New Law Gives the Go-Ahead for UCSF Children's Hospital

September 19, 2001
News Office: Janet Basu (415) 502-6397

When Governor Gray Davis signed Senate Bill 813 on Sept. 12, he acknowledged what the parents of Northern California children who need expert medical treatment have known for many years: that UCSF Medical Center is home to top-notch child-focused care. The bill authorizes a new name for the significant portion of the medical center that is dedicated to children: UCSF Children's Hospital.

Under the law, which was sponsored by state Sen. Joseph Dunn (D-Garden Grove) the pediatric services at the five University of California medical centers are designated as children's hospitals. Eight other California hospitals have this designation.

"This is the name that best fits the extraordinary depth, breadth and quality of our children's services," said Mark Laret, CEO of UCSF Medical Center. In a ceremony in the fall, the medical center and university will celebrate the new name for UCSF Children's Hospital and for its close affiliate, the UCSF Center for Mothers and Newborns.

One-third of UCSF patients are children, from newborns to adolescents. The 127-bed UCSF Children's Hospital fills three floors of the medical center and one floor of the ambulatory care center, with additional child-dedicated facilities throughout UCSF. The children's floors are designed and staffed to welcome children and to help both young patients and families feel comfortable during their stay.

UCSF Children's Hospital and the Center for Mothers and Newborns are regional referral centers for children and mothers from all over Northern California and often from around the world. They also are the neighborhood doctor's offices for the children and pregnant mothers of San Francisco. Mothers come for expert care during normal deliveries and for experts in high-risk pregnancy, prenatal diagnosis and neonatal care. Parents bring children to UCSF for everything from well-child checkups to the most advanced treatment for high-risk medical conditions and chronic or rare diseases.

Dr. Larry Shapiro, UCSF professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics, said that over the years, close ties between the hospital and the university have led to rapid translation of scientific findings to better treatments for children. "Major discoveries made at UCSF are used every day in San Francisco as well as in hospitals around the world to save the lives of premature infants, treat childhood cancer, diagnose and repair congenital defects, help children grow normally and treat children in myriad other ways," he said. UCSF Children's Hospital also is renowned for one of the world's first neonatal intensive care nurseries; the world's first fetal surgery; leadership in congenital heart disease; pioneering care for children with HIV/AIDS; children's kidney and liver transplants and treatment for the serious and chronic diseases that afflict children.

"Most children are well, so when a child has a serious or life-threatening medical problem, often there is no physician in that community who is a specialist both in pediatrics and in that specific condition," Shapiro said. At UCSF Children's Hospital, more than 150 medical and surgical experts in 50 pediatric specialties and a staff of pediatric nurses, child life specialists and social workers draw on the full resources of the medical center to provide that expert care for children.

"We have an 88-year tradition of recognizing that when children are sick, just as when they are well, they are not just little adults. Children have unique needs for their physical and emotional development," Shapiro said.

The University of California, San Francisco is one of the nation's most well regarded medical and scientific institutions. UCSF Medical Center consistently ranks among the top 10 hospitals in U.S. News and World Report's annual survey. Currently UCSF is the highest rated medical center in Northern California, and UCSF Children's Hospital has the top rank for children's care in the region. The Department of Pediatrics, consistently ranked among the top five training programs for pediatricians in the nation, was founded in 1913 as one of the nation's first pediatrics departments.

UCSF is accredited by the National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions (NACHRI), a national, non-profit association that advocates the well being of America's 70 million children and their families. NACHRI members include the best among the nation's children's hospitals, Shapiro said.