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The muscle weakness and fatigue that came with Ary Camacho’s dual progressive autoimmune disorders — juvenile dermatomyositis and systemic scleroderma — made it impossible for her to do things like brush her hair, open a water bottle, or walk down the street. When years of immunosuppressant drugs didn’t help, her family turned to UPMC Children’s Juvenile Systemic Scleroderma Center and its innovative autologous stem cell transplant program. Read Ary’s transplant story.
Diane Hupp, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, was named president of UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh in January 2022. She’s a familiar face to doctors, staff, and volunteers at the hospital. We sat down to talk with her for this issue of Pediatric INSIGHTS.
PI: Congratulations on your newest appointment!
DH: Thank you. I could not be more grateful and honored to lead this amazing organization. This is an extraordinary opportunity, and I am humbled by the honor.
PI: What gets you up in the morning?
DH: Having been here 36 years, it's hard to imagine going anywhere else most mornings. It's the children and families who rely on us every day who continue to motivate me. Our employees and providers are inspiring in what they accomplish day after day. The community of Pittsburgh and the world beyond look to Children's to deliver exceptional, high quality, and compassionate care, so to be a part of that every day is motivational. I believe we do unparalleled work here. There's always a new challenge, new initiatives. We are finding ways to do more in terms of growing our UPMC Children's brand and helping to treat every patient, every time, with an extraordinary experience.
PI: Who are some of your mentors and why?
DH: I would start with my parents. My father had a strong work ethic. He worked seven days a week, and he taught us from a young age to work hard and give your all when you make commitments. My mother is one of the most kind, compassionate souls you will meet. They complemented each other well and instilled strong values in us. Dr. Gene Wiener (former medical director at UPMC Children's) was a professional mentor, and I won't forget the counsel he gave me when I was very new in the operating room. Dr. Gail Wolf, who was the former chief nurse executive at UPMC, has been my mentor for 25 years, especially when I was new chief nursing officer (CNO). I have been blessed to have wonderful leaders who have had confidence in me throughout my career, including Mark Sevco, Chris Gessner, and my former CNO, Mary Kay Loughran, who have given me opportunities to do more and supported me along the way. I will always be grateful.
PI: After two years of COVID, how do you keep the team motivated?
DH: It's been a challenge. I will acknowledge it's been the most challenging two years of my career. As a leader, you must remain positive, communicate well, and instill confidence that whatever comes our way, we will get through it. Focusing on our priorities and the “why" of what we do here are important concepts. Simple things like thank-you notes and ways to help people fill their bottles so they can continue to come back and do more. Great teams push through difficult times, and we have an extraordinary team here.
We have learned a lot through the pandemic. Telemedicine is here to stay, it's efficient and effective, and it's getting funded. The biggest lesson is surrounding yourself with good people who are caring and committed to the mission. It's a real team effort.
PI: How can UPMC Children's better engage with our referring physicians?
DH: Referring physicians are of the utmost importance to us, and good effective communication is key — ensuring that they know what's going on at Children's and that we are here for them and their patients. For them, I believe access is critical, whether they need to get a patient into the Emergency Department, or to have a surgical procedure, or to schedule a subspecialist appointment.
Getting patients in to see providers in a timely fashion and with ease is important to referring physicians. These are top priorities that we need to continue to do better and more consistently.
Improving our digital front door is another area of focus that our referring physicians and patients will appreciate. Advancements in telemedicine and its ability to ensure a seamless connection with our subspecialists are important. Implementing online scheduling and remodeling our UPMC Children's mobile app are tools that will help our patients and families.
PI: What is UPMC Children's biggest strength right now?
DH: Our brand and what it stands for. For 135 years, we have been delivering high quality care and, more recently, improving on our patient-family experience, which has reached the top decile of inpatient satisfaction in the country. More than ever, the exceptional providers, nurses, and frontline staff who deliver world-class care every day are our real strength.
PI: Lastly, what are a few of your goals for Children's in the next year or two?
DH: First, growth and access are major priorities. Getting children in the door with ease, whether virtually or in person, is so important. We are working to improve our digital front door with our consumers. Ensuring our operating rooms are all open, and that patients can get into the ED in reasonable times. Making sure families know they can get help 24/7 with UPMC Children's AnywhereCare. We have a renewed focus on pediatric behavioral health. We're aligning with UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital leaders to strategize how to better meet the demands of children who need behavioral health services.
