May 9, 2017

Texas Children’s recently received an impressive report card from The Joint Commission with surveyors commending the hospital for demonstrating several best practices.

“Our survey results are a great indication that we are meeting the expectation of quality care for our patients,” said Texas Children’s President and CEO Mark A. Wallace. “This should only propel us to continue our focus on providing safe, quality care every single day for every one of our patients.”

Every three years, Texas Children’s undergoes an accreditation process to ensure our delivery of high-quality patient care. On May 1, the Joint Commission survey team arrived at Texas Children’s for a 5-day unannounced survey. The surveyors consisted of an administrator, a pediatrician and ambulatory specialist, four pediatric and OB/GYN nurses, and a life safety engineer.

What Joint Commission noted

The survey is intended to assess the organization’s compliance in patient care areas that contribute to positive outcomes and to measure and improve performance. The Joint Commission team was very impressed with our improved outcomes in asthma, diabetes, radiology efficiency and flow, patient flow and surgical complications.

The team also identified several best practices observed during the survey including:

  • Time out processes across the system
  • NICU infection control practices
  • Error prevention technology in the anesthesia and pharmacy areas
  • Critical lab documentation
  • Simulation of new buildings and processes for latent safety threats

“The Joint Commission survey team visited several Texas Children’s facilities to evaluate patient care processes through on-site observations, staff interviews and tracer methodology,” said Texas Children’s Quality and Safety Director Elaine Whaley. “This year, Joint Commission implemented a new survey methodology called Survey Analysis for Evaluating Risk (SAFER), a matrix that uses a color-coded grid to evaluate the likelihood of harm to our patients, staff and visitors based on the number of occurrences.”

The surveyors were impressed with the knowledge and confidence exhibited by staff and faculty who participated in the tracer interviews. They complimented them on their ability to navigate Epic and explain the continuum of care, and they were impressed by our staff’s ability to talk about quality projects and outcomes.

How we prepared for the survey

Preparing for regulatory surveys is an ongoing process underscored by Texas Children’s daily focus on patient safety and high quality programs. Texas Children’s uses a consultant on an ongoing basis to review our processes and evaluate our survey readiness. The information provided by the consultant helps the organization fine tune.

“The results we get from area tracers during the preparation process provide information we need to develop and implement an organization-wide readiness education program,” said Danyalle Evans, Texas Children’s assistant director, System Accreditation and Readiness. “We regularly evaluate our internal processes against regulatory guidelines to identify opportunities for improvement. Regulatory surveys are valuable evaluation tools, but we have a deliberate focus on the quality and safety of our patients’ care every day.”

The Joint Commission accredits and certifies more than 20,500 health care organizations and programs in the United States. Approximately 77 percent of the nation’s hospitals are accredited by The Joint Commission.

Each year, Texas Children’s produces an annual report spotlighting the breadth, depth and growth of our organization. The report typically is in the form of a book that is mailed out to tens of thousands of our health care peers, government and community leaders, donors and other internal and external constituents.

This year we have a new way to share our experiences that will reach you and anyone with whom you wish to share it – the Texas Children’s Hospital online Annual Report. The report went live this week and is a dynamic representation of our growth and success in 2016.

Throughout the site, you will find articles, pictures, videos and graphics that highlight our patients, staff and growth. You also can hear directly from our President and CEO Mark Wallace in a video address about our year and what’s to come.

Each section of the site – news, notes and numbers – gives you an opportunity to experience how and why Texas Children’s health care system continues to get bigger and even better.

“At Texas Children’s, we are so passionate about our work and our mission that it is easy to get swept up in the incredible pace at which we move, build and expand,” Wallace said. “We get a lot done in the span of one short year, and 2016 was no different.”

Read all about it at Share the link to the online report with friends and colleagues, and encourage them to do the same.

It’s appointment day. You park your car, arrive at the hospital and make a beeline to the elevators at the Wallace Tower hoping to shuttle your child to his or her doctor’s appointment on time. After dealing with traffic on your way in, you’re faced with another challenge – waiting patiently for an available elevator cab.

Based on recent Press Ganey patient satisfaction survey results, Texas Children’s Patient Experience Team has focused on several priority initiatives in FY17, one of which is to improve the elevator experience for patients and families who depend on the Wallace Tower elevators to take them to and from their clinic appointments.

