July 10, 2018

Texas Children’s Hospital was back on Capitol Hill in June in support of the Children’s Hospital Association Speak Now For Kids Family Advocacy Day, which brings patient families from around the United States to Washington, D.C. to share their experiences with lawmakers and staff, as well as to advocate for policies that will ensure the highest levels of medical care for children and their families.

We had a strong team from Texas Children’s participate this year. Anthony DeLuca, Chairman of the Board of Director’s Policy Committee, joined the Texas Children’s Government Relations and Public Relations teams in accompanying Tenley Kennedy, a heart transplant patient, and her family on visits to Capitol Hill.

Tenley is a perfect example of the type of child who needs fierce advocates and the specialized care very few hospitals can provide. Tenley was diagnosed with a severe heart condition prenatally, so her mother, Kelly, had to travel from her home state of Louisiana to Texas Children’s in order to access the care her baby would need. Tenley was a patient of Texas Children’s before she was ever born and touched nearly every aspect of our hospital’s top ranked Heart Center. Kelly shared that without Texas Children’s her daughter would not be alive today and that without Medicaid coverage they don’t know what they would do.

“Thank you Texas Children’s for choosing us to be your family advocates for Family Advocacy Day,” Kelly said. “We are truly blessed and feel so honored to represent such a wonderful hospital.”

Kelly, Tenley and the Texas Children’s team were able to meet with Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), who sits on the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee; and Congressman Gene Green, who serves as the Ranking Member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee, as well as staff from other House and Senate offices.

“In many ways, this visit was a culmination of our efforts this spring to expand Texas Children’s visibility on Capitol Hill,” said Rosie Valadez McStay, assistant vice president of Texas Children’s Government Relations. “In the past two months, members of Congress and their staffs have heard testimony from physician leadership, received insight into important programs from hospital administrators, seen the commitment and hands-on involvement of the Board of Directors, and now been exposed to some of the realities facing patient families. As a testament to this ‘all in’ engagement, Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) cosponsored the ACE Kids Act within 24 hours of our most recent meeting.”

The ACE Kids Act is a congressional proposal to improve how care is delivered to America’s children who have complex medical conditions and are on Medicaid. Once enacted into law, the act will improve coordination of care, address problems with fragmented care across state lines, gather national data on complex conditions to help researchers improve treatments for rare diseases, and potentially save billions of dollars over the duration of 10 years.

“We will continue to look for opportunities to broaden our relationships and put Texas Children’s leadership and experience at the forefront of future policy discussions, McStay said. “We believe our involvement can make a difference.”

The countdown clock is ticking. Texas Children’s Nursing will host its fifth virtual town hall from 11 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, July 17, at the Pavilion for Women Conference Center.

Nursing has partnered with the Corporate Communications team to organize this event to engage our team of more than 3,000 dedicated nurses that make up Texas Children’s largest employee population.

Hosted by Chief Nursing Officer Mary Jo Andre’, the town hall will include a discussion of recent nursing accomplishments including our successful opening of the first phase of Legacy Tower, as well as highlight our priorities and system updates. The town hall also will include time for Q&A. Nurses watching the livestream remotely will be able to participate in the Q&A session thanks to our use of virtual technology.

“By leveraging new technology at our first town hall, we were able to engage more nurses in a town hall than we ever had before,” Andre’ said. “As our team continues to grow, it will be increasingly important for us to identify and leverage opportunities to make communication easier and more effective.”

For nurses who cannot attend the live event, there will be several gathering locations to view the live stream:

Wallace Tower (for Ambulatory Services) – D.1000.35 (tenth floor)
West Campus – WC.150.10 (first floor)
The Woodlands Hospital – Conference rooms A (second floor)
Health Centers – Sugar Land, Cy-Fair, The Woodlands, Kingwood, Clear Lake, Bellaire
The Center for Children and Women (Greenspoint and Southwest)
Forming your own huddles? Please submit sign-in sheet to jcchilds@texaschildrens.org.

As always, patient care is our first priority, and we know not all nurses will be able to attend the live event or view the live stream. However, those nurses will still be able to participate by viewing the event on-demand at their convenience.

Click here to pre-register for the Nursing Town Hall.

For many of our new colleagues embarking on their first few months at Texas Children’s, learning to navigate such a large and diverse organization can seem an overwhelming and intimidating task – the kind of challenge made much easier when faced alongside their personal Texas Children’s Buddy, the friendly team member assigned to offer them support and reassurance from the very beginning of their journey.

