recognition for CHOC’s cancer program is well-deserved. There’s nowhere else
I’d rather have gone through treatment than CHOC,” says 17-year-old Sydney
Sigafus, CHOC patient and cancer survivor. “Everyone who works at CHOC cares
about you as a person, not just a patient. I was included in every decision and
conversation about my care.”
Children’s Hospitals rankings were introduced by U.S. News in 2007 to help families of children with rare or
life-threatening diseases find the best medical care available. Only the
nation’s top 50 pediatric facilities are distinguished in 10 pediatric
specialties, based on survival rates, nurse staffing, procedure and patient
volumes, reputation and additional outcomes data. The availability of clinical
resources, infection rates and compliance with best practices are also factored
into the rankings.
“We understand how scary it can be for parents whose children are dealing with life-threatening illnesses or injuries. That’s why we are committed to the highest standards of care, safety and service,” says Dr. James Cappon, CHOC’s chief quality officer. “While we are proud of our accolades, including being named a best children’s hospital, we remain focused on preserving the magic of childhood for all kids, whether they are seriously ill or healthy, or somewhere in between.”
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.
“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.”
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.
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
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 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.
“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.