United Arab Emirates Undersecretary of the Department of Health H.E. Mohamed Al Hameli visited UCLA Health to sign an agreement with Johnese Spisso, president of UCLA Health and CEO of the UCLA Health Hospital System, formalizing a new referral relationship between the two institutions. The agreement ensures that sponsored Emerati patients not only receive the expert medical care they need for complex conditions, but also continuity of care after they leave the United States. In addition, UCLA Health will consult and collaborate with providers in the UAE to strengthen the country’s medical services and research programs.
“This formal partnership with the United Arab Emirates builds on an already-strong relationship between the two institutions,” said Spisso. “Being chosen as a preferred partner is not only an honor – it also validates the world-class care that UCLA Health provides to all of our patients.”
UCLA Health is one of only a handful of premiere U.S. hospitals chosen to partner with the United Arab Emirates. H.E Mohamed Al Hameli, Undersecretary of Department of Health Abu Dhabi said, “Improving the experience of UAE patients traveling for treatment abroad and ensuring that they receive the best quality of healthcare services remain at the forefront of our priorities at Department of Health Abu Dhabi. Thus we continue to seek out opportunities to establish partnerships and build mutual cooperation with leading health providers outside the UAE. Al Hameli added: “The signing agreement with UCLA Health in Los Angeles is another step to ensuring a safe and effective treatment journey for our patients abroad.”
In the late 1960s, a group of scientists and volunteers at UCLA came together to develop a cancer center they hoped would become renowned for excellence in research, education and patient care. Today, UCLA Health’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (JCCC) has established an international reputation for providing the best in leading-edge and traditional cancer treatments and expertly guiding the next generation of medical research. During the last five years, studies led by JCCC faculty contributed to 11 new FDA-approved therapies that advance the treatment of certain cancers, improve health outcomes and enhance quality of life.
Here are five milestones highlighting the practice changing
research and treatment of the center’s faculty:
Dr. Antoni Ribas led the clinical program that demonstrated the effectiveness of the drug pembrolizumab, the first-of-its-kind immunotherapy, to treat advanced melanoma. Formerly known as MK-3475, pembrolizumab is an antibody that works by blocking the immune system’s “brakes,” allowing it to recognize and attack cancer cells. This was the first of the class of PD-1 blocking antibodies approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of any cancer. Dr. Ribas has significantly helped increase the life-expectancy and quality of life for people with advanced melanoma.
Dr. Dennis Slamon’s early research led to the development of the breast cancer drug trastuzumab (Herceptin), which, since its introduction in 1998, has saved thousands of women’s lives by targeting a specific genetic alteration. Herceptin has been cited as the first triumph in an emerging wave of new, more effective therapies designed to fight cancer at its genetic roots. Dr. Slamon identified a new, more aggressive subtype of breast cancer called HER2-positive (HER2+); in 1987, he discovered the link between the HER2+ gene alteration and aggressive breast cancer. He then proved the theory that if researchers could identify what was altered in a cancer cell compared to normal cells, they could attempt to target and treat it — something many cancer researchers at the time doubted would be effective.
Dr. Edward Garon pioneered the use of pembrolizumab in patients with lung cancer, a notoriously hard cancer to treat. He led the clinical program that showed the drug improved the five-year survival rate of people with advanced lung cancer. Dr. Garon and his team found treatment with the immunotherapy drug pembrolizumab helped more than 15% of people with advanced non-small cell lung cancer live for at least five years — when the study began in 2012, the average five-year survival rate was just 5.5% for people with that type of cancer.
Dr. Arie Bellgedrun developed one of the
first therapies to genetically engineer white blood cells to attack cancer: Yescarta,
which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2017, a type of
therapy called CAR-T (short for: chimeric antigen receptor T-cell), to treat adult
blood cancer patients.
Early intervention provides services that support children from birth to age three who have, or are at risk for, a developmental delay or disability. Early intervention is highly effective at helping children learn new skills and overcome challenges.
When is a child eligible for early intervention services?
By law, parents and caregivers in California can request early intervention services if their child meets the following eligibility criteria:
Developmental delays: When an infant or toddler has a developmental delay of at least 33 percent in areas such as thinking, motor skills, speech or social development.
At risk for developmental delay or disability: When a child has experienced something that could result in a developmental delay, such as premature birth or birth trauma.
Developmental disability: The child has been diagnosed with a disability such as cerebral palsy, Down syndrome or autism, even if they are not showing any signs of delay.
What skills does early intervention focus on?
Children receive early intervention services to build skills in a variety of developmental areas targeting a child’s individual needs. Early intervention emphasizes five skill areas:
Physical: Crawling, sitting, walking, drawing
Cognitive: Thinking, learning or solving problems
Communication: Listening and understanding, talking
Self-help: Eating, dressing or using the toilet
Social/emotional: Sharing, playing with others
How to access early intervention
In California, any parent or guardian with a concern can request a screening for services through the Regional Center Early Start Intake and Family Resource Center. The regional center in your geographic area will evaluate the child to determine their eligibility for early intervention services. A referral from a professional is not needed.
The regional center in your geographic area will evaluate the child to determine their eligibility for early intervention services. A referral from a professional is not needed.
Within 45 days, the regional center will:
Assign a coordinator to facilitate an evaluation and assessment
Develop an Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) if the child is eligible for services
Identify the services the child needs and refer you to some service provider/s
What early intervention services are available to children?
The regional center or a child’s insurance should cover the early intervention services needed. There are a number of different services and service providers, including the UCLA Intervention Program. Depending on the child’s needs, he or she may receive the following:
Center-Based Program: A center-based program is a specialized therapeutic classroom or parent-and-me program where children learn, practice, and reinforce skills in a child-friendly, stimulating environment. Therapists and specialty trained staff support each child’s individual needs, as well as help parents navigate services, equipment, and transition to the school district at age 3.
