“I grew up in a large family with no health insurance. Now I have a chance to give back. I do what I do because I see the future in the eyes of each child I treat.”
Adam B. Schiff
“LEADER IN THE FIGHT AGAINST CHILDHOOD ASTHMA AND OBESITY”
Growing up in a family with seven children, Paula Verrette, a middle child, found herself tending to all the minor medical problems that her brothers and sisters encountered. "My mother was frightened by the sight of blood," she recalled, "so I did all the bandaging, and repairs on fingers, arms, and knees. I loved science too. When I was about 10, I started some experiments to see how long it took a lizard to re-grow its tail. It wasn't soon before we didn't have a lizard that dared come on our property."
Nominated as a Local Legend by Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-CA-29), Verrette is now chief of the medical staff at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena, CA, and a leader in programs to fight childhood asthma and obesity, and adult diabetes. She is making an impact on her community– a community with a substantial population of disadvantaged people, many of them school age.
Verrette began serving the children of Pasadena in 1987, when she opened her medical practice there. She has expanded her commitment with service to the Pasadena Unified School District and the Community Health Alliance of Pasadena (CHAP) clinic. Her commitment to providing high-quality care to uninsured children was even featured in a Los Angeles Times article.
She developed the grant-sponsored Pasadena Community Asthma Program (PCAP), which raises awareness and educates people about asthma. Recognized in 2000 by the Americana Hospital Association with its national NOVA Award, the program seeks to improve the health of children suffering from asthma by providing care and medications at several clinics, regardless of the families' ability to pay.
"There was a real need to respond to asthma at the school when a problem occurred. The need for medications and medical expertise onsite was very great," Verrette recalls. The asthma program's success led her to become a pediatric consultant for the Pasadena Unified School District, where she is currently medial director of a multi-hospital program targeting obese children.
As Program Director for Huntington Hospital's Healthy Eating Lifestyle Program (HELP), she developed and directs a series of educational and physical activities offered free to children at risk for obesity.
After medical school, Verrette began her career as a resident in pediatrics at USC-LAC Medical Center, where she became Pediatric Chief Resident. Named one of the "Best Doctors in Los Angeles" in 1996, she was also tapped in 1999 to be the YMCA Woman of the Year.
"I've been fortunate. I work at a wonderful hospital with a great staff. The hospital supports us and allows us to participate in community medicine and pediatrics. It's a great opportunity," she says, happily. As for the future, she wishes, "My greatest achievement, I hope, is something still to come."
Physician in Private Practice, Pasadena Children's Medical Group, Pasadena, CA
Appointed Pediatric Consultant, Pasadena Unified School District
Appointed Pediatric Medical Director, Community Health Alliance of Pasadena (CHAP)
Appointed Medical Director, Pasadena Community Asthma Program (PCAP), Huntington Hospital
Elected Chief of Staff, Huntington Hospital
Appointed Project Director, Healthy Eating Lifestyle Program (HELP-Obesity), Child Obesity Program, Huntington Hospital
Appointed Project Director, Healthy Eating Lifestyle Program (HELP-Diabetes), Adult Diabetes Program, Huntington Hospital
Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA