October 30, 2014

Dear Colleagues,

For the past few months, many of us here at Texas Children’s have been focused on keeping each other and our patients and families safe in the event of a potential Ebola case at our hospital.

While I am proud of our efforts to ensure we will provide the best care to such patients while keeping our staff safe and healthy, I am concerned we have forgotten about an infection that is much more likely to affect us than Ebola. That infection is the flu.

More than 200,000 people suffering from the flu are admitted to a hospital each year. And more than 20,000 of them die. They die from a virus that a simple vaccination can most times prevent – a shot that takes mere seconds to receive.

Ebola has infected some 7,000 people and killed more than 3,300. Most of those infected with the virus are in West Africa. One person in the United States has died from Ebola, and he contracted the infection in Liberia. Two of the people who cared for that patient and became infected with the virus have been treated and released.

There is no vaccine for Ebola. That is why we have been working so hard to obtain the best personal protective equipment for our staff. There is, however, a vaccine for the flu, and everyone here at Texas Children’s should get one. Getting a flu vaccine is one of the simplest and most basic things we can do to keep ourselves and our patients healthy during flu season. It also is part of Texas Children’s incentive plans.

I implore you to take this responsibility to heart. Get your flu shot. Make sure everyone in your family is vaccinated, and educate those around you about getting vaccinated. It’s truly the best personal protective equipment you can wear during flu season.

Remember influenza vaccinations are free and available in Employee Health at our Main and West Campuses and will be available at the Benefits and Wellness Fair today on the Auxiliary Bridge.  If you receive your vaccination elsewhere, your Texas Children’s insurance will cover the cost.  Please remember to provide documentation to Employee Health & Wellness.

Information about where to get your flu shot is below.


Mark A. Wallace

Get vaccinated!

  • Flu vaccines are available in Employee Health
  • Appointments are recommended, however walk-ins are welcome
  • Department or unit leaders may request a flu cart visit by calling Employee Health at 832-824-2151 or West Campus Employee Health at 832-227-1365
  • If you received your flu vaccine elsewhere, please fax your documentation to 832-824-2141or send via interoffice mail to Employee Health A5527

Main Campus Employee Health 

Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday, 7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Location: Employee Health & Wellness Center
5 Tower by the yellow elevators

Phone: 832-824-2150

Fax: 832-825-2141

Emergency: An Employee Health nurse is available after hours by pager 24 hours a day for emergencies. Call the page operator at 832-824-1000 to have an Employee Health nurse paged.

West Campus Employee Health 

Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday, 7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Location: West Campus, Human Resources and Employee Health, 2nd floor

Phone: 832-227-1365

October 28, 2014



Preparation is key to making the best decisions about health insurance, life insurance and retirement for you and your family.

To help you plan for annual benefits enrollment, there is a new employee benefits website you can visit to learn about your 2015 benefit options. That website can be found here and includes an interactive tool called Decision Direct that gives you tips on which plan works best for you and your family.

There also will be a Benefits and Wellness Fair from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, October 30 on The Auxiliary Bridge. Representatives from at least 15 vendors, including Blue Cross Blue Shield, Fidelity and Prudential, will be present to provide you with information and answer any questions you might have about next year’s benefits package. There also will be prizes and giveaways, so don’t miss out on this exciting event.

Another tool that will aid you in the decision-making process is the newsletter mailed to your home last week. The publication highlights your benefit options and some changes for 2015. It also provides information on tools that can help make the enrollment process simple and successful.

In addition to the benefits fair, there will be several opportunities during the upcoming weeks to ask questions about the 2015 benefits package and to enroll in whatever plan you choose. Human resource representatives will be visiting various departments throughout the organization and will have information and enrollment booths set up in high-traffic areas throughout the enrollment period.

Enrollment this year for 2015 benefits is from Thursday, October 30 through Friday, November 14. If you want to change plans or coverage levels, or if you want to participate in the Flexible Spending Account, you’ll need to elect your benefits during the enrollment period. If you don’t actively enroll during that time, your current medical, dental and other benefits will automatically carry over next year. Flexible Spending Account participation does not carry over from one year to the next, so you will need to reenroll.
Some of the changes to the 2015 benefits package include:

Medical and Prescription Drug Coverage

  • Additional Plan Option: Texas Children’s is introducing the Consumer Plus Plan (CPP), a consumer-directed health plan that includes a health reimbursement account (HRA) funded by Texas Children’s.
  • Increased EPO Expenses: An annual deductible will be introduced for both individual and family coverage under the EPO, and your coinsurance for services will increase to 10 percent.
  • Prescription Drug Coinsurance: Coinsurance will now apply to brand-name prescription drugs purchased under the EPO and PPO plans. All three plans will have a copay for generic drugs.
  • Premium Changes: Some employees with children enrolled in the PPO and EPO plans will see a decrease in premiums. Premiums will increase for employees who are enrolling only themselves in one of the plans.