Occupational therapy (OT): OT services help children learn through everyday experiences and interactions to improve daily living, such as drawing with a crayon and holding a fork. Some can also provide feeding therapy.
Physical therapy (PT): PT services help with gross motor skill development, such as learning to crawl, sit, or walk.
Hearing services: Audiology services can help determine if a child has a hearing impairment and identify necessary supports such as hearing aids.
Speech and language care: Speech-language therapy can help kids communicate and express their thoughts. It can also help them better understand what others are saying to them.
Vision care: Vision impairment can contribute to developmental delays. An evaluation may determine that a child needs vision support.
Equipment: Specialized seating, gait trainer/walkers, standers, communication devices, etc.
What is the UCLA Intervention Program?
The UCLA Intervention Program is an early intervention (birth-36 months) center-based program that offers a specialized therapeutic Toddler Classroom and parent-and-me Infant Program that promote each child’s growth in all developmental areas. The specially trained teachers and therapists use a play-based approach to help young children learn in a motivating and stimulating specialized environment. The program emphasizes what children can do, rather than what they cannot do and provides ongoing support and guidance to each family based on their child’s unique needs. Individual Physical and Occupational Therapy services are also available.
The focus areas for the UCLA Intervention Program include:
Creativity: Kids have fun through exploration and experimentation.
Cognition and language: Children practice communication, attention to task, and learn important concepts like body parts, shapes, or colors.
Social/emotional: Children learn to be aware of themselves and others through play. Activities build self-esteem and confidence.
Motor skills: Children practice both gross and fine motor skills. There are also opportunities for a wide array of sensory experiences including feeding.
“Operation Mend gave me my confidence back,” confirms Angelica Jimenez, a USMC Field Radio Operator who got treatment from Operation Mend for her third-degree burns and scarring. “While convoying back to base, a suicide bomber hit my truck and exploded. I sustained third-degree burns on my hands, leg, arm, about half of my face, and I had shrapnel wounds. I had really bad scarring in my thigh, and wearing certain clothing made me feel really insecure. They were able to reduce some of the scarring, so it looks close to normal. The staff is extremely polite, helpful and you can tell they’re genuinely here for you. Operation Mend is a program that will help you get back on your feet. Don’t be afraid to reach out. They’ll be here for you.”
“There were six of us in the vehicle. We were crossing over a bridge when ‘BAM!,’ an IED went off,” recounts 48-year-old Chris Edwards, a Marine Corps and Army Veteran who was the second patient treated by Operation Mend Chris is pictured with his father Bill Ward. “I was the most severely injured. 79% of my body was burned, with 72% being third-degree burns. Without Operation Mend, I’d probably be a recluse. I’ve had seven surgeries. They helped reconstruct my face, giving me a nose and fixing my eye so I can now get a transplant and hopefully see again. They gave me my mouth back so I can chew and fixed my hands so I can feed myself. The biggest thing I’m working on now is trying to get my elbow released so it will move, and I can use my prosthetic. Hopefully, it will allow me a little bit more independence. I’ve watched Operation Mend grow from one person and four burn patients to now, where I don’t even know how many veterans are in the program. It’s all funded by donations. It’s phenomenal that America cares enough to help us out.”
“After 22 years of being around numerous explosions and jumping out of airplanes, it finally caught up to me,” reflects 51-year-old Tad Steckler, who was an Army engineer dealing with explosives and demolition. “Before Operation Mend, I was easily irritated, lacked an ability to focus, and couldn’t remember things. I knew what was happening to me, but I didn’t know how to stop it. I had gotten yoga certified, and while we thought we had a decent grip on my PTSD, I still had headaches and was irritable. Things were rough with my wife and girls. So we started looking at traumatic brain injuries. Operation Mend was the first place that recognized this and helped walk me through the treatment program and how to communicate with my family.” Nodding, Tad’s wife, Robyn Loveland explains, “He’s a tough guy, and we were all used to doing our own things. It took professionals like UCLA Health and Operation Mend to know how to handle these discussions and help us find a way to communicate. It seems simple to understand each other, but it’s not. They helped us bridge the gap between the army and the civilian world.”
“I founded the Ovarian Cancer Circle to honor the memory of my daughter, Robin Babbini, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at 17,” recounts Paulinda Schimmel Babbini, who was honored by City Hall for the work she and the Ovarian Cancer Circle do, partnered with UCLA Health, to raise awareness about ovarian cancer. “She suffered for eight months, bedridden, losing her life to ovarian cancer. So I am very committed to educating and bring awareness because women need to know the signs and symptoms. I want to thank UCLA Health for supporting us, and it’s a privilege to be honored at City Hall. I’m grateful for the recognition and think it’s a great opportunity for the community to be aware of ovarian cancer.”
The Ovarian Cancer Circle’s 8th Annual Take A Bite Out of Ovarian Cancer luncheon takes place Thursday, November 8th in Woodland Hills. For more information visit: TheOvarianCancercircle.org
“I didn’t play a sport before, so I didn’t have really good coordination,” confesses 14-year-old Shania Jemison, a ninth-grader at Culver City High School. Culver City High partnered with UCLA Health for the Sound Body Sound Mind Program.
“We didn’t have an area to go to the gym after school, and this program is helping us a lot with going to the gym in school. I play softball now, and I can catch and throw the ball well. I’ve become a faster runner, and I can do like eight pushups. There are machines that help with upper body strength, and with those, I can do 15 pushups. I want to say thank you to UCLA Health for giving us the grant to buy these machines and have this gym. I think it’s helped a lot of people.”