MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach welcomed its first patients to the recently opened Cherese Mari Laulhere Children’s Village Monday, Feb. 22.
Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital — which treats more than 8,000 children annually and serves an additional 84,000 kids needing specialized treatment at its various outpatient and satellite locations — created the Children’s Village on the MemorialCare campus to establish a single spot for pediatric patients and their families to get help.
Brothers Joziah Nagao, 2, and Aaron Nagao, 19, who have been under the care of the children’s hospital since birth, were among the first patients to be admitted to the center. The brothers have both been diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called X-linked lymphoproliferative disease, which causes the immune system to overreact to infections. The brothers’ specialty physician — Dr. Jacqueline Casillas, pediatric hematologist/oncologist and medical director of the hospital’s Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Institute — saw them.
This disease is characterized by a life-long vulnerability to Epstein-Barr virus, a common type of virus that usually does not cause symptoms other than a brief infection. But for those like Joziah and Aaron, the virus can cause severe reactions that can lead to bone marrow failure and cancer of the lymphatic system, both of which can lead to death.
“Because of the type of condition my sons have, we have to visit the doctor and the lab often,” the brother’s mother, La Habra resident Desiree Nagao, said in a statement. “We have been going to Miller Children’s & Women’s for 18 years and it’s been most of the same staff that entire time.
“They have always taken such good care of my kids,” she added. “Knowing that my kids are in the same caring hands, but just in a new, more convenient place that meets all of our needs is so nice.”
The new center serves as an extension of MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital, with the 4-story, 80,000-square-foot facility providing a one-stop shop for children with chronic illnesses needing treatment. The village boasts 36 different pediatric specialties — including a pharmacy, an adolescent gym, a developmental therapy gym, an infant gym, treatment rooms and exam rooms — all in one place.
“Many illnesses affect kids differently than adults,” Graham Tse, the chief medical officer for Miller Children’s & Women’s, said in a statement. “Which is why children need health care designed for their unique needs that is delivered by specially trained clinicians in environments created just for kids.
“With the Children’s Village,” he added, “we have created that and established a new benchmark for children’s health care.”