Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital:
At The Forefront Of Pediatric Healthcare

Twenty-five years ago, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital began its legacy of offering first-class healthcare services to children and families in our community. Today, that legacy continues.

Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital has become one of the nation’s leading pediatric healthcare facilities, known for its clinical expertise, advanced technology and patient- and family-centered approach to care. Through the years, the hospital has garnered national recognition and respect for its expertise and excellence in pediatric healthcare. Among the many accomplishments of the last year are:

  • Leapfrog designation as a Top Children’s Hospital, a distinction achieved only by an elite group of hospitals that meet the nation’s toughest standards for safety and quality
  • U.S. News & World Report Best Children’s Hospital ranking for five consecutive years
  • Planetree designation as a Person-Centered Organization, one of 86 organizations worldwide and the first pediatric hospital in the world to receive this distinction
  • Press Ganey Guardian of Excellence award for Patient Experience
  • Accredited Center of Care Designation by the Children’s Cardiomyopathy Foundation for providing specialized, high-quality cardiac care to children with cardiomyopathy
  • Federal approval from the United Network for Organ Sharing to launch a pediatric kidney transplant program
  • American College of Radiology designation as a Center of Excellence, the only pediatric hospital in the state of Florida to earn that recognition

Plans for the coming year include expanding the hospital’s services in Palm Beach County with the opening of a 30,000-square-foot Pediatric Specialty Center in Wellington, doubling the size of the Hollywood hospital to become an eight-story building, and the launch of an Adolescent Bariatric Surgery Program.

“At Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, we believe that love is at the center of everything we do for our patients. Our commitment to clinical excellence and expansion of programs and services aligns with our mission to positively impact the health and wellbeing of the children and communities we serve. Our passion and devotion drives us to provide the patient- and family-centered care we are recognized for nationally and deliver a unique care experience for children.”
Caitlin Beck Stella, MPH

Chief Executive Officer, Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital, and Pediatric Services, Memorial Healthcare System

Caitlin Beck Stella Named CEO of Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital

With the growing demand for pediatric specialty services in the tri-county area, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital is poised for continuous growth and expansion. As its new Chief Executive Officer, Caitlin Beck Stella, MPH, is ready for the challenge with commitment and dedication to leading the children’s hospital into the future. Stella replaces the recently retired Chantal Leconte, FACHE, who led the children’s hospital for the past five years.

“I am honored to join this remarkable organization and privileged to continue its work in delivering the region’s highest quality pediatric healthcare services, always with love for our patients and families at the center of everything we do,” said Stella, who began her healthcare career as a volunteer at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in her hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Stella comes to Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital with an impressive background and experience in children’s healthcare and professional highlights that have allowed her to build a legacy early in her career. After completing her undergraduate degree in Child Development at Virginia Tech, she headed to Los Angeles to complete an internship in Child Psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Later, she began working in clinical research administration at the institution currently known as the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA Medical Center, overseeing the start-up of a multi-million-dollar clinical research Center of Excellence funded by the National Institutes of Health. By integrating clinical services, clinical trials and multidisciplinary research, this program became known as the UCLA Center for Autism Research and Treatment (CART), which is now recognized as an international leader in autism research.

During her time at UCLA, she also completed a Master’s in Public Health in Health Policy and Management, which led her to pursue a management consulting career in the healthcare advisory practice of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. She worked on various national engagement focusing in operational performance improvement, revenue cycle management, information technology implementation and compliance.

Before joining Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, Stella was the Chief Administrative Officer for UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital and Women’s Health. She led efforts to affiliate with Miller Children’s and Women’s Hospital and developed a system-wide strategy for the joint expansion of children’s health services in Southern California. Always committed to also impacting the lives of children who are hospitalized, she created a special program while at Mattel Children’s Hospital called, “Everyday Wish Fund.” A spin off to the Make a Wish Foundation concept, she often pulled internal and external resources to grant daily wishes to children in the hospital, even if these wishes meant redecorating a hospital room to reflect and capture the imagination and wish of a patient.

