June 10, 2019

Texas Children’s own Joselin Martinez, senior administrative coordinator to the Pediatric Department of Neurosurgery, was recently honored at The Admin Awards® Gala at the Houston Post Oak Hotel on May 22.

Sometimes referred to as the “Academy Awards for Admins,” The Admin Awards® is the first and only public recognition program of its kind in the nation that specifically honors the achievements, dedication and importance of administrative professionals. Individuals are recognized across several categories – such as Office Management, Company Loyalty, Spirit and Rookie of the Year – at celebrations in seven U.S. cities, including San Francisco, Denver, Chicago and Houston. The winners are chosen by an independent panel of judges from a pool of hundreds of nominees.

Martinez received the Administrative Excellence in Healthcare Award, presented to an individual who effectively serves and exhibits excellence in the health care industry.

“I was very happy and excited to have been nominated and my application selected from hundreds of applications in the Houston area,” said Martinez. “I never thought I would make it to the final round of nominees, let alone be the winner! To receive such an award with my name engraved in it, and the amazing company that I work for meant so much.”

She was nominated by Texas Children’s Director of Neurosurgery Oncology Dr. Guillermo Aldave, Chief of Neurosurgery Dr. Howard Weiner and Epilepsy program coordinator, Georgina Cedillo.

“Ms. Martinez is outstanding in every way and I could not carry out the many critical functions of my job without the continuous, tremendous expertise she brings to our team every day,” said Weiner. “I am struck by her ambition, drive, intelligence, independence and the manner with which she carries herself – always with great courtesy and a pleasant demeanor, despite the stressful nature of her work. She is clearly headed for greater heights of success.”

In addition to numerous support responsibilities, Martinez also serves as academic coordinator for the Division of Neurosurgery’s resident and fellowship program.

“Joselin is one of the reasons why our department is so highly regarded among other institutions, especially when it comes to her performance as direct coordinator for the academic part of our residency and fellowship program,” said Aldave. “We consistently receive positive feedback from applicants from all over the country about how efficiently and well-organized their time at Texas Children’s is. Joselin is responsible for that incredible first impression.”

Martinez is also is a current member of the American College of Healthcare Executives and an active member of the Medical Group Management Association. She holds a dual master’s degree in Healthcare and Business Administration, as well as certifications in medical office management and Lean Six Sigma.

“My work in the department of Neurosurgery has been nothing but fulfilling in every way,” Martinez said. “Texas Children’s Hospital opened the opportunity for me to be a part of a tremendously focused team that values each and every one of their staff. Being a part of this team has been nothing but spectacular in every way, and I am motivated now more than ever to be the best I can be for Texas Children’s Department of Pediatric Neurosurgery.”

October 8, 2018

A world-class, multidisciplinary team at Texas Children’s is making huge strides in the care of children with extremely complex tumors.

The Head and Neck Tumor Program, begun in February 2016 as collaboration with partner institutions within the Texas Medical Center, has performed more than 20 major ablation free-flap multidisciplinary cases – a staggering number, considering the rarity and complexity of the tumors, which can be malignant or benign and can affect any combination of the sinuses, skull, jaw, mouth, neck and face. The ability to handle that volume of complex cases, combined with tremendous outcomes in the first two years, puts Texas Children’s Head and Neck Tumor Program among the best such programs in the country.

“Our institutional expertise is in taking care of these kinds of critically ill children, and Texas Children’s does it better than anyone,” said Dr. Daniel Chelius, attending surgeon in the Division of Otolaryngology and co-head of the program. “We’ve built a collaborative, coordinated program on that foundation of expertise in many different areas to provide the best care possible for the sickest children, while also reviewing and analyzing the care from every angle to see what went well and what processes could improve.”

Treatment of children with head and neck tumors around the country has historically been ad hoc, due to the varying functional issues or oncologic needs present from patient to patient and the extreme rarity of the tumors in any given city. Compound these complex physiological issues with the fact that most children these tumors have been treated in adult hospitals and the result has been a largely disjointed approach to care.