“This has been a significant, on-going concern for our patient families,” said Katie Kalenda Daggett, director of Patient and Family Services. “We have partnered with Ambulatory Leadership, Facilities, Marketing, HR, Security Services and other teams from across the hospital to develop creative solutions to improve the patient and family elevator experience.”

Texas Children’s recently launched the Step Up for Patients First initiative, which encourages employees and staff to put patients and families first, from the time they arrive at work to the time they leave. This includes providing patients and families priority access to the elevators to reduce unnecessary wait times.

In the next few weeks, employees and staff will notice new, colorful wayfinding signage near the Wallace Tower elevators and stairwells, which have now been opened to patient and visitors who opt to take the stairs from Monday to Friday between 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Employees may take the stairs any time, but are encouraged to take the stairs as often as possible.

“We want our patients to arrive at their appointments easily, and we encourage all Texas Children’s employees to be part of this collaborative process to reduce extended wait times at the elevators,” Kalenda Daggett said. “Step Up for Patients First is part of a broader initiative to enhance patient experience across the hospital system.”

Texas Children’s continually receives feedback from patient families about small changes that can be made across the system to promote a positive experience. Our broader initiative will include future improvement efforts, such as encouraging employees to step up for patients who are lost and need help with wayfinding.

If you have any suggestions for improvements or any additional feedback, contact the Patient Experience team at

Step Up stairwell challenge begins June 1

In conjunction with Step Up for Patients First, Texas Children’s Health and Wellness will launch an organization wide Step Up stairwell challenge from June 1 to June 30 that will challenge employees and staff to Step Up for Patients First and make physical activity a priority. The Well-Being Team will be in the stairwells periodically to encourage employees on this new culture habit while handing out swag and fun incentives to celebrate stepping into good health.

Stay tuned to Connect for more details.

This year’s National Nurses Week theme is “Nursing: The Balance of Mind, Body and Spirit, and we’re celebrating our more than 3,000 Texas Children’s nurses who lead the charge for health and wellness every day.

To recognize our amazing nurses and their nursing colleagues around the country, May 6 through May 12 is designated as National Nurses Week. Each year during this time, we pause to recognize and applaud the successes, accomplishments and contributions that our nurses make to their patients and their profession.

The Nursing Retention Council has taken great pride in developing a schedule of events that are designed to ensure that nurses from across our system know how deeply valued they are. Saturday, May 6, kicked off an exciting week full of memorable events, activities and educational opportunities, including fun activities for nurses on their individual units.

On Tuesday, May 16, Connect will feature event highlights from Nurses Week, including special recognitions of our 2017 Nursing Excellence Awards winners as well as our nurses who have been recognized among the Houston Chronicle Salute to Nurses Top 150 and Top 10.

For a complete schedule of Nurses Week activities, click here and to view the recent By the Numbers flyer spotlighting Nursing at Texas Children’s, click here.

Dr. Jordan Orange has been selected to receive a 2017 Michael E. DeBakey, M.D., Excellence in Research Award, a prestigious honor given annually to Baylor College of Medicine faculty who have made the most significant published scientific contribution to clinical or basic biomedical research during the past three years.

Orange’s peers – Drs. Emily Mace, Lisa Forbes and Tiphanie Vogel – nominated him for the award in honor of his work as a distinguished pediatrician-scientist who has made seminal contributions to the fields of clinical immunology, basic immunology and cell biology.

Specifically, they highlighted three papers that represent the breadth, caliber and recent impact of Orange’s work as chief of the Section of Immunology, Allergy and Rheumatology and director of the Center for Human Immunobiology. These papers were published in Nature Genetics, the Journal of Clinical Investigation and the Journal of Cell Biology and are described in greater detail below.

“Dr. Orange orchestrates a vibrant and successful clinical and basic research program applying cutting-edge cell biology to questions of important clinical relevance,” Mace said. “In addition to being a pioneer in the field of NK cell deficiency and an international authority in the study and treatment of primary immunodeficiency, he is also a world’s expert in the field of highly quantitative imaging, including super-resolution and total internal reflection microscopy.”

Mace added that Orange’s scientific accomplishments are paralleled only by his success as a leader and mentor.

