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What’s New at Valley Children’s
Expanding Ways to Refer a Patient
Valley Children’s Hospital continually strives to provide multiple, flexible and user-friendly ways for primary care physicians to refer patients to our pediatric subspecialty clinics. As many primary care and referring physician offices move to electronic medical record systems, their needs are changing. To help respond to those changing needs, Valley Children’s developed an additional, more contemporary way to refer patients called eReferral, a web-based form that can be accessed directly from the ValleyChildrens.org website.
The eReferral forwards referrals electronically through email to the Valley Children’s Hospital outpatient funding department or – in some high-access clinics – directly to the clinic for immediate scheduling.
The eReferral method benefits the physician in a number of ways, including:
- discreet data-field capture of minimal, necessary information to establish a patient appointment,
- immediate return email confirming receipt of the referral with a tracking number for reference,
- ability to attach electronic medical records or PDFs of medical records to accompany the referral,
- automatic storing of referring physician information to minimize keystrokes,
- automated distribution of the eReferral directly to some ambulatory practices for faster booking of appointments, and
- online access to Children’s Hospital referral guidelines with the eReferral form.
Several referring physicians helped pilot the new eReferral form, which was implemented at Valley Children’s Hospital in October, and have responded with positive feedback.
Physicians can now provide the email receipt to patients as a reminder that a referral has been sent to Valley Children’s Hospital. For those physician practices not yet automated with their medical records, the email receipt serves as a cover sheet to accompany faxed medical records.
Our goal is to schedule your members in a timely fashion with the right pediatric subspecialist by offering physicians convenient methods of referring patients, including:
- direct calls to the ambulatory practices, especially for urgent referrals,
- traditional referral forms that can be printed and faxed, and
- electronic referrals through the new eReferral process.
Valley Children's Hospital is pleased to offer primary care physicians the option to refer patients to our pediatric subspecialty clinics electronically. We invite you to view screen shots of the eReferral to discover its features.
New Leader Named in July
Children's Hospital Central California Board of Trustees named Todd Suntrapak their new president and chief executive officer. Suntrapak’s history with Children’s Hospital dates back to age 4, when he first received treatment for severe respiratory issues. He credits Children’s with saving his life multiple times.
Board of Trustees Chairman Jeff Mayer said Suntrapak was selected after a national search based on his contributions to the Hospital’s expansion as a regional referral center and his success in charting a course for operational and financial sustainability since becoming chief operating officer in 2005.
“It was critical to the Board that our leader be able to successfully navigate Children’s through the challenges ahead,” said Mayer. “Todd has that experience, plus an unrivaled depth of appreciation for Children’s and the important role it plays in ensuring that the children of Central California receive the high-quality healthcare they deserve. We’re in the midst of revolutionary changes in healthcare operations and funding and we believe Todd is uniquely positioned to help guide us through these times while ensuring that we remain true to our mission.”
Since 2005, Suntrapak has led a team that has improved patient safety by
- lowering hospital-acquired infection rates,
- reducing adverse drug events,
- reducing patient falls, and
- decreasing acute care codes.
In addition, the team has been able to achieve the lowest operating expenses per adjusted patient day of any freestanding children’s hospital in California and to raise the Hospital’s bond ratings to A+ by Standard and Poor’s and A2 by Moody’s.
“I’m deeply honored to have been selected by the Board to serve as Children’s CEO,” said Suntrapak. “As a Valley native, I know first hand the importance of Children’s to our communities and am committed to ensuring that Children’s stays on the leading edge of quality pediatric care.”
Prior to joining Children’s in 1995, Suntrapak worked in business development and contracting for a healthcare subsidiary of W. R. Grace & Co. He earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Fresno State, holds a master’s degree in healthcare management from California Coast University and earned his Executive Leadership Certificate from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.
Suntrapak participates in the following professional organizations:
- California Children’s Hospital Association
- California Hospital Council
- Freestanding Children’s Hospital Coalition
He has served on the following boards:
- American College of Healthcare Executives Regents Advisory Council
- California Health Leadership College
- Exceptional Parents Unlimited
- Fresno/Madera American Red Cross
- United Way of Fresno
He has also served in the following capacities:
- Faculty member, California Health Leadership College
- Mentor, California State University, Fresno, Craig School of Business entrepreneurship program
- President, Sierra Pacific Chapter of the American College of Healthcare Executives
“We have an excellent team of physicians and staff and a wonderful region that supports our work,” said Suntrapak. “We’ll continue to build on our successes and to focus on ensuring that Children’s continues to create healthier futures for the kids we serve well into the future.”
Access to Care - Orthopaedics goes “Lean”
In 1998 Children’s Hospital Central California relocated to a much larger campus with room to grow. But within a few short years, outpatient services hit a nonstop growth spurt and began increasing in volume by over 10 percent annually.
Today, patient visits to the Hospital’s largest physician practice, the outpatient orthopaedic department, exceed 23,000 per year. The busy practice recently responded to the exponential growth by adopting a manufacturing philosophy known as “Lean management” to improve efficiency and quality of care.
