May 24, 2016

Dressed in their favorite Houston Texans gear and toting some of their most prized Texans paraphernalia, about 250 Texas Children’s employees recently attended an exclusive autograph and photograph session with two Houston Texans players at NRG Stadium.

One by one, the employees filed into the Chairman’s Club overlooking the football field and munched on popcorn while they awaited their chance to meet Charles James II, the Texans cornerback who rose to a fan favorite in last season’s Hard Knocks on HBO; and Devon Still, defensive end and recipient of the Jimmy V Perseverance Award for his daughter, Leah’s, courageous fight against cancer.

“I am super excited to have this opportunity to come and meet some of the players,” one employee said as she waited to get a Texans banner signed by James and Still. “I love Texas Children’s; there are so many benefits to working here.”

In addition to the football players, employees also got the opportunity to meet and take pictures with two Texans cheerleaders.

“I’m so glad I work at Texas Children’s Hospital and that we are partners with the Texans,” another employee said. “It’s awesome!”

Texas Children’s entered a partnership with the Houston Texans more than a year ago to inspire children to lead healthier, more active lives. The two organizations have since reached thousands of Houston-area children through camps, school programs, special hospital appearances and other events that combine fun with education.

The partnership also includes involvement from players, cheerleaders and TORO in the community and at hospital events hosted by the Texans and Texas Children’s Hospital. Texas Children’s and the Houston Texans will continue identifying ways to grow the partnership and extend its reach even further within the local and regional communities.

Texas Children’s sponsored the recent autograph and photograph session to better educate employees about the partnership. All employees were given the chance to win a chance to participate in the session by submitting their definition of leadership. We used the leadership definition submissions to randomly select participants for the event. We will share some of the leadership definitions soon on Mr. Wallace’s On the Mark blog.

Stay tuned for more opportunities to get to know our partner and Go Texans!

May 18, 2016

51816nursesweek640It’s hard to contain the celebration of nursing to just one week at Texas Children’s. Every day there are inspirational stories that demonstrate how our nurses go above and beyond to advance patient care and enhance patient experience and outcomes.

Besides the exceptional, around-the-clock care they provide our patients, one distinct attribute that patient families admire the most about our nurses – their compassion.

Their endless compassion, comfort and support can be seen and felt across the entire organization. A nurse clutching the hands of a parent who just received tough news about their child. A nurse standing by the patient’s bedside whose family can’t be there during treatments. A nurse exchanging family time during holidays and weekends to spend time with families in the hospital. A nurse calming a mother’s fear as she prepares to give birth to her first child. As you can see, nurses leave a lasting impression on every patient and they are at the core of the experience patients have while in our care.

As we saluted nurses across the country, from May 6 to May 12, Texas Children’s celebrated our amazing team of more than 3,000 nurses. This video spotlight celebrates our nurses’ successes, accomplishments and the daily contributions they make to our patients and families at Texas Children’s.

Nurses Week activities

The theme for Nurses Week this year was Culture of Safety: It Begins with You. Texas Children’s Nursing Retention Council organized several activities that centered on health and wellness to remind our nurses how important it is to take care of themselves so they can provide the best and safest care to their patients.

Activities included educational presentations, Bike to Work Day, blessing of the hands, a Fiesta Friday bar and photo booth, massages, yoga, a healthy cooking demo and cake deliveries.

On May 10, Nursing leadership hosted the Nursing Excellence Awards luncheon honoring eight recipients for their commitment to improving nursing care and patient outcomes.

The award honorees included:

  • Staff Nurse of the year: Leah Garza
  •  Preceptor of the year: Evelyn Barren
  •  Rookie of the year: Amy Aaronson
  •  Certified nurse of the year: Christopher Sturrock
  •  Leader of the year: Amanda Wollam
  •  Teams of the Year: Central Line Maintenance and Hygiene
  •  APRN of the year: Colleen Brand
  •  Friend of Nursing: Dr. Kevin Roy

View a photo gallery below of the awards luncheon and other activities.

The Houston Chronicle Salute to Nurses included Ann Demny from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Saeed Yacouby from Anesthesiology who were among the top 10 award recipients.

Click here for more on the Houston Chronicle Salute to Nurses honorees.

In addition to the two nurses honored in the top 10, 23 Texas Children’s nurses were recognized as being among the top 150 in the Greater Houston area.

Lindsay Broom
Lisa Davenport
Sheranda Fesler
Holly Gregersen
Stephanie Gruner
Diana Harter
Amy Hemingway
Kellie Kainer
Jason McMullen
Leilani Mijares
Mary Beth Murphy
Gigi Neidinger
Tanya Nelson
Jacqueline Newton
Jonathan Rangel
Guillermo Reyes
Leslie Santos
Aleida Stark
Lois Tracy
Sharon Wahl
Becky White
Amanda Wollam
Pamela Zimmerman

To learn more about Nursing at Texas Children’s, click here to view By the Numbers.