The Texas Children’s Buddy Experience begins when hiring leaders assign as a Buddy a team member with great interpersonal skills who is knowledgeable about their unit or department, well regarded by their peers, committed to living out and modeling the organization’s core values, and willing to amplify unity by helping to make a new colleague’s onboarding process more positive.

After the new colleague completes Texas Children’s Hi orientation, they meet their Buddy for the first time and begin forging what is often a meaningful and fulfilling relationship for them both. The Buddy becomes their new colleague’s go-to person for insider insights and advice about everything from settling in with their new team members and finding their way on campus, to the best places to grab a bite, rent an apartment or buy scrubs.

To help them better understand the important role they will play for their new colleague, Texas Children’s Buddies have access to numerous resources – including a Buddy Handbook, Buddy Checklist and frequently asked questions all available on the newly created Buddy Resources page on Connect. Buddies and hiring leaders also receive their new colleague’s “My Favorite Things” questionnaire, an addition to the Buddy Experience this quarter that asks new hires to provide responses to lighthearted questions about their likes and interests.

“My Buddy was always very positive and happy. She answered all the questions I had,” one recent hire said in response to a Buddy Experience assessment survey administered by Human Resources. “She reflects Texas Children’s values and definitely made me feel at home. She was always very open and receptive.”

The benefits of the Buddy Experience extend beyond simply providing a new colleague with a sounding board and lunch companion. Research shows that in giving newly hired employees a way to more quickly foster connections with their colleagues, workplaces with buddy programs also see improvements in engagement and retention. A Gallup study completed in 2013 found that buddy programs can reduce turnover by more than 23 percent, and fully 50 percent of employees said they had a strong connection with their organization because they had a best friend at work.

And if comments from our newly hired colleagues and early Human Resources hiring data are any indication, that positive trend is likely to continue at Texas Children’s through our own Buddy Experience. Survey respondents praised their Buddies for being “just awesome” and “exceptionally welcoming from the start,” making them “feel like part of the team,” and displaying “nothing but kindness and goodwill to help me get acclimated.”

“My Buddy helped me get adjusted,” said one recently hired colleague. “They made sure I had and knew everything I needed in order to be successful.”

Are you serving as a Buddy or do you have a Buddy at Texas Children’s? Share your special moments on social media using the hashtags #MyTexasChildrensBuddy, #TexasChildrensPeople and #AmplifyUnity.

Texas Children’s teammates scaled monkey bars, slung ropes, hauled sandbags, climbed cargo nets, flipped heavy truck tires and even threw spears at our first obstacle course race boot camp, a free class recently offered by the Well-Being team in partnership with BC Fitness.

The boot camp course was designed to give employees and their families and friends an opportunity to try out the types of exercises included in popular and challenging races like the Spartan and Tough Mudder. After working their way through numerous obstacles while their colleagues amplified unity by cheering them on, boot campers lined up to run a full race.

Stay tuned for more information about your next chance to be part of the class.

For upcoming well-being activities, programs, partnerships and discounts visit the Well-Being page on Connect.

July 5, 2018

When late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel faced off against Senator Ted Cruz in a one-on-one charity basketball game in Houston last month, the event brought in nearly $50,000 benefiting Texas Children’s Hospital – which was a lot more fundraising dollars than expected.

At the beginning of the competition, the loser of the game would contribute $5,000 to the winner’s charity of choice. Although Kimmel lost the game to Cruz, Kimmel personally donated $10,000 to Texas Children’s. His team worked closely with Texas Children’s Philanthropy to raise even more money.

Besides including a link to the Texas Children’s donation form on the ticket registration website, both teams explored other strategies to encourage more people to participate in this fundraising effort.

“We suggested Kimmel’s team use a Facebook fundraising application similar to a Go Fund Me page that subsequently helped us raise more than $14,000 in donations alone to Texas Children’s,” said Philanthropy Services Director Stacey Cook. “Once Kimmel’s team set up the site, people could share the fundraising page on their social media pages and encourage their family and friends to donate to Texas Children’s.”

In addition to leveraging the Facebook fundraising app, Philanthropy offered other opportunities for people to donate, including a text to give option and collecting onsite donations at the game. Also, half of the proceeds from the event’s merchandise sales, amounting to $7,500, went directly to Texas Children’s.

