PHOENIX [Nov. 1, 2022] – In a move to further enhance the award-winning health system’s ability to provide specialized care for children at high risk of infection, Phoenix Children’s created a new Division of Infectious Diseases and named Wassim Ballan, MD, chief of the division.
“As Phoenix Children’s grows its physical footprint, we have a responsibility to continue providing world-class, highly personalized care, on an even larger scale,” said Jared Muenzer, MD, MBA, physician-in-chief of Phoenix Children’s and chief operating officer of Phoenix Children’s Medical Group.
Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic heightened the demand for infectious diseases clinicians and prompted the creation of this new division to bring more specialty care into the Phoenix Children’s Medical Group.
Also joining the newly created Division of Infectious Diseases are Drs. Scott Ostdiek, Julia Piwoz and Matthew Smith. The team has decades of experience in infection prevention and control, infectious diseases and managing infections in patients with weakened immune systems. This includes kids receiving chemotherapy, bone marrow or solid organ transplant and others whose immune systems are suppressed.
“Our team of pediatric infectious diseases specialists has provided care for patients at Phoenix Children’s for more than a decade, and we are honored to officially join the Phoenix Children’s Medical Group,” said Dr. Ballan. “I look forward to growing our clinical team and expanding the care we provide for children with infections, allowing the infectious diseases division to serve a larger number of patients.”
“The support Dr. Ballan and the team provided at the height of COVID-19 was incredible, but their medical expertise was evident long before the pandemic,” said Dr. Muenzer. “In particular, Dr. Ballan raised the alarm about antimicrobial resistance, was at the forefront of this issue in 2009 and ultimately established the Phoenix Children’s Antimicrobial Stewardship Program in 2017.”
As division chief, Dr. Ballan will continue to lead the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program, ensuring Phoenix Children’s remains committed to using antibiotics wisely — only when they are truly needed, and the right antibiotic, for the right duration and with a dose specific to each child. This commitment is part of a larger effort at Phoenix Children’s to limit the emergence of resistant bacteria and avoid potential toxicity from unnecessary antimicrobial therapy.
In addition, the infectious diseases division will lead treatment of emerging infections like COVID-19 and monkeypox, and establish clinical guidelines for the management of infections or their complications such as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). The division will also continue to manage efforts in infection prevention and control, and transplant infectious diseases.
During the pandemic, Dr. Ballan became a national thought leader, providing expert commentary for local and national media on topics including COVID-19, MIS-C and vaccine safety and efficacy. The Phoenix Children’s team of infectious diseases specialists collaborated closely with other clinicians to care for children who were hospitalized with COVID-19 and MIS-C and established an MIS-C follow-up clinic to ensure the safe transition of care after discharge. Additionally, Dr. Ballan led Phoenix Children’s participation in several Centers for Disease Control studies during the pandemic, including efforts to define MIS-C and develop best practices for treatment.
Dr. Ballan, who joined Phoenix Children’s in 2007, grew up in Lebanon and attended the American University of Beirut, where he earned his medical degree in 2000. He completed his pediatric residency at SUNY Upstate Medical University Hospital in Syracuse, N.Y., and a fellowship in pediatric infectious diseases at the University of California, San Francisco.
He also has served as an assistant professor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix in the Department of Child Health since 2014. Dr. Ballan is a frequent recipient of Top Doc honors by Phoenix Magazine. Having lived, studied and practiced medicine around the world, Dr. Ballan is fluent in English, Arabic, Spanish and French, allowing him to directly communicate with a diverse patient population.
About Phoenix Children’s
Phoenix Children's is one of the nation's largest pediatric health systems. It comprises Phoenix Children's Hospital – Thomas Campus, Phoenix Children's Hospital – East Valley at Dignity Health Mercy Gilbert Medical Center, four pediatric specialty and urgent care centers, 11 community pediatric practices, 20 outpatient clinics, two ambulatory surgery centers and seven community-service-related outpatient clinics throughout the state of Arizona. The system provides world-class inpatient, outpatient, trauma, emergency and urgent care and has been serving children and families for nearly 40 years. Phoenix Children's Care Network includes more than 1,175 pediatric primary care providers and specialists who deliver care across more than 75 subspecialties. For more information, visit phoenixchildrens.org.