I noticed that there are a lot of views to this topic, so as we formulate our plan, I thought it might be helpful to other people contemplating the same trip to know how it's playing out, for us, so far.
Initial contact with Dr. Friedman's office: After we decided on USC, we reached out to Dr. Friedman's office, and heard back from Kris within 24 hours. Kris called us and talked us through the process, and sent us a patient info packet by email the next day. After our initial call, we have mostly communicated with Kris by email, which has worked so well for us, and for which we are so grateful. She's available by phone and text, too. Dr. Friedman's office has a huge amount of information that they send out, and all the options for housing are laid out pretty well. Kris, the patient coordinator, also has a general timeline that is super useful in getting plans in place.
Scheduling: After insurance was potentially and relatively straightened out, Kris asked us to propose some potential surgery weeks that worked for our schedule. We compared school calendars and work projects and after nailing down some times that worked for us, we emailed the dates to Kris, who responded within a day. Our proposed dates were within a few days of when Dr. F is available. We are still deciding between two dates, but in the meantime, we have started looking at accommodations.
Accommodations: It looks like we are going to stay in a hotel for days 0 - 4, and then move to Pasadena for days 5 - 9, although we may stay in Pasadena the entire time. We plan to fly out our 7 year old with a grandparent on day 5, to join us for recovery. Although the beach would be lovely, we are looking at surgery in Nov or Dec, and we decided it wasn't worth the length of the trip to the beach at that time of year. If everything goes well, we will only have to come back to the hospital once for follow up, but in case there's a hiccup, we wanted to be closer than the beach. Pasadena seemed to be a good compromise. I'm planning on comparing rates for hotels/VRBOs next, in case anyone would find that info useful.
I hope this is helpful to anyone trying to understand how travel to the West coast from the East coast might work. I'll update as we straighten out more details.