June 24, 2014


Representatives from Texas Children’s Hospital are joining children’s hospitals from across the nation in Washington, D.C.this week for the annual Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) Family Advocacy Day. CHA recently launched Speak Now for Kids, a grassroots initiative to advocate for medically complex children.

Dr. Jennifer Arnold, neonatologist and medical director of Texas Children’s Simulation Center, along with her husband, Bill Klein, and their two children, Will and Zoey, is representing Texas Children’s Hospital at the event. Arnold provides the insightful perspective of a physician, former patient and a mother of two children with medical complexities.

“Everyone, including our policymakers, needs to know the best place for children with complex medical conditions is a children’s hospital, where experienced specialty care is available for their needs,” Arnold said. “It ultimately gives children the best chance at a healthy and happy life.”

Family Advocacy Day convenes hospital representatives and their patient families to speak to their members of Congress about supporting legislation to create pediatric centers of excellence at children’s hospitals to care for the most vulnerable patients: medically complex children on Medicaid. The legislation – titled “Advancing Care for Exceptional Kids Act” (or ACE Kids Act) –  will ensure that children are able to receive the care they need from a center equipped to provide comprehensive care, even if the hospital is in another state.

Arnold, her family and families from other children’s hospitals are meeting with members of Congress to advocate for Medicaid reform for children with medical complexities, the reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and funding to train pediatric residents.

“It is my love as a parent, my duty as a physician and my experience as a patient which compels me to raise awareness for this important issue,” Arnold said.

The families speaking in Washington, D.C., this week represent the voices of the thousands of children being treated at centers of excellence like Texas Children’s Hospital every day. As a Texas Children’s employee, you can help spread the message about why children’s hospitals are the best place for kids with complex medical.

5 ways you can Speak Now for Kids:

  1. #Speaknowforkids. Use this hashtag and saturate social media with your stories about why children’s hospitals matter.
  2. Get social with your policymakers. Find the social media pages for your representatives and senators and post to their pages about why you want them to speak now for kids.
  3. Call, write, and reach out. Lawmakers are elected by you to stand up for you. Make your voice heard. Contact their offices and let them know why you care about Medicaid reform for medically complex children. Click here to find out who represents you.
  4. Share a story. Encourage patient families to share their stories here.
  5. Educate. Talk to your network of friends and family about how programs like Medicaid matter to all children and encourage them to get involved.


It’s been a busy month for Texas Children’s Urgent Care in Katy, but that’s putting it lightly. Opened since May 13, the new after-hours clinic at 9727 Spring Green Blvd., in Cinco Ranch, has treated more than 600 patients in the first month, exceeding expectations.

“The large volume of patients that come to our clinic demonstrates the growing need for expert pediatric urgent care after hours,” said Randall Wright, executive vice president of Texas Children’s Hospital. “We are committed to meeting that need and continuing to provide superior quality service to our patients and their families in the Houston community.”

Texas Children’s Urgent Care is open to all patients, not just patients of Texas Children’s Pediatrics (TCP). Of the children who come to our clinic, 60 percent are TCP patients, five percent are new patients to Texas Children’s, and 40 percent are referrals from non-TCP pediatricians and those who have driven by our facility after seeing our signage.

Our urgent care centers are located right in your neighborhood, making it easier and convenient for your children to receive immediate, after-hours care for minor injuries and illnesses when most pediatrician offices are closed and when symptoms aren’t serious enough to warrant an emergency room visit. When patients and their families come here, they don’t have to wait very long. The patient turnaround time from walk-in to walk-out is less than 45 minutes.


Texas Children’s Urgent Care is open Mondays to Fridays from 4:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Saturday and Sundays from noon to 8 p.m. Patients receive prompt care for minor health issues such as the flu, strep throat, asthma, fever, minor burns, ear infections, allergic reactions, sprains and more. Patients who need fracture care and splinting, IV fluids, lab services, laceration repair and x-rays may also receive treatment at Texas Children’s Urgent Care.

[Click here to learn the difference between urgent care versus emergency care.]

While most urgent care clinics in Houston are primarily adult-focused, Texas Children’s Urgent Care is staffed by board-certified pediatricians and nurses specifically trained in pediatrics, to ensure every single child who walks through our doors is getting the best specialized care possible.

