June 17, 2014


Texas Children’s Radiology Department is taking part in an initiative to create a better patient experience. After noticing access to radiology services was becoming more difficult, the department took on an initiative called Creating a Remarkable Experience, C.A.R.E. The initiative targeted several areas for improvement.

The first step was getting patients an appointment time. The team realized there were multiple points of entry for a patient family seeking a radiology appointment. Each campus offering these appointments was using a different scheduling method, creating a different patient experience from campus-to-campus.

The department looked at the best methods for easy access. One phone line was created which directs patients to a group of schedulers who can make an appointment at any of the three sites providing radiology services, including Main Campus, West Campus or the Pavilion for Women. The number, 832-TC4-XRAY (832-824-9729), gives patients one phone line with access to all scheduling.

“Since we implemented our new and improved scheduling system, patients have better access to our services. We’re able to better accommodate their schedules and get their radiology examinations performed in a timely manner,” said Dr. George Bisset, chief of Pediatric Radiology. “All of this has a direct impact on patient satisfaction.”

The initiative looked at cycle times and determined how to reduce the percentage of times the MRI cases were started late. After making a few adjustments to scheduling patients and the patient flow, the team went from experiencing 73 percent late starts to 27 percent. Wait time in nuclear radiology went from more than 100 minutes to 22 minutes.

“Once we were able to streamline the process to schedule patients, we wanted to ensure that our patients continued to have excellent service when they arrived at our doors,” said Maryam El-Bakry, the initiative lead. “Our patient families’ time is valuable and we wanted to avoid having long waits and provide the best service.”

The department also took on a major clean out of the radiology areas across the system to reorganize and follow joint-commission standards. Bisset believes the new initiative allows the team to be better prepared, and reenergized about their roles in patient care.


Texas Children’s Health Plan is proud to announce a partnership with The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Dentistry to open a dental clinic inside The Center for Children and Women (The Center).

Continuing the philosophy of coordinated care, “UTHealth Dentistry Greenspoint” will provide dental services for Texas Children’s Health Plan members and residents in the greater Greenspoint area of Houston.

“This is a perfect partnership,” said Tangula Taylor, director of operations at The Center for Children and Women. “This collaboration with UTHealth allowed us to expand our scope of services and provide enhanced comprehensive care to our patients. We look forward to fostering this collaborative partnership for many years to come.”

The clinic has three full-time staff members, and dental residents will work there on a rotation basis. In addition to providing great care for patients, the clinic will also serve as a clinical site for School of Dentistry students, offering them valuable clinical experience.

“We’re excited about this initiative,” said John Valenza, DDS, dean of the UTHealth School of Dentistry. “Partnering with The Center for Children and Women provides us the unique opportunity not only to serve the Greenspoint community, but also to provide unique learning experiences for our future dentists and dental hygienists. In addition to seeing pediatric patients, our students will have the opportunity to treat expectant mothers and other patients with special needs.”

The clinic offers a full range of dental services, including fillings, cleanings, X-rays and much more for children, expectant mothers and adults. Operating hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, with plans to expand to evenings and Saturdays. Walk-in appointments are welcome. The clinic accepts multiple insurance plans, including Medicaid, CHIP and HMOs, as well as pay-for-service programs.


Imagine being a parent of a child who has a rare and mysterious neurological disorder. You’ve traveled around the globe searching for answers. But, after numerous visits with physicians, the mystery remains unsolved.

What seems like a long, unsuccessful quest for answers suddenly ends with a glimmer of hope thanks to remarkable new discoveries emerging from the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute (NRI) at Texas Children’s.

Under the leadership of Dr. Huda Zoghbi, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and founding director of the NRI, she and her team have unlocked the genetic and molecular mysteries behind a number of devastating neurological disorders in children with the ultimate goal of developing treatments to improve their quality of life.

The story of Grace Wilsey is a perfect example.

After a lengthy saga of visiting with physicians across the nation searching for answers about their daughter Grace’s condition, the Wilsey family of San Francisco flew to Houston to meet with Dr. Zoghbi, who helped them find the answer to their child’s perplexing condition.