Dental Plans

  • Reduced Dental Premiums: Dental rates will be 5 percent lower in 2015, regardless of the plan or coverage tier you select.
  • Discounted Orthodontia: Discounted orthodontia will now be available onsite from Dr. John Wirthlin, including traditional braces and Invisalign for adults. These services will be available to all employees, regardless of whether they enroll in dental plan coverage.

Eligible Dependents

  • Domestic partners and their children will be eligible for coverage under our benefits plans. This coverage includes both same-sex and opposite-sex partners, whether under legally married or common-law relationships.


The flu vaccine protects pregnant women, their unborn babies and the baby after birth.

These are just a few of the reasons it is so important for pregnant women to get a flu vaccine.

Dr. Michael A. Belfort, obstetrician and gynecologist-in-chief of Texas Children’s Hospital, tells you more about how serious the flu can be for pregnant women and why they should get vaccinated against the potentially life-threatening infection.

“Pregnancy is a state where there are adjustments in the mother’s immune system that can make certain infections more serious during pregnancy than they would be outside of pregnancy,” Belfort said. “The flu is one of those illnesses that can be a lot worse in pregnancy than outside of pregnancy.”

Pregnant woman with the flu also have a greater chance for serious problems for their unborn baby, including premature labor and delivery, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“So, it is absolutely vital for all pregnant women to get the flu vaccine,” Belfort said.

The shot has proven to be safe for pregnant women and their babies with millions of expecting mothers receiving the vaccine during previous years.

Getting the shot is the first and most important step in protecting against flu, according to the CDC. Given during pregnancy, the shot has been shown to protect both the mother and her baby (up to 6 months old) from the flu.

Employee Health is administering free seasonal influenza vaccinations to all Texas Children’s employees, Baylor College of Medicine employees working in Texas Children’s facilities, Texas Children’s medical staff and volunteers. Leaders from Texas Children’s Pediatrics, Texas Children’s Health Centers and The Center for Women and Children will inform their staff about seasonal flu vaccination details.

Click here to view vaccination schedules on Connect for both Main and West Campuses. Employee Health strongly encourages you to get your vaccine at one of the times listed on the schedule. If you are unable to do so, please schedule an appointment to get the flu vaccine at the Employee Health Clinic.

And, remember, getting an annual flu shot is part of Texas Children’s P3 incentive plan, which is an important component of the total rewards you receive at Texas Children’s Hospital. As part of P3 , we are striving for at least 90 percent of our staff to get vaccinated by Monday, December 1.


Five Texas Children’s employees representing a wide range of job types, departments and work locations were honored Thursday, October 23 at a luncheon naming the 2015 Catalyst Leadership Award recipients and the Catalyst Leader of the Year.

Nominations were thoughtfully reviewed by the selection committee, which included representatives from the organization’s senior executive team, Human Resources, Texas Children’s Board of Trustees, and Chief Executive Officer Mark A. Wallace.

“While it was no easy task to select the winners, I am thrilled to introduce our 2015 Catalyst Leadership Award recipients and Catalyst Leader of the Year,” Wallace said at the luncheon. “Please join me in applauding these deserving individuals for their proven ability to lead by example and for their passion to uphold Texas Children’s mission, make the biggest possible difference, and ensure the best possible outcomes.”

The 2015 Catalyst Leaders are:
102814CatalystJeanineGraf175-2 102814catalystJennJacome175-2 102814CatalystKetreseWhite175-2 102814CatalystTrentJohnson175-2 102814CatalystWayneToote175-2

Dr. Jeanine Graf, Medical Director, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Pediatric Transport and Respiratory Care.

Jenn Jacome, Manager, Public Relations

Wayne Toote, House Supervisor, West Campus Nursing

Ketrese White, Assistant Director, West Campus Inpatient Nursing

The 2015 Catalyst Leader of the Year is Surgical Services Director Trent Johnson. Johnson joined Texas Children’s six years ago as the assistant director of Surgical Services and moved into the director slot in February of 2011.

To him, leadership is the ability to step into any situation and improve results by focusing on people and processes.

“A good leader is able to earn the trust and respect of his/her subordinates and peers in such a way that inspires followership,” Johnson said. “A good leader is also willing and able to constantly question the way things are done, raise the standards or goals, and seek for continuous improvement through creative thinking while remaining in search of excellence.”

Chief of Urology Dr. David Roth was one of three people who nominated Johnson for the Catalyst Award and said in his nomination form that Johnson has been instrumental in developing and instituting several process improvements that have positively impacted the patient experience in both the Department of Surgery the Emergency Department.