“Caitlin’s expertise and experience will be critical as we expand Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital and its footprint in South Florida,” said Aurelio M. Fernandez, III, FACHE, Memorial Healthcare System President & CEO. “Her contributions will be significant and impactful for the organization, the patients and the communities we serve for years to come.”


Pediatric Specialty Center Coming to Palm Beach

Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital will increase its footprint in Palm Beach County this winter with the opening of its first Pediatric Specialty Center in Wellington. The new center will help fill the need for pediatric specialty services in that area, bringing the hospital’s first-class healthcare services and advanced technology closer to home for children in the Palm Beach community.

The 30,000-square-foot facility will become Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital’s third pediatric specialty practice in Palm Beach County, with the other two located in Boca Raton. The center will house a group of highly qualified physicians in multiple pediatric specialties and a first-class team to provide exceptional patient- and family-centered care in a warm and child-friendly setting. Among the pediatric specialties planned for the new center are endocrinology, otolaryngology, general surgery, neurology, orthopedics and pulmonology. In line with the high-quality healthcare that has made Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital one of South Florida’s leading pediatric hospitals for 25 years, the new facility will feature rehabilitation services and some of the latest in radiology technology, including MRI and ultrasound.

“We are thrilled to expand our services and care to the children and families of Wellington and Palm Beach. We remain committed to providing highly specialized pediatric services coupled with our patient-and family-centered care philosophy in an area where there is a need for this level of care. We are grateful for the warm welcome and look forward to establishing meaningful partnerships in the community.”
Caitlin Beck Stella, MPH

Chief Executive Officer, Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital, and Pediatric Services, Memorial Healthcare System


Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Marks a Milestone

When Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital opened in September 1992 – composed of a few units on a single floor of Memorial Regional Hospital – Joe DiMaggio himself was there to celebrate. Since then, it has grown to the largest pediatric hospital serving Broward, Palm Beach and northern Miami-Dade counties. Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital is an award-winning, freestanding facility known for its advanced technology, clinical expertise, child-friendly environment and compassionate approach to care. Pediatric services are also now available at several locations throughout South Florida.

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In September 2017, Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital marked its first quarter-century of service to patients and families. The 25th anniversary inspired celebrities and community leaders to raise a red glove in celebration of the milestone and capture heartfelt wishes on video.

In celebration of 25 years, dozens of events were held throughout the community, including the donation of Fitness Zones and sunshades to schools and parks throughout Broward County.

2 New Fitness Zones

10 School Playground Sunshades

Pediatric Kidney Transplant Program Poised to Change Lives

Since the opening of Memorial’s pediatric outpatient dialysis unit in 2004, children with chronic kidney conditions have had Memorial’s skilled team of specialists to help them manage their disease. Now, Memorial Transplant Institute’s pediatric kidney transplant program at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital is in place to help children age 2 to 18 live higher-quality lives, free from dialysis.

“Transplantation is the final piece of the puzzle, the added service that will provide the full continuum of care,” said Alexandru Constantinescu, MD, Chief of Pediatric Nephrology. “Transplantation will allow us in many cases to bypass dialysis and lead to a much better outcome for the child.”

The pediatric kidney transplant program will offer transplant expertise through the team approach – including the services of dietitians, social workers, pharmacists and child-life specialists, to help patients throughout every step of transplant care. And because Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital and Memorial Transplant Institute develop lifelong relationships with patients, the team will be able to help transplant recipients smoothly transition from pediatric to adult specialists.

The pediatric transplant team is actively listing candidates. “It can take anywhere from a few months to a few years to receive an organ,” Dr. Constantinescu said.

Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital's ability to provide a healthy organ to a child with kidney disease will make a significant difference in his or her quality of life.

“We are ready and fully functional, with all the available resources and the expertise required to offer the gift of life to patients and families who need it,” Dr. Constantinescu said.

Children's Cardiomyopathy Program Earns Accreditation

Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Pediatric Cardiomyopathy Program recently received accreditation from the Children’s Cardiomyopathy Foundation (CCF) for consistently providing high-quality cardiac care and specialized disease management to children with cardiomyopathy.

Cardiomyopathy is a chronic heart disease that affects how the heart pumps blood through the body and is known to be the leading cause of sudden cardiac arrest in children.

The hospital’s Cardiomyopathy Program is the only one accredited in South Florida and the second one in the state.

“This designation is a confirmation to the caliber of care we provide to our patients with cardiomyopathy and to the specialized team that works with these very special patients who have cardiomyopathy. We are very proud of this distinction.”
Maryanne Chrisant, MD

Medical Director, Pediatric Cardiac Transplant, Heart Failure and Cardiomyopathy at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital

Two out of three children who suffer from cardiomyopathy do not have a known cause, and 40 percent of all diagnosed children will either receive a heart transplant or die. Like other chronic illnesses, pediatric cardiomyopathy requires a team approach to providing comprehensive care.

Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Cardiomyopathy program is one of the fastest-growing in Florida with nationally recognized experts in pediatric cardiology. The program offers a full suite of treatment options for arrhythmias, heart failure and other conditions.

It also offers a host of screenings, including genetic testing and counseling and sports heart screening for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

Center accreditation is based on data reported by hospitals and cross referenced against CCF’s center requirements.

Centers meeting CCF’s criteria are designated as a CCF-accredited center of care for two years. In general, accredited centers manage a high volume of pediatric cardiomyopathy patients, offer a variety of pediatric patient services, specialize in the treatment and management of cardiomyopathy in children, and are affiliated with an academic research institution. Information about CCF’s Accredited Center of Care program and selection criteria is available on CCF’s website.

“The accreditation program aims to identify centers with expertise in pediatric cardiomyopathy and provides families with standardized information to help them locate the top treatment centers,” said Lisa Yue, CCF’s founding executive director. “We are happy to include Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital among the list of highly skilled and experienced hospitals that specialize in treating all forms of cardiomyopathy in children”

Coordinating Care For Children With Complex Chronic Conditions

Caring for a child with multiple complex healthcare needs can be overwhelming. Parents and caregivers can count on the Complex Chronic Care Coordination Program at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital for help and guidance in managing their child’s care.

In conjunction with the patient’s primary care physician and specialists, the team works to optimize healthcare delivery and continuity of care for children with medically complex issues, considering their specific medical needs, care goals, and family and community support systems.

“As we make medical advances, more and more kids with complex chronic conditions are living longer, and we want to impact their quality of life,” said Jason Adler, MD, Medical Director, Complex Chronic Care Coordination Program, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital. “We enhance the care we provide by bringing in services and resources that will improve the lives of our children.”

The program offers transition of care visits, office visits and on-call support, expert medical consultation and diagnostic services for children with rare diseases, expert medical consultation for complex medical decision-making, needs assessments for home and community-based services, and short- and long-term medical planning. Technology is often a key component in complex care management, as many patients depend on devices like home ventilators and feeding tubes.

The team is composed of critical care physicians, pediatric palliative care physicians, nurse practitioners and social workers who come together to navigate the complex health issues of chronically ill children with the goal of avoiding frequent hospitalization and improving their quality of life.

Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital to Launch Adolescent Bariatric Surgery Program

As obesity rates among children and adolescents continue to rise across the nation, studies show that bariatric surgery may have significant benefits for some pediatric patients. With that in mind, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital will launch its Adolescent Bariatric Surgery Program this year.

Memorial Healthcare System has been performing adult bariatric surgery for several years, but this is the first time the program will focus on adolescents. The program will focus on weight loss surgery, mainly the less invasive bariatric sleeve procedure. Intended for adolescents age 15 years and older, the program will include a team of surgeons, pediatric specialists, psychologists and nutritionists.

With appropriate lifestyle changes, the surgery can offer excellent weight loss results, according to Brett Cohen, MD, Surgical Director, Adolescent Bariatric Surgery Program, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital.

“We’re preparing a complete weight loss management program,” said Dr. Cohen said. “We will look at the history of the weight problem and underlying causes, and address those in a step-wise manner. The program will include nutritional, medical and psychological support in an attempt to address these issues in the least invasive way possible. For those who need additional assistance, surgery will help make the weight loss more likely to be successful.”


