CHOC AYA Oncology Team to Present at International Conference

A team of CHOC Children’s staff members will offer two poster presentations at an upcoming international meeting of health care professionals who work with adolescent and young adult (AYA) patients with cancer.

The team involved in CHOC’s AYA Treatment Program will provide insight at the second annual Global Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Congress into two topics: building the ideal AYA program and implementing an AYA retreat and education curriculum.

Designing, implementing a program

The first poster presentation, “Building the Ideal Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Program Model to Empower AYA Cancer Patients to Succeed, Lead and Thrive,” is authored by Sharon Bergeron, RN, BSN, CPON; Kara Noskoff, BS, CCLS; and Nadia Torres-Eaton, PsyD.

The presentation details CHOC’s efforts to establish a community where AYA patients with cancer can find support and assistance in developing leadership, life and survivorship skills. The program is designed to meet the psychosocial needs of a unique patient population.

Among other features, the program includes monthly empowerment activities, an inpatient fitness program and a leadership team. As a result, CHOC found a decrease in social isolation commonly reported by these patients, as well as a confidence boost and increased passion to embrace their experiences and advocate for their peers.

Investing in emerging AYA leaders

Also authored by Bergeron, Noskoff and Dr. Torres-Eaton, as well as Matthew Cawthon, RN, BSN; Danielle Mucker, RN, BSN; Karlie Allen, MS, CCLS; and Eric Mammen, MT-BC, the second poster presentation is “Implementing an Adolescent and Young Adult Mentor Retreat and Education Curriculum: Wise Investment for Emerging AYA Patient Leaders.”

Building upon efforts described in the first poster, the second presentation will detail how the AYA program cultivated emerging leaders among the patient participants by designing and implementing a weekend mentor retreat. During the event, participants learned mentorship skills, as well as specific knowledge about AYA cancer diseases.

As feedback, retreat attendees said the event was empowering and provided them with the essential knowledge to grow as leaders. They also noted increased confidence in meeting new patients with differing experiences and diagnoses.

Themed “Working Together-Achieving More,” the Global Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Congress will be held Dec. 5 through 7 in Atlanta.

Learn more about CHOC Children’s AYA Treatment Program.

Dr. Jamie Frediani joins Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s

A pediatric hematologist/oncologist Dr. Jamie Frediani has joined the growing team of innovative specialists at the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s.  Dr. Frediani looks forward to advancing CHOC’s leukemia and lymphoma programs, as well as the adolescent and young adult cancer program.

“The Hyundai Cancer Institute is experiencing an exciting time of immense growth, including creating new ways of delivering exceptional patient care, developing new treatments, expanding patient outreach and education, and enriching existing treatment teams,” says Dr. Frediani. “I am thrilled to be a part of this growth, and honored to join such a supportive team of experts.”

Pediatric hematologist/oncologist Dr. Jamie Frediani has joined the growing team of innovative specialists at the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s.

After graduating with high honors from University of California, Davis with a bachelor’s degree in microbiology, Dr. Frediani completed medical school at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.  Her residency and fellowship training were done at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA), respectively.  Throughout her education and training, she assumed numerous leadership roles.  Most recently, she was chief fellow in the department of hematology/oncology at CHLA.  Aside from focusing on delivering excellent, family-centered care, Dr. Frediani would like to enhance the educational curriculum for medical students, residents and fellows, focusing on interactive and case-based learning experiences.

Dr. Frediani’s previous research includes examining the impact of the timing of central line placement in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia on infection and thrombosis rates; studying perioperative complications in patients with high-risk vascular malformations who underwent surgical or interventional radiology procedures around the site of their lesions; investigating the incidence and clinical course of varicella and herpes zoster in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in the pre and post-vaccination era; and studying the outcome of empiric treatment with cefepime versus ceftazidime in pediatric oncology patients with febrile neutropenia.  The latter two studies were conducted in partnership with clinicians at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Her fellowship research in the laboratory of Dr. Muller Fabbri focused on exosomal communication between endothelial cells and cancer cells, leading to miRNA-mediated increased migration of the cancer cells. In addition to numerous abstracts, Dr. Frediani has published in Molecular Cancer, Archives of disease in childhood and Pediatric blood and cancer.