“Trent is my go-to administrator,” Roth said. “He is always available by phone or email. He understands my problems and solves them. Utmost in his mind are patient and physician satisfaction and providing excellent patient care in a cost effective model.”

Johnson said winning the Catalyst Leadership Award is an incredible honor, and a truly humbling experience, especially since the award is named after Wallace, a true visionary leader who sets the example for us all.

“Achieving results requires the efforts of many individuals working collaboratively, and I am grateful to be a part of the talented Texas Children’s Team,” Johnson said. “I eagerly anticipate the opportunities that this award will allow for me to further develop my leadership skills.”

Throughout the coming year, all five recipients of the Catalyst Leadership Award will receive a number of special honors and participate in a variety of rewarding learning experiences. Additionally, as the Catalyst Leader of the Year, Johnson will further develop his talents by completing advanced training at a renowned organization.

Members of Texas Children’s Board of Trustees made personal donations to an endowed fund that led to the establishment of the Mark A. Wallace Catalyst Leadership Award five years ago in honor of Wallace’s 20th anniversary as president and CEO.

This year, in honor of Wallace’s 25-year anniversary with Texas Children’s, the board of trustees – with the support of a one million dollar endowment from the Texas Children’s Hospital Foundation – took it a step further and established the Mark A. Wallace Leadership University at Texas Children’s. The university will recognize Wallace’s legacy of leadership and his passion for developing the next generation of health care leaders.

To learn more about this year’s Catalyst leaders click here.


By Morgan Villareal

My husband, Cullen, and I are blessed with two wonderful children. We have a 5-year-old daughter, Bailey, and a 7-year-old son, Braydon. And, in a couple of months, we will be adding a new addition to our family. The timing couldn’t have been better. Our expected delivery date? Mother’s Day!!

When we shared this exciting news with Bailey and Braydon, they were absolutely thrilled! After all, this had been their birthday and Christmas wish – for mommy and daddy to have another baby so they could assume their coveted role of “big brother” and “big sister,” respectively.

Unlike my first two pregnancies, this one was a little bit rocky. For about a year, my husband and I were trying to have another baby. I had no problem getting pregnant with my son and daughter. However, this time around, presented some challenges, but we were determined to overcome them.

After fruitless attempts to conceive, my husband and I scheduled an appointment to see a specialist at the Family Fertility Center at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women. I heard a lot of success stories emerging from the clinic, and since I work at the hospital, it was convenient for me to seek fertility treatment here.

After undergoing several tests, we discovered what was wrong with me. I had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) – a condition where cysts grow in the ovaries – which makes it very difficult for women to get pregnant. My doctor told me the only way to conceive was through in vitro fertilization (IVF). So, that’s what we did!

102914BWmorgan640-2My physician, Dr. Ertug Kovanci, and the staff at the Family Fertility Center were wonderful. They answered all of my questions promptly and made sure I was comfortable during the entire IVF process. We completed the first round of IVF, and two weeks later, Dr. Kovanci delivered the news that we had been waiting for, “You are pregnant!”

My husband and I shed so many tears of happiness. Best of all, it was great to see the big smile on our kids’ faces. Their wish for a little brother or little sister is finally coming true. We thought we’d have to undergo several rounds of IVF to get pregnant, but one round was all it took.

I am almost 11 weeks pregnant, and I couldn’t be happier. I’m thankful to the staff at the Family Fertility Center for helping us achieve our goal. Our family can’t wait to meet our precious miracle in May.


Dr. Huda Zoghbi, director of the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine, is featured in the fall issue of The Vilcek Foundation Newsletter. The publication honors and supports foreign-born scientists who have made outstanding contributions to society in the United States.

The article titled, “America’s Brain Gain: Immigrants at the Frontier of Neuroscience,” traces Zoghbi’s journey from Beirut, Lebanon to the United States, and spotlights her remarkable achievements in neuroscience, which includes unlocking the genetic and molecular mysteries behind a number of devastating and rare neurological disorders.

Click here to read the spotlight article on Dr. Huda Zoghbi.


Anesthesia Tech Kelly Urquico recently received the Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus “Best of the West” employee recognition award.

The award is given out quarterly to employees who go above and beyond their normal job responsibilities.

Urquico joined Texas Children’s in February 2011 just as the organization was preparing to open the West Campus. He has been instrumental in the success of West Campus’ surgical services and is described by his colleagues as being diligent, willing to take on additional tasks without being asked, and helpful to all of his co-workers, including those outside his department.

“Kelly is passionate about his job, assists in training other employees, and consistently acts as a resource for the Perioperative Services Team,” said Michelle-Riley Brown, president of Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus. “He takes great pride in his work and always has a great attitude.”