Dr. Luis Montes to receive Rancho's Lifetime Achievement Award

DOWNEY - Dr. Luis Montes, who got his B.A. from the University of Texas at Dallas in 1981 and earned his medical degree in 1986 from the University of Texas Medical School at Houston, is in his sixth year as chief of the Department of Pediatrics at Rancho Los Amigos Rehabilitation Center and loves his work so much caring for children with 'catastrophic disabling illnesses and injuries' that he "can't wait to get to work in the morning." Indeed, he feels blessed, he says, in having the opportunity to work closely with other dedicated physician-associates, consultants, and all kinds of specialists in furthering the work of the department.

Actually, this is his second stint at Rancho. From 1990 to 1996 Dr. Montes served here as medical director of the hospital's Pediatric Spinal Cord Injury Program. He says his returning to Rancho in 2008 in his current capacity feels like it was a "gift from above."

Dr. Montes brought to his job a tremendous amount of valuable pediatric knowhow and experience. Other highlights of his professional experience include his service as medical director of the Los Angeles Immunization Program (1996-1997), medical director of the Rehabilitation Department at Children's Hospital Los Angeles (1997-2006), and director of the Special Needs Clinic at White Memorial Medical Center (2006-2008).

Academic achievements include: didactic teaching of the UCLA Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation residents rotating through the Pediatric Department at Children's Hospital Los Angeles (2005-2006), didactic teaching of pediatric residents and medical students at White Memorial Medical Center Los Angeles (2006-present), and didactic teaching of Loma Linda Medical School Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation residents rotating through the Pediatric Department at Rancho (2008-present). He also served as medical reviewer for the Medical Treatment Unit of California Children Services (2007-2011).

He is currently a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, a member of the board of 'Youth Alive', an agency dedicated to youth violence prevention for which he has helped raise over $2 million to fund violence prevention and intervention services in Los Angeles County, as well as a member of the advisory board of 'Women Against Gun Violence'. He is meanwhile a consultant to the American Academy of Pediatrics' Violence Prevention Task Force at the state and national levels.

He has also made numerous presentations on such topics as childhood injury prevention, spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries, case management of youth who are victims of violence, cerebral nervous system disorders, and advances in rehabilitation medicine, to name a few, at various conferences before medical/professional groups.

At the same time, he has contributed articles and presented papers/spoken at seminars.

He states that early on, while working with inner city youth who were victims of violence, he saw a need to establish a violence prevention program in South Central L. A. and in 1991 joined the board of 'Youth Alive', which he describes as a "premier nonprofit organization and noted national leader in the field of violence prevention since 1988." Its primary objective, he says, being the prevention of violence among youth living in high-risk areas in Oakland (where it is based) and Los Angeles, it "empowers youth to have a voice in facing the challenging problems that affect their communities and advocate for positive lifestyle changes."

Subsequently, he says, Youth Alive received the Presidential Award for work done through its 'Teens on Target' program and 'Caught in the Crossfire' program, and was instrumental in establishing the national network of ongoing hospital-based prevention programs.

Among his recognitions for these and other involvements: a "Special Achievement Award" from the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2006, and the International Variety Children's Charity, Sir James Carerra Award for "Outstanding Work and Dedication to Children with Disabilities" in 2010.

This amalgam of knowledge, experience and innovative thinking which he has brought to bear on Rancho's pediatric population allows him to coordinate the care of some 110 children admissions a year. This number is deceptive, he says, because the work with children with serious injuries/disabilities is "very labor-intensive and our work doesn't stop there. We follow the lives of 500 children at any given time," he says.

Rancho has a successful Wheelchair Sports program, he goes on, a pediatric arts program whereby kids with disabilities are given the opportunity to explore their talents and express themselves, as well as a scholarship program so kids can get their high school diplomas and get them prepared for their college degrees or jobs.

Elected as chief of staff at Rancho in July of last year, Dr. Montes is also currently on the board of Crystal Stairs Foundation, which is dedicated to promoting child development access to affordable day care and early childhood education. It currently runs eight Head Start ("a national program that promotes school readiness by enhancing the social and cognitive development of children") programs in South Central L.A.

Born on May 17, 1956 in El Paso, Texas, Dr. Montes is married to the former Kara Alitice, who has her own hotel management consulting firm.

The couple, as is to be expected, has done a little traveling, to England, Ireland, France, Melbourne, among other places. They have four boys: Benjamin, 28, is a financial advisor with two children of his own; Andrew, 23, is a civil engineer; Sean, 23, is getting his degree in business; and Taylor, 18, a college freshman interested in environmental science.

Dr. Montes sees exciting, new medical breakthroughs ahead as future advances in technology, research, and knowledge occur. For example, he says, "We're moving into a new era of regenerative medicine and improving outcomes." He says he's glad there's more of a holistic approach to cure and care.

"Ranked 17th nationally as we are in rehabilitation care by U.S. News and World Report," he continues, "we should not only aspire to be number one in the rehabilitation area, but exert more effort in promoting it. After all, we're strategically placed in the center of the metropolitan area. We may not have the big money to speak of, but what we have is a strong spirit of service and dedication to our work. We have to stay on top of the game."

On March 8 he is being honored yet again, this time by Rancho itself, with its highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award.

He'll gladly accept it, he says, because "it's such a special honor."

Dr. Luis Montes will be honored with the Rancho Los Amigo Foundation's Life Achievement Award March 8. For ticket or sponsorship information, call (562) 401-7053.

********** Published: Jan. 30, 2014 - Volume 12 - Issue 42