Orange-based Children’s Hospital of Orange County, locally known as CHOC, was recently honored with two national accolades for excellence in respiratory care.
It is the only children’s hospital on the West Coast—and just 1 of 5 in the nation—to receive the 2023–2024 American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) Apex Recognition Award.
Additionally, CHOC’s asthma program was recognized with the Gold Seal of Approval for Pediatric Asthma Certification from The Joint Commission (TJC). CHOC is the 10th pediatric hospital in the country to receive the prestigious TJC certification.
“Although respiratory care practitioners have been essential members of healthcare teams for decades, the last three years have certainly underscored the critical role they play in enhancing patient outcomes and saving lives,” Melanie Patterson, CHOC’s vice president, Patient Care Services, and chief nursing officer, said in a statement.
“I am very proud of our respiratory care team for their unwavering commitment to the highest standards of safe, quality care. They are very deserving of these awards.”
Experts felt it so crucial to get respiratory care right—after all, a patient can die within minutes without air—that the American
Association Respiratory Care in 2017 decided to start an award for those performing best practices in the profession.
There are five categories for recognition: acute care hospitals, long-term care facilities, home medical equipment (HME) companies, educational programs and dedicated transport teams.
“AARC developed the Apex Recognition Award to recognize the significant contribution of respiratory therapists and highlight best practices in respiratory care that
are aligned with evidence-based medicine,” the association said on its website.
“This program will also help consumers choose healthcare facilities that promote patient safety by providing access to respiratory therapists to deliver their care.”
CHOC, which has earned this award three times, has several programs such as its “Breathmobile,” which is the only mobile asthma clinic dedicated to help school-aged children in Orange County.
Its two 36-foot RV-style clinics provide asthma care, diagnosis and education to 22 schools and community sites. CHOC’s Breathmobile travels to each location every four to six weeks.
As a result, kids have comprehensive follow-up care with a team they know.
“The Breathmobile is an important community service that removes barriers for children and their families who may be unable to travel or pay for preventive asthma care,” the hospital said on its website.
CHOC also noted it’s won a Gold Seal of Approval from TJC, an independent, nonprofit organization that is the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care.
The award “is a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to providing safe, effective patient care,” CHOC said.
To earn the two-year certification, hospitals must submit quality and outcomes metrics and host a site review with TJC to evaluate compliance with national disease-specific care standards and pediatric asthma-specific requirements.
In 2021, CHOC’s asthma program was certified by TJC as a “Center of Excellence.” At that time, the program was the 13th in the nation and just the third in the state to earn such a recognition.
“Both the APEX award and the Gold Seal of Approval highlight the hard work and dedication of our respiratory care practitioners,” said Emilee Lamorena, CHOC’s director of Respiratory, Pulmonology and Asthma Program.
“These healthcare professionals provide compassionate, evidence-based care to our patients, while continuing to advance their knowledge and their field. They are inspiring Defenders of Childhood.”