June 10, 2019

Many people hope to be able to work in their preferred career upon graduation, while others may just want to work at their desired workplace with the goal of moving towards that career. Juan Flores, Radiology Generalist at The Woodlands Campus, as successfully done both very early in his career and can add a system-wide award to that list.

“This is amazing! I just graduated a little over a year ago, so working here is kind of like a dream come true,” Flores said. “I never thought I’d work at Texas Children’s until maybe later on, until I have more experience, but I took a chance so I’m happy about that.”

Flores is known to be very quick to volunteer outside of his role as a radiographer. He is on the Radiology Events and Activities Committee, he has played a role in several simulations inside and outside of Radiology, he is a part of the Customer Obsession Task Force, and helps with The Teddy Bear Clinic.

When his youthful presence is removed, Flores can be mistaken for a Texas Children’s veteran even though his has only been here a year, as his work constantly exemplifies our mission.

“In such a short time, Juan has been a fantastic addition to our team! He takes his role as a radiographer seriously and puts forth 110 percent every day,” Assistant Director of Radiology Traci Foster said. “Regardless of the day he’s having, Juan is always positive and has a great sense of humor.”

Foster recalled a time when a 4-year-old in the orthopedic clinic had a fractured arm and needed an x-ray. She says that the child was extremely anxious due to a recent, difficult, experience at an outside urgent care.

“Juan worked with the mother of the patient to identify a comfort position for the child. He was extremely patient and allowed them time to warm up to the environment by showing them the big camera and allowing the patient to touch and explore the room and equipment prior to positioning him for the x-ray,” Foster said. “The child was very receptive to his gentle approach and was able to complete the x-ray while smiling and saying ‘cheese.’ The mother was so appreciative of Juan and so are we. The entire department thanks Juan for going above and beyond to create a great patient experience for all of our patient families.”

At times after a hard day of work, when an emergency occurs there aren’t many people who will volunteer for additional duties. Flores’ hard work, determination, and persistence are all of the reasons why he is one of this year’s Caught You Caring Award recipients.

“I was so surprised when I found out that I won this award. “The fact that I’ve only been here a short while, and I work with so many other amazing people, this was really unexpected,” Flores said. “I love it here. It’s a tough job, but it’s extremely rewarding, and I hope to continue here for years to come.”

June 3, 2019

Whenever anyone asks about Shamika Jenkins, the first observation made is about her infectious smile and enthusiastic personality.

Customer service isn’t just a specific portion of an employee’s job description, it affects a patient’s entire experience. As a clerical secretary, Jenkins comes in contact with just about every patient that checks in during her early morning shift. In the Pavilion for Women Surgery department the patient’s experience begins with her warm welcomes and persistence.

“Although it can be pretty busy, I love meeting all different kind of people,” Jenkins said. “There are times when some people may be in a bad mood, a wonderful mood, some may be lost, and others are as upbeat and cheery as I am. Regardless, it gives me joy to encounter all moods because no matter what, I’m here to make their day.”

The waiting area can be the most quiet and uneventful time during a patient’s hospital visit. Either following check in, during an appointment, or after surgery as a patient recovers, patients and their families can potentially spend hours sitting in the lobby. Jenkins has transformed her role into not just checking patients in for their appointments, but makes them feel comfortable as well.

“Shamika is always the pretty, smiling face and helpful person in the waiting room,” Nursing Manager of Pavilion for Women Perioperative Services, Aleli Cabali said. “Shamika goes above and beyond to make sure that families in the waiting room are updated while patients are in the operating room.”

Jenkins’ diligence and consistence in making sure all surgery patients are called and scheduled for their appointments helps both patients and her co-workers, and is what allows the department to continuously provide high quality care.

“I remember a time when several people from the department had to go on vacation, and Shamika called patients ahead of time and scheduled their appointment to make it easier on the rest of the team,” Cabali said. “This was a big help to the unit and is why she deserves this award.”

Jenkins says despite the constant verbal recognition that she receives, she was not expecting to get a hospital-wide award.

“To be honest I didn’t see this coming,” she said. “I just come into work, do my job, and always remember to be myself; that is probably what excites me the most about being recognized. When working at Texas Children’s you have to be ready to put your ‘A game’ on every day. We have people come from everywhere so we need to make sure we maintain that great customer service consistently, and I am more than happy to be that example.”

The Houston Business Journal recently named several Texas Children’s physicians 2019 Health Care Heroes, honoring them for going above and beyond in serving the healthcare industry. The physicians were honored at a May 23 ceremony and are listed below:

Outstanding Health Care Practitioner: Dr. Ricardo Flores, hematology/oncology; Dr. Joohi Jimenez-Shahed, neurology; Dr. Julie Kaplow, pediatrics and psychology; and Dr. Michele York, neurology.