51816surgerydesign640Texas Children’s Hospital is proud to announce the American College of Surgeons (ACS) has verified the hospital as a Level 1 Children’s Surgery Center.

The one-year verification was awarded following an extensive pilot site visit in May 2015. During the visit, Texas Children’s assisted in the review and refinement of guidelines set forth by ACS with the goal of improving the safety and quality of pediatric surgery performed at centers across the country. At this time, Texas Children’s is among only two Level 1 Children’s Surgery Centers in the United States, and the only children’s hospital in Texas and the southwest region to earn this distinction.

“We are honored to be one of the inaugural hospitals to receive this esteemed verification,” said Texas Children’s Surgeon-In-Chief Dr. Charles D. Fraser Jr. “As a leader in pediatric surgical care, we believe it is important for children to undergo surgery with a focused, dedicated team of specialized pediatric surgeons, anesthesiologists, radiologists, intensivists, nurses, staff and support departments committed to pediatric care. We carefully track our outcomes with the goal of providing the best possible results. We are honored to be recognized for our commitment to high-quality care for our patients.”

A Level 1 verification requires Texas Children’s to provide surgery and anesthesia for all major pediatric specialties for children of all ages – from premature infants to adolescents. Additionally, the hospital must have not only the highest level Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), pediatric emergency medicine physicians and pediatric radiologists available all day, every day, but also the most robust data collection, outcomes assessment and quality improvement efforts.

A team of 25 physicians, nurses and members of the administration, anesthesiology, nursing, the outcomes and impact service, the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), quality, radiology, surgery and transport teams served on Texas Children’s ACS verification committee.

The Department of Surgery at Texas Children’s represents more than 90 full-time pediatric-focused surgeons who are also faculty members at Baylor. Surgeons, advanced practice providers and more than 700 Texas Children’s staff members are dedicated to caring for and improving the health of children through patient care, education and research. The team’s efforts are evident in the more than 26,700 operative cases performed, more than 1,200 trauma admissions and 144,800 outpatient clinic visits in 2015.

For more information about Texas Children’s Department of Surgery, visit
For more information about the Level 1 Children’s Surgery Center verification, visit the ACS website.

51816wills640Do you have a will? If not, Texas Children’s can help you draw one up during Free Wills Month in May.

To get more people to better prepare their estates for when they are gone, Texas Children’s employees and any other Houston-area residents 55 and older can have their wills written or amended free of charge by a participating local attorney. Simply call 888-786-1752 or visit during the month of May to schedule an appointment.

Despite your age, it’s never too early to start thinking about the importance of wills and estate planning. Creating a will and an estate plan gives peace of mind to you as well as your family. A will written by an attorney helps ensure that your wishes are respected and that your loved ones avoid difficult decisions and legal complications. Free Wills Month makes it easy for you to provide for your family and friends, and if you wish, nonprofits organizations like Texas Children’s Hospital.

“Not only does Texas Children’s provide compassionate care for children and families, the hospital also takes care of its employees,” said Charlene Barclay, a clinical data specialist for Texas Children’s Hospital Outcomes & Impact Services who included Texas Children’s Hospital in her estate plans in 2011. “I give because I believe in Texas Children’s.”

With an estate plan, you can:

  • Provide support and financial stability for your surviving spouse, children, and grandchildren.
  • Preserve your wealth for later generations.
  • Make sure your wishes are carried out when you can no longer manage your affairs. Along with a will, it’s important to have both a power of attorney and a directive to physicians (living will).
  • Support a favorite charity or cause with a gift of money, securities, or other property.
  • Distribute assets in a timely fashion with a minimum of legal hassle.
  • Minimize taxes and expenses that can go along with transferring assets.
  • Provide enough cash to meet expenses and prevent the forced sale of assets.
  • Avoid problems for your loved ones by ensuring that the beneficiaries named on your life insurance and retirement plans are still the people you want to benefit.
  • Protect your family’s privacy with an estate plan designed to be kept private.
  • Set and meet expectations of your survivors so there is no confusion or misunderstanding.

51816flowerdoorsinside175Texas Children’s first annual May Flowers fundraising drive is currently underway, and employees can be a part of making it a huge success!

Here’s the plan: Members of the Development Department are going to hang spring flowers on the doors of our patients’ rooms to brighten their days. Donors who give to Texas Children’s as part of the campaign can personalize the flowers with their names and locations to show our patients they are thinking of them and to help Texas Children’s continue to provide the very best care to children and families in the Houston area and beyond.

Here are two things that you can do to help:

  • Share on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Let your friends and family know they can join you in bringing some spring fun to our patients.
  • Send a flower by making a donation. Send a flower to one of our patients, and we’ll decorate their door with a personalized flower from you.

These flowers will do more than bring some spring cheer inside our walls. More importantly, they will help Texas Children’s ensure that children in need of advanced critical, surgical and emergency care can always find it here when they need it the most.

