September 19, 2017

Since the topping out celebration of Texas Children’s Legacy Tower nearly seven month ago, significant construction milestones have been reached inside the tower’s 400-foot-tall structure at Texas Children’s Medical Center campus.

Carefully designed to promote the safest possible environment to care for our most critically ill patients and their families, construction is underway on the patient care rooms in the cardiovascular intensive care unit (CVICU), pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) and the progressive care unit (PCU). Last year, a series of patient care simulations were conducted to identify and eliminate any latent safety defects in the final design of the critical care tower before actual construction began.

Based on helpful feedback from our providers and patient families, the size of the critical care rooms inside the Legacy Tower will be between 350 to 450 square feet – three times the size of the hospital’s current ICU rooms. The rooms will feature a dedicated family space, a bathroom and shower, and care teams will have enhanced visibility and monitoring between patient rooms and into the patient rooms from the nurses’ work stations. The ICU rooms also will be equipped with state-of-the-art technology including a boom that will provide gas, power and data from the ceiling.

“Booms allow us to position the patient almost anywhere in the 360-degree circle,” said Chief of Critical Care Medicine Dr. Lara Shekerdemian. “This means that we can use some very state-of-the-art equipment for mounting all of the pumps, monitors and ventilators at the patient’s bedside while keeping the equipment off the floor.”

The Legacy Tower’s high intensity operating rooms and intraoperative state-of-the-art MRI suite also will provide dedicated subspecialty care for surgical patients.

“Our pediatric surgical patients are different than other ICU patients,” said Texas Children’s Chief of Plastic Surgery Dr. Larry Hollier. “For the first time, we’re going to have them in a setting where the care is designed specifically for that surgical patient, and that’s going to be located one floor above the operating rooms. The new tower will help us increase our OR capacity so we are not turning patients away from receiving critical care.”

The Legacy Tower will open in two phases. The first phase will occur in May 2018 when the PICU, PCU, operating rooms and Radiology open. A few months later, the Heart Center will move into the new tower in August 2018.

The 25-floor Legacy Tower will house 126 beds for pediatric and cardiovascular intensive care, six new operating rooms (ORs) with the latest technology to complement the hospital’s existing 19 ORs, and will be the new home of Texas Children’s Heart Center, including the outpatient clinic, four cardiovascular ORs and four catheterization labs. This vertical expansion will help reinvest in the programs needed to provide the highest level of care to our most critically ill patients.

“I don’t know of any other children’s hospital in the country that has the type of experience that Texas Children’s has in bringing all of these elements together,” Hollier said. “With larger, more functional spaces, we will be able to provide patients and families with the best possible environment to receive care.”

Chief nursing executives and chief nursing officers play a crucial role in a hospital or health systems’ success. Many top nursing executives oversee large teams of nurses to ensure quality of care and patient experience.

Texas Children’s Chief Nursing Officer and Senior Vice President Mary Jo Andre was recently recognized as one of the “60+ Hospital and Health System CNOs to Know” for 2017 by Beckers Hospital Review, the leading source of cutting-edge business and legal information for healthcare industry leaders.

Andre joined Texas Children’s as a staff nurse and held several leadership positions, including senior vice president over quality and safety, before being promoted to CNO in 2015. Andre led the hospital’s efforts to improve its quality program, which yielded better patient safety and engagement.

Click here to read the Becker’s Hospital Review article.

September 12, 2017

Each year in September, Texas Children’s Cancer Center goes gold to honor the courageous journeys of our patients and families who have been touched by pediatric cancer and to create awareness about the challenges these children and their loved ones face. It is also a special time to honor the Cancer Center’s staff and everyone involved in the care and support of those who come to Texas Children’s seeking our aid.

Today, you will hear from patients, family members, doctors and other medical staff as they explain why they Go Gold in September and what makes raising awareness about pediatric cancer so important. Throughout the month, there are several events scheduled across the organization geared toward raising awareness about childhood cancer. Some of those event are listed below. Please check the Connect calendar and the Cancer Center’s Facebook page for additional details.

