Choco’s Gratitude Tour: The Greatest Hits

Choco Pillow Framed_square
This Choco Bear pillow was placed inside the 1964 time capsule. Read the blog post to see what else was included

When I began my gratitude tour last October to help celebrate CHOC’s 50th anniversary, I had no idea that I’d meet so many cool people and see so much fun stuff.

I’ve had a blast making my way around the hospital, meeting new people and blogging about my experiences! And even better, once my 50-week tour ends next month, I’ll always have these posts to read again and remember all these awesome times.

Here’s a look at some of my favorite posts from this past year:

CHOC Campus 1964
Here’s CHOC in its early days. Read this post to learn how the hospital campus has evolved in 50 years.

Sing-a-long: The Choco Bear Song: Did you know I have my very own song? Read this post to learn the lyrics and sing along with me.

CHOC Children’s Campus: Then and Now: This post was a blast from the past! Read to learn about how CHOC’s campus has changed in the last half century.

Choco Bear’s Evolving Style: I’ve had quite a few looks since 1964. This post shows photographs of yours truly throughout the years.

Inside CHOC’s 1964 Time Capsule: CHOC staff hid a time capsule to commemorate the hospital’s opening in 1964. Read this post to see what was buried inside.  

Inside CHOC’s 1993 Time Capsule: This post gave an inside look at what CHOC tucked inside its second time capsule.

During my tour, I’ve also met many really neat people. Let me introduce you to some of the new friends I made this year:

Meet Parker, one of my new friends I met this year. Read this post to learn more about the graduate from CHOC’s Small Baby Unit.

Parker: Meet Parker, a graduate of CHOC’s Small Baby Unit, a special part of the neonatal intensive care unit dedicated to the care of micro-preemies. When we first met, she had just celebrated her first birthday.

Bill: Bill received treatment for leukemia at CHOC in the 1970s, and went on to become a hospital chaplain in Orange County.

Josh: This young man was treated at CHOC for childhood allergies and asthma. Josh was so inspired that he became a pediatrician and performed his residency here at CHOC.

Meet Amy and Emily, two sisters who were treated at CHOC.

Amy and Emily: These ladies are sisters who both underwent treatment at the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s. They are both very accomplished and so inspiring.

You can check out more posts like these from my gratitude tour at and look for more in coming weeks. We still have some more time until CHOC’s big day on Oct. 4, so you can bet I’ll be making the most of it.

Thank you for reading!


Thank You, Nursing Mothers!

Another group of people I am extremely grateful for are the community’s nursing mothers, who can also help the babiesCHOC_Breast_Milk_bank receiving care at CHOC.

Under CHOC’s breast milk donation service, women can donate their extra breast milk in the name of CHOC to help premature and sick babies.

Oftentimes, women who give birth prematurely have difficulty nursing, so donations help ensure infants in CHOC’s neonatal intensive care unit have access to breast milk. This is an excellent way for women with extra milk to help ensure babies have bright futures.

The program allows women to pump milk at home, freeze it and send it to a third-party company for processing and safety testing. After it’s pasteurized and standardized, the milk gets sent to CHOC.

On behalf of CHOC physicians and nurses, I thank the mothers who help care for the hospital’s tiniest patients in their own special way.

Learn more about how you can contribute to CHOC’s breast milk donation program.

Surgical Services: Then and Now

Operating Room_lgIt’s been so much fun this past year to reflect on how CHOC has evolved since my first visit in 1964.

And I most certainly cannot forget the changes in surgical services, which CHOC has specialized in since its opening nearly 50 years ago.

CHOC has the latest surgical equipment, technology and techniques, including minimally invasive procedures and robotic surgery methods.

At CHOC’s Tidwell Procedure Center, fully-integrated operating rooms give surgeons full, wireless control of cameras and lights and the ability to view all of the room’s monitors and camera images, patient records and imaging reports on large, flat-screen displays as needed throughout the procedure.