Second, investing in our staff is a top priority. We're concentrating on stabilizing the health care workforce and doing what we can to get back to optimal staffing across the board. We are partnering with schools and training programs to create improved staff pipelines. We are working to create the best employee experience, while including flexible schedules and enhanced career ladders to ensure our staff feels valued for the hard work they do.
Third, sustaining exceptional patient-family experiences remains a priority. We are at the top of our game, starting out this year at the 97th percentile of patient satisfaction. Patients and families deserve the best when they come to Children's, and it is our goal to continue to deliver.
The American Nurses Credentialing Center recently recognized the UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh’s pediatric advanced practice provider (APP) fellowship program as a Practice Transition Accreditation Program® (PTAP). PTAP organizations set the standard for residency or fellowship programs that transition registered nurses (RNs) and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) into new practice settings. UPMC Children's is only the third pediatric APRN fellowship to be ANCC-accredited nationally.
This recognition comes after approximately six years of continued work by an advisory committee comprised of UPMC administrators, physicians, and advanced practice providers to grow and evolve the APP fellowship curriculum. The committee has ensured that incoming APPs have top-quality clinical training as well as mentorship, peer support, professional development, and institutional enculturation. Since it was first established in 2018, over 63 fellows have gone through the program, which spans 16 different pediatric subspecialties.
"Holding ourselves to the high standards set forth by the ANCC is our effort to not only be accountable while continuing our current high-quality educational experience for incoming APPs but to keep us striving to be better by continuing to create and adopt best practices," says Whitney Lerch, PA-C, director, Advanced Practice, UPMC Children's. "Thank you to all of our APP fellows — past, current, and future … Your feedback keeps us focused on how we can continue to improve the experience and optimize the program to elevate clinical care and the employee experience for APPs at UPMC Children's."
UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh is one of 15 UPMC hospitals designated a “Leader in Healthcare Equality” — the highest possible designation — by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation in its Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) 2022 report.
The HRC Foundation is the education arm of the nation's largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) individuals. Its annual Healthcare Equality Index provides a benchmarking tool that evaluates health care facilities' policies and practices related to the equity and inclusion of LGBTQ patients, visitors, and employees.
UPMC Children’s was first designated as a leader by the HRC Foundation in 2015 and has consistently earned the highest designation since then.
Learn more about the Healthcare Equality Index 2022 report, including designation criteria, the application process, and more.
UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh and Department of Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine were selected as a participating site for the 2022 Summer Genetics Scholars Program.
The program will be overseen by the American College of Medical Genetics (ACMG) Foundation for Genetic and Genomic Medicine. UPMC Children's and Pitt Pediatrics will join 17 other institutions from across the United States. The program dedicates funding for second-year medical school students to work directly with a medical geneticist. Since 2011, the ACMG has sponsored over 150 scholars at 30 different institutions.
On April 4, the Foundation officially unveiled its new name and new look. Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation is now UPMC Children's Hospital Foundation.
After engaging in a brand positioning study and completing months of comprehensive research, it became clear that aligning the brand more closely with that of UPMC Children's will help catalyze critical growth and success.
With this change, UPMC Children's Hospital Foundation is positioned to advance the growth and vision of UPMC Children's to be a world-class leader in pediatric health care. As UPMC Children's scope of services and reach grows, the foundation will be better positioned to support growth as philanthropic needs arise.
Along with a new name, the Foundation changed its logo, colors, and style. The website and communications have been revamped to showcase the people who matter most: our children, their families, and our dedicated physicians, nurses, and staff who care for them.
The Foundation prides itself on sharing stories about the incredible, life-changing work accomplished at Children's. Stay connected to UPMC Children's Hospital Foundation through social media, visiting the website, and subscribing to its email newsletter, “The View from Children's." If you have a great story to share, visit the Contact Us section to submit your story.
Above all, UPMC Children's Hospital Foundation remains as committed to serving our children and our community as it always has. It strives to raise the bar even higher to improve the health and future of children, here in Pittsburgh and around the world.
To learn more, visit www.givetochildrens.org.
The Foundation's largest community fundraiser, Walk for Children's — presented by UPMC and UPMC Health Plan — is back! It is time to celebrate our patient champions, their families, and those who have been with them every step of their journey. On Saturday, June 4, meet us at the starting line in Pittsburgh's Schenley Park and we'll “Walk a Mile in Their Shoes." Interested in forming a team, or want to join in the walk from your location?
