Collaboration across the Bay and across different specialties isn’t just enhancing the Pulmonary & Respiratory Care program at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals; it’s a critical strategy for addressing the high demand for pediatric asthma, cystic fibrosis, sleep disorders and other lung specialty care in the Bay Area.

By partnering with colleagues in the emergency room, intensive care, surgical specialties, as well as hospitalists, social workers and other units, the team is better able to streamline inpatient treatment and increase access for more and more children who need care. The fact that all of UCSF Health’s pediatric pulmonologists split their time between Oakland and San Francisco, rather than being mostly based on one side of the bay or the other, further advances these goals. This allows the team to be fully embedded in the communities they serve and exposes them to more colleagues who can help build solutions.

“It's a wonderful opportunity for us to collaborate with colleagues within the division, as well as colleagues from other sub-specialties on both sides of the bay, to promote various programs that support better care,” says Ngoc Ly, MD, MPH, Division Chief of Pulmonary & Respiratory Care at the hospitals.

Growing UCSF Health’s pediatric pulmonology program is a top priority, particularly in Oakland, where the dense urban environment near many freeways has contributed to a higher prevalence of severe asthma in children. The team at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland had approximately 4,000 patient visits in the fiscal year 2017. They are expecting to increase the number of appointments available for children by as much as 10 percent each year, as Ly grows the clinical team further.

“My vision for the pulmonary division is to become one of the top pediatric pulmonary programs in the country. And to do that, I want to expand over the next couple years our clinical research in asthma, cystic fibrosis, sleep and rare lung disease,” says Ly, who’s also a professor in the UCSF Department of Pediatrics.

That vision is already becoming a reality: In just the past year, UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals jumped up nine spots to rank No.18 in pulmonology in the 2018-19 U.S. News Best Children's Hospitals Survey.

Ly has been aggressively recruiting top talent over the past couple years, despite a national shortage of pediatric pulmonologists. “If you look at the United States, there are around 1,000 pediatric pulmonologists, so we're in high demand,” she says. “I’m so proud of the team that we have built at UCSF. Attracting people to the Bay Area is hard because it's expensive to live here, but we’ve got a group that’s young and talented, working as one division across our San Francisco and Oakland hospitals.”