Healthy Parenting, Pitched by Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital

Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital has launched a new Healthy Parenting podcast that educates consumers on topics ranging from serious medical conditions to trending issues on health, safety and parenting.

Listen to past episodes at and subscribe on iTunes, Google Play or your favorite podcast app.


Heart Transplant Journey For Ariana

The heart condition Ariana was born with didn't pose a problem for the South Florida teen until she started having tummy aches at age 16. It was during a visit to Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital that doctors realized that her heart was deteriorating. Ariana's condition was causing her lungs to fill up with fluids that were dripping into her abdomen area. Her family was told that she would need a heart transplant.

"Nothing in the world could prepare you for something like that news," said Ariana's mother, Adriana.

On September 5, 2017, Ariana became the hospital's 32nd heart transplant patient. She, along with the other recipients, is forever connected to the hospital’s Heart Transplant program, which is celebrating seven years of providing children and teens like Ariana a new heart and a new life of beginnings and possibilities.

In Ariana's case, her transplant was made possible by a remarkable procedure now being performed by the hospital's multi-disciplinary medical staff.

To prepare Ariana for a transplant, doctors determined she would need a ventricular assist device (VAD) to get her strong enough for the life-saving heart transplant.

Ariana had been diagnosed at the young age of six months with dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the heart's ability to pump blood is decreased because the heart's main pumping chamber, the left ventricle, is enlarged and weakened.

In August of 2017, Ariana became the first pediatric patient at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital to be implanted with a VAD, called the HeartWare. Previous patients were connected with a Berlin Heart, which also helped function of the heart. The HeartWare device is unique in that it is small enough to fit in the palm of a hand and its batteries fit in a school-sized backpack, allowing the child more freedom with mobility. Having a VAD implant allowed Ariana to gain strength and continue a fuller life while she awaited a heart.

"As always, families and patients when they are old enough, they sort of hesitate. It's the feeling of wait a minute, you are going to do one operation just to get me to that other operation but you need that first operation to make you well enough for the heart transplant," said Dr. Maryanne Chrisant, Medical Director, Pediatric Cardiac Transplant, Heart Failure And Cardiomyopathy at JDCH.

"When we do the heart transplant, that heart is going to be yours for life," she said.

The VAD was surgically placed in Ariana's chest, in a sac around the heart known as the pericardial space. The pump is connected directly to the pump at the bottom of her left ventricle, where it draws oxygen-rich blood through the pump and pushes it into the aorta. Once blood reaches the aorta, it can flow to the rest of the body.

"Another big thing about the device is that she was able to get to a point where she can get out of bed and potentially discharged to her home," said Dr. Immanuel Turner, one of Ariana's pediatric heart surgeons.

Ariana would only have to carry around a bag with an external battery console, instead of being attached to a large device such as the Berlin Heart used primarily on younger or small children.

Less than a month after receiving the VAD, Ariana's family got a 3 am phone call from the hospital.

"They said they had a heart for Ariana," the mother recalled.

After the successful transplant, Ariana was able to go home with a new heart and a bright future ahead.


Baby Lily Makes Full Recovery After Brain Aneurysm

Lily was just 2 months old when her mother, Latonya, noticed signs that something was not right with her baby.

“Her eyes were rolling back and she seemed a little lethargic,” said Latonya, who immediately took her daughter to Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital where tests revealed she had a ruptured brain aneurysm associated with an arteriovenous malformation (AVM), a potentially life-threatening condition.

In Lily's case, it was an abnormal connection between the brain's arteries and veins, said Dean Hertzler, Chief of the Pediatric Neurosurgery Program at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital.

“It doesn’t go through the capillaries, and so then you have a high flow state going directly to a vein, and they’re very prone to rupture," Dr. Hertzler said.

A joint decision was made with Memorial Neuroscience Institute to avoid an open surgical procedure and pursue a minimally invasive one-time treatment using advanced imaging technology; the brain aneurysm was sealed off and the adjacent AVM was permanently closed. Lily made a full recovery and suffered no significant neurological impairment as a result of the bleeding.

“Everybody was great; they really took care of her,” said Latonya. “That was my first experience with Joe DiMaggio and everything went well. I was very pleased with the care she received.”