May 4, 2017

With the help of physicians in interventional radiology, anesthesiology and pathology at Texas Children’s Hospital, children in Vietnam suffering from severe and debilitating vascular anomalies are getting the help they desperately need.

At the beginning of the year, a medical team from Texas Children’s traveled to the University of Medicine and Pharmacy Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to examine and treat patients with vascular anomalies as well as to train medical staff at the University Hospital to perform certain life-altering procedures on their own.

The effort is an extension of the active collaboration between the Vietnam Vascular Anomalies Center (VAC) based in Ho Chi Minh City and the Global Pathology program at Texas Children’s Hospital, launched in 2013 by Dr. Thuy Phung, a pathologist and associate director of Texas Children’s Global Pathology. Global Pathology is based in the Department of Pathology, under the leadership of Texas Children’s Pathologist-in-Chief Dr. James Versalovic.

The Vietnam VAC was established in 2009 by Phung and a team of physicians at Harvard Medical School and Ho Chi Minh City. Its mission is to provide safe and effective humanitarian medical care for underserved Vietnamese children with vascular and pigmented birthmarks, and to promote active collaboration between Vietnamese and U.S. physicians to improve the health of these children.

“We have been thinking about and working on the formation of an interventional radiology team that can work with the Vietnam VAC for some time and feel that our initial efforts have been extremely successful,” Phung said. “The techniques that we are teaching physicians in Vietnam can make a huge difference in the lives of children with vascular anomalies.”

During the team’s week-long visit to Ho Chi Minh City in January, members worked with and trained a local clinical team led by Dr. Tran Quoc Tuan, an interventional neuroradiologist at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy Hospital. Together, they evaluated and consulted on 38 adult and pediatric patients, providing recommendations on how to best manage their vascular anomalies. Of those patients, the clinical team selected 13 to treat using techniques such as embolization, which involves the injection of special medications into abnormal blood vessels under ultrasound and X-ray.

These treatments are common across the globe but can only be appropriately performed by highly trained medical professionals and require an experienced support team, such as a pediatric anesthesiologist, interventional radiologist, interventional radiology nurse practitioner and interventional radiology technologist proficient in the procedures. Texas Children’s brought all of the above to the Vietnam VAC, enabling several children, including a young boy whose vascular lesion was impeding his ability to breathe, to get the appropriate treatment and go home with a chance at a drastically improved life.

“This partnership has enabled us to train our clinical colleagues in Ho Chi Minh City to independently handle vascular anomaly patients and act as a referral center for the country,” said Texas Children’s interventional radiologist Dr. Sheena Pimpalwar. “Due to a large population of children in Vietnam who are affected by vascular anomalies and our ability to treat them in a multi-disciplinary fashion, this program has huge potential for growth.”

Texas Children’s pediatric anesthesiologist Dr. Helena Karlberg emphasized the importance of having a multi-disciplinary approach available to patients at the Vietnam VAC and described the role of the anesthesiologist as one that includes early planning of airway management in patients undergoing procedures of the head and neck regions, and monitoring for, and treatment of any adverse effects by agents used during vascular anomaly care.

“These rather specialized procedures require a great deal of expertise,” Karlberg said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to share my knowledge and experience assisting and instructing others to develop their own skills in caring for this group of patients.”

To ensure that patients receive the highest quality treatment, the Texas Children’s Hospital medical team plans on traveling to Vietnam each year to treat patients and to continue training the medical staff at the Vietnam VAC. In the meantime, the Texas Children’s team will consult with physicians in Vietnam on patient management via email, telephone and video conference.

Members of the Texas Children’s Hospital medical team that recently traveled to Vietnam include:

  • Dr. Alex Chau, interventional radiologist
  • Heather Cleveland, advanced clinical specialist and interventional radiology technologist
  • Dr. Helena Karlberg, pediatric anesthesiologist
  • Dr. Thuy Phung, associate director of Texas Children’s Global Pathology
  • Dr. Sheena Pimpalwar, interventional radiologist
  • Holly Phan Tran, vascular anomalies nurse practitioner
May 3, 2017

Texas Children’s employees and Houston-area residents came out in full force to participate in the grand opening celebration and inaugural Texas Children’s Hospital and Houston Marathon Foundation Family Fun Run at Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands.

On April 29, about 1,500 people of all abilities participated in the non-competitive 1-mile course in celebration of the April 11 grand opening of the new hospital. Following the race, participants enjoyed the H-E-B sponsored Family Fun Zone, which was packed with snacks, entertainment and 20 plus attractions.

Sarah Pepper from The Morning Mix and professional race announcer Mark Purnell kept everyone energized in their role as master of ceremonies cheering on the crowd and announcing any and all special guests, including
Dr. Kristen Ernest and Susan Niles with Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands Sports Medicine, who led runners and walkers in some warm-up stretches and exercises, and members of the College Park High School Herald Trumpets, who played the National Anthem.