Texas Children’s Head and Neck Tumor Program, spearheaded by Chelius and Dr. Edward Buchanan, chief of Plastic Surgery, has developed a coordinated process around a multidisciplinary team approach that builds crucial experience in the treatment of these rare tumors and provides consistent, personalized care for patients – like 15-year-old Kami Wooten.

Last year, Kami began to notice swelling in her gums. Just months later, a benign tumor had covered half her face and threatened her vision. The team at Texas Children’s developed a specialized care plan that included removing the mass and reconstructing a portion of her face including the roof of her mouth and her orbit (eye socket). Additional procedures will be necessary in the future, but Kami and her family are grateful for the care Texas Children’s gave them.

Learn the rest of Kami’s story here.

The collaborative program comprises more than 10 Texas Children’s specialties and subspecialties, including Otolaryngology, Plastic Surgery, Neurosurgery, Oncology, Interventional Radiology and Anesthesiology, as well as a dedicated operating room team – led by Audra Rushing and Kelly Exezidis – that has been instrumental in building robust perioperative protocols. The additions of pediatric head and neck surgeon Dr. Amy Dimachkieh and microvascular reconstructive surgeons Dr. W. Chris Pederson and Dr. Marco Maricevich have increased the program’s abilities and improved the quality of its recommendations.

“It takes a lot of thought and planning to remove these complex tumors completely, while sparing as many nerves and other important structures as possible, and then to reconstruct those structures to provide both a good functional and cosmetic outcome,” Chelius said. “We tell our patients that the process might not be fast because they need the right surgery the first time. That requires recommendations from a team of experts, not just one surgeon. And that means carefully coordinating to make sure everything is as perfect as possible.”

The care required to treat these tumors, particularly if the patient is also undergoing cancer treatment, can also take a massive emotional and psychological toll. The Head and Neck Tumor Program provides additional care support through the department of Clinical Psychology and Child Life Services.

The team also uses technology to enhance the patient experience, from diagnosis to recovery. The program uses 3-D modeling to reconstruct children’s anatomy to help predict the extent of resection and to develop the surgical plan. The team also developed a data-driven protocol for pediatric tracheostomy removal, in close collaboration with Speech and Language Pathology, which uses a pressure monitoring device to signal when the trach is loose enough in the airway to be removed without adverse effects.

As a result of this innovative approach to care, 100 percent of patients treated have left the hospital breathing, eating and swallowing on their own. And the average stay in the hospital: just 14 days.

The program has been steadily building a referral base, drawing patients from across the region and from as far away as Mexico and the Middle East. In the near term, the team will continue to solidify the program, publish data and findings, and work to increase Texas Children’s reputation as the leading referral center for these complex cases. Long-term goals include building a basic science research infrastructure around understanding the underlying causes of these tumors, as well as collaborating with Texas Children’s Cancer Center and other research partners.

“We know that families are coming to us shocked and scared,” Chelius said. “We want them to know that we’re building our experience, we’ve walked families through this before, and we’re going to get them through this with the absolute best care available.”

Learn more about Texas Children’s Head and Neck Tumor Program.

June 26, 2018

Texas Children’s Hospital has once again been named as a national leader among pediatric institutions by U.S. News & World Report in their recently published 2018-19 edition of Best Children’s Hospitals.

Ranked fourth among all children’s hospitals nationally and one of only 10 hospitals to achieve the Honor Roll designation for the tenth straight year, Texas Children’s is the only hospital in Texas – and the entire Southern region of the U.S. – awarded this coveted distinction.

“Each year, our Texas Children’s team exhibits incredible strength and kindness, as well as passion, caring for the inspirational children and families we serve,” said Texas Children’s President and CEO Mark Wallace. “I believe this is one reason why we continue to maintain the respect and reputation as one of the best hospitals in the nation, and the destination for pediatric care in Texas.”

In addition to ranking children’s hospitals overall, U.S. News & World Report also ranks the top 50 pediatric hospitals in 10 major sub-specialty areas. To be considered for the honor roll distinction, a hospital must have high rankings in at least three sub-specialties. For the second straight year, Texas Children’s Heart Center ranks No. 1 in the nation for pediatric cardiology and heart surgery. Texas Children’s Pulmonology ranks as the best program in the country for children with lung diseases.

