Meet Dr. Stephen Bash, Our Medical Advisory Board Chair

May 27th, 2022

Dr. Stephen Bash, DSCC Medical Advisory Board

“The help DSCC provides is more important now than it’s ever been.”

Division of Specialized Care for Children (DSCC) Medical Advisory Board Chair Dr. Stephen Bash is a “Hoosier” born and raised.

He attended college and medical school at Indiana University. While doing his rotation at Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis, he fell in love with pediatric cardiology.

“I had completed one year of training, but it takes two years to be board certified for pediatric cardiology,” Bash explained. “I had to make a decision to either continue my training or join my dad at his practice.”

Dr. Stephen Bash with his father, Wallace.
Dr. Stephen Bash credits his father, Wallace, for inspiring his love of pediatrics and helping families and their children with special healthcare needs.

He joined the practice and got hands-on experience treating children with many kinds of complex healthcare needs.

Bash was partially trained and was one of only three pediatric cardiologists in the state of Indiana. For 11 years, he referred his patients, who came from multiple states, to the two specialists he had trained with at Riley Children’s Hospital.

Bash was 40 years old when his dad started to retire.

“So, I figured it was time for a new wife, a Porsche or to go back into a training program,” Bash joked. “I kept my wife, never got a Porsche and completed my training to become a board-certified pediatric cardiologist. Most people do it the other way around, but I completed my academic training after being in private practice for more than a decade as a pediatrician.”

Bash, his wife, Patti, and their four children moved to Houston so that he could finish his fellowship requirements and complete an extra year of heart catheterizations at Texas Children’s Hospital.

Where’s Peoria?  

At age 42, Bash was in the job market and fielding offers. Dr. William Albers at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center invited him to Peoria.

“I was invited to visit numerous places around the country. We had Peoria at the bottom of the list,” Bash said. “Patti and I decided we would keep an open mind, look around and talk to people before making our decision. “

Dr. Stephen Bash with his wife, Patti.
Patti and Dr. Stephen Bash

The Bashes toured Peoria and found there was a lot to like. He joined OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, where he helped start the Congenital Heart Clinic and connected with DSCC.

“I initially started with DSCC evaluating and accrediting congenital heart program centers in Illinois,” said Bash. “I quickly realized that these centers of excellence were only one piece and began to connect with the other subspecialists in the state.”

It was Dr. Bash who had the dream of starting the Children’s Hospital of Illinois. The hospital eventually grew from 15 pediatric subspecialists in 1985, when he joined the pediatric cardiology group, to 150 pediatric subspecialists. It also underwent a $283 million project that included building a new facility.

In 1986, as Peoria was taking on this project to grow The Children’s Hospital of Illinois, Dr. Albers stepped down from chairing DSCC’s Medical Advisory Board (MAB). He asked Bash if he would like to join the board.

Bash accepted and has been serving in many ways since.

“I will continue to help”

The MAB is a diverse group of healthcare professionals. Each offers a unique perspective on how DSCC can enhance our care coordination services for children with special healthcare needs.

“Over the years I’ve worked with all kinds of subspecialists. I’ve also seen what the families have to go through,” explained Bash. “DSCC’s (program) is the only one that coordinates care statewide and helps steer these families through a confusing maze of insurance changes, seeing all kinds of specialists and understanding their treatment options. The help DSCC provides is more important now than it’s ever been.”

Knowing the many challenges medically complex children and their families face, Bash has focused on breaking down silos and building lasting connections to improve care.

“I began connecting with other doctors and providers in the state. Just like DSCC covers the entire state, Peoria’s pediatric cardiology clinic outreach is also wide-ranging,” Bash said.

A photo collage of Dr. Stephen Bash with patient Michael Cunningham
A photo collage of Dr. Bash and one of his longtime patients.

“Even if we were competitors, we could still cooperate. For example, OSF could refer transplants to Chicago or St. Louis. Silos don’t work for the families, so creating lasting partnerships to help these families has always been at the forefront.”

Bash said he has always tried to make serving on the board personal because “what you see in a clinic or the hospital isn’t the same as visiting a family in the home.”

“Visiting these families in their homes gave me a much different picture of what they were going through. It was very humbling and not something you will get from your hospital clinic experience. Now, DSCC is there to help these families coordinate care.”

The University of Illinois Board of Trustees appoints DSCC’s Medical Advisory Board members for a three-year term. The MAB membership currently includes pediatric specialists in cardiology, rehabilitation, plastic and reconstructive surgery, neurology and more.

