A resident of Poway is “The Rock” at Radi Children’s Hospital

Chris Abe is dedicated to emergencies. Whether it’s a nurse accidentally pricked with a needle or a global pandemic, she is able to remain calm and think of solutions under pressure.

Her colleagues at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego say Abby is always available by phone at all times of the day or night, and often in the office by 3 a.m.

“I don’t know when you sleep,” said Dr. Alice Bong, an infectious disease expert at Raddy. “It’s the rock.”

Megan Medina, director of regulatory programs, accreditation, and infection control at Rady, remembers a day when she was stuck with a needle when she was a nurse. Madina was worried about getting sick through the wand.

“She spoke to me by taking a risk. She calmed me down a lot,” Medina said. “I’ve seen her respond like that all the time.”

Pediatrics has always been a passion for Poway native Abby, who started at Rady in 1986 as an assistant director of the medical unit. He is now Vice President of Operations. Rady Children’s Hospital is a non-profit pediatric care facility with 511 beds. It is the only hospital in the San Diego area exclusively dedicated to pediatric health care and the only pediatric trauma center in the area.

In recent years, Abby has taken on a number of new roles. In all, there are 18 departments she reports to, including Clinical Support Specialist, Infection Control, Disaster Response, and Occupational Health. It also supervises the laboratory and pharmacy.

Chris Abbey, left, talks with Blanca Montano, lead nurse at Rady Children’s Hospital’s COVID clinic.

(photo courtesy)

Her entire career, which includes Rady’s 36 years this month, prepared her to take charge when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

During the height of the outbreak, the hospital provided tests for first responders. Abe organized and set up the lab quickly when the county lab was overwhelmed.

Abe said that on the first day the vaccines were available, the hospital was giving shots to staff.

“She was really busy,” said Abe, who sometimes worked 20 hours a day.

The average number of inoculations in the hospital was about 2,000 per day in a clinic set up in the cafeteria. Half of the cafeteria is still a vaccine clinic.

Abe said Radhi also submitted for a driving test.

“It was somewhat surprising for us to be able to do that,” she said.

During the pandemic, Abe has had to constantly adapt to changing policies and protocols. Sometimes they change by the hour.

“Every day you learn something new or the situation changes,” she said. “Every moment you learn.”

She held weekly town hall meetings attended by over 2,000 people. I’ve done more than 100 of them.

While organizing all the pandemic aid at the hospital, Abe said her main concern was children.

“We make sure that the people at the bedside can take care of the sick. Their only concern is to take care of the patient.”

Abby began working with children in her youth as a lifeguard, a position she continued to hold in college.

“They are very excited about life. They always want to learn,” Abe said. “They can handle a lot. They are like little sponges.”

“I like adults, but children are more flexible.”

Her co-workers said she makes quick decisions and does so with kindness.

“I don’t know if you saw her drowning,” Medina said. “She was already making a plan. She always seemed one step ahead.”

Through it all, Abe remains humble.

“We’ve done a really great job with great teams,” she said.

Medina said Abby is easy to get to, too.

“It can be a little scary at first because she has a lot of responsibility,” she said. She knows who should be involved in the discussions. She’s built a lot of great relationships.”

“She does it all,” said Bong, who has worked with Abby for about 20 years, simply.

“She’s been here long enough that she’s probably been in every department,” Bong said.

Through high-pressure and high-consequences scenarios, Abe remains sober and for the time being. She is able to calm situations whether it is a complaint from a family member or a talk With administrators, co-workers said.

“She never makes it about her. She listens to everyone,” Bong said. “She’s not reactive — she’s proactive.”

Bong said Abe is particularly skilled at working with families. You listen to them and give credibility to their issues.

“Her priority is always children. I think people understand that when they talk to her,” she said.

Abby said she knew she was in the right place in Radhi.

“It’s amazing working with kids – it’s a privilege actually,” she said.

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