CHOC is one of a select group of pediatric facilities nationwide to have been ranked today as a best children’s hospital by U.S. News & World Report.
The following CHOC specialties are honored in the 2020-21 Best Children’s Hospitals rankings: neonatology; cancer; diabetes and endocrinology; neurology and neurosurgery; orthopaedics; pulmonology; and urology. Both orthopaedics and diabetes and endocrinology earned a “Top 20” spot.
“At CHOC, we are committed to the highest standards of care, safety and service – and this honor reflects that unwavering dedication,” said Dr. James Cappon, CHOC’s vice president, chief quality and patient safety officer and interim chief medical officer. “Not only does this recognition of our excellence in these subspecialties, including two on the top 20 lists, validate our efforts, but it also offers our patients and families additional assurance of our commitment to their health and safety.”
The Best 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.
The U.S. News Best Children’s Hospitals rankings rely on clinical data and on an annual survey of pediatric specialists. The rankings methodology factors in patient outcomes, such as mortality and infection rates, as well as available clinical resources and compliance with best practices.
Learn more about Best Children’s Hospitals rankings.
A team of CHOC 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 at CHOC 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.”
As Thanksgiving approaches, CHOC physicians explain what they’ll consider when giving thanks this holiday.
“CHOC has provided me with lifelong blessings. I am grateful to have grown up at and with this hospital, from the initial CHOC Tower to the current Bill Holmes Tower, through pediatric residency training and beyond. To now be a member of such a remarkable team of providers — including our nurses and support staff — is both humbling and inspiring. Every day, I am especially thankful for the families who cross our threshold, and entrust the care of their most precious children to us. With continued commitment and dedication toward the health and well-being of our children, the future will be brighter than any of us can imagine.” – Dr. Neda Zadeh, genetics
“I am thankful to be working for an organization that creates an environment where our patients become our family. I am also grateful that CHOC has the foresight to invest in the innovative ideas we have to improve the health care we provide.” – Dr. Kenneth Grant, gastroenterology
“I am thankful for the opportunity with be partnered with an excellent children’s hospital. I am also thankful for the pleasure of working with other positive people who provide outstanding care to the children of Orange County. Together, we work to improve the care and services we deliver to our most important resource — our children.” – Dr. Daniel Mackey, pediatrics
“I am grateful for the incredible team we have in oncology, inlcuding doctors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses, the research team, members of ancillary services, our inpatient, clinic and OPI staff, administrative support, and other subspecialists, who all have great minds and compassionate hearts, and walk the difficult cancer journey with our patients and their families. I am humbled to be with such great company here at CHOC, who care deeply for children.” – Dr. Lilibeth Torno, oncology
“I am most grateful to the people behind the scenes at the hospital who do all the invisible jobs that are so important to keep CHOC running: the housekeepers, lab and x-ray technologists, bio-medical engineers, pharmacy technicians, scrub technicians, security guards and maintenance staff that work tirelessly, 24-hours a day.” – Dr. Gary Goodman, critical care
“I am most thankful for the ability to practice alongside of the caring and professional staff and physicians at CHOC, who all share the common goal of caring for children. Working together, we are able to tackle incredibly complex and varied problems that present in the amazingly diverse population of children that we serve.”
“I am thankful for so many things here at CHOC. I feel truly blessed every day to have found a professional community of like-minded caregivers who share a passion and dedication for continued improvement in the care we provide. I am also so grateful for the opportunity to meet and care for such incredibly courageous patients and to become a part of their families. Finally, I am thankful to my teams within the pulmonary division, the Cystic Fibrosis Center and the muscular dystrophy clinics for their selfless care of our patients. I wish our entire community a healthy and happy holiday season.” – Dr. Amy Harrison, pulmonology
“I’m thankful for the opportunity to serve my patients and families, and to help them secure bright futures through CHOC’s world-class care. I am also so grateful to work among a team that is steadfastly committed to the health and well-being of children in our community and beyond. “
Domnic Fernandez has been named director of the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC. 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.