“I am so impressed by our members and all that they do,” Bash emphasized.

“The amazing parent, specialist and staff presentations to the board continue to help us learn about and better understand the different specialties, the many pieces involved in getting and providing care and the ways we can help impact making the services these families need available. We volunteer because we love what we do, and the need is so great.”

Dr. Bash retired from OSF three years ago and continues to enjoy leading the MAB.

“I feel like I’ve lived in the best age of medicine for any physician,” said Bash.

“From the development and mass production of penicillin to the eradication of polio, to the amazing procedures now being done in pediatric cardiology, we’re now doing cardiovascular surgery that I never thought would be possible in such tiny hearts,” he said.

“I’ve had a fabulous career, and DSCC has been an important part of that. There is no question that the needs of these families are very complex. As long as DSCC allows me to, I will continue to help.”

Thank you for your exceptional service, Dr. Bash!

Visit our Medical Advisory Board page to learn more about the MAB and its mission.

DSCC Toddler’s Special Heart Surgery Gains National Attention

April 19th, 2019

Eloise Hoffman smiles while holding a straw

Doctors placed a “winter coat” around Eloise Hoffman’s heart to fix a rare congenital heart defect.

Eloise Hoffman is an energetic 2-year-old who loves to laugh, play outside and chase her grandparents’ dog.

“She’s just this little fireball that people can’t help but love,” her mom, Krista Hoffman,  said

Thanks to what her family calls a “winter coat” for her heart, Eloise is now thriving after a major surgery to fix her rare critical heart defect.

Her amazing story has gained national news coverage and captured the hearts of thousands across the country.

Eloise and her mother, Krista Hoffman

Eloise and her mother, Krista Hoffman.

“People have been so supportive,” Krista said. “We are so grateful that everyone cares so much for her and for us.”

Shortly after she was born, Eloise’s pediatrician noticed she had a heart murmur and referred her to Dr. Michael Perez, a pediatric cardiologist at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital.

Dr. Perez diagnosed Eloise with truncus arteriosus, a birth defect of the heart in which only one common blood vessel comes out of the heart instead of two. The single vessel means oxygen-poor blood and oxygen-rich blood get mixed together, sending too much blood to the lungs and causing the heart to work harder.

“It sort of felt like it was out of a movie, because he told us and then a few minutes later we were ushered into another room because we would have to go up to Lurie Children’s Hospital via either a helicopter or ambulance,” Eloise’s father, Matt Hoffman, told People Magazine, who covered Eloise’s story. “It all just took off from there within five minutes of learning what was happening.”

Eloise required immediate surgery or she would go into heart failure. When she was only three weeks old, doctors placed a piece of Gore-Tex insider her heart.

Eloise and her father, Matt Hoffman

Eloise and her father, Matt Hoffman.

Gore-Tex is a material that’s often used to make jackets and outerwear. For Eloise, it serves as conduit to make up for the single blood vessel out of her heart.

“I like to tell people that she’s got a little winter coat in there, keeping her heart warm,” Matt told Good Morning America.

To Matt and Krista’s relief, the surgery was a success. Eloise soon came home to her parents and older brothers.

In 2018, Eloise became enrolled with the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Division of Specialized Care for Children (DSCC). Her older brother Henry, who has a g-tube and dysphasia, is also a DSCC participant.

“Since we have the two children that have special needs, it can be difficult sometimes,” Krista said. “We just really appreciate that there is a service out there like this for families like us to take some of the burden away. It allows us a little less stress and a little more time to just be parents.”

Today, Eloise is doing great and continues to grow and gain weight normally.

“She eats like a champ. We actually call her the little garbage disposal at our house because she loves everything,” Krista said.

Dr. Perez recently told the Hoffmans that Eloise is near the point where she’ll only need annual appointments.

Eloise Hoffman and her two older brothers sitting together on the Easter Bunny's lap

Eloise and her two older brothers during a recent visit to the Easter Bunny.

“That’s huge,” Krista said. “She will probably need a (catheterization) procedure in a year or so because she has stenosis where the conduit was stitched in, and she as a mild to moderate leak in her valve. Those are all future issues, though.”

Krista said her family appreciates the interest in Eloise’s condition. She believes it is important to spread awareness and talk more about congenital heart defects.

“For any parents who are pregnant or have truncus babies, it seems scary, but it’s not as frightening as you think it will be,” Krista told People Magazine. “Focus on the things you can change, not the things that you can’t.”