January 12, 2024

Cheering up hospitalized children

Los Angeles Football Club player Carlos Vela brings joy to Kaiser Permanente Downey Medical Center’s youngest patients.

Carlos Vela, LAFC forward, (left) visits Lauren Lewis, a pediatric patient at Downey Medical Center.

Kaiser Permanente has 3 specialty inpatient pediatric care centers throughout Southern California, in Downey, Los Angeles, and Fontana. Our pediatric care centers provide the highest-quality hospital care and support to young patients and their families.

“Kaiser Permanente Downey Medical Center is a leader in care innovations, clinical research, and health education with the priority of meeting our young patients’ needs,” said Mitch Winnik, senior vice president and area manager at Kaiser Permanente Downey Medical Center. “Our physicians and staff are dedicated to ensuring that each of our pediatric patients receives exceptional care during any stay in our hospital. This includes providing both medical and emotional support.”

Known for its high-quality pediatric care, the medical center is part of the Children’s Hospital Association, which includes more than 220 children’s hospitals worldwide dedicated to advancing public policy, enabling hospitals to better serve children, and building awareness of child health issues.

Building a sense of community

In addition to a shared commitment to seeing children thrive, Kaiser Permanente and Vela share a commitment to putting smiles on children’s faces. During his visit, Carlos Vela spent time with 2 patients — Haylee Armedilla, age 12, and Lauren Lewis, age 14 — exchanging stories and laughs during a difficult time.

“Being in the hospital can be scary, but our patients are brave,” said Katelynn Natale, certified child life specialist at Kaiser Permanente Downey Medical Center. As a care team member, Natale’s priority is fostering an environment for each pediatric patient to feel safe and supported. “I’m here to remind them of their strengths and help them cope on this journey.”

“It’s inspiring to witness their strength and determination as they battle their illness,” said Vela. “The kids have a powerful team cheering them on — they have their family, doctors, nurses, and the staff.”

For highlights from Carlos Vela’s visit, see our Kaiser Permanente Southern California Instagram channel.