Hoag opens digestive health clinic in Newport Beach

Program director Caroline Hwang, M.D., right, and Elizabeth R. Raskin, M.D., surgical director.
Caroline Hwang, M.D., program director for the Margolis Family Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Program, right, and Elizabeth R. Raskin, M.D., surgical director for the program, during a interview at the new Digestive Health Clinic at Hoag in Newport Beach.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Dr. Elizabeth Raskin, the medical director of Hoag’s inflammatory bowel disease program, compared it to spokes on a wheel.

“We talk a lot about layered care and building teams around our patients,” Raskin said. “We put the patient at the center and then radially, we have sub-specialists that help that patient. Each patient has a curated, individualized care team.”

In terms of Hoag’s approach to digestive health, that team now shares one huddle.

The healthcare network’s Digestive Health Institute opened a new clinic in Newport Beach last month. It features experts in five programs related to digestive health: advanced endoscopy, liver, foregut, bariatrics and inflammatory bowel disease.

The clinic received final licensing and held a soft opening on Jan. 9, said Thomas Hutchinson, executive director of the Hoag Digestive Health Institute.

Tse-Ling Fong, M.D., talks with dietician Chelsea Honrath at the new digestive health clinic in Newport Beach.
Tse-Ling Fong, M.D., talks with dietician Chelsea Honrath at the new digestive health clinic in Newport Beach.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

When patients walk in, they see a welcome lobby with a wellness bar in the corner. Upon advancing past that, there is a single corridor — patients on the left, and doctors and staff on the right.

There are four pods of four exam rooms, for 16 total rooms.

“Each one is designed to be a pod for the specialist,” Hutchinson said. “On certain days, this will be the foregut pod, we’ll have the liver pod where they have their specialized equipment. The doctor, the registered dietitian, the care counselor can all bounce back and forth between the rooms as needed. It creates nice seamless care for the physicians, and also patients know exactly where they’re going.”

At the end of the corridor are two consult rooms, featuring licensed dietitians, a care counselor and, eventually, a psychologist.

Elizabeth R. Raskin, M.D., is surgical director for the Margolis Family Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Program at Hoag.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Chelsea Honrath is an onsite registered dietitian who has been with Hoag about eight years. She now works exclusively with the digestive health department.

Honrath said she talks with patients about their diet, which extends far beyond the food they’re eating to topics like sleeping patterns and stress levels.

“All of that, we know, plays into their diet and how that affects their GI tract or their digestion,” Honrath said. “Based off all of that, I’d really like to focus on what the patient wants to focus on, their major concern. We really tailor nutrition recommendations based on what they feel is most important to them. That could be anything from adding in more fiber to help constipation, or it could be limiting high-fat foods to help with their liver.”

She’s a fan of the new clinic, which will make it easier for her to communicate with doctors and nurses to coordinate digestive healthcare.

The new Digestive Health Clinic at Hoag in Newport Beach is now open.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

“It’s great for the providers, but it also shows the patients that we’re all working together on their care,” Honrath said. “It’s not just one single person, so being under one roof is super-nice.”

Dr. Tse-Ling Fong, who has been with Hoag for six years, serves as program director of the liver program.

“What’s particularly unique about our program is that we are able to provide personalized care,” he said. “Not to knock academic programs, but a lot of patients get lost in a big setting. Hoag is a much more personalized place where patients can really get personalized care. For liver patients, it’s almost like a concierge service without having to pay for it. High quality care, but very individualized and personalized.”

Fong knows that personalizing care means collaboration between different doctors and staff, so he’s also enjoying the new setup. Hoag recently hired Dr. Brian Lee, a gastroenterology expert who previously worked at Loma Linda University Medical Center.

“The liver is very closely aligned with the gastrointestinal system,” Fong said. “Liver conditions are unique, but the strength of our program is that we work closely together as a multidisciplinary group of specialists. This digestive health clinic allows us to interact and work together in taking care of patients with complex liver conditions that often require collaboration of colleagues within the digestive health system.”

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