Building Bridges Across the Globe to Improve the Health of Kids

Updated on December 26, 2023

While fighting for human rights across the world, Nelson Mandela observed, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” Mandela’s challenge symbolizes the mission that for the seven decades has driven the extraordinary team of providers at Valley Children’s Healthcare – to combine the best care for kids with a desire to give back to others. Recently, the opportunity arose to share our passion with a like-minded organization, and we launched our first-ever international partnership with Wigmore Women’s & Children’s Hospital in Yerevan, Armenia, aimed at elevating pediatric healthcare in the Caucasus. 

Earlier this year, physicians from Wigmore Women’s & Children’s Hospital spent several weeks at our facility, where they learned from – and collaborated with – pediatric specialists in Madera, Calif.. Following a rewarding interaction with these exceptional professionals, we began discussions to formalize a long-term affiliation. 

At the heart of our new partnership, and central to its success, is the clear alignment of each organization’s mission, vision, values and commitment to accessible, superior quality care and patient safety. 

However, there was something deeper, more personal and meaningful that inspired our hospital to move forward into this partnership. It afforded us the valued prospect to honor the Armenian heritage and culture of our Valley and of our thousands of patients, families, staff and community members who have made such an impact on our organization for more than 70 years. We have been immeasurably honored by the support and generosity of the Armenian-American community, and this new partnership conveys our deep respect for them while also providing immense service in the field of medical care. 

Wigmore’s parallel vision is to lead in setting international standards of pediatric quality and care, and teaming with them in this historic manner will promote continuous learning and professional development of physicians and other care teams from Armenia. Wigmore physicians will participate in rounds, actively observing their Valley Children’s counterparts in areas ranging from general pediatrics to pediatric subspecialties, including surgery, critical care, neurosurgery and emergency medicine. Other plans include: nursing education and training and development of quality improvement initiatives and patient safety protocols; exploring opportunities for the implementation of residency programs; and collaborative research endeavors. 

This unique alliance goes further than our help in strengthening the quality-of-care Wigmore provides, because it is sometimes through teaching others that we learn the most ourselves. It will also provide opportunities for our medical residents and physicians to travel to Armenia and deliver care in communities very different than our own. The benefits will be exceptional by allowing our residents to return with new knowledge and skills from their Armenia counterparts they could not gain anywhere else.

We anticipate that even new possibilities will emerge from this partnership – inspired by the renewal of the interchange of energy, ideas and the new vitality that can infuse the improvement of care for our society’s most precious resource – our kids. Not only here in California’s Central Valley, but also 7,025 miles away.

Todd Suntrapak
Todd Suntrapak

Todd Suntrapak is President & CEO of Valley Children’s Healthcare.