Valley Children's ranks as one of best children's hospital in nation

MADERA, Calif. (KFSN) -- One of the country's best-ranked children's hospitals is right here in the Central Valley.

Valley Children's Hospital in Madera is celebrating its rankings by US News and World Report:

  • Neonatology
  • Pediatric Gastroenterology & Gastrointestinal (GI) Surgery
  • Pediatric Neurology & Neurosurgery
  • Pediatric Orthopedics
  • Pediatric Pulmonology & Lung Surgery
  • Pediatric Urology

The annual Best Children's Hospitals rankings helps assist patients, families and doctors in making informed decisions about where to receive care for challenging health conditions.

"What feels even better is to know that kids are benefiting whenever they do their best," said Valley Children's President and CEO, Todd Suntrapak. "That's really what these awards are all about."

A year and half ago, a simple high-five wouldn't have been possible for Willow.

Soon after she was born and several tests later, Valley Children's diagnosed Willow with a genetic disorder called SMA -- or Spinal Muscular Atrophy. The condition causes the muscles to deteriorate.

This diagnosis came as a shock for Willow's mom, Angelica Hernandez.

"I would be ready for whatever came my way - if Willow was able to walk, if Willow wasn't able to walk, if my time with Willow was limited," she said.

Dr. Raymund David, who treats Willow, said it's not common for newborns with SMA to live a long life.

However, around two years ago, the Food and Drug Administration approved gene therapy for kids affected by SMA. The therapy also includes a spinal injection treatment called "Spinraza."

Valley Children's recommended this treatment, and Willow has been on it ever since.

"She is extremely smart," Hernandez said. "Honestly, the medicine that we give her, they call it 'muscle juice.' Honestly, I think it gives her more energy and more life."

Willow's journey at Valley Children's is one of many that happens on a daily basis.

Suntrapak said the hospital's patients deserve the best. He can also guarantee families their experience will only get better in the future.

"It's the constant dedication and improving our craft," he said. "Because that means a child's life is better."
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