When not caring for patients, she enjoys trips to Disneyland, hiking, and reading, particularly science fiction/fantasy novels. She loves to travel, exploring the world and other cultures.

Two Oncologists with Special Interest in Immunotherapy Join Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s

The Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s has added two oncologists, Dr. Josephine HaDuong and Dr. Ashley Plant, to its team of nationally recognized specialists. Both physicians were fellowship trained at two of the country’s top cancer programs, and share research interest in immunotherapy and targeted therapies.

Dr. Josephine HaDuong and Dr. Ashley Plant

Dr. Josephine HaDuong

Board-certified in pediatric hematology and oncology, Dr. HaDuong was drawn to the Cancer Institute for what she refers to as its gold standard of care. “The Hyundai Cancer Institute is a growing center that strives to be among the best. The team provides patients access to cutting-edge clinical trials that may lead to breakthroughs in pediatric cancer,” says Dr. HaDuong.

A published author and principal investigator in a number of studies, Dr. HaDuong’s major research activities include exploring developmental therapeutics in solid tumors using immunomodulatory and targeted agents, as well as functional imaging in bone and soft tissue sarcomas using magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Her research is driven, in large part, by her clinical interest in caring for patients with solid tumors.

Following medical school at the University of Pittsburgh, where she earned a full tuition merit scholarship, Dr. HaDuong completed her residency and pediatric hematology/oncology fellowship training at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.  She was honored with the Fellow of the Year, Excellence in Teaching Award.

Dr. HaDuong is a member of numerous professional associations, including American Society of Clinical Oncology, American Society of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, and North American Consortium for Histiocytosis. In addition to English, she speaks Spanish and Vietnamese.

Raised in Orange County, Dr. HaDuong is thrilled to be back in her hometown. “I have always wanted to return home to serve the children and families in Orange County. I look forward to being a part of an incredible team who works relentlessly to end cancer,” explains Dr. HaDuong.

Dr. Ashley Plant

Committed to growing CHOC’s neuro-oncology treatment program, Dr. Plant is eager to bring new and exciting therapies to patients with brain tumors. “I look forward to collaborating with academia and industry to bring early clinical trials to CHOC, especially in the area of immunotherapy. I am also excited to partner with my new colleagues to advance the work the Cancer Institute has been doing to reduce the long-term toxicities of cancer therapy,” says Dr. Plant.

A published author, Dr. Plant’s research interests include early phase clinical trial design for pediatric brain tumors. Her most recent project is a phase 1 clinical trial for a neo-antigen heat shock protein vaccine for diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, a fatal brain tumor. She hopes to enroll patients in this trial within the next year. She considers herself fortunate to have worked under world-renowned immuno-oncologists Dr. Glenn Dranoff and Dr. Jerome Ritz at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. There, she won the Young Investigator Award for a project evaluating clonality of T cell receptors in pediatric gliomas.

Following medical school at Stanford University, Dr. Plant finished her residency at University of California, Los Angeles. Her fellowship training in pediatric hematology/oncology was completed at Boston Children’s Hospital. She received additional training in clinical trials and public health at Harvard Chan School of Public Health.

“I was attracted to CHOC because the hospital prioritizes excellent clinical care of patients above all else,” says Dr. Plant. “The hospital’s commitment to patient-and-family-centered care is something I wholeheartedly support. Cancer affects everyone in the family – physically, emotionally, psychologically and sometimes even financially. If we fail to address these issues, we are not completely caring for our patients and their families.”

Domnic Fernandez Joins CHOC as Director, Hyundai Cancer Institute

Domnic Fernandez has been named director of the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s.  Working closely with hospital and physician leaders, he is responsible for advancing CHOC’s position as a leading destination for innovative pediatric and adolescent cancer treatments.

CHOC Children's

“The Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC has a stellar reputation, including being ranked a top pediatric cancer program by U.S. News & World Report.  Its physicians, researchers and staff are dedicated to changing the future of cancer treatments: finding a cure and securing meaningful survivorship for our patients.  I am honored to be a part of this team, and look forward to helping continue to secure the brightest and healthiest futures for children,” said Domnic.