Surgeons can also consult with other surgeons in other operating rooms and our hospital pathologists in real-time using video conferencing to discuss the surgery as it is happening.

Another big change since the hospital’s opening in 1964 has been the addition of child life specialists. These important CHOC staff members work with patients to help ease any fears and worries about a procedure, and to improve understanding of surgery through developmentally appropriate methods.

Surgery is scary for anyone of any age, but I know I would feel better knowing I was in CHOC’s care!


Surgical Services at CHOC Children’s specializes in providing patients — from infants to young adults — with the most state-of-the-art services in a compassionate, family-centered environment. CHOC’s experience in exclusively treating children, teens and young adults makes it the expert in pediatric surgery.


Thank You Pet Therapy Dogs — and Their Owners!

CHOC_Pet_TherapyYou might find this hard to believe, but I’m not the only friendly, fur-covered creature roaming the halls at CHOC Children’s.

That’s right: The hospital is home to more than 40 pet therapy dogs.

This has been a big development since I first visited CHOC in 1964. These caring canines – and their obliging owners – dedicate their time to help bring smiles to patients and their families, with the hopes of relieving stress, normalizing the hospital experience, and providing distraction, conversation and encouragement.

Specially certified, each dog is escorted throughout the hospital with its handler. They frequently visit CHOC’s Tidwell Procedure Center, clinics, Outpatient Infusion Center and the Julia and George Argyros Emergency Department.

Each dog has a trading card with their picture and pertinent information like whether they prefer tennis balls or Frisbees. Patients love collecting cards and I love watching children and their families interact with these delightful dogs.

It’s a sure bet that the dogs will bring happiness to children who are in stressful situations. And I love seeing them too – they just seem to get me, you know?

Thank you, pet therapy dogs and their owners, for helping to make hospital visits brighter for CHOC patients and families!

CHOC Campus: Then and Now

CHOC in its earliest days

It’s been fascinating to watch how medicine and technology have changed at CHOC since I first visited 50 years ago. But just as amazing is how much the hospital’s campus has evolved since 1964.

As you know now, CHOC opened its doors in Orange on Oct. 5, 1964. At the time, the four-story, 62-bed facility was situated on the campus of St. Joseph Hospital. The building cost $2.5 million to build, and took about five years of planning.

Expansion began almost immediately, and hasn’t stopped since: In 1965, outpatient clinics opened on campus. By 1968, CHOC’s bed count increased to 104.

The CHOC Tower

In 1975, a nearby five-story building was purchased to house the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). This building, known as the CHOC Tower, increased the hospital’s bed count to 202 by 1978.

A nearby 93,000-square-foot building was purchased from Pacific Telephone Co. in 1983 to make room for administration, education and a new clinic and ambulatory care space. This facility is now known as CHOC West.

The North Tower
The North Tower

In 1992, CHOC completed construction on a six-story acute care hospital, requiring the demolition of the CHOC Tower.

That space is known today as the North Tower, the sister of the Bill Holmes Tower that opened in 2013. The 425,000-square-foot space tripled CHOC’s size and brought all services under one roof for the first time after nearly 50 years of sharing services with St. Joseph Hospital.

And CHOC will continue to grow: The Holmes Tower includes empty space that can be built out as new needs arise.

The Bill Holmes Tower
The Bill Holmes Tower

CHOC has continued to grow outside of Orange as well: Nearly a dozen clinics dot the county, as well as Riverside County. Also, we have a mobile clinic that moves all over the place.

And don’t forget that CHOC’s health system includes a separate hospital located in Mission Viejo:  CHOC at Mission Hospital opened in 1993, and occupies the fifth floor of Mission Hospital. The hospital provides excellent care to the families of south Orange County and beyond.

Isn’t it comforting to know that CHOC stands ready to help children wherever they may be? What do you remember about CHOC’s campus through the years? Share your memory on social media with the hashtag #thxCHOC.