Prior to the race in a large tent next to the course’s start line, hospital and community leaders gathered for a light breakfast and short presentation about Texas Children’s new full-service community hospital. They then moved to the front of the hospital to cut a celebratory grand opening ribbon.

“Thirty-nine months ago, we had a tent and a shovel, now we have our campus ready to service the needs of children and families in this area,” said Dr. Charles Hankins, chief medical officer at Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands. “It’s very exciting.”

Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands President Michelle Riley-Brown agreed and said the opening of the hospital is a huge milestone for Texas Children’s and reflects the health system’s overall strategy of giving patients and families more access to quality pediatric care.

To get a first-hand look at the fun and to learn more about Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands:

  • View a photo gallery of the event below.
  • Order your race-day photos from Spring Action. You can search by your bib number or last name to find your photos (if any exist). There also are hundreds of unidentified photos to sort through in the Lost & Found section. You can also browse the entire event, if desired.
  • Click here to read more about the opening of Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands.

On May 1, 2017, surveyors from The Joint Commission arrived at Texas Children’s Hospital to conduct an unannounced 5-day survey to ensure that we are meeting the expectations of delivering the safest, high quality care to our patients and their families.

Every three years, Texas Children’s undergoes an accreditation process by the Joint Commission survey team to access the organization’s compliance in patient care areas that contribute to positive outcomes, and to measure and improve performance.

This week, surveyors will visit Texas Children’s Medical Center Campus, Pavilion for Women, West Campus, The Woodlands, ambulatory clinics, dialysis, and health centers to evaluate our patient care processes through a variety of measurement tools including on-site observations, staff interviews, and tracer methodology. Just this year, the 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 patients, staff and visitors based on the number of occurrences.

“Our first day of the survey went very well, with surveyors citing positive feedback in several of our patient care and safety protocols,” said Texas Children’s Quality and Safety Director Elaine Whaley. “Since these accreditation surveys are unannounced, preparing for the Joint Commission survey has been a crucial, on-going and continuous process for our employees and staff.”

Next week, Connect will have an article with an overview of this week’s survey.

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.

From NASA astronauts to Star Wars characters to the rings of Saturn, Texas Children’s employees and patients experienced a trip to outer space during Patient Experience Week that kicked off on April 24.

This year’s theme, Texas Children’s Patient Experience is Out of this World, describes what our 12,000+ employees and staff do every day to ensure our patient families have the best experience possible.

“We thought the space theme for Patient Experience Week was appropriate because our employees and staff are constantly shooting for the stars to create a positive experience for our patients and their families,” said Patient and Family Services Senior Project Manager Maggie Weimer.

Hundreds of people attended patient and family experience events at Main Campus and Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus. The events offered up a lot of information and a lot of fun.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Employee Health and Employee Assistance Program delivered two lectures on how to stay energized and how to bring love and kindness to your lives.
  • NASA astronaut Dr. Kjell Lindren talked about the commonalities between NASA’s preparation for space flight and how hospitals prepare for patient care.
  • Southwest Airlines Ambassador of FUN Tony Brigmon shared how staying positive, having fun, preventing conflict and working better together can create positive results for an organization. He provided a link to a journal to integrate his tips into our daily routines.
  • Space-themed activities for the patients included creating a space galaxy, moon rock throws, Saturn ring tosses, decorating a spaceship, and getting photos taken with their favorite Star Wars characters.

A Caught You Caring Awards ceremony was held to recognize our 2017 recipients:

  • Grace Collins, PCA, West Campus
  • Joyce Enochs, surgery scheduling optimizer, Medical Center
  • Heather Eppelheimer, child life specialist, Pavilion for Women
  • Roderic Johnson, radiology technician, Kingwood Specialty Care
  • Amanda Riddle, staff nurse, Medical Center
  • Sandy Rodriguez, front office specialist, Pavilion for Women
  • Keith Thomas, ASR, Meyer Center for Developmental Pediatrics
  • Kevin Young, patient transporter, Medical Center

Overall, the Patient Experience events were a success at reminding employees, patients and families that care at Texas Children’s goes beyond the bedside. It has to do with how we treat our patients and their families from the moment they call to schedule an appointment with us to the point they leave our care.

As a health care system, Texas Children’s believes that a critical component to offering outstanding clinical care is measuring the results of the care we deliver and doing our best to provide our patients and families with the safest environment possible.

“By tracking what we do, we learn about what happens to our patients, and we also learn about our performance as a health care delivery organization,” said Chief Safety Officer Dr. Joan Shook. “We know we can always do better and must continue to strive toward excellence in health care delivery.”

