Keeping Pediatric Care Close to Home

By: Renown Wellness Team

August 11, 2021

 Joseph A. Gassen, M.D., with little patient at Renown Children's Hospital

 As our community grows, so does the need for specialized care. Thanks to a generous gift, there’s a healthier future for families in the region as a $7.5 million gift to the Renown Health Foundation is helping keep care close to home.

Being in the hospital is often a stressful experience, especially for a child and their caregivers. If you add the need to travel out-of-state for care into the mix, unnecessary anxiety and financial burdens can be placed on a family that is already worried about a sick child.

With our quickly growing community and close to 100,000 children under the age of 18 in Washoe County alone, the need for local specialty care is needed.

The William N. Pennington Foundation recognized this need and donated $7.5 million to the Renown Health Foundation – the largest gift the health system has received – to keep care close to home and establish the William N. Pennington Fund for Advanced Pediatric Care.

Thanks to this gift, Renown Children’s Hospital has hired more than 15 pediatric specialists who provide care for children in our community. Below, we introduce you to three key specialized pediatricians in northern Nevada:

Joseph A. Gassen, M.D.

“Having pediatric specialists in the community is invaluable,” says Joseph A. Gassen, M.D., pediatric emergency medicine. “It allows families and patients to stay in Reno and not have to travel far distances to get quality care.”

Gassen, the only doctor specializing in pediatric emergency medicine in the region, moved to Reno to provide care in the emergency room at Renown Children’s Hospital.

“The hospital is dedicated to improving the care of children in northern Nevada, and I wanted to be a part of this amazing vision," Dr. Gassen says. I would not have been able to relocate to Reno without the support from the hospital and the William N. Pennington gift.”

Working with children and their families are what Dr. Gassen finds most rewarding.

"I get to provide care for a child, which in turn makes the parent feel better,” he says. “Essentially, I get to treat the whole family, even though I only directly care for the kids.”  

Colin Nguyen, M.D.

Also among the first new specialists is Pediatric Neurologist Colin Nguyen, M.D., who has done extensive work with epilepsy and epilepsy surgery.

“In any growing and expanding community, we need the multitude of social, financial, political and well-being services to sustain that growth and progress,” Dr. Nguyen says. “The ability to offer more breadth of medical services to our local population allows families to spend more time together and fulfill work obligations, without the need to travel long distances to obtain that specialized care.”

Dr. Nguyen says he enjoys caring for children because they are honest in their emotions and reactions, as well as simple in their intentions. “It is the overall joy and unique sadness that comes in working with children, which drives many of us to continue our work -- I am no exception.”

Jacob Zucker, M.D.

The third pediatric specialist providing care thanks to the Pennington gift has close ties to northern Nevada. Jacob Zucker, M.D., pediatric hematologist-oncologist, was born and raised in Reno and attended medical school at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine before moving to the Midwest for his residency and fellowship.

Dr. Zucker feels fortunate to have been offered the opportunity to return home and give back to the community that has given so much to him. “I can say with absolute resolve that northern Nevada is an exceptional community to practice medicine in. The care offered here at home is top rate and the providers that live and practice here truly understand the purpose of community.”

The addition of these three specialists and the future specialists that will be coming to our area will impact thousands of children and their families.

“With a growing population, the vision of leadership at Renown, and with the generosity of the William N. Pennington Foundation, northern Nevada is in position for the first time to make local pediatric subspecialty care a reality and to keep our families at home in their community,” Dr. Zucker says.

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