Dr. Zoghbi examined Grace and recommended a new test called whole genome sequencing that was performed at the Baylor College of Medicine Human Genome Sequencing Center. The collaborative effort between Drs. Zoghbi, Richard Gibbs and Matthew Bainbridge helped identify Grace as the second American child in the world diagnosed with NGLY1 deficiency. The test decoded the DNA sequence of her genome to identify the abnormal gene. The technology helps patients and families understand the cause of neurologic diseases, as well as the risk of recurrence.

Grace is one of the only 17 known children worldwide affected by this rare condition, which is characterized by a mutation in the gene coding for N-glycanase 1, an enzyme that is thought to help recycle defective products from a cellular assembly line. Children who lack this enzyme experience varying degrees of movement disorders, suffer from developmental delays, have liver and gastrointestinal problems and cry without producing tears.

“Kristen and I are so grateful to Drs. Zoghbi, Gibbs and Brainbridge for helping us find a diagnosis for Grace and we are committed to funding research efforts that will lead to a more advanced understanding of this disease and potentially a treatment or cure for Grace and other children who are affected,” said Matt Wilsey, Grace’s father.

Grace’s rare neurological disorder has inspired the Wilsey family to fund researchers at the NRI and the Department of Molecular & Human Genetics at Baylor College of Medicine to study and develop treatments for children with NGLY1 deficiency.

“There is nothing more noble than doing research to help patients,” said Dr. Zoghbi. “Although we have a way to go in the biomedical sciences to really improve the lives of patients with neurological diseases, we are making significant progress.”


By Veronica Love

I remember the birth of my daughter, Logan Love, as if it were yesterday. Our little girl, almost 5 months old now, arrived two weeks early on January 30, 2014. Logan’s grand arrival was extra special for our family as she was born about three years after my triumphant battle against breast cancer.

Here’s a little rewind for those of you who may not be familiar with my story. When my son, Declan, was two and a half years old, I was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) or cancer in the milk ducts. Hearing the “C” word was a tough pill to swallow. For those of us who have battled cancer, we all know how it feels when you find out your diagnosis and what surgery entails (scared to death).

Luckily, my cancer was caught early and it didn’t spread. It took two surgeries including a bilateral mastectomy to remove the cancerous cells along with radiation treatment to keep them from coming back. Through it all, I was so fortunate that I didn’t have to undergo chemotherapy because my husband, Justin, and I still wanted to have more children.

The road to recovery was a slow, bumpy one. Radiation completely zapped my energy and left burns on my skin. I couldn’t hug my son as much as I wanted to because the burns on my fragile body caused too much pain. I spent most of my days in tears. It was by far one of the lowest points in my life. Looking back now, my recovery is nothing short than a miracle. Yes, I can confidently say, “I survived this bump in the road called cancer.”

Fast forward three years later, we are the proud parents of a beautiful, healthy baby girl named Logan who was born at the Pavilion for Women. We absolutely adore her to pieces and so does her big brother, Declan, who is now 6 years old. She has brought so much joy to our family.

Logan is truly a miracle. After completing my surgeries and radiation treatments in 2011, we were a little apprehensive that I would even get pregnant. Our oncologist recommended we wait two years after the radiation treatments to even try. To our surprise, we were pregnant with baby #2, or so we thought.

Our excitement quickly turned into sadness when we found out it was an ectopic pregnancy and not viable. With the immense pain I felt from the loss, I wasn’t sure I would be emotionally ready to try again. Half a year flew by and my husband and I decided it was time to take a chance and be grateful no matter what happened knowing we already had a beautiful son.

Today, we are the proud parents of two wonderful, healthy children. We are truly blessed.

Here’s the point of my story. Despite the challenges we may face on this journey called life, and no matter how bumpy and twisted the road may be, we must always stay positive. Yes, I know it’s easier said than done, but trust me on this.

Every challenge you encounter only makes you stronger, and sometimes wonderful things happen at the end of it all.

