What We’re Thankful for This Year: 2016

In celebration of Thanksgiving, members of the CHOC Children’s family express what they’re most grateful for this year.

thanksgiving at chocMary Green 

Registered nurse in the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s

“I could list 100 reasons why I am thankful for CHOC. I’m thankful to work at a place with such visible growth: in the number of available treatments, in the percentage of children that are surviving cancer, in relationships between patients, family members and staff; and growth visible in children as they begin to believe how strong they truly are. Even more so, I am thankful that CHOC is passionate about celebrating growth and takes pride in celebrating all of the little things.”

thanksgiving at chocDr. Joanne Starr

Medical director, cardiothoracic surgery

“I’m grateful to be part of an innovative pediatric hospital and for CHOC’s commitment to providing patients and families with access to the best neonatal and open-heart surgery in Orange County.”

thanksgiving at chocDana Sperling

Social worker, NICU

“I am thankful for two amazing teams I am privileged to be a part of:  the social services team and the Neonatal Intensive  Care Unit (NICU) team.  The compassion and dedication of both teams makes me proud to work along side them day after day, delivering outstanding care to patients and families.”


thanksgiving at chocDr. Kenneth Grant

Chair of gastroenterology 

“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 Children’s has the foresight to invest in the innovative ideas we have to improve the health care we provide. ”

thanksgiving at chocDr. David Gibbs

Medical director of trauma services

“I am thankful for the trust of our patients and families. With the strong support of the hospital and the community, our Level 2 Trauma Center is proud to care for children in Orange County.”

thanksgiving at chocJoani Stocker


“I am so thankful for the opportunity to bring smiles and laughter to our patients through Turtle Talk and the playrooms. Laughter is medicine to the bones, and I am humbled to be a part of the healing. My cup is overflowing with joy when I see a patient giggle and play.”

thanksgiving at chocDr. Daniel Mackey

CHOC Children’s pediatrician

“I am thankful for the opportunity to 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.”

thanksgiving at chocDr. Gary Goodman

Medical director of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, CHOC Children’s at Mission Hospital

I am most grateful to the people behind the scenes at the hospital that do all the invisible jobs that are so important to keep CHOC Children’s 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.”

thanksgiving at choc

Dr. Raymond Wang

Metabolic disorders specialist

“I am thankful that CHOC cares for families and children with rare disorders by supporting clinical trials and translational research, and the staff who care for these families, to find treatments and cures for their conditions.”

thanksgiving at chocEric Mammen

Lead music therapist

“I am grateful that I get to witness the transformative powers of music with amazing patients and families everyday here at CHOC. So very grateful for the generous donors that continue to support our growing music therapy program. Without them we would not be able to impact the families and help them face incredible challenges with courage, smiles, and a song. Super grateful to be apart of writing a powerful song with a patient in response to his medical diagnosis- “To Life Live To The Fullest!” Happy Thanksgiving and I hope you get to spend some extra time with your loved ones around you.”

Matt Gerlachwhat choc is thankful for

Executive vice president and chief operating officer

“At this time of Thanksgiving, I am thankful for CHOC Children’s and the wonderful service we are privileged to provide for the communities we serve. I am thankful for the dedication and commitment of our physicians, associates and volunteers, who give the very best they have to give— their knowledge, skills, abilities, care and compassion— to make CHOC’s mission to nurture, advance and protect the health and well-being of children a reality for so many in need, every day. I am also thankful for those that stand behind our physicians, associates and volunteers— their loved ones, who support our CHOC Children’s team to be the best that they can be, both at work and at home. I wish all of our CHOC Children’s family a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.”

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Meet Dr. Gary Goodman

CHOC wants its patients and families to get to know its specialists. Today, meet Dr. Gary Goodman, a pediatric critical care medicine specialist and medical director of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at CHOC at Mission Hospital. After graduating from medical school at University of California, Irvine, he served his internship, residency and chief residency training in pediatrics at UC Davis Medical Center. Dr. Goodman completed a pediatric critical care and pulmonary medicine fellowship at CHOC.

Dr. Gary Goodman

What are your special clinical interests?

I am particularly interested in traumatic brain injury, concussions, respiratory failure and shock.