Upcoming cancer awareness activities:

  • September 7-30 – Smart Financial Center in Sugar Land will be lit gold
  • September 12 at 10 a.m. – Main Campus Going Gold Parade/Ribbon Tying and Purple Songs Can Fly Book release in clinic
  • September 16-19 – Houston City Hall will be lit gold
  • September 16 – Sickle Cell Education and Research Day and Purple Songs Can Fly book release at River Oaks Bookstore
  • September 20 at 10 a.m. – The Woodlands Going Gold Parade and Ribbon Tying Event
  • September 21 at 10 a.m. – West Campus Going Gold Parade and Ribbon Tying Event
  • September 25-29 – Global Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) Awareness Week (concluding with September 29 as “Sport purple for platelets day”)
  • September 27-28 – Ewing Sarcoma Conference

To learn more about Texas Children’s Cancer Center, click here.

A 4-year-old child undergoes a Fontan procedure to correct a heart problem. The child’s medical team is unaware that the proposed post-surgical plan of care may endanger not only the patient but also the patient’s family – and is also financially wasteful. If the care team is unaware of these potential risks, how can they offer the patient and patient’s family the best, most appropriate care that yields the best possible outcomes?

As one of the top five pediatric hospitals in the country, Texas Children’s cares for many patients with a number of medical conditions. Across our hospital system, care teams follow clinical standards related to specific medical conditions to ensure the best care is delivered to the right patient at the right time, leading to improved long-term outcomes.

“Clinical standards provide a way to align our clinicians, families and other organizations with a more streamlined approach to improve the safety, quality and cost efficiency in the delivery of patient care,” said Dr. Charles Macias, chief clinical systems integration officer at Texas Children’s and director of the Center for Clinical Effectiveness and Evidence Based Outcomes Center. “By allowing this type of standardization, hospitals can minimize wasteful expenditures caused by medical errors and ordering of unnecessary tests which can lead to inefficiencies in health care.”

From developing patient care guidelines for post-surgical care to treating common conditions like asthma and diabetes – among many other clinical conditions – our health care teams rely heavily on the instrumental work of Texas Children’s Evidence Based Outcomes Center (EBOC). The team reviews and translates scientific evidence into clinical standards that detail the essential steps in the care of patients with a particular clinical condition.

“Once a specific disease is selected, our team conducts a thorough review of evidence using the GRADE methodology,” said EBOC Research Specialist Andrea Jackson. “We review clinical questions and assess potential benefits and harms of different treatment options. We guide multidisciplinary teams to incorporate clinical expertise from our physician and nursing partners as well as input from patient family advocates on their own experiences into the development of practice recommendations based on available evidence regarding the specific clinical condition.”

Since the opening of the EBOC in 2010, the team has developed 95 clinical standards, some of which have led to publications in peer-reviewed health journals. In addition to the Connect website, Texas Children’s clinical standards for medical conditions are available here on the Outcomes and Safety external site.

“We are adding new clinical standards to that site about every three months,” said Anne Dykes, assistant director of Texas Children’s Outcomes and Impact Service. “All 10 years’ worth of work that we’ve built internally to help our own clinicians and those across our system, we’re now making available to the public. These standards are not just for physicians, clinicians and administrators at other hospitals, but also for patient families to help them understand the essential steps in the care of patients with a particular condition.”

The center also provides an evidence-based practice course that has educated more than 150 health care professionals on how to develop practice guidelines. Since 2007, more than 300 physicians, 275 nurses along with many of our patient family advocates have participated in guideline developments to enhance patient outcomes.

Additionally, the EBOC has launched a national collaborative with 11 other children’s hospitals to bring clinical standardization across the nation.

“Through this strategic collaboration, we are identifying where clinical standards could be done in unison so that we could all share in our products and still offer an opportunity to tailor them to our own individual institutions,” Macias said. “We have a national need for the science of it and a local need for the process of care delivery.”