Generating over 883 million media impressions, Texas Children’s Public Relations and Social Media teams worked with Philanthropy to raise awareness about the charity basketball game. Many of our employees also helped spread the word through social media, and others donated to the fundraiser.

“Anyone can have a meaningful impact on fundraising at Texas Children’s,” Cook said. “In this case, every donation counted and helped us raise more than we ever anticipated for this event.”

July 4, 2018

Inclement weather No. 1:  Weather conditions are improving

Texas Children’s leadership and the Department of Emergency Management are closely monitoring the weather as the Greater Houston area experienced heavy rainfall today.

More than six inches of rain fell across the Houston area. Rainfall levels are gradually subsiding, however street-level flooding and slick roads still remain a concern.

We urge employees to exercise caution when navigating roadways and avoid flooded areas as you head home or make your way into work.  Please plan for additional travel time and be prepared to identify alternate routes in case roadways are flooded.

For more information, including the latest weather, traffic and road conditions, go to the Emergency Management Connect site and the National Weather Service website. You can also go to the Houston TranStar website to get the latest traffic reports on road conditions.

Please continue to be safe in this weather, and reach out to your leaders with regard to one-to-one hand offs and staffing coordination measures.

Michelle Riley-Brown
Executive Vice President

Trudy Leidich
Administrator on call

Wayne Chan
Emergency Management

July 3, 2018

“Thanks to online scheduling, it’s super easy to make appointments through MyChart now,” wrote a Texas Children’s family. “The past several times we’ve been here, we have been in and out in less than 45 minutes with the same level of quality and care. It seems like they heard our concerns loud and clear, and it shows that they care.”

This touching comment from a patient family in our Texas Children’s Pediatrics Cinco Ranch location is one of several inspiring patient testimonials that demonstrate our continued commitment to improving patient access.

Several months ago, Texas Children’s Access and Patient Scheduling Task Force conducted a baseline assessment of the hospital’s current landscape which revealed several opportunities to improve access for our patients. The Task Force proposed more than 30 recommendations and prioritized which ones would be implemented first.

Since implementing these solutions in four waves across different specialties throughout the system – the first wave went live on March 1 and the fourth wave went live on June 1 – patient families have noticed a positive difference.

Below are several impressive results during the implementation of Waves 1 to 4:

Increase appointment capacity: After evaluating 944 provider templates, we found extra slots where physicians could see patients for a duration of four hours. By standardizing clinic sessions for all specialties, over 53,000 new appointments were added to the system annually, 44 percent of those offering availability for new patients.

MyChart activation: Since launching MyChart Madness in March, Texas Children’s has seen a significant increase in MyChart activation rates. In October 2017, we had less than 8,000 monthly activations compared to over 18,000 in March. To date, Texas Children’s has a total of 72,006 same-day MyChart activations. A similar competition will be launched in July to ensure we’re getting as many patients to sign up on MyChart as possible by the end of FY18.

Online scheduling: More than 100 patients have already used this online feature to schedule their appointments. Six specialties have gone live with online scheduling for MyChart users. Nine more specialties will go live on July 23 and by September all specialties will offer online scheduling. Texas Children’s has partnered with a vendor to set up an online scheduling infrastructure for new patients who do not have a MyChart account.

Fast Pass Waitlist: Since implementing an electronic waitlist in MyChart that automatically offers up available appointments to patients desiring a sooner appointment, over 200 patients have accepted. On average, patients are getting into earlier appointments 60 days faster. So far, 16 specialties have gone live with this new feature.

One of these patients who benefitted from the electronic waitlist feature on MyChart was 10-year-old Aiden Blancas whose mother was able to get him into a dermatology appointment a lot sooner than expected.

“My son’s original appointment date was scheduled for September 4, but when I got an electronic notice via MyChart asking me if I wanted to accept an appointment in June, I accepted it,” said Monica Blancas. “While we usually go to the medical center for appointments, I didn’t mind driving a little further for my son’s appointment in Katy if it meant that I could get him in to see a doctor a lot sooner than originally scheduled.”

While improving patient access at Texas Children’s continues to remain a priority, more system-wide solutions are being considered that will further enhance patient access across the hospital system.

“Since implementing our patient access initiative, we have made significant progress to ensure our patients get into our system according to their urgency and timeline,” said Texas Children’s Assistant Vice President Carrie Rys. “We plan to continue these efforts into the next fiscal year with additional goals aimed at improving patient access.”