How long have you been on staff at CHOC?

I have been on staff for 30 years.

Are there any new programs within your specialty at CHOC you’d like to share?

We are now utilizing noninvasive ventilation and physiologic monitoring. We have developed improved treatment of ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome). We are also proud of our neuro-critical care team.

What would you most like community/referring physicians to know about your division at CHOC?

The division of pediatric critical care provides outstanding and personalized care for children and their families when their need is the highest. We strive to not only provide state-of-the-art medical care, but to also support the emotional needs of the patient and family. Our comprehensive, multi-disciplinary team works together to address every need and concern a patient and family might have.

What inspires you most about the care being delivered at CHOC?

For a pediatric specialist, there is no higher honor and privilege than working at a hospital dedicated to caring for children. I am always surrounded by and supported by other practitioners who share my passion for caring for children and who are all pediatric specialists themselves.

When did you decide you wanted to be a doctor?

I wanted to be a doctor since I was 5 years old, inspired by black and white documentaries about medicine.

If you weren’t a physician, what would you be and why?

If I wasn’t a physician, I would be an architect. I am fascinated by design and how the environment we live and work in can have such positive and even healing effects on us.

What are you hobbies and interests outside of medicine?

I enjoy listening to music (jazz and classical), cooking, photography, collecting watches and traveling.

What was the funniest interaction you had with a patient?

Just recently, I had a patient, who has a mild developmental delay, call me “the boy.”  I would stop in the patient’s room each morning, at which point I’d get asked, “What do YOU want?”

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Oxygen Deprivation from Near-Drowning Can Lead to Brain Damage

In cases of drowning, not all victims die. Fatal drowning are usually the most publicized, but what the public often doesn’t hear are the tragic stories of near-drowning survivors who face lifelong disabilities due to the lack of oxygen to their brains.

An estimated 5,000 children ages 14 and younger are hospitalized each year for near-drowning: 15 percent die in the hospital and up to 20 percent are left with severe, permanent neurological disabilities, says Dr. Gary Goodman, a critical care specialist and medical director of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at CHOC at Mission Hospital.

“Humans are air-breathing animals,” Dr. Goodman says. “Our bodies need a constant supply of oxygen. There is no organ that is more sensitive to a lack of oxygen than the brain. It cannot use any other fuel. It has to have oxygen.”

The parts of the brain that control thinking and memory are the first areas of the brain to be harmed as a result of oxygen deprivation. Physicians believe that brain damage begins to occur after about five minutes of oxygen deprivation.

“If you can rescue a child before that and restore their breathing with CPR, and get their breathing back, usually the children will recover,” Dr. Goodman says. “After five minutes, there will be brain damage. It’s just a matter of how severe.”

Victims of near-drowning accidents whose brains are deprived of oxygen for too long often experience disabilities for the rest of their lives. These include central nervous system damage contributing to varying levels of brain damage, resulting in memory loss, seizures, learning disabilities, paralysis and sometimes remaining in a permanent vegetative state.

Surviving victims may also experience a lifetime of multiple medical problems including respiratory, cardiovascular and neuromuscular disorders. This can take a major toll on a family.

Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1 to 4. It takes only seconds to drown, and it often occurs silently when an unsupervised child is near water, Dr. Goodman says.

Although most incidents of drowning in Orange County occur in backyard swimming pools, children can drown in just one inch of water. They can drown in buckets, bathtubs, wading pools, diaper pails, toilets, hot tubs and spas. Open water such as oceans, rivers and lakes pose a drowning threat to people of all ages.

Drowning is totally preventable if parents and adults take steps to be careful around water. Visit these links on the CHOC website to learn more about water safety:

• http://www.choc.org/community/index.cfm?id=P00369
• http://www.choc.org/healthlibrary/topic.cfm?PageID=P03002

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CHOC at Mission Hospital Teen Survives Life Threatening Brain Injury

For two decades, the physicians, nurses and staff at CHOC at Mission Hospital (CCMH) have been committed to securing bright, healthy futures for the children and families in South Orange County. In recognition of CCMH’s 20th anniversary, we’re highlighting on choc.org just a few of the many inspiring stories about the staff, and patients and families at CCMH.

goodmanIn the story below, we learn how this remarkable patient survived a traumatic brain injury and now shares his experience with other patients and families in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, to encourage them and give them hope. 