June 10, 2014


U.S.News and World Report released its 2014-2015 Best Children’s Hospitals list today, and Texas Children’s Hospital maintained the no. 4 spot among the 183 children’s hospitals surveyed by the publication. Also, Texas Children’s once again is listed on the Honor Roll, which recognizes hospitals with top 10 rankings in at least three specialties.

“We are thrilled that U.S.News continually recognizes our hospital as one of the best children’s hospitals in the country,” said Texas Children’s President and CEO Mark A. Wallace. “These results are a testament to our organization’s focus on quality and safety and the dedication of our staff and employees, and it’s just another indication of what we all have known for some time: that we are doing tremendous work here at Texas Children’s.”

U.S.News annually ranks the top 50 pediatric centers in 10 specialty areas. In the 2014-15 rankings, U.S.News surveyed 183 pediatric centers to obtain clinical data in 10 specialties. Eighty-nine hospitals ranked in at least one specialty, and 10 hospitals were named to the Honor Roll below:

Ranking Hospital Points Specialties in top 10
1 Boston Children’s Hospital 20 10
1 Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia 20 10
3 Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center 15 9
4 Texas Children’s Hospital, Houston 14 9
5 Children’s Hospital Los Angeles 8 6
6 Children’s Hospital Colorado, Aurora 7 5
7 Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, Ohio 6 6
8 Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago 6 4
9 Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC 5 5
10 Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, Baltimore 4 3

The 10 children’s hospitals on the 2014-15 Honor Roll ranked at or near the top in three or more specialties. The order is by total points. If a hospital ranked among the highest 5 percent in a specialty, it received 2 points, and if a hospital ranked in the next 5 percent, it received 1 point. Boston Children’s Hospital and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia again tied for the top spot. Texas Children’s is separated from the no. 3 position by a single point. This year’s ranking demonstrates some significant gains among several Texas Children’s services. Here are a few highlights:

  • 7 services improved in the rankings
  • 9 services scored in the top 10 (compared to 6 in 2013)
  • 6 services were ranked among the top 5 (compared to 3 in 2013)

“Texas Children’s results on this year’s survey reflect the diligent efforts of the steering committee we formed last year to focus on the U.S.News survey,” Wallace said. “The process of compiling and refining our data is an ongoing challenge, which will continue to improve under the excellent leadership of Angelo Giardino, Tom Luerssen, Mary Jo Andre, Terri Brown and Colleen Jones.”

Texas Children’s made these notable gains amid several changes to this year’s survey. This year, the weight of the reputational score decreased from 25 percent to 16.7 percent, and the best practices and infection prevention rate both increased in weight, from 4.2 percent to 8.3 percent. Also, two additional outcomes were scored in neonatology, and one additional outcome was scored in orthopedics and gastroenterology/GI surgery. Five-sixths of each hospital’s score relied on patient outcomes and the care-related resources each hospital makes available. The remaining one-sixth of the score is derived from a survey of 450 pediatric specialists and subspecialists in each specialty over three years. The physicians were asked where they would send the sickest children in their specialty, setting aside location and expense.

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

  • #4 Cancer
  • #2 Cardiology & heart surgery
  • #5 Gastroenterology (digestive disorders)
  • #6 Neurology & neurosurgery
  • #2 Neonatology
  • #4 Nephrology (kidney disorders)
  • #4 Pulmonology
  • #7 Urology
  • #8 Diabetes & endocrinology
  • #34 Orthopedics

“Our high rankings demonstrate the commitment we have to achieving quality outcomes, tracking those outcomes and using them to markedly improve the care we deliver,” said Texas Children’s Surgeon-in-Chief Dr. Charles D. Fraser Jr.

This year’s methodology reflects a number of improvements that better differentiate hospitals based on outcomes, best practices and infection prevention. Texas Children’s Physician-in-Chief Dr. Mark W. Kline said the results are a reflection of the work of a gifted, dedicated staff.

