CHOC Children’s wants its patients and families to get to know its specialists. Today, meet Dr. Amy Harrison, a pediatric pulmonologist. Dr. Harrison attended Indiana University School of Medicine, and completed both her pediatrics residency and fellowship in pediatric pulmonology at the University of Minnesota Children’s Hospital. She currently serves as co-director of CHOC’s Cystic Fibrosis Center, and has been on staff at CHOC for five years.
Q: What are your special clinical interests?
A: Cystic fibrosis (CF), muscle weakness (muscular dystrophy and spinal muscular atrophy), asthma and general pulmonary health, chronic disease.
Q: Are you working on any current research?
A: Our CF program was awarded the CF Fundamentals Learning and Leadership Collaborative in June 2015, which has allowed us to improve our CF care processes and clinical outcomes for people with cystic fibrosis. We are currently studying ways to improve our patients’ knowledge of, and adherence to, prescribed pulmonary therapies.
Q: Are there any new programs or developments within your specialty?
A: Our CF program was awarded a mental health grant through the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to develop and implement a depression and anxiety screening program for patients with CF and their caregivers. Funds will enable the team to expand its social worker’s availability and have a designated psychologist to help patients and caregivers. They will provide screenings, evidence-based guidelines and follow-up care for depression and anxiety, as well as develop a community referral network of mental health providers. CHOC’s CF model, if successful, could be replicated in other specialty clinics.
In addition, we are excited to offer many cutting-edge therapies for CF patients including Orkambi and Kalydeco, medications that help the defective protein in CF function more normally, thus treating the underlying cause of CF.
Q: What are your most common diagnoses?
A: I see patients with a range of conditions, including asthma, chronic cough, recurrent pneumonia, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy and spinal muscular atrophy.
Q: What would you most like community/referring providers to know about you/your division at CHOC?
A: The pulmonary division at CHOC offers comprehensive care for all patients with lung disease and sleep disorders from extensive lung function testing to sleep studies and diagnostic procedures such as bronchoscopy. We also have comprehensive services for patients with sleep apnea, sleep breathing disorders including apnea monitors and BIPAP data analysis for clinical management. In addition, we also offer services in Huntington Beach, Mission Viejo, Corona and Pomona Valley.
Q: What inspires you most about the care being delivered here at CHOC?
A: I enjoy caring for children with chronic conditions and helping them to find ways of living normal fulfilling lives. I take great pride in my patient’s accomplishments and find their stories inspiring. I most enjoy creating a true partnership with my patients and their families to find ways to improve their care.
Q: Why did you decide to become a pediatric pulmonologist?
A: I was always interested in science from a very young age and pursued a medical education due to my own fascination with learning more about how our bodies work. During my training, I developed asthma myself and found my strong relationships with my own medical professionals enormously helpful in empowering me to deal with a chronic disease.
Q: If you weren’t a physician, what would you be and why?
A: I would probably set up my own Etsy shop and sell things I create! I often make homemade gifts for friends and family members for birthdays and holidays. I also love to travel and exposing my children to new cultures.
Q: What are your hobbies/interests outside of work?
A: I love spending time with my family and my three children, ages 2, 6 and 10. In addition, I enjoy reading, visiting museums and traveling.
Q: What have you learned from your patients?
A: I am continuously amazed by how strong and resilient my patients can be. I learn so much from them, and I have now had three patients tell me they were inspired to pursue a career in medicine because of our relationship and their disease.