Dr. Hoang Nguyen Appointed Medical Director, CHOC Children’s Mental Health Inpatient Center

A psychiatrist with a long history of service in Orange County, Dr. Hoang “Wayne” Nguyen has been appointed medical director of the CHOC Children’s Mental Health Inpatient Center. He will also serve as medical director, child and adolescent psychiatry and chair of the psychiatry section of CHOC’s medical staff.

Dr. Nguyen earned his medical degree at Texas A&M University Health Sciences Center, followed by additional training at University of California, Irvine and University of Utah Health Science Center, where he served as chief resident. He is a diplomate with the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in child/adolescent psychiatry and general psychiatry, as well as being board certified in psychosomatic medicine.

Dr. Hoang “Wayne” Nguyen, medical director, CHOC Children’s Mental Health Inpatient Center

In addition to seeing patients in private practice, Dr. Nguyen has been a consulting psychiatrist for Fairview Development Center. There, he also served as chief of medical staff for five years. He was director of undergraduate medical education for psychiatry at University of California, Irvine, where he still holds an appointment as associate clinical professor.

Having joined CHOC’s medical staff in 2000, Dr. Nguyen has been integrally involved in the development of the Center. When it opens in April 2018, the 12,000-square foot, 18-bed facility will be the only one in Orange County to treat patients younger than 12. It is the only facility in California to offer all private rooms, as well as an option for parents to stay overnight with their children, as appropriate.

“I am extremely proud of CHOC’s commitment to creating a mental health system of care, including the Center as its centerpiece,” says Dr. Nguyen. “A child’s mental health is as important as physical health, and we are committed to making sure children and adolescents with mental illnesses receive high quality services without stigma or barriers to access.”

With Dr. Nguyen as its medical director, the Center will serve patients ages 3 to 17, with specialty programming available to children 12 and younger. Patients will participate in therapeutic programming seven days a week, which is unique among inpatient facilities. During their stay, typically five to seven days, patients will also have access to medical specialists if assessments suggest a relationship between the mental health condition and an underlying health issue.

CHOC’s broad and robust pediatric system of mental health care has been built to facilitate early diagnosis, intervention and treatment of pediatric mental health problems.

The system’s components include the ASPIRE® (After School Program Interventions and Resiliency Education) Intensive Outpatient Program at CHOC Children’s, designed to prevent psychiatric hospitalization and re-admission; mental health screenings in primary and specialty care settings; pediatric mental health training for community health care providers, school personnel and therapists; and a co-occurring clinic for patients with mental health challenges complicated by physical illnesses.

Other aspects include mental health triage at the Julia and George Argyros Emergency Department at CHOC Children’s Hospital; an early childhood mental health initiative set to begin in spring 2018 that is aimed at reducing behavior-related suspensions from child care and preschool settings; and faith community partnerships.

Learn more about CHOC’s mental health services.

CHOC Children’s Celebrates Completion of Mental Health Inpatient Center

CHOC Children’s leaders joined with mental health supporters today to celebrate the completion of our pediatric health care system’s Mental Health Inpatient Center, which will provide the first psychiatric inpatient beds in Orange County for children younger than 12 years old.

Set to open in April 2018, the 12,000-square foot, 18-bed facility will serve children ages 3 to 17. It is the only facility in California to offer all private rooms, as well as an option for parents to stay overnight with their children, as appropriate.

One in five children experience a diagnosable mental health condition during childhood — about 150,000 children in Orange County alone. Previously, the absence of designated space to treat young patients and a shortage of beds for adolescents in Orange County meant that often children with serious mental health episodes remained in emergency departments for days at a time waiting for a bed in an outside county.

One of the Center’s activity rooms.

“For the first time, Orange County children younger than 12 experiencing a mental health crisis will have a place for care close to home,” CHOC President and CEO Kimberly Chavalas Cripe said. “The Center’s completion is evidence of CHOC’s commitment to ensuring that every Orange County youth receives the mental health care services they need in a safe and healing environment.”

The Center’s other unique features include two sensory rooms – one sensory-rich and the other low-stimulation to help children learn to manage strong emotions and calm themselves. In addition, the facility includes a 3,600-square-foot outdoor play area with sensory activities and a basketball court.

