CPMC and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital
Working Together to Provide some of the Bay Area’s Best Pediatric Care
An interview with Dr. Claudia Mueller, Ph.D., M.D., Medical Director of Pediatric Surgery, and Lorry Frankel, M.D., Chief of Pediatrics, California Pacific Medical Center
A Christmas Story
When 11-year-old Catherine O'Neal arrived at California Pacific Medical Center on Christmas Eve, neither she nor her family realized how ill she was. She had been sick for a week with flu- like symptoms, when her pain suddenly skyrocketed at a friend's holiday gathering. Her parents Jim and Moira O'Neal and nine-year-old brother John brought her straight to the pediatric emergency room. It wasn't until then that they learned that Catherine appendix had ruptured. Doctors immediately began draining her infection, getting her started on her long road to recovery.
"Even though it was Christmas, all the surgical nurses and doctors came in just to take care of her," recalls Moira. "It was the beginning of what we would say over and over again—they have amazing people at CPMC."
Two Hospitals, One Team
Catherine was one of the first patients to benefit from CPMC's new collaboration with physicians from Packard Children’s. Early this year, doctors from Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, a world-renowned academic medical center annually ranked as one of the nation's best pediatric hospitals by U.S. News and World Report, and doctors from CPMC began working side by side at CPMC's California Campus. This collaboration ensures that children have access to highly specialized pediatric specialty care close to home.
"We had six people caring for us, so we never felt alone," says Moira, as she relives the emotion surrounding Catherine's first drain procedure. "She was crying; I was crying, and I told her, 'What's helping me be brave is the doctors. They said that we’re going to be fine.' The people at CPMC were there to hold our hands and hold us up. Like family, they opened their hearts to us."
Family-Centered Patient Care
Over the next 23 days, Catherine would call CPMC home. "With access to the tremendous staff there, and the added benefit of Packard Children’s amazing resources, we felt like there was no way we were not going to get the best care possible," Moira explains. "The doctors were incredibly approachable and empowered Catherine to take part in the planning of her own care. If we had a question, there was someone to ask. They understood that they were taking care of more than just a condition. They were taking care of a person, and a family."
"Through CPMC’s collaboration with Packard Children’s, we can follow these families before and after surgery and provide a continuity of care," explains Claudia Mueller, Ph.D., M.D., who performed Catherine’s appendectomy. "We have a team that’s here 24/7 with a surgical service that not only has a lead surgeon but also includes a dedicated nurse practitioner. Whether cases are inpatient, outpatient, routine or complex, families have a home here."
Markus and Betty agree. They brought their son Atticus, who was 16 months old at the time, to CPMC after a bad bout of vomiting. It turned out he needed emergency surgery to repair a hernia. Because Atticus had been in CPMC's NICU for his first seven weeks of life, it was indeed like returning home.
"A few NICU nurses who heard we were in the hospital came to visit us," says Markus. “People were going out of their way to help us at all hours. Being the nervous parent, I figured I wasn't getting any sleep. But when I saw Dr. Mueller there both evenings and mornings, I thought to myself, 'Apparently, she isn’t getting any sleep either.'"
"With this new relationship, physicians associated with two superb providers of pediatric care can continue to do what they do best," reflects Lorry Frankel, M.D., "and, in fact, create a situation where we are better together."
Nothing but Gratitude
Now an active 19-month-old, Atticus is thriving. "CPMC demonstrated that it can deal with sick babies and make them perfectly healthy," Markus insists.
It's been a few months since Catherine's surgery, and she's also getting back to her favorite things—history, science, ballet, and band practice. She's grateful to her caregivers who helped her overcome what could have been a devastating event in her life. "I really got love from the doctors and nurses at CPMC," she says. "That’s why we feel so attached to them. They weren’t just doing a procedure. They were working specifically to create the best situation for us."
"We walked out with nothing but gratitude," adds Moira tearfully. "And if we ever have to go back, we would feel like we were going to people who care about us, and we would know that we were going to be okay."
About CPMC Pediatric Services
We deliver family-centered care to babies, young children, adolescents using the most advanced diagnostic and treatment options available. We are located in San Francisco and serve the San Francisco bay area, Marin and all of Northern California.