To complement the services at our Cinco Ranch location, a second Texas Children’s Urgent Care clinic will open in Houston’s Town & Country area (12850 Memorial Drive), in late July.

“We are excited to bring this expert urgent care model to the Houston community,” says Dr. Gary Gerlacher, Texas Children’s Urgent Care lead physician. “In my experience, I’ve seen firsthand how the urgent care setting has truly helped fill a void in treatment for children and their families.”

Texas Children’s Urgent Care accepts major insurance plans, including Medicaid, and has self-pay rates. Rates are significantly less than emergency center charges, and there are no hospital fees.

Click here for a complete list of insurance plans and to learn more about Texas Children’s Urgent Care.


Texas Children’s Hospital reached a milestone in early June when the 100th surgery using a Da Vinci Si robot was performed.

Not only was this an achievement for the Department of Surgery and the Pavilion for Women but it was also a cause for celebration because its usage sets the standard at Texas Children’s Hospital for pediatric minimally invasive reconstructive surgery, according to Dr. Chester Koh, director, Pediatric Robotic Surgery Program. The da Vinci Si robot enables the surgeon to use fully articulating instruments to operate on delicate structures and limited space in a child’s anatomy. Its magnified 3D high-definition vision system and special wristed instruments bend and rotate far greater than the human wrist yet the surgeon is in complete control.

Where previously surgeons needed to make large incisions with their hands and a scalpel to reach internal organs such as the kidney, they can now use the robot for surgical maneuvers through tiny incisions. Pyeloplasty is the most common pediatric procedure performed with the robot. During this urologic procedure, surgeons correct a blockage or narrowing of the ureter where it leaves the kidney. Children benefit from robotic surgery because they have less post-operative pain with a corresponding decreased need for pain medications, faster recovery times and shorter hospital stays.

With the arrival of Dr. Patricio Gargollo, as director of the Complex Urogenital Reconstruction Program, the Pediatric Urology division now benefits from two pediatric surgeons who between them have performed more than 500 robotic surgery cases. Gargollo’s experience brings advanced robotic surgery skills to the team to treat patients who need complex reconstructive procedures such as bladder augmentation, continent catheterizable channels and bladder neck reconstruction.

Women who are patients at the Pavilion for Women benefit from robotic surgery also. “Robotic surgery benefits women who have certain procedures because the surgeon can make smaller incisions, which means a faster recovery time and better cosmetic appearance after surgery,” said obstetrician Dr. David Zepeda.

Surgeons from Pediatric Urology and Pediatric Surgery at Texas Children’s Hospital and Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Pavilion for Women currently make use of the da Vinci Si robot.

The robotic surgery team includes:
Department of Surgery:

  • Dr. Darrell Cass
  • Dr. Patricio Gargollo
  • Dr. Nicolette Janzen
  • Dr. Chester Koh
  • Dr. Mark Mazziotti
  • Dr. Ashwin Pimpalwar
  • Dr. Abhishek Seth

Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology:

  • Dr. Concepcion Diaz-Arrastia
  • Dr. Damla Dryden
  • Dr. William Gibbons
  • Dr. Ertug Kovanci
  • Dr. Celestine Tung
  • Dr. David Zepeda
  • Dr. Robert Zurawin

Having surpassed the 100th case at Texas Children’s Hospital, Koh and the team look forward to future milestones for the program.


While thousands flock to Brazil for the World Cup games, many health care workers are worried about more than which team will take home the trophy. NTDs like Dengue and Chagas are plaguing the citizens of Brazil – putting a definite damper on the spirit of the games.

“The theme of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil is ‘all in one rhythm.’ So far that rhythm could leave behind millions of Chagas disease sufferers in the Americas,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, Texas Children’s Hospital endowed chair in Tropical Pediatrics. Hotez’ recent article about Chagas disease, which is a leading cause of severe and life-threatening heart disease in the Americas, was published on HuffPost.com, and brings to light the fact that more than 1 million people in Brazil suffer from Chagas.

Also of great concern is the surge in cases of dengue fever in Brazil’s largest city, Sao Paulo. Certain strains of the disease, which is carried by female mosquitoes, can be fatal and there is currently no treatment or vaccine. Despite government efforts as of late to control mosquitos with powerful pesticides, the dengue epidemic is sweeping through Brazil, and many worry that international visitors could contract the disease and bring it back to their home countries.

