Children are not the same as adults, especially when they’re receiving medical care. When it comes to anesthesia, for example, a child’s needs are very different from an adult’s needs. Infants and young children are not just small adults, they have anatomical and psychological differences and anesthesia should be customized for each patient.
At CHOC, we provide specialized care for the children and families we serve. From incorporating child life services to help minimize a young patient’s anxiety during hospitalization, to conducting pediatric research and offering access to cutting-edge treatments. We even work with anesthesiologists who tailor their care to infants and children undergoing anesthesia.
CHOC is proud to work with Allied Anesthesia, exclusively, since CHOC opened in 1964, to care for patients in need of anesthesia. Not only does this all-physician group have the most board-certified pediatric anesthesiologists in California, but they also go above and beyond to create a unique and engaging experience for each patient.
One of these physicians is Dr. Sal Maya, a board-certified pediatric anesthesiologist at Allied Anesthesia. Dr. Maya is known as the “singing anesthesiologist” by his peers and patients. His background as a DJ in his younger years and playing at college events, weddings and Bar Mitzvahs has helped him build an assortment of song knowledge across many musical genres. He happily takes requests from his patients and has no problem breaking out some acapella Disney princess songs to help his patients relax before surgery.
“Children are young and there are many things they don’t understand or can’t comprehend. We want them to feel happy and comfortable and reduce any stress that the parents have to go through as well.” Dr. Maya says. “It feels good to know that a child goes to sleep with a smile of their face.”
A Team Effort
Dr. Maya isn’t the only physician who creates unique experiences for children during their treatment. His colleagues, Doctors Christine Ayoub, Eric Ontiveros and Armen Chailen have found creative ways to brighten their patient’s experience as well. Dr. Ayoub transforms a plain cast into a work of art for the kids she looks after at CHOC. On the other hand, Dr. Ontiveros has found a great way of distracting kids while putting them to sleep by teaching them difficult tongue twisters. He has his patients laughing away when they realize it’s much harder than it seems. And Dr. Chailen keeps a selection of children’s books in his bag of treats. Over the years, he has found that reading to his patients help calm them and allow them to relax.
Dr. Ayoub transforms a plain cast into a work of art for the kids she looks after at CHOC. “Having a cast could be a bummer. I just figured that if we can make it something more personal for the kids, it could be something they might get excited about.” Dr. Ayoub explains. When asked about her role as an anesthesiologist and the way she cares for her patients, Dr. Ayoub expressed both the fulfillment and challenge of her position: “It’s difficult because you see innocent kids that are dealing with life-and-death struggles and immense problems. As a caregiver we want to magically fix kids and take away those struggles, but it’s not always so simple… While I can’t fix every illness or cure every disease or change the struggles that each kid has, I can make their journey at CHOC a more pleasant one, a more positive one, and try to infuse some joy in their experience.”
The compassionate care that the physicians at Allied Anesthesia provide at CHOC is an inspiring example of patient and family-centered care.
Giving Back to CHOC
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Allied Anesthesia provided in-kind donations to CHOC. Dr. Maya and his wife, Jennie Maya, are also generous supporters of CHOC. When asked about why Dr. Maya gives back to CHOC, he insists that “it is a gift to do what I do every day. I’m lucky enough to have a job and to continue providing care.” He also believes that actions speak louder than words—“Rather than just saying I believe in CHOC, I believe that giving back financially to CHOC speaks volumes.”
“Nothing has felt as good in life than the larger donations that I’ve given. Things that I’ve bought for myself, that fades—the feeling fades. But knowing that I’ve done something to help, that really sticks for a long time.”
Thank you, Dr. Maya and Allied Anesthesia, for supporting CHOC and our patients with your compassion, expertise and generosity!