Texas Children’s has 8 subspecialties ranked in the top 10, and the hospital improved outcomes across all sub-specialties. There are approximately 190 children’s hospitals in the U.S. and this year, 86 of the 189 surveyed hospitals were ranked among the top 50 in at least one sub-specialty. The 2018-19 Best Children’s Hospitals Honor Roll recognizes the 10 hospitals with the highest rankings across all sub-specialties. Here are a few highlights of this year’s rankings for Texas Children’s:

  • Cardiology and Congenital Heart Surgery is again no. 1 in the nation and received the top score in externally reported risk-adjusted operative mortality for congenital heart surgery.
  • Pulmonology, which first debuted in the top spot in the 2016 rankings, is now again ranked no. 1 in the nation. We received the top score in several asthma outcomes and structure metrics, such as mean LOS for asthma patients.
  • Neurology and Neurosurgery moved from no. 4 to no. 3, receiving the top score in several outcomes metrics, such as 30-day readmissions for craniotomy and Chiari decompression and complication rate for epilepsy surgical procedures.
  • Nephrology also moved from no. 4 to no. 3, with the top score in one-year kidney transplant graft survival and hemodialysis catheter-associated bloodstream infections.
  • Urology moved from no. 6 to no. 4, propelled by the top score in unplanned hospital admission for urologic issues within 30 days of surgery, as well as significant improvements in hypospadias and revision surgeries.

Texas Children’s, working closely with our academic partner Baylor College of Medicine, continues to pioneer advancements in pediatric health care and earns the U.S. News honor roll distinction by being ranked among America’s best in:

  • #1 Cardiology and Congenital Heart Surgery
  • #1 Pulmonology
  • #3 Neurology and Neurosurgery
  • #3 Nephrology
  • #4 Gastroenterology and GI surgery
  • #4 Urology
  • #6 Cancer
  • #6 Diabetes and Endocrinology
  • #15 Orthopedics
  • #21 Neonatology

This year’s rankings are the results of a methodology that weighs a combination of outcome and care-related measures such as nursing care, advanced technology, credentialing, outcomes, best practices, infection prevention and reputation, among others.

“From a measurement perspective, our survey results demonstrate how hard we’re working as an organization to deliver high quality care to our patients,” Wallace said. “The more consistently we deliver high quality care and the safer we deliver that care to our patients, the better their outcomes are, and the better our overall numbers are.”

Our results continue to reflect the diligent efforts of a solid structure focused on the U.S. News survey. The process of compiling and refining our data is an ongoing challenge, which will continue to improve under the excellent leadership of Trudy Leidich, Elizabeth Pham and the entire USNWR team.

The 2018-19 edition of Best Children’s Hospitals is available online at www.usnews.com/childrenshospitals.

June 20, 2017

Amee Moreno, a pediatric nurse practitioner in Neurosurgery, was recently selected for leadership in the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP).

NAPNAP is the largest professional association for PNPs and pediatric-focused advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) with more than 8,500 members. Their focus is centered around improving the quality of health care for infants, children and adolescents, and to advancing the APRN’s role in providing that care. Recently, NAPNAP held elections for their leadership positions and Moreno was selected to serve as president elect.

“We are so very proud of our own Amee Moreno for her tremendous accomplishments, her commitment to excellence, and for her major contributions to our Neurosurgery family,” said Texas Children’s Chief of Neurosurgery Dr. Howard Weiner.

May 10, 2016

51116drweiner175Texas Children’s is proud to announce Dr. Howard Weiner as chief of neurosurgery. Texas Children’s is ranked No. 2 nationally in neurology and neurosurgery by U.S. News World Report. For more information visit texaschildrens.org/neurosurgery.

“I am thrilled to welcome Dr. Weiner,” said Dr. Charles D. Fraser Jr., surgeon-in-chief at Texas Children’s and professor of surgery at Baylor College of Medicine. “His clinical interests and vision for the next stages of development of neurosurgery at Texas Children’s are complementary to the expertise of our team. The patients and families we treat will benefit greatly from his tremendous experience in the field.”