Outstanding Physician: Dr. Daniel DeSalvo, pediatrics, diabetes and endocrinology; Dr. Lisa Hollier, obstetrics and gynecology; Dr. Peter Hotez, pediatrics and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine; Dr. Rayne Rouce, pediatrics and hematology/oncology.

Rising Star: Dr. Hsiao-Tuan Chao, neurology; and Dr. Arindam Sarkar, resident physician in family and community medicine.

The Clinical Research Center/Research Resources Office presented the Clinical Research Award for second Quarter 2019 to Dr. Patricia Baxter, Department of Pediatrics-Hematology/Oncology, Baylor College of Medicine.

The award was established by the Clinical Research Center in collaboration with the Research Resources Office to recognize and honor individual contributions to protecting the best interest of the research subjects and compliance with applicable rules and regulations.

Dr. Baxter’s research in the CRC is focused on evaluating novel therapeutic agents for recurrent pediatric cancers, with a special interest in brain tumors. She is a member of the Cancer and Hematology Centers Neuro-oncology and Developmental Therapeutics Teams and is an active participant in the Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium (PBTC), Collaborative Network for Neuro-Oncology Clinical Trials (CONNECT) and Pacific Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Consortium (PNOC). Dr. Baxter credits the CRC nurses and staff, as well as the research nurses in the Cancer Center for playing a critical role in moving this research forward and their compassionate care of the patients and family.

May 28, 2019

Whether it is ensuring that families are well informed and comfortable, or walking into a room with enthusiasm willing to help her co-workers when necessary, at the crack of dawn in the Surgery Department at The Woodlands campus, patients and employees count on Jennifer Grubbs to make their day.

Grubbs started her journey here at Texas Children’s in 2015, in the Emergency Center at Texas Children’s West Campus, and then moved to The Woodlands just in time for the hospital’s opening as a Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) charge nurse. She later moved into her current role as the Patient and Family Liaison nurse that requires her to be knowledgeable, compassionate, and have the ability to communicate effectively. Grubbs exemplifies these characteristics daily which is why she was nominated by for the Caught You Caring (CYC) award by her leaders.

“She is so straight forward and concise when giving parents information about the surgery process, while also maintaining a profound sense of compassion and courtesy for their child,” Nursing Manager of Perioperative Services, Betty Smith said. “Her passion for her job is palpable and I have no doubt she will continue to provide amazing, well-rounded care to patients and families in day surgery.”

Grubbs’ flexibility to charge in the PACU, work in pre-op, or even work in the PACU as a nurse when needed on top of her duties as Patient and Family Liaison., shows her commitment to the department as well as our patients. She also serves as the chair of her unit’s Patient Experience committee.

“I really enjoy the patient experience role that I have,” Grubbs said. “I love working at Texas Children’s as a whole. There are so many opportunities for growth and the support by management here is immeasurable. Everyone is open to communication, there’s honest feedback, and it feels like a family, especially working in a community setting.”

Smith recalled a time when a PACU patient had a prescription for a medication that their local pharmacy could not fill, and Jennifer took the initiative to call several locations in the area repeatedly until she was able to find a pharmacy that carried the prescription. Something that may seem small to one person ultimately removed an immense amount of stress off of the patient’s parent. This particular occurrence is an example of her willingness to go above and beyond.

“However she can assist patients, she does,” Smith said. “Often as I prepare patients for surgery I hear her clarifying any misconceptions, addressing any fears, and comforting them every step of the way. That amongst many other things is why she is so deserving of this award.”

Grubbs’ sense of urgency that she has gained in the emergency room, combined with her compassion and patience from her PACU experience, allows her to be able to communicate with all family’s that walk in to any surgery situation.

“I am honored to be recognized for what I do every day,” Grubbs said. “It’s what I love to do, just connect with families and try to ease any anxieties they may have, and make a positive impact with every encounter I can have.”

The latest in cutting-edge research from across Texas Children’s Department of Surgery was recently on display at the 10th annual Edmond T. Gonzales, Jr. Surgical Research Day. The event is an important forum for surgical faculty, post-graduate trainees, nursing personnel and operating room staff to showcase their academic efforts in an encouraging environment.

More than 120 abstracts covering a broad spectrum of research topics, from basic science to clinical and outcomes research, were submitted for consideration. Of those, 14 were chosen for oral presentation.

