Here in the heart of Humboldt County, a dedicated team from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), Providence St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka and the County of Humboldt Department of Health & Human Services are playing a critical role in providing pediatric cardiology services to our most vulnerable patients.
Pediatric cardiologist, Dr. Anita Moon-Grady (below left), is part of the multi-talented team providing pediatric cardiology services to Humboldt’s children. Dr. Moon-Grady, a renowned pediatric cardiologist and director of the Fetal Cardiovascular Program at UCSF, has been instrumental in ensuring that children with heart issues in the region receive top-notch care. Dr. Moon-Grady first came to Humboldt as a fellowship trainee in 2001 (along with Paul Stanger, M.D.) and has been coming back each year to support the program which has been part of the health care landscape in Eureka for over four decades.
The clinic, held at St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka, has evolved over the years to meet the growing demand for pediatric cardiology services. What started as a quarterly initiative has transformed into a two-day, bi-monthly event, reflecting the rise in the pediatric cardiology population. The clinic operates from 8 am to 5 pm, tirelessly seeing approximately 20-25 children per day for each two-day clinic.
Cori Cooper, R.N., (above right) director of cardiovascular and cardiopulmonary services at St. Joseph Hospital who has been coordinating the clinic since 2011, plays a pivotal role in its success. Under her leadership, various hospital departments collaborate seamlessly to organize and facilitate the clinic efficiently. The Echo department, led by pediatric certified echo tech Richard Volk, dedicates a tech specifically to pediatric echos on clinic days. EKG techs ensure that almost every patient undergoes an EKG, contributing to comprehensive care.
The collaboration extends to registration, where Sandy Hanson has been streamlining the process for years. Sitting in the clinic, Sandy registers patients directly, reducing waiting times and ensuring a smooth experience. A dedicated pediatric linen cart is stocked daily, and Volunteer Services prepares "goodie bags" for each patient, adding a touch of comfort to their visit.
Dr. Moon-Grady emphasizes the importance of various hospital departments in making the clinic run smoothly, acknowledging the impact of collaborative efforts. For example, Sandy, with eight years of experience in registration, chooses to work in the pediatric clinic due to the significant impact it has on young patients with heart issues.
The continuity of care provided by familiar faces in the clinic has a profound effect on the families, according to all. Recognizable support staff, including caregivers like Sandy, contribute to easing the way for patients and establishing strong connections with families. This familiarity helps create a supportive environment, particularly for children dealing with cardiac issues.
Meredith Wolfe, the program services coordinator California Children Services (CCS) – a program within the Humboldt County Department of Health & Human Services Public Health Branch, has been coordinating the local pediatric clinic between SJE and UCSF for more than 13 years. CCS plays a crucial role in scheduling patients and acting as a liaison between Dr. Moon-Grady, families, and other care providers.
(Picture below: Meredith Wolfe, CCS; Sandy Hanson, SJE; Kye Swetland, CCS; Lauren Burchfield, RN, CCS)
Additionally, the CCS program has supported the clinic over the years, with the staff work behind the scenes to ensure that coverage is in place for each patient appointment. Most patients referred to the clinic are eligible to have California Children’s Services cover the appointment as secondary to other coverage. Access to care is improved not only because of the convenient location, but also by saving families from having to worry about coming to clinic due to out-of-pocket costs.
Dr. Moon-Grady’s 20-plus year commitment to pediatric cardiology in the region began during her fellowship training. Over the years, she has seen a diverse range of cases, from arrhythmias to babies born with congenital heart disease. Dr. Grady's dedication ensures that even the youngest patients, as young as one to three weeks old, receive the specialized care they need.
Without UCSF's presence in the region, Humboldt County would be underserved in terms of pediatric cardiac services. Dr. Moon-Grady's expertise and the collaborative efforts of the entire team have prevented severe negative health outcomes for babies with complex cardiac issues. The clinic continues to be a beacon of hope, offering specialized care and support to families in need.
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