Weiner’s clinical interests include medically refractory epilepsy and tuberous sclerosis complex. He also treats children with brain and spinal tumors, congenital malformations, tethered cords, chiari malformations, craniosynostosis, hydrocephalus, spina bifida and spasticity. His research interests have included the biology of tuberous sclerosis complex, the role of the sonic hedgehog signaling pathway in medulloblastoma and therapeutic strategies for germ cell tumors of the central nervous system.

Weiner, who also serves as professor of surgery at Baylor, received his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and his medical degree from Cornell University Medical College. During residency, he was also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute research fellow in the Department of Biochemistry at New York University. Following residency, Weiner was awarded the Van Wagenen Fellowship by the American Association of Neurological Surgeons to study brain development in Paris. He also completed a fellowship in pediatric neurosurgery at New York University Medical Center.

Weiner is a member of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, Congress of Neurological Surgeons, American Society of Pediatric Neurosurgeons and the American Epilepsy Society.

“I also extend my thanks to Dr. Thomas Luerssen for his nine years of outstanding leadership and service as chief of neurosurgery at Texas Children’s,” added Fraser. “During his tenure, he built a truly preeminent neurosurgery team of consummate academic and clinical surgeons.”

Texas Children’s neurosurgery program is among the largest and most experienced pediatric neurosurgery units in the U.S. Expert neurosurgeons perform more than 950 surgeries annually for a broad range of pediatric neurosurgical disorders.

April 28, 2015


Dr. Akash Patel will be presented with the 2015-2016 Christopher R. Getch Fellowship Award from the Congress of Neurological Surgeons Fellowships Committee during its annual meeting in September.

This prestigious award provides $100,000 for advanced training and is given to a neurosurgeon or fellow engaged in clinical research that promises to significantly impact the field of neurosurgery.

Patel is an assistant professor of neurosurgery at Baylor College of Medicine and a neurosurgeon who specializes in the treatment of malignant and benign tumors of the brain and skull mass.

As a scientist at the Jan and Dan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s, Patel’s research focuses on determining the molecular underpinnings of inherited and sporadic forms of various brain tumors to develop targeted therapies to treat common and aggressive cases.

March 3, 2015


Texas Children’s Hospital recently hosted its first craniosynostosis reunion, bringing together 150 people who have been touched by a condition that causes one or more of the seams between the bones of a baby’s skull to close prematurely.

“For parents of babies with craniosynostosis, it is a scary and stressful time,” said Dr. Sandi Lam, a neurosurgeon and co-director of the Craniosynostosis Surgery Program at Texas Children’s. “Families want to know they are making the right choices for their little loved ones. Connecting them with other parents who are going through the same thing provides a level of support that is irreplaceable.”

At the February 7 reunion, patients who have had craniosynostosis surgery at Texas Children’s Hospital joined their families and gathered at the Meyer Building for a few hours of fun, games and camaraderie. Child Life specialists and volunteers from Neurosurgery and Plastic Surgery hosted sports-themed activities for the children while parents shared stories over coffee and kolaches. A group of mothers who had met and chatted about craniosynostosis online got to meet each other in person at the reunion and were thrilled to be invited to the same event.

“Families tell us this type of patient networking event is amazing because it proves they are not alone,” said Sandra Galvan, coordinator of the program. “They have no doubt we at Texas Children’s will be here for them, delivering superb care for their families, neighbors and friends in Houston and across the nation.”

Craniosynostosis affects one in 2,000 babies and usually requires surgery to separate the fused skull bones to achieve a normal appearance and to allow a baby’s brain to continue to grow and develop properly. Here at Texas Children’s, we have a team of specialists dedicated to treating craniosynostosis. Pediatric craniofacial plastic surgeons Dr. Laura Monson, Dr. David Khechoyan and Dr. Edward Buchanan and pediatric neurosurgeons Dr. Sandi Lam and Dr. Robert Dauser work together to provide the best care for children and their families.

In addition to having the highest quality surgeons on hand to correct the defect and a dedicated team to care for the children before and after surgery, Texas Children’s Hospital has formed a parent-to-parent network to match pre-operative patients’ families with post-operative patients’ families to support each other.

“It has been an incredible experience to see how generous, brave and wonderful our families are,” Lam said. “Many parents want to give back and share. The reunion gives them the opportunity to do just that.”