Click here for a complete list of the EBOC’s 95 clinical guidelines developed to treat specific medical conditions.

Leticia Sowell, Patient Care Assistant, Cardiology Inpatient Unit, passed away on August 12, 2017 at the age of 41.

Leticia loved caring for patients on the West Tower 15 Cardiology Inpatient Unit for nine years.

Leticia leaves behind four children: Caylin, Mya, Warren and Niecy to cherish her memory.

September 11, 2017

It’s hard to believe that less than a week ago Hurricane Harvey slammed into the Greater Houston area dumping foot after foot of rain into our communities’ streets, homes and businesses. Since then, people across the region – including many employees at Texas Children’s – have been working around the clock to try and put their lives back together again.

Many of those directly affected by the storm are looking for help, and many of those who were spared by the storm’s wrath are more than willing to lend a helping hand. As you move forward with your recovery efforts, please remember there are guidelines Texas Children’s employees must follow when seeking and receiving aid.

One most important guideline to note pertains to the use of the Texas Children’s name and/or logo. Using the organization’s name and/or logo is not allowed when soliciting funds or other types of help unless the request is done in an official capacity. Therefore, individual employees should not mention Texas Children’s or their employment with the organization when seeking aid whether it be via an email to colleagues, a GoFundMe page, an Amazon Wish List or a post on social media.

Additional guidelines about giving and accepting gifts in your role at Texas Children’s can be found here.

“We understand that many of our employees are suffering due to the storm and are in need of help, however it is important that everyone follows our policy to not use the Texas Children’s name or logo in any way other than in an official capacity,” said Director of Risk Management Melissa Murrah. “There are many other ways to seek help and offer aid, such as donating to our Employee Financial Assistance Fund.”

Many Hurricane Harvey relief opportunities can be found here and include ways to donate money to employees affected by the storm, how to apply for employee assistance funds and an Employee Resource Network developed to help employees with needs related to Hurricane Harvey and connect with employees who would like to volunteer their services of a resource.

If you have a question about giving or receiving gifts pertaining to the storm, please contact Compliance and Privacy (ext. 4-2085 or

September 8, 2017

Some Texas Children’s patients recently got the chance to kick off the upcoming Houston Texans season right by attending a special event near the Choo-Choo Hut just inside the entrance of the Abercrombie Building.

On the count of three, the children peeled a sheet of paper off of the large glass windows that encases the intricate model train exhibit. Behind the window was an exhibit transformed into a Texans wonderland.

See photos from the event below.

“Oh, my goodness!” screamed 8-year-old Alejandro Mendoza as he pointed to a pile of footballs inside one of the trains carriages. “Wow!”

In addition to getting an up-close-and-personal look at the train decked out in Texans helmets, flags, banners, footballs and more, patients got to visit with two Texans cheerleaders, Ana Karen and Alexys, as well as Toro, the Texans lively mascot.

Dressed in her Texans cheerleading outfit, 6-year-old Claire Kochenowermet was especially excited about seeing Toro, one of the only Houston sports mascots she hasn’t had the pleasure of meeting.

After posing for a photo with Toro, Claire bashfully nodded her head when she was asked if she was enjoying herself. Her mother, Jodie Kochenowermet, said it was nice to see her daughter smiling and having fun.

Alejandro’s mother, Maria Sanchez, said her son has been at Texas Children’s for a month and does not get the opportunity to leave his room very often. So, to see him not only get to leave his room, but to do so for such a special event “feels really good.”

Don Bozman, the professional model builder hired to construct the train at Texas Children’s Hospital, still helps manage the maintenance of the train and attended last week’s event.

“The smiles on the faces of the patients and their families is what keeps me wanting to do this,” Bozman said. “It’s great to see them all so happy.”

Come check out the train yourself! It will be decorated in Texans gear until Halloween.