The day kicked off with a keynote address from Dr. Adil Haider, Dean of Aga Khan University Medical College in Karachi, Pakistan and formerly of Johns Hopkins University and the Boston-based Center for Surgery and Public Health, a joint initiative between Harvard University and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He is regarded as one of the foremost experts on healthcare inequities in the United States, with projects focused on describing and mitigating unequal outcomes based on gender, race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, age and socioeconomic status. Dr. Haider spoke to the audience about his groundbreaking work in trauma disparities research, a field that he has helped establish by uncovering racial disparities after traumatic injury.

2019 Awards

Dr. Emily Steen was awarded the 2019 Samuel Stal Research Award. Over the past two years, Dr. Steen has been conducting basic science research in the Laboratory for Regenerative Tissue Repair under Dr. Sundeep Keswani, surgical director of basic science research at Texas Children’s Hospital. Dr. Steen’s work has focused on pediatric and fetal surgery, wound healing and fibrosis.

Texas Children’s Chief of Plastic Surgery Dr. Edward Buchanan received the 2019 Research Mentor Award. He was nominated by Dr. Kelly Schultz, a recent Baylor College of Medicine graduate.

“In addition to showing unparalleled commitment to his patients, Dr. Buchanan has been a strong mentor, sponsor and role model in clinical research throughout the entirety of my and many other students’ and residents’ medical careers,” said Schultz. “I’m grateful for the many hours Dr. Buchanan spent discussing research projects and imparting knowledge that would eventually pay off in the research I accomplished during medical school.”

Additionally, Dr. Yangyang Yu from Pediatric Surgery received the award for Best Poster, titled “Cost-Effectiveness Analysis of the Surgical Management of Infants Under 1 Year of Age with Feeding Difficulties.” And Dr. Candace Style won the award for Best Oral Presentation, titled “Citrulline Effectively Reduces the Rate and Severity of Necrotizing Enterocolitis Compared to Hydrogen Sulfide in the Premature Piglet Model.”

The event’s grand finale was the announcement of the 2019 Clayton Awards. This grant program, funded by the Department of Surgery, allows surgery researchers to generate the preliminary data necessary for National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant applications and other extramural funding. The recipients were:

Dr. Yi-Chun Liu, Otolaryngology
Evaluation of the benefit of bone conduction hearing device in children with unilateral congenital aural atresia

Michelle Roy, PA-C, Plastic Surgery
Cleft care instructional videos and their efficacy in postoperative outcomes

Dr. Guillermo Aldave, Neurosurgery
Pilot study of oncolytic adenovirus DNX-2401 for recurrent pediatric high grade tumors

Dr. Sarah Woodfield, Surgery
Profiling and modeling extracranial malignant rhabdoid tumors

The Woodlands Recognition and Rewards Committee has announced the third quarter Woodlands Shining Star winners. Beth Pali (left), and Dr. Rachel Marek (right) were honored for their hard work and dedication.

Pali is a registered nurse in The Woodlands Outpatient Infectious Disease Clinic and was also instrumental in the opening of the Dermatology Clinic at The Woodlands. She was nominated by several of her co-workers, all of which say she constantly goes above and beyond on a daily basis to ensure patients and families receive the best possible care and attention.

“Beth is an extraordinary human being,” physician in the Department of Infectious Disease, Dr. Ankhi Dutta said. “She takes her job very seriously, and that is what I love most about her.”

Pali’s compassion and flexibility was magnified during a situation that included the transfer of a complicated patient from The Woodlands to the Medical Center Campus following their ultimately passing. During that time she personally traveled to The Medical Center Campus to help provide support for the family.

“Beth goes above and beyond to provide exceptional care to our patients, families, and staff,” Outpatient Staff Nurse, Elizabeth Dudgeon said. “She is such a positive influence who naturally promotes all the core values, in all that she does.”

Marek is the Medical Director of Pediatric Hospital Medicine (PHM), and was nominated for her compassion and drive for amplifying unity.

“She has been an integral part of building the hospital inpatient services,” Physician in the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition Dr. Andrew Chu explained. “She exemplifies our system values as she continues to lead tirelessly.”

Marek is a natural leader who has helped implement and lead core initiatives such as faculty development workshops and lectures at The Woodlands, co-rounding in which subspecialists and PHM service round together on shared patients, and the multidisciplinary Palliative Care Committee at The Woodlands.

“Dr. Marek believes in teamwork, excellence and has demonstrated outstanding ability as a leader and a physician,” Dutta said. “She has implemented an environment of camaraderie and mutual support when it comes to patient care as well as employee satisfaction.”

Congratulations to both of this quarter’s Woodlands Shining Stars, and thank you for going above and beyond for our patients, families, and employees!