A day in the life of Dr. Christina McAlpin, Chief of Staff

Dr. Christina McAlpinAs the first Black woman to be Chief of Staff at California Hospital, Dr. Christina McAlpin's life is a testament to resilience, compassion, and unwavering dedication to the field of medicine, especially for the most vulnerable patients. Her journey, marked by challenges and triumphs, embodies the essence of a true healer who goes above and beyond to serve her community. Take a glimpse behind the scenes to learn about Dr. McAlpin:

How did you come to CHMC? Siblings Christina and Columbus McAlpin

My brother (the late Dr. Columbus McAlpin, pictured right along with Dr. McAlpin) was a renowned pediatric surgeon at CHMC. As a kid, I was always his shadow and followed in his footsteps to pursue medicine. He passed away suddenly in 2004 and I was so touched by the tribute CHMC gave him that I decided to leave my group practice and join the medical staff here. I came here to continue his efforts in making a difference in the community. He was the standard. I strive to live up to his standards and honor that.

What does an Ear, Nose & Throat doctor do? 

I am board certified in otolaryngology-head and neck surgery, which means I specialize in treating adults and children grappling with ear, nose and throat ailments. I am one of the few otolaryngologists in downtown LA who specializes in pediatric airway. I was a member of the trauma team here.  

What does a typical day look like for you? 

I get up at 4:00 a.m. and workout, then shower and take care of my pets. Then I head to work. I get in by 6:30 a.m. to review charts, talk to OR staff and plan for the day ahead, and speak to patients. I must say we have the most excellent OR staff in the city and a fantastic anesthesia department.

On non-OR days, I arrive by 6:30 a.m., review charts and get ready for the day. I see anywhere from 30 to 40 patients in a day. 

We’re serving an underserved patient population who often have delays in care due to lack of access to health care and need complex treatment plans.

What does it mean to be Chief of Staff at a hospital? 

I lead the leadership of doctors at the hospital, meaning I advocate for our doctors and our patients to ensure that the hospital is as healthy, safe and productive as it can be. It also means protecting the wellness of our doctors. Doctor burnout is a key focus of mine, especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s imperative to me that it is done. You can’t advocate for a patient if you can’t advocate for the physician who is caring for the patient. 

My hopes are to create an environment where the patients know before they ever step foot inside the hospital, that they are going to receive the best care; that they're going to have the best care team; and that coming to California Hospital was the best choice. 

What does the new patient tower mean to you? 

The new tower shows to our patients that they are valued. It doesn’t matter what your background, income level, or housing status is—you are still important. You’re important to us and you’re important to our community. We’re here to serve our community. We have the tools and space to take care of our patients. We’re creating a space where we can be our best. If you give a doctor the opportunity and environment to be their best, they’ll show you what they can do. 

Why should people support CHMC? 

We are one of the few places in the city where people can come and receive the quality of care that we produce. We are here because we want to help our patients. We believe in the mission.

What’s a fun fact about yourself? 

I own an online tea shop that specializes in teas from around the world!

Honor our doctors today!

More than 450 physicians provide life-saving care at California Hospital Medical Center. As we celebrate Doctors’ Day on March 30, join us in expressing our gratitude and support for Dr. McAlpin and all healthcare professionals who dedicate their lives to making the world a healthier and better place. Join us in honoring their contributions and commitment to excellence by making a gift today at SupportCaliforniaHospital.org/DoctorsDay.

Editor's note: Dr. McAlpin is the first Black woman Chief of Staff; the story has been updated to reflect that. Dr. Omar Stratton was the first Black man Chief of Staff. 

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