“His scientific vision and innovation are combined with tireless dedication to both teaching and learning,” she said. “We all are honored to count him as a colleague.”

Orange will be presented with the DeBakey, M.D., Excellence in Research Award on May 15. To learn more about the award, click here. To learn more about the scientific research that garnered Orange the DeBakey award, see below.

Nature Genetics – Through collaboration with the Baylor Hopkins Center for Mendelian Genomics, Orange has become a leader in the discovery of novel monogenic causes of primary immunodeficiency. The discovery of COPA syndrome (Watkin et al., Nature Genetics 2015) was the result of a multi-institute collaboration led by Orange. This rare, autosomal dominant autoimmune syndrome leads to arthritis and interstitial lung disease and was identified through whole exome sequencing of affected patients and their unaffected family members. This genetic discovery was validated in Orange’s laboratory by identifying the mechanism of disease through modeling of the impacted pathway. This work was also recognized with the Lee C. Howley Sr. prize for the most outstanding paper of the year by the Arthritis Foundation in 2015.

Journal of Clinical Investigation – NK cells are innate lymphocytes that eliminate infected or diseased cells. The field of primary NK cell deficiency (NKD) is one in which Orange has been a pioneer; he penned one of the first descriptions of NKD in 2003. While rare, NKD is severe and frequently fatal. To date, four monogenic causes of isolated NKD have been published, two of these from Orange’s group. Most recently, Orange led an international team that discovered biallelic mutations in the transcription factor IRF8 are a novel cause of NKD. This paper, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation in 2017 (Mace et al.), ended a decade-long quest to solve the original published case of NKD. Again, modeling of patient mutations in the Orange laboratory using cutting-edge cell biology revealed the mechanism of impaired NK cell development in a cohort of patients from unrelated families.

Cell Biology – As NK cells lie at the heart of Orange’s research, it is not surprising that understanding NK cell function has been a cornerstone of his basic science program. He has led the field of NK cell biology by using highly quantitative microscopy and image analysis to deeply probe their function. In the January 2017 issue of the Journal of Cell Biology, Hsu et al. describe the purpose of NK cell lytic granule convergence, a mechanism by which NK cells direct their potent cytolytic machinery to prevent damage to bystander cells. This finding, which has important clinical implications for the field of immunotherapy, featured the application of novel technology to mimic an NK cell microenvironment. This work was showcased on the cover of the journal and merited an editorial from the well-known cell biologist Dr. Ira Mellman, as well as a feature on the journal’s weekly podcast.

The Department of Emergency Management is presenting its 11th Annual Emergency Management Bridge Event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 17, on The Auxiliary Bridge.

Representatives from various Texas Children’s departments as well as external partners such as the City of Houston Office of Emergency Management will be onsite to help you prepare for hurricane season by assisting you with registering in the Employee Disaster Roster (EDR), getting your emergency supplies ready, and making sure you know where to go and what to do during a disaster.

Plan to stop by The Auxiliary Bridge to learn safety tips to help you prepare yourself, your family and your patients for the 2017 hurricane season.

May 4, 2017

On April 28, the popular Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Jewel toured Texas Children’s newest full-service community hospital – Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands.

The hospital’s chief medical officer Dr. Charles Hankins showed Jewel around the new, state-of-the-art facility and shared early successes of the inpatient hospital, which opened its doors less than a month ago on April 11.

The first stop on the tour was the audiology suite in the Outpatient Building on The Woodlands campus, where the group was treated to a look at the audiology booth which was generously given by Jewel.

Jewel then went room to room on the acute care floor of the inpatient facility talking with patients and families about their experiences, and played board games in the hospital’s playroom. The visit to the hospital brought a refreshing smile to many of the children’s faces.

Later that evening, nearly 600 guests gathered in a lavish tent on the grounds of Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands for the hospital’s Grand Opening Gala.

Featuring a big board and live auction, the event co-chaired by Tracey & Sean O’Neal and Johnna & Ryan Edone raised $900,000 for the hospital and was capped off with a performance by Jewel.

The artist shared the inspiration behind her music and her gratitude for the work being done at Texas Children’s.

View a photo gallery below from the tour and from Jewel’s performance at the grand opening gala.