Based on the Toyota Production System, Lean management emphasizes eliminating steps that do not add value to a process. The Hospital applied Lean management principles and introduced timesaving policies and procedures to the outpatient orthopaedic practice.
“We were frustrated that we were providing great care for sick kids, but the overall experience for the family was poor,” said Dr. Joseph Gerardi, medical director, orthopaedic surgery at Children’s. “It’s hard to impress a mom who has been waiting for two hours.”
Orthopaedic patients are now registered using an electronic kiosk that tracks them in real time. So far the new process has not only cut wait times in half, but also has led to a sequenced approach to patients requiring cast removals and X-ray services prior to seeing a physician.
New timesaving measures and infrastructure enhancements along with the experienced medical professionals in our outpatient orthopaedic practice, have helped make astounding progress in the Hospital’s efforts to minimize wait times and improve care delivery.
“I want to have fun when I come to work each day,” said Dr. Gerardi. “When things run smoothly we have happy patients, parents, staff and doctors!”
Within a few short months of implementing processes derived from Lean management principles, the Hospital’s largest physician practice is already providing quicker access to care. Soon other outpatient departments at Children’s will try going “Lean.”
Children’s Hospital Adaptive Sports Program
Central California’s abundant mountains, lakes and other recreational hotspots provide the perfect setting for water and snow skiing, kayaking, track and field, rock climbing, power soccer and more. A new program at Children's Hospital Central California puts these fun activities within reach of kids with physical disabilities.
"The access to sport is very limited for people with disabilities and it's such an important part of their well-being, their physical health, their emotional health," said Dr. Jennifer Crocker, medical director, Children’s pediatric rehabilitation center and leader of the new Children’s Hospital Adaptive Sports Program.
Passionate about engaging her patients and others with physical and health impairments in active recreation and sport, Dr. Crocker knows hard work and determination drive program participants to exceed expectations and achieve their dreams. “There’s a misconception that people with a physical disability can’t be active or competitive,” she said. “We work with each individual to show them what is possible.”
Participants learn what is possible
Board certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation by the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Dr. Crocker significantly contributed to a similar project as assistant professor of pediatric physical medicine and rehabilitation at Indiana University School of Medicine, Riley Hospital for Children, in Indianapolis. And now, our region’s children can enjoy the benefits of adaptive sports.
“Being involved in athletic activities helped me realize that even though something bad happens it’s not the end of the world,” said Desirée Vines, 19, a paraplegic and Children’s Hospital patient. “I can still do everything I could do – just in a different way.”
Children’s Hospital Adaptive Sports Program is free to all participants and geared toward disabled youth up to 21 years of age. Individuals with conditions ranging from cerebral palsy to spinal cord injuries and more build confidence and independence as they discover the thrill of participating in a variety of physically challenging activities.
“Participation in adaptive sports provides a sense of independence for these kids,” said Brent Poppen, U.S. Paralympics athlete. “They start to realize that with hard work, they can do things they didn’t think they could.”
Program launches at water ski clinic
In June 2011, the Adaptive Sports Program shifted from a staff-driven, volunteer summer clinic, to a formal hospital program. Wells Fargo contributed $75,000 to launch the effort. Children’s new Adventure Mobile, funded by a nearly $94,000 donation from Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino and the County of Madera, helps transport participants to the clinics.
During last summer’s kickoff event, participants had the opportunity to ride a “sit ski” or wakeboard. Both were equipped with a seat and rigging to help with balance while providing an authentic water skiing experience.
Recently paralyzed, Allyson Woodyatt, 9, from Exeter had never water skied but she didn’t let that – or her disability – stop her from trying something new. She overcame her fear and decided to “go for it.”
“It was scary and awesome!” she exclaimed upon returning to her wheelchair.
Her proud and grateful mom, Joanna Woodyatt, said, “This clinic is very good because Ally sees something else she can do, that she hasn’t lost everything – she can still get in the water.”
Diagnosed at age 2 with muscular dystrophy, J.D. Davis, 12, from Clovis appreciated the “cool opportunity” to water ski. “I’ve never even been on a lake or a boat before,” said J.D. grinning after completing another run on the water. “Now I have.”
J.D.’s family knows the value of him taking part in as many activities as possible. “It’s nice to see him have access to the same kinds of things other kids do,” said Ketti Davis, J.D.’s mom, adding that her son receives pediatric care in pulmonology and cardiology for his condition at Children’s. “Now when his friends at school say they went to the lake he can say he did, too.”
Hospital pleased with support
The only one of its kind in Central California, Children’s Hospital Adaptive Sports Program relies heavily on volunteers to coach, mentor and assist, and on donations of funds, food and equipment. With continued contributions, the Hospital can look forward to building a long-term, self-sustaining program where children with similar physical disabilities and their families can find support, encouragement and friendship.
“This is what we’ve been working for,” said Paul Lebby, PhD, a neuropsychologist at Children’s who works with many rehabilitation patients. “Now we have a program.”
For more information on Children’s Hospital Adaptive Sports Program, call (559) 353-6130, email AdaptiveSports@ChildrensCentralCal.org or visit online.