With that in mind, Texas Children’s has created a dedicated safety and outcomes website that parents can access directly from the Texas Children’s main landing page. The information on this page is organized into the following nationally recognized categories of quality measures:

  • Safe: Avoiding harm to patients from the care that is intended to help them.
  • Effective: Providing services based on scientific knowledge. This category also measures the outcomes of the care we provide.
  • Patient-centered: Providing care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs and values and ensuring that patient values guide all clinical decisions.
  • Timely: Reducing wait times and harmful delays for both those who receive and those who give care.
  • Efficient: Avoiding waste, including waste of equipment, supplies, ideas and energy.

When possible, the website shows how Texas Children’s compares to other children’s hospitals in the United States in these categories. Where no good comparisons are available, the website illustrates how Texas Children’s compares to our own performance in the past, and how we measure up to our own goals.

Some of the topics and data reported include: hand-hygiene compliance, catheter associated blood stream infections, surgical site infections, death and complications within 30 days of surgery, patient experience, third next available appointment, patients leaving emergency care and transfer denials. Additional measures will be added over time.

For each measure, information is provided that lays out what parents can do to help Texas Children’s deliver the highest quality pediatric care. The website also includes links to our health system’s evidence-based guidelines. A distinctive feature of the website is an email address for readers who want to provide input on what additional information they would like to know and ways we can improve our website.

“We invite you to check out how we are doing and to share our outcomes with patients and their families,” Shook said. “We believe our patients and families deserve the most complete and accurate information possible about how we are doing as a health care system.”

Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women also has launched a safety and outcomes website. Click here for more information.

For the second year in a row we are bring spring directly to our patients through our May Flowers fundraising drive.

Here’s the plan: We’re going to hang spring flowers, personalized by our donors, on the doors of our patients’ rooms to brighten their days. Donors that give to Texas Children’s as part of the campaign can personalize one of those flowers with their name and location.

It’s a great way for our community to show our patients they are thinking of them and at the same time help Texas Children’s continue to provide the very best care.

Here are two things that you can do to help today:

Let your friends and family know they can join you and help bring 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 won’t just help bring some spring cheer inside our walls. More important, they will help us ensure that children in need of advanced critical, surgical and emergency care can always find it here when they need it 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. Soon our hallways will be in full bloom.

The last day of the campaign is Friday, May 12. Flowers will be hung in late May and stay up through the spring season.

To personalize one with your name, give today:

Texas Children’s Hospital is proud to announce the opening of its eighth Texas Children’s Urgent Care clinic. Located at 2200 Yale Street, Houston, TX, 77008, 713-861-6104, Texas Children’s Urgent Care The Heights offers high-quality, efficient and affordable pediatric care at a convenient location.

Texas Children’s Urgent Care The Heights is open Monday through Friday, 4:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, noon to 8 p.m. The clinic is staffed by board certified pediatricians who have privileges at Texas Children’s Hospital. Pediatricians diagnose and treat a wide variety of ailments, illnesses and conditions, including: asthma, strep throat, fever, minor burns, influenza, ear infections, allergic reactions and more. Procedures provided include: antibiotic injections, breathing treatments, fracture care and splinting, IV (intravenous) fluids, lab services, laceration repair and X-rays onsite.

Oftentimes, families turn to an emergency center after hours, on weekends or perhaps even during the day, when a significant event occurs with their child. Though the emergency center is the right place for some incidents or ailments, the majority of the time minor illnesses can and should be treated at a pediatric urgent care facility.

Texas Children’s Urgent Care accepts major insurance plans and has self-pay rates, which are less than emergency center charges, and there are no hospital fees. A complete list of insurance plans is available on the website. Texas Children’s Urgent Care specializes in after-hours care, but does not replace the need for children to have a general pediatrician. Routine physical exams and vaccinations are services that should be obtained from a general pediatrician, and these services are not available at Texas Children’s Urgent Care.

Texas Children’s Urgent Care has seven additional convenient locations:

  • Cinco Ranch, 9727 Spring Green Blvd., Suite 900 Katy, TX 77494, 281-789-6300
  • Memorial, 12850 Memorial Drive, Suite 210 Houston, TX 77024, 832-827-4000
  • The Woodlands, 4775 W. Panther Creek Drive, Suite C300 The Woodlands, TX 77381, 281-417-0870
  • Main Campus, 6621 Fannin, Suite 2240 Houston, TX 77030, 832-824-2000
  • Pearland, 2701 Pearland Parkway, Suite 190, Pearland, TX 77581, 281-485-6400
  • The Vintage, 10420 Louetta Road, Suite 104, Houston, TX 77070, 281-251-0269
  • Fairfield, 28070 Highway 290, Suite 100, Cypress, TX 77433, 281-758-4770