Fernandez joins CHOC from Adventist Healthcare, where he served as a vice president overseeing outpatient practices at four regional hospitals.  Service lines under his purview included primary care, urgent care, pediatrics, endocrinology, cardiology, oncology, orthopedics, neurology, electrophysiology and obstetrics/gynecology.  In addition to improving productivity and increasing referrals, he created a patient experience team that helped increase patient satisfaction scores by 22 percent.

Previously, Fernandez has worked in a variety of leadership positions at hospitals in Virginia and Minnesota.   His healthcare experience includes practice management, strategic planning, business development, revenue cycle management, physician and patient satisfaction initiatives, regulatory compliance, clinical outcomes and continuous process improvements, and marketing.  In addition to launching new clinics and managing practice acquisitions, he’s assumed responsibility for several electronic health record (EHR) go lives and optimizations.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in physical therapy, Fernandez completed the master’s in health care administration program at St. Xavier University in Chicago.  He is a member of the Medical Group Management Association and American College of Medical Practice Executives.

“The Hyundai Cancer Institute is a gem in our community, and I look forward to working with our subspecialists and referring community physicians to ensure children get the excellent care they need close to home,” stated Domnic.

Domnic can be reached at dfernandez@choc.org.

 

CHOC Opens Wing for Adolescent, Young Adult Cancer Patients

A new wing at the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s will provide a customizable healing experience tailored for adolescent and young adult (AYA) patients.

The new AYA wing features a lounge area and four specially outfitted rooms dedicated to this unique patient population. Patient room amenities include vibrant paint colors and customizable wall art.

Dr. Leonard Sender, medical director of CHOC Children's Hyundai Cancer Institute, Kara Noskoff, CHOC child life specialist and Kimberly Chavalas Cripe, CHOC president and chief executive officer celebrate the opening of the inpatient infusionarium and lounge.
Dr. Leonard Sender, medical director of CHOC Children’s Hyundai Cancer Institute, Kara Noskoff, CHOC child life specialist, and Kimberly Chavalas Cripe, CHOC president and chief executive officer celebrate the opening of the inpatient infusionarium and lounge.

Taking a cue from the Infusionarium, which opened in 2014 inside CHOC’s outpatient infusion center, the lounge features large, vertically oriented television screens that create a similar immersive, healing environment for patients.

There, AYA patients have a dedicated place to play video games, watch television and movies, or just hang out with their peers. The lounge was developed by Reimagine Well, a company that uses emerging technologies and digital media to create immersive healing environments tailored to patients’ requests.

To develop these virtual scenarios, the company posed a question to patients: Where would you want to heal?

Nick Meza, a 20-year-old patient, immediately knew his answer. As a lifelong Californian and committed Eagle Scout, his life was dotted with dips in the pool, canoe adventures along the river, and seaside snorkeling expeditions before being diagnosed with cancer two years ago.

“It is when I am in the water that I find the serenity and courage to stay positive and focus on what is right with the world,” Nick says. “When I am in, around or close to a body of water, I forget about troubles and my life’s struggles and suddenly water becomes my life, my strength and my healing place.”

A young cinematographer was then paired with Nick to create an immersive film capturing life under the sea; additional videos explored healing scenarios suggested by other patients.

These films will be broadcasted on the large screens in the lounge, as well as on smaller-scale, portable multimedia stations in each of the wing’s patient rooms. The mobile units will also have access to educational, “cancer survival” videos and eBooks that feature CHOC experts.

The AYA wing dovetails with the Cancer Institute’s recognition that teens and young adult patients with cancer have unique needs. In fact, CHOC’s is among the few pediatric cancer programs in the country with dedicated services for this patient population.

“When it comes to treating an adolescent or young adult with cancer, their medical needs are unique – but so are their psychosocial needs,” says Dr. Leonard Sender, medical director of the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s. “The AYA wing will give these patients a venue to heal on their own terms and a place to call their own.”