“Several multinational pharmaceutical companies, even Brazil’s Instituto Butantan, are working to make a prototype dengue vaccine, but these will not be ready in time for the World Cup,” said Hotez. “In the meantime, measures aimed at mosquito control and personal protective measures against mosquitos are all that are available.”

Back here in Houston, fear of dengue spreading to the U.S. feels all too real, especially in light of evidence found by our own Dr. Kristy Murray, associate professor of pediatric tropical medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital, which suggests that dengue has re-emerged in Houston. Murray and her team investigated the possibility that dengue might be in Houston because the area has the type of mosquitoes known to carry the virus and a dense population full of frequent travelers south of the border. But the study, published this past fall, found that most of the infections were transmitted in Houston.

“This study shows that Houston may be at risk of an outbreak, that people need to be on the lookout,” said Murray.

Beyond NTDs like dengue and Chagas, many in the health care field see Brazil’s hosting of the World Cup as a time to put the spotlight on the various diseases that impact (and often kill) children in Brazil and the Americas – some as simple as diarrhea and pneumonia, which can be prevented through vaccines.

The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) launched a World Cup-themed report last month, designed to draw parallels between the shots, saves and goals made on the field and the shots (vaccines) needed to save lives and help achieve GAVI’s big goals. The report, “Going for Goal: Immunization and the Case for GAVI,” looks at each team playing in this summer’s World Cup (as well as a few others who didn’t make the cut), analyzing their countries’ contributions to global immunization efforts and offering up “pundit’s verdicts” for their future performance.

So while sports fans may be fired up whenever their team scores over the next few weeks, here at Texas Children’s, we’ll be cheering on organizations that are working to ensure children in Brazil, and everywhere, get the vaccines they need – a goal worth celebrating.

Those who are traveling to Brazil this summer, or want to know more about the diseases mentioned in this article, should visit the Travel Clinic at Texas Children’s.


Q&A: Annette Gabonay Guzman, April – June 2014 Leader

Your name, title and department. How long have you worked here?
Annette Gabonay Guzman, manager of Therapy Department at Texas Children’s Health Centers – Sugar Land. I have been the manager for seven years and have been a Texas Children’s Hospital employee for nine years.

What month are you Super Star for?
April-June 2014

Tell us how you found out you won a Super Star award.
I walked into a “Health Center concerns” meeting only to find out that it was a surprise meeting for me to let me know that I was awarded Super Star Leader.

What does it mean to be recognized for the hard work you do?
I feel appreciated and valued for the work that I do. It is a great honor to be recognized for it by my peers.

What do you think makes someone at Texas Children’s a super star?
I think that being able to guide, inspire and encourage others to grow and learn and having the ability to set an example and be followed makes someone at Texas Children’s a Super Star Leader.

What is your motivation for going above and beyond every day at work?
The patients and their families are my motivation for going above and beyond every day at work. I want to provide excellent customer service, and I strive for the Therapy Department to provide the best care possible.

What is the best thing about working at Texas Children’s?
The best thing about working at Texas Children’s is working with my team of employees in the Therapy Department. They work very hard, have great collaboration and make work fun for the team and for all of the patients.

Anything else you want to share?
I am very thankful and humbled to have been given the Super Star Leader award, and I greatly appreciate it.


One of the greatest joys in my life is helping couples achieve their dream of having a baby. My career has been dedicated to helping advance our medical understanding of infertility and treating couples with the most complex fertility issues.

To help carry out this mission, I am honored to officially announce the opening of The Family Fertility Center, our new state-of-the-art lab and in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinic located on the third floor behind the gift shop at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women.

The Family Fertility Center has been a vision of mine for many years now. Throughout my career, I’ve helped design two other labs, one of which has demonstrated world-class scientific achievement, but I can proudly say that due to advancements in our field, this is the best facility. The Family Fertility Center has only been possible because Texas Children’s Hospital approached this new facility in the same way it approaches every new program, to make it among the very best in the United States. To accomplish this, we utilized the expertise of world-renowned consultants and assembled a nationally prominent team to assist in the design and implementation of our lab. What many couples may not be aware of when selecting an IVF clinic is that the technology, embryologists and equipment in the lab are important components to helping would-be parents achieve their dream.