Visit walkforchildrens.org to register today.
There are many medically sound reasons for UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh to provide culturally competent care. Research shows it promotes shorter hospital stays, lowers the risk of infection, improves patient compliance, and reduces readmission rates. It also plays a critical role in reducing racial, economic, ethnic, and social disparities.
The next time you're in our Lawrenceville neighborhood, I invite you to walk through our lobby for a quick coffee. You'll quickly see and hear why UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh is a microcosm of our global world. You'll witness the growing number of patients and families who come to our hospital from around the world — and the diversity of those who live and work down the street.
At UPMC Children's, we're known for our innovation and excellence in pediatric medicine. We also pride ourselves on delivering highly personalized treatment. But delivering on those strengths today also means providing culturally competent care when patients and families are feeling their most vulnerable, worried, and scared.
Every day, we see how diverse languages, value systems, religious beliefs, and cultural traditions impact patient care and outcomes. The following is an update on the expanding language access services now offered at Children's. In our next issue, I'll share our efforts to support the religious beliefs of our patients and their families.
The growing number of international patients coming to Children's for specialized care was the catalyst for increasing language access services at the hospital. But we soon recognized the opportunities it offered our increasingly diverse domestic patient base. That includes Pittsburgh's newest and longtime immigrants and refugees, as well as international students.
The International Services Department at UPMC Children's was established in 2008. María Cecilia (Mariace) Dancisin, MBA, manages the busy department. As a result of her tireless efforts, we now provide a wide range of services to ensure that patients and families whose preferred language for health care conversations is different than English have access to the same vital services and information as all other patients.
English learners comprise roughly 5% of all our patients. In 2021, we provided translation services for 70 — yes, 70! — different languages. Of those languages, nearly 80% of demand was for Spanish, Arabic, Nepali, Swahili, Uzbek, Russian, and Mandarin. In all, more than 10,000 remote interpretation calls were made at UPMC Children's last year.
The majority of these interpretation services are offered in partnership with CyraCom, the leading provider of language interpretation services in health care, which is exclusively endorsed by the American Hospital Association. They include:
To promote the use of our interpretation services, we have created and distributed systemwide personalized “I Speak" cards, designed for ongoing use by patients. These double-sided cards feature English on one side and the patient's preferred language on the other to make it easy for patients to request an interpreter — and for health care staff to immediately identify the language needed.
Other ongoing language access initiatives include:
As UPMC continues to develop into a global health care presence, our focus on cultural competency is even more relevant. What we are doing here at Children's is helping to create a model for others throughout the system. While this remains a work in progress, we take pride in the many successes achieved to date.
As a pediatrician, you can be confident that at Children's, we are committed to improving our cultural competencies. Our goal is to ensure your patients and families know they are valued, respected, and welcomed whenever they are in our care.
Andy Urbach, MD, is medical director for Patient Experience and Development at Children's. He welcomes your comments and questions. Please send an email to MDrelations@chp.edu.
Erika Friehling, MD, fellowship program director within the Division of Hematology-Oncology at UPMC Children's, recently was appointed vice chair for the American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology (ASPHO) Education Committee. This volunteer position aids various initiatives overseen by the ASPHO Board of Trustees.
Timothy W. Hand, PhD, director of the Gnotobiotic Animal Core Laboratory and assistant professor of pediatrics and immunology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, was named a 2021 Emerging Leader by the Society for Mucosal Immunology.
Alejandro Hoberman, MD, executive vice chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and president of UPMC Children's Community Pediatrics, received the 2022 Top 10 Clinical Research Achievement Award from the Clinical Research Forum, a nonprofit association of clinical research experts and thought leaders from the nation's leading academic health centers. Notably, Dr. Hoberman is the first person ever to receive this award from the forum on two separate occasions. The award recognizes Dr. Hoberman and his research team for “Tympanostomy Tubes or Medical Management for Recurrent Acute Otitis Media." First published in May 2021 in the New England Journal of Medicine, the study found no long-term benefit to surgically placing ear tubes in a young child's ears to reduce the rate of recurrent ear infections compared to the use of episodic oral antibiotics.