The Center’s innovative floor plan was designed with guidance from national experts and incorporates elements of several exemplary programs observed by CHOC staff. It was built with two primary goals in mind: patient safety and creating an optimal healing environment. The facility incorporates safety features such as shatterproof glass, special high-density materials, doors that open one at a time, and many other measures. The design includes elements of nature, curved features and a soothing color palette to promote healing and relaxation.

With pediatric psychiatrist Dr. Hoang “Wayne” D. Nguyen as its medical director, the Center will offer specialty programming to children 12 and younger. Patients will participate in therapeutic programming seven days per week, which is unique among inpatient facilities. During their stay, typically five to seven days, patients will also have access to medical specialists if assessments suggest a relationship between the mental health condition and an underlying health issue.

CHOC broke ground on the Center in September 2016. The Center was announced in May 2015 as the centerpiece of a pediatric system of mental health care that would be scalable and replicable by other health systems nationwide.

“CHOC is committed to the truth that mental health is as important as physical health,” Cripe said. “Put simply, health is health. We want to create a system that others can replicate and help empower health systems across the country to support children’s mental health.”

CHOC’s broad and robust pediatric system of mental health care has been built to facilitate early diagnosis, intervention and treatment of pediatric mental health problems.

The system’s components include the ASPIRE® (After School Program Interventions and Resiliency Education) Intensive Outpatient Program at CHOC Children’s, designed to prevent psychiatric hospitalization and re-admission; mental health screenings in primary and specialty care settings; pediatric mental health training for community health care providers, school personnel and therapists; and a co-occurring clinic for patients with mental health challenges complicated by physical illnesses.

Other aspects include mental health triage at the Julia and George Argyros Emergency Department at CHOC Children’s Hospital; an early childhood mental health initiative set to begin in spring 2018 that is aimed at reducing behavior-related suspensions from child care and preschool settings; and faith community partnerships.

“While the Mental Health Inpatient Center at CHOC Children’s will support children and families while in crisis, we cannot meet all the needs for pediatric mental health care alone,” Cripe said. “By joining with our community partners, we are working together to ensure that children get the help they need when they need it and where they need it.”

Learn more about CHOC’s mental health services at www.choc.org/mentalhealth.

Meet Dr. Hoang “Wayne” Nguyen

CHOC Children’s wants its referring physicians to get to know its specialists. Today, meet Dr. Hoang “Wayne” Nguyen, a child and adolescent psychiatrist.

CHOC Children's

Q: What is your education and training?

A: I received a Bachelor in Computer Science with a minor in Electrical Engineering and Technical Writing from Texas A&M University.  I completed Medical School at Texas A&M Health Sciences Center and did a Psychiatry Internship at University of California, Irvine.  My residency in Adult Psychiatry, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and Pediatrics was done at University of Utah Health Science Center.

Q: What are your administrative appointments?

A: Director of Psychiatry, Chair of the Physician Well-being Committee

Q: What are your special clinical interests?
A: Psychosomatic medicine including eating disorders, psycho-oncology, tic disorders, and Autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability.

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

A: Sixteen years.

Q: What are some new programs or developments within your specialty?
A: Our most exciting program is the building of an inpatient child and adolescent mental health unit. We are also involved in integrating psychiatric care and mental health in various outpatient specialty clinics.   We are also a provider for county Medi-Cal program for patients with co-occurring medical illnesses and psychiatric disorders

Q: What are your most common diagnoses?
A: Anxiety, depression, ADHD

Q: What would you most like community/referring providers to know about you or your division at CHOC?
A: We are in the beginning stage of building capacity to see more outpatients.

Q:  What inspires you most about the care being delivered here at CHOC?
A: It’s comprehensive and we are always striving to do better.

Q: Why did you decide to become a doctor?
A: At the age of 19 and having graduated from college, I was working as a software engineer at a startup, and there was a realization that there was more to life than what I was doing.

Q: If you weren’t a physician, what would you be and why?
A:  Ideally, a rock and roll star, but most likely a software entrepreneur because I like to create new solutions

Q: What are your hobbies/interests outside of work?
A: I enjoy being with my five children and participating in their activities.  I’m also very active in practicing my faith.  In my spare time, I enjoy outdoor activities and playing tennis.