Our new lab has the latest state-of-the-art equipment, including the EmbryoScope, an embryo monitoring system that provides continuous moving time-lapse images of embryos as they grow. This technology allows us to identify the healthiest embryo to transfer to the patient, which has been shown to improve IVF success. We are the first in Houston to offer this technology and are among the early adopters in the United States. We also have micro-incubators that are equipped with fiber-optic, real-time pH monitoring to protect the quality of the embryo environment.

Providing the highest level of patient comfort and safety is very important to us at Texas Children’s, so another unique aspect of our IVF clinic is that our team is comprised of highly-skilled obstetric anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists. Each patient discusses their pain management options with someone from the anesthesiology team before they undergo their procedure. We offer the full scope of anesthesiology services, from sedation to general anesthesia. Offering this level of coordinated care is a game-changer and an important part of the patient experience in our clinic.

We are also working in partnership with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center to provide young women facing cancer the option of preserving their fertility before they undergo cancer treatments. After a devastating diagnosis like cancer, many women fear that they can never have children since treatments like chemotherapy, radiation and surgery can affect fertility. We counsel these women before their treatment begins to discuss their options and offer them the chance to one day have a child of their own.

Fifty percent of patients who seek treatment at our facility are Texas Children’s Hospital employees. Full-time Texas Children’s employees receive up to $20,000 in fertility benefits, which includes medication and additional IVF cycles if necessary.

I’m looking forward to offering the latest and most advanced fertility treatments available in our new state-of-the-art facility at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women. Building families is what our mission is all about.

Click here to learn more about The Family Fertility Center at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women. Click here to take a video tour.

By Dr. William Gibbons

June 17, 2014


What will I be when I grow up? As a young inquisitive child, you’ve probably asked yourself this question numerous times. But, what are the chances of choosing the same career path and working at the same hospital as your father?

Just ask Dr. Jill Roth and Dr. Joey Spinner, whose fathers are long time, well-respected physicians at Texas Children’s. In this video spotlight, Jill and Joey share fond memories of their fathers and express gratitude for the guidance and encouragement they received from their biggest supporters.

Just like their fathers, Dr. Jill Roth and Dr. Joey Spinner share a passion for helping children. So, it was no shock, when these young physicians decided to pursue a career in pediatric medicine.

“I always knew that I would pursue a career as a doctor, even as young as I can remember,” said Dr. Joey Spinner, chief pediatric resident at Texas Children’s.

“As early as middle school, Joey frequently talked about becoming a doctor and he’d always ask questions about what we did,” said Joey’s father, Dr. Stanley Spinner, chief medical officer at Texas Children’s Pediatrics.

Joey recalls one particular moment when he accompanied his father on hospital rounds when he was just a toddler.

“On a couple of Saturday and Sunday mornings, he would take me with him to the hospital to make rounds on infants in the well-baby nursery. I’d get up on my tip toes to stare over the ledge through the window to see him examining babies.”

As years went by, it didn’t surprise his father when Joey applied to medical schools. He ended up attending his number one choice, Baylor College of Medicine, where he received an academic scholarship.

“I never pushed him to go into pediatrics,” said Dr. Spinner. “I just said whatever you do, be sure you love it, because if you love it, you will succeed.”

Just like Dr. Joey Spinner, Dr. Jill Roth followed in her father’s footsteps. She knew at the ripe young age of four, that she wanted to be a doctor.

“I wanted to be a doctor for as young as I can remember,” said Dr. Jill Roth, who recently completed her position as chief pediatric resident at Texas Children’s. “So, when people would ask me when my interest started, I’d say about 4 years old.”

“From the moment she was able to verbalize, she showed an interest in medicine,” said her father, Dr. David Roth, chief of Urology at Texas Children’s.

Dr. Roth remembers his teenage daughter participating in a Texas Children’s program called “Bring Your Daughter to Work Day,” where Jill got her first experience in an operating room.

“I remember dressing up in scrubs and walking around with my dad and having fun at the hospital with him,” recalls Jill. “I think just observing him in the hospital setting and getting to see what his life was like at Texas Children’s made me want to be a doctor.”

After years of rigorous work and training, Jill is pursuing a profession she thoroughly enjoys, and grateful every day for her father’s support.

“He’s just been there for me throughout my whole life, and I am very fortunate to have his support.”