We are well on our way to being able to decorate all our patients’ doors with colorful spring flowers that show them just how much people care. With your help, our hallways will soon be in full bloom!

The last day of the campaign is Friday, May 20. Flowers will be hung in early June and stay up through the end of the month.

To personalize one with your name, give today:

51816RoulaZoghbiSmith175Roula Zoghbi Smith of Business Planning is the latest Texas Children’s Super Star leader. “I think people that are passionate about delighting those they come in contact with – through quality work, interactions, and customer service – possess a unique attribute that drives them to be true super stars,” Smith said. Read more of Smith’s interview and find out how you can nominate a Super Star.

Q&A: Roula Zoghbi Smith, April – June 2016 Leader

Your name, title and department. How long have you worked here?
Roula Zoghbi Smith, Assistant Director in Business Planning. I have worked at Texas Children’s for six years.

What month are you Super Star for?
April – June 2016

Tell us how you found out you won a super star award.
My leader, Paola Álvarez-Malo, scheduled a meeting with our Business Planning team. She seemed very serious at first as she instructed the team that she needed their help. She asked them to take down my birthday decorations because she needed them to plaster my office with stars and confetti because I had won the Super Star Leader award. I was in complete shock and disbelief! It was an incredible surprise, and I had the privilege of celebrating this great honor along with my birthday later that day with my team.

What does it mean to be recognized for the hard work you do? How has the organization helped you achieve your personal and professional goals?
It is such an honor to be recognized at Texas Children’s as there are so many hardworking and talented employees within the organization. Texas Children’s has contributed to my ability to achieve my personal and professional goals through leadership development, mentorship from leaders across the organization, and by affording me a variety of opportunities to grow in my career.

What do you think makes someone at Texas Children’s a super star?
I think people that are passionate about delighting those they come in contact with – through quality work, interactions, and customer service – possess a unique attribute that drives them to be true super stars.

What is your motivation for going above and beyond every day at work?
My motivation for going above and beyond is rooted in the incredible people here at Texas Children’s – both patients and employees. My goal is to ensure that both our patients and employees have stellar experiences within our organization.

What is the best thing about working at Texas Children’s?
The best thing about working at Texas Children’s is working with one amazing team! I feel privileged to work with the Business Planning team (Aisha, Angie, Brad, Josh, Kathleen, Megan, and Paola) on a day to day basis. They are a complete joy to work with and put a smile on my face every day. Working with them and many others highlights what incredibly bright and committed people exist within our organization.

What does it mean to you that everyone at Texas Children’s is considered a leader? What is your leadership definition?
I believe that every individual, regardless of role or title, has the opportunity to be a leader through actions and influence. Leadership is doing the right thing for your people, customers, and the organization, even when no one is watching.

Anything else you want to share?
I would like to thank all the wonderful people who have mentored me throughout my career at Texas Children’s as well as all of my team members (past and present) in the Business Planning, Pavilion for Women, and Leadership / Organizational Development teams. I would especially like to thank Chanda Cashen Chacón, Opera Wagner-Ross, Sarah Maytum, Perry Ann Reed, Diane Scardino, Mark Mullarkey, Alec King and most of all Paola Álvarez-Malo.

51816camppumpitup640Themed “Dragons and Dinosaurs” and packed with fun activities such as horseback riding, cast fishing and canoeing, Camp Pump-It-Up hosted 139 campers this year at Camp for All in Burton, Texas.

Volunteers from Mended Little Hearts of Houston managed the craft in the Art Barn and every camper left with their own hand-made dinosaur hat. One of the event’s highlights was the Wishboat ceremony, held by the lakeside. Each cabin of campers went before the camp and read off their wishes for the future. There were a lot of wishes for a world without bullying or sadness, but many campers simply wished for a normal life apart from their heart disease. Brothers and sisters wished away their siblings medical treatments and hospital stays. There were also were many wishes for Camp Pump-It-Up to never end.

Camp Pump-It-Up is a camp specifically designed for children and teenagers who have been affected by congenital heart defects. Every April, around 125 Texas Children’s patients and their siblings spend a weekend at the Camp For All campgrounds in Burton, Texas, fishing, riding horses, dancing and zip-lining with other kids who have a similar diagnosis. This location offers a unique and barrier-free camp opportunity that allows kids to be kids, despite their physical limitations or medical situation. Many of the children who attend Camp Pump-It-Up are unable to attend other summer camps because of their medical complexity.

This special weekend allows children to meet other kids who may have shared similar experiences. Often, children find strength from sharing their experiences of hospitalizations, taking medication and having surgeries. This camp provides them with a sense of normalcy by allowing them the opportunity to do camp activities like any other kid.

Camp Pump-It-Up is staffed by a large group of Texas Children’s employees, mostly from the Heart Center, as well as volunteers. There were 55 volunteers at this year’s campus, 33 of which were Texas Children’s Employees.

To read more about Camp Pump-It-Up, click here.