clinical excellence, Dr. Kukreja is the director of quality improvement in the NICU at CHOC, and is board certified in neonatal-perinatal medicine.  He served his fellowship and residency at UC Irvine Medical Center in Orange and at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, respectively. He completed his internship and medical training at King George’s Medical College in Lucknow, India.

Dr. Kukreja will be formally recognized on October 16 at the 145th CMA Annual House of Delegates in Sacramento.