“Texas Children’s has more pediatricians and pediatric subspecialists than any other hospital in the world,” Kline said. “But more importantly, we have many of the world’s most talented and dedicated physicians, educators, scientists, nurses and other health professionals, and working together, our team is driving innovation and advancement in pediatric health care. I’m proud of their commitment.”

The 2014-15 edition of Best Children’s Hospitals is available online at www.usnews.com/childrenshospitals.


Dr. Daniel Penny, chief of Cardiology at Texas Children’s Hospital and section head and professor of Pediatrics-Cardiology at Baylor College of Medicine, was recently presented the 2014 University College Cork (UCC) Medical School Medal. The award ceremony took place at Penny’s alma mater in Ireland on May 28.

The award, established in 2001, was created to honor those who have made exceptional contributions to medicine and society. Penny was chosen as this year’s recipient based on his sustained and excellent track record in pediatrics and pediatric cardiology; in leadership and expertise at an international level in academic medicine; in his support and inspiration for generations of medical students and trainees; and his work in establishing links between UCC and Texas Children’s.

“I am truly honored to receive this year’s UCC Medical School Medal,” said Penny. “It is a privilege to have the opportunity to have worked, and continue to work, in hospitals throughout my career which are leading the way in improving the health and well-being of children and families across the globe.”

Penny was born in Cork, Ireland, where he completed his medical degree at University College Cork, The National University of Ireland. He trained and practiced at top pediatric institutions, such as The Great Ormond Street Hospital in London and The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, where he served as chief of Cardiology before joining Texas Children’s. Penny also is a founding director of the Australia and New Zealand Children’s Heart Research Centre, a collaborative network for multicenter research across Australia and New Zealand. His research bridges cardiac physiology and clinical studies of congenital heart disease. In 2010 he was awarded his involvement in developing a Cardiovascular Institute in Hue City, Central Vietnam, for which he received the “For People’s Health” Award from the Vietnamese government.


It’s surgery day. You park your car, arrive at the hospital, but you’re not exactly sure where to go. Navigating the hallways and buildings of a large hospital campus can add an extra layer of anxiety to an already stressful experience for patients and their families.

“We want to create a positive experience for every single patient who walks through our doors,” said Mallory Caldwell, senior vice president of Administration at Texas Children’s. “We’re always searching for innovative approaches to ensure the delivery of superior customer service to our patients and their families.”

As part of a newly launched 4-month pilot program that started May 26, Texas Children’s Facilities Planning and Development department has designed wayfinding signs to improve navigation to the surgical suites at the Clinical Care Center (CCC) and West Tower, as well as contribute to a positive arrival experience for surgery patients.


You’ve probably noticed the colorful, kid-friendly animal signage posted inside and outside the elevators, lobby, hallways and connecting bridges at the CCC and West Tower. The fishes, frogs and dragon flies direct patients easily to specific check-in locations for different operating room suites:

  • Fish = West Tower, Third Floor
  • Frog = Clinical Care Center, Seventh Floor
  • Dragon Fly = West Tower, 17th Floor

“To accommodate our diverse patient population, the animal signs are intended to reduce language barrier issues that arise with traditional verbiage signage when translation is often required,” said Doug Fowler, graphics program manager at Texas Children’s Facilities Planning and Development. “Patients simply follow the animal symbols to get to their respective check-in location for surgery.”

During the summer, Texas Children’s sees approximately 100 patients for surgery every weekday. The pilot is focused on those patients that arrive very early in the morning for the “first case,” as they are most in need of additional support upon arrival.

Equipped with copies of the surgery schedule, volunteers in blue vests will greet patients immediately upon arrival and will direct them to their proper surgical check-in locations. Patients are given an all new pre-surgery packet.

“We want our patients to arrive at their check-in location easily, and we encourage all Texas Children’s employees to be part of this collaborative process by becoming familiar with the signage and what it stands for,” says Dr. Larry Hollier, chief of Plastic Surgery at Texas Children’s.

The pilot program, along with feedback received from the patient experience surveys, will help us identify which areas need to be fine-tuned.