July 1, 2019


Texas Children’s Hospital’s first community campus therapy dog has officially started at The Woodlands campus. A week after Child Life’s gender reveal, Cohen began to make his mark on the hospital and in the hearts of employees and patients.

The 19-month-old golden retriever, doodle mix, is the fourth therapy dog in Texas Children’s Pawsitive Play Program, which uses animal-assisted therapy to enhance the emotional well-being of pediatric patients by reducing their anxiety, perception of pain and fear of hospitalization.

Like the other therapy dogs Cohen was specifically trained for this position at Canine Assistants, a non-profit in Atlanta, which has matched more than 1,500 service dogs with individuals and hospitals. He will be groomed weekly and his paws will be wiped down daily. Patients who are allergic to dogs will not be consulted and the dog will not go into patient rooms without first receiving verbal permission from a guardian and the medical team.

Cohen offers distraction and motivation to patients undergoing certain medical procedures, but it’s not just him that aids in this process. Child Life Specialist Carolyn Canlas, who goes by CJ, has the amazing opportunity to be Cohen’s handler. Both she and Cohen have been trained to collaborate with medical teams and physical and occupational therapists to visit with several patients each day who are having a particularly difficult time during their hospitalization.

“Words cannot express how much gratitude I feel in taking on this new role,” Canlas said. “This is such an awesome opportunity to utilize my child life skillset in such a unique way. I can’t wait to see the joy that Cohen brings to patients, families and staff.”

On June 26 Cohen met his other furry co-workers, Elsa, Bailey, and Pinto who support the Medical Center Campus, before heading off on his first day of work. Cohen was generously funded through a gift from Newfield Foundation. This new addition to the Woodlands family is just one of the many ways that the campus continues to expand and support the community.

“We are absolutely thrilled to have CJ and Cohen on our Woodlands Child Life Team,” Manager of Patient and Family Services Cynda Parrish said. “CJ and Cohen will be able to create special opportunities with our patients, families and staff through targeted therapeutic interventions to support coping and provide positive hospital experiences. We are excited to integrate this amazing resource into our child life team’s clinical practice.”

On May 29 and 30 The Woodlands campus hosted Texas Children’s inaugural quality and safety course, Resilience Engineering in Healthcare (REHC). A small cohort of 36 learners from across the system, combined with 20 faculty and safety specialists were handpicked to be a part of this innovative training. Eight additional Texas Children’s executives served as observers who engaged, watched, and became more informed, during the presentations.

System Chief Quality Officer Dr. Eric Williams, partnered with Quality and Safety leadership to develop the training and bring awareness to the ongoing complexity of our work environment, importantly highlighting its impact on patient safety. According to a study by Johns Hopkins University, more than 250,000 people in the United States die every year due to medical errors, making it the third leading cause of death following heart disease and cancer. This current and long-standing dilemma in healthcare is what sparked Williams and his team to develop an approach that allows us to harness adaptability to build and design a safer patient environment.

Williams hypothesized that, “Teams that are adaptable and resilient are more likely to be successful at managing the unexpected, mitigating risk, and increasing the speed that we deliver better and safer health care.”

An organization’s performance is resilient if it can function as required under expected and unexpected conditions alike. Resilience engineering is about better designing that ability to cope. The Team of Teams model from the McChrystal Group, a global advisory services and leadership development firm was also shared as a method of how to overcome the obstacles of operating in a complex work environment.

“We need to transform our approach to patient safety into one that is not solely focused on preventing human error in hindsight, simply because complex systems like healthcare can be highly unpredictable,” Director of Quality Education & Simulation Kelly Wallin said. “Routinely, individuals and teams are constantly adapting to manage expected and unexpected events before they ever lead to patient harm. The goal for our organization to learn how teams can best become more resilient and adaptive. That is the transformational skill set we need to share across the organization.”

This course is the first of its kind that includes immersive coursework topics. A total of four in-person sessions include information delivered via didactics, simulation-based training, and also theater-based improvisation.

By the end of the training, the expectation is that participants will be able to describe the presence of organizational resilience in health care. This includes the ability to increase both personal skills and their ability to teach others resiliency skills such as – anticipation, monitoring, response and learning. They also will be able to implement and evaluate safety, and resilience interventions in their own respective units.

“This innovative training was a breath of fresh air,” Director of Perioperative Services Amanda Ward said. “It was inspiring to learn approaches that enables a team to see through a new lens and was an extremely positive experience for me. I came back looking for opportunities to use what I had learned in my own department.”

With data collected during the training combined with participant feedback, the team expects to refine and revise the course and continue to offer it as advanced training.

“Every two weeks we’re distributing missions for each one of these learners to report back from within their workplace,” Wallin said. “We want to know how have they either utilized or identified something they’ve learned in this course; something that works well in the real world that we need to capture and build into our organizational training strategies.”

In September part two of this quality and safety course will take place at The Woodlands campus. Williams and Texas Children’s executives are looking forward to seeing this training progress and become an annual course.

“The training was extremely informative and hands on. I look forward to our organization focusing more on building our resilience potential,” Assistant Vice President of The Woodlands Campus Ketrese White said. “The goal is that we can adjust and adapt our safety management procedures to incorporate the tactics taught in this course. This will only catapult Texas Children’s success and allow us to continue to provide high quality, reliable care.”

This coursework could not have been possible without the generous support of the Tressler family, whose kind donation was specifically directed to improve quality and safety.

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.”

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 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!

May 7, 2019

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

On May 4, about 1,500 people of all abilities participated in the non-competitive 1-mile course. Following the race, participants enjoyed the H-E-B sponsored Family Fun Zone, which was packed with snacks, entertainment and 20 plus attractions.

“When I’m finished, I’m going to do the floss,” a young runner said before the race.

The grandmother of a Texas Children’s patient said she laced up her sneakers to show support and gratitude for Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands.

“My granddaughter has been here a couple of times and is doing better now,” she said. “I’m so thankful this hospital is in our community.”

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 sports medicine physician Dr. Kristin Ernest, who led runners and walkers in some warm-up stretches and exercises. Members of Texas Children’s Ukuele Choir played the National Anthem.

“We are so glad everyone came out and participated in the third annual Texas Children’s Hospital and Houston Marathon Foundation Family Fun Run at Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands,” said Ketrese White, Texas Children’s Hospital assistant vice president. “It’s important for families to participate to maintain physical fitness, to connect with people in the community and to learn about what we have to offer at Texas Children’s here in The Woodlands.”

To get a first-hand look at the fun, watch the video above and check out this photo gallery of the event.

April 30, 2019

Last year, Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands celebrated its first year serving patients north of Houston and beyond, collecting praise from patients and families seeking expert care closer to home. Read more