Any parent would be proud of a teenager finishing his sophomore year with an above 3.0 GPA, earning his driver’s permit, and blocking goals on the soccer field.

For Tammy and Steven Ramsey, pride doesn’t quite capture their feelings toward their son Michael and his accomplishments. Roughly six months earlier, the popular 15-year-old suffered a traumatic brain injury. His family was warned that he may never speak or use the right side of his body again.

On the evening of Nov. 19, 2011, Michael was playing with his soccer teammates. While running in the dark, he tragically tripped over a waist-high chain, resulting in a forceful fall on his head. He was rushed to CHOC at Mission Hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery to repair a severe fracture to the left side of his skull and to stop a severe epidural bleed.

Michael remained unstable throughout the remainder of the night, and the next day he was taken back into the operating room for a second surgery to stop two new subdural bleeds. His neurosurgeon temporarily removed the left side of his skull. He was placed in a hypothermic coma in CHOC’s pediatric intensive care unit (PICU).

In the PICU, Michael received round-the-clock care, including monitoring by a team of four nurses for the first 48 hours. As scared as Tammy and Steven were for their son, they noted early on the professionalism and expertise of the staff.

Tammy recalls, “We were in awe of how all of the team members worked together. Whether it was at the beginning of their shifts or at the end, they remained attentive and alert. It was very impressive.”

Equally impressive was the staff’s compassion. Nurses encouraged Tammy to bring in personal items and pictures to decorate Michael’s room. They wanted him to feel “at home” when he came out of his coma.

Eight days later, Michael thrilled everyone when he woke up speaking clearly and using the right side of his body. He underwent physical and speech therapy, inspiring staff, family and friends with his remarkable progress. He went home from the hospital less than a month later. He wore a special helmet to protect his brain until his surgery to reattach his skull.

Michael and his family returned to the hospital looking forward to his continued progress, following what would hopefully be his final neurosurgery. While recovering in the PICU, he complained of a slight headache that quickly turned severe, prompting concerns by his nurse. He was rushed back into the operating room to stop a massive bleed inside his brain. His skull was removed – once again, and he was placed on a ventilator. When he awoke and the ventilator was removed, Michael was unable to speak even his name, as the bleed damaged his brain’s speech center.

The PICU team continued their round-the-clock care, supporting and encouraging Michael and his family.

A week later, Michael had his skull put back on. Shortly after that surgery, he was released from the hospital. He worked extremely hard to regain his speech and return to school.

“Michael is the most disciplined, tenacious teenager I know, so everything he’s accomplished in spite of his injury is really no surprise. In addition to the incredible care he received from his medical team, he was blessed by a great support system of friends who stuck by him throughout his entire ordeal,” says Tammy.

Today, Michael is looking forward to starting his senior year, while playing in college showcase soccer games. Inspired by his physician, he is now determined to become a neurosurgeon. He recently became a hospital volunteer and has made frequent visits to the PICU at CHOC at Mission to share his positive experience with patients and families. He feels it is important to give hope to those who are in similar situations.

He speaks fondly of the team who cared for him.

“Everyone was so kind and nurturing. The nurses are the nicest people I have ever met and were my biggest cheerleaders,” says Michael.

More stories about CHOC patients:

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    As it celebrates its 25th anniversary, CHOC “Walk in the Park” has raised more than $24 million to fund education, research and adoption and utilization of the latest technologies to ...
  • A Bright Future: Ian and Micah’s Story
    Even though I’ve been hanging around CHOC for a long time now, I am continually surprised by the courage, tenacity and strength of the patients I meet. It’s especially gratifying ...


Celebrate Doctor’s Day – Dr. Gary Goodman

In honor of Doctor’s Day, we’re highlighting CHOC doctors throughout the month of March. Check out Dr. Gary Goodman, Medical Director of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at CHOC at Mission Hospital, who shares why he enjoys working in Pediatrics, especially in the PICU.

Thank you Dr. Goodman, and all of our CHOC doctors, for your dedication and commitment to the patients and families we serve!

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