In January, Christopher M. Horvat, MD, MHA, assistant professor of critical care medicine and pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and Gabriella Butler, MSN, RN, director of Health Care Analytics and Strategy at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, were awarded a grant from UPMC Enterprises and the Pittsburgh Health Data Alliance to support the development of a virtual intelligent early warning system at Children's Hospital. Using machine learning, the system will produce patient acuity indexes to predict clinical deterioration of Children's inpatients and aid providers in determining appropriateness of ICU transfers.
In December, Traci Kazmerski, MD, MS, pediatric pulmonologist at UPMC Children's and assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, received the 2021 Clinical Research Scholars Award from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation®. The award will support Dr. Kazmerski's primary project to determine the health impact of parenthood on people with cystic fibrosis.
Lisa Maurer, MD, PhD, a physician-scientist in pediatric hematology oncology at UPMC Children’s and an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, was recently awarded one of two American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology (ASPHO)’s Young Investigator awards. The award provides funding for deserving young investigators to attend the ASPHO Conference and present their work.
Elizabeth Miller, MD, PhD, FSAHM, director of the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at UPMC Children's, was recognized by the Pennsylvania Association of School Nurses and Practitioners as a 2022 Friend of School Nursing.
Ana Radovic, MD, MSc, a pediatrician and subspecialist in adolescent medicine at UPMC Children's and an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, received a National Institutes of Health R21 grant to develop a community-based adolescent mental health program. This new grant will apply the technique of implementation mapping and a youth stakeholder-driven approach to implement a Supporting Our Valued Adolescents (SOVA) peer ambassador program. The program aims to address adolescent depression and anxiety, particularly among racial and ethnic minorities, which can lead to serious clinical and societal consequences. A second phase of this research encompasses a pilot randomized clinical trial comparing the SOVA program to online journal writing.
Neema Shah, MD, and Erin Cummings, MD, both pediatric hospitalists with the Paul C. Gaffney Division of Pediatric Hospital Medicine at UPMC Children's and assistant professors of pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, were recently appointed director and co-director, respectively, of the Advanced Physical Exam (APE) course in the Department of Pediatrics. The APE course shepherds preclinical medical students through their first experience in pediatric medicine.
Jerry Vockley, MD, PhD, FACMG, director of the Division of Genetic and Genomic Medicine and the Center for Rare Disease Therapy at UPMC Children's, was elected a 2021 American Association for the Advancement of Science fellow. Dr. Vockley also is a professor of pediatrics and the Cleveland Family Endowed Professor in Pediatric Research at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and a professor of human genetics at Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health. He directs an active research program on inherited disorders of energy and protein metabolism that focuses on both understanding the genetic causes of these disorders and developing new treatments for them. His research has earned National Institutes of Health support continuously since the early 1990s. Throughout his career, Dr. Vockley has identified multiple new genetic disorders, published nearly 300 scientific articles in peer review journals, and founded the Plain Community Translational Medicine Program at UPMC Children's.
Katherine I. Watson, DO, FAAP, co-program director of the Pediatric Residency Training Program at UPMC Children's and an assistant professor in the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine’s Division of General Academic Pediatrics, was published in JAMA Pediatrics in January 2022. The published paper, titled "Effect of a Novel Mindfulness Curriculum on Burnout During Pediatric Internship," found levels of emotional exhaustion, burnout, depersonalization, and empathy did not significantly differ after a training program and series of social lunches. The trial randomized 340 pediatric interns across 15 different U.S.-based training programs from June 2017 to February 2019.
Justin A. Yu, MD, MS, a physician-researcher on the supportive care team at UPMC Children's, recently received a grant from FAM-NET, a research network operated by the NIH, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, University of Michigan, and University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Yu's study aims to describe the emotional well-being of family caregivers of children with medical complexity.
The That's Pediatrics podcast series is back with new hosts, tackling relevant pediatric health topics with UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh experts. Listen to our latest episode, "Getting to the Heart of MIS-C and Myocarditis with Dr. Tyler Harris," that dropped Tuesday, April 5. New episodes will drop every other Tuesday, so be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Youtube.
Join experts from the Center for Rare Disease Therapy at UPMC Children’s for webinars for providers, parents, and caregivers of children with a rare inherited disorder. Learn more here.
Acknowledging that breastfeeding often takes more training than many realize, the Lactation Center at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital is now offering virtual breastfeeding consultations to moms across Pennsylvania. Learn more about UPMC Magee-Womens' lactation consultant services.
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