Kaiser Permanente and Valley Children's Hospital working together to train more pediatricians

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Valley Children's Hospital Medical Resident Dr. Erica Ortiz checks on the newborns at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Fresno. (KFSN)

Valley Children's Hospital Medical Resident Dr. Erica Ortiz checks on the newborns at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Fresno. At just a few days old, little Mason seems to prefer the comfort of his blanket.

Mason does not know it, but he's helping Dr. Ortiz become a pediatrician, under a partnership program between Kaiser and Valley Children's.

After graduating from UC Merced, Dr. Ortiz said the residency training is helping her fulfill a childhood dream.

"I have wanted to be a pediatrician since I was six. I've just always liked little kids, I mean, even when I was a little kid; I still loved little kids, so I've just always known it's just been my life-long dream."

Dr. Ortiz is one of 13 medical residents in the first round of the program which could help relieve the Valley's widespread shortage of pediatricians. In fact, Valley Children's looks for pediatric residents with a desire to serve Central California.

"We told them from the beginning when we were recruiting that we wanted doctors to stay, but we also wanted doctors who were interested in advocating for the children of the Valley," said Dr. Karla Au Yeung, Valley Children's Residency Program.

The residents work under the guidance of Kaiser Pediatricians such as Dr. Yvonne Juarez. Even though the residency program itself is in its infancy, it is already having a major impact because patients are getting a double dose of care.

"It's important to have the medicine down, but it really is also important, especially in Pediatrics, to make sure we have the communication and the ability to communicate effectively with families."

Each of the 13 medical residents will have the opportunity during their time in the program to learn Spanish, giving them another skill to help them serve Valley patients and build a connection to the community. And that is already happening between young doctors and their tiny patients.

"It's been a wonderful experience to take that knowledge that we learn in medical school and actually get to apply it," said Dr. Ortiz.

Dr. Ortiz is also pursuing a specialty in neonatology, so she can help the most vulnerable newborns. After she completes her specialty education, the Bay Area native plans to return to Fresno to serve babies and their families in the Valley.

Related Topics:
healthchildren's healthValley childrens hospitalkaiser permanentefresnoFresnoMadera
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