December 23, 2014


Little Penelope danced to the sounds of the St. John’s School Choir singing Christmas carols on The Auxiliary Bridge as her mom watched waiting for Santa’s arrival. Penelope is a patient in Texas Children’s Cancer Center and spent her day receiving chemotherapy, but at that moment, her mom was filled with joy as she watched her little girl enjoying a little holiday cheer.

Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Randy Wright took Penelope by the hand and asked her to close her little eyes and make a holiday wish. As she did this, the sparkling lights on the Christmas décor turned on and in walked who else, but Santa and Mrs. Clause. “Ho ho ho” Santa said as Penelope and the other little children erupted in cheer. Penelope ran right up to Santa and gave him a great big hug. She was first in line to tell him her holiday wish list followed by dozens of other patients excited to meet the hero of the holidays.

That was just the beginning of the holiday cheer. Throughout the season, the patients received special visits from Santa and his little helpers. There was the visit from the Houston Ballet Nutcracker performers, the Ukulele club’s caroling through the halls and a virtual visit from the North Pole as patients skyped with Jolly St. Nick.

Watch the short video above and browse the photo gallery to see some highlights of the holiday cheer.


Conjoined 8-month-old twin girls, Knatalye Hope and Adeline Faith Mata, underwent a five-hour surgery December 16 at Texas Children’s Hospital Main Campus to place custom-made tissue expanders into their chest and abdomen area. The tissue expanders will help stretch the babies’ skin in preparation for their separation surgery, which is expected to take place early next year.

During their recent surgery, the infants also had an examination to help assess their anatomy and the placement of PICC catheters in preparation for the twins’ separation. Dr. Alberto Hernandez with Interventional Radiology performed the examination. Chief of Plastic Surgery Dr. Larry Hollier and Dr. Ed Buchanan with the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery conducted the tissue expander placement surgery. Dr. Helana Karlberg led the anesthesia team and Audra Rushing led the surgical nursing team.

“We are pleased the babies did so well during the surgery,” Hollier said. “A multidisciplinary team continues to monitor them in our neonatal intensive care unit as they recover.”

The tissue expander placement surgery requires a recovery time of six to eight weeks, during which additional fluid will be added to the tissue expanders, which are like balloons, to allow the skin to be stretched gradually. The extra skin is needed to provide coverage once the babies are separated.

During the girl’s recovery, the planning process for the separation surgery will continue among a team of multidisciplinary specialists in pediatric surgery, urology, plastic surgery, orthopedic surgery, cardiovascular surgery and pediatric gynecology.

“We have been preparing for the twins’ separation surgery for months and the process is ongoing,” said Dr. Darrell Cass, pediatric surgeon and co-director of Texas Children’s Fetal Center. “In addition to multidisciplinary meetings, our plans have included, among other things, building a 3-D model of their organs, conducting simulations of the surgery and post-operative care they will receive, as well as helping create devices to support their care, such as a swing which will hold the girls upright to alleviate pressure on their healing incisions.”

Anticipated to take approximately 24 hours, the separation surgery will involve two teams of surgeons who will work together to separate the twins, who share a chest wall, lungs, pericardial sac (the lining of the heart), diaphragm, liver and pelvis. The separation team will start the surgery and the reconstruction team will complete the procedure.

Surgeons at Texas Children’s Hospital in 1992 successfully separated Tiesha and Lesha Turner, who were 1 year old and shared a sternum, liver, entwined intestines and fused organs. The separation of Knatalye and Adeline will be the second such procedure performed at the hospital.

Cass said he expects the surgery to go well and for each child to be able to live independently and to have a good life.

Knatalye and Adeline were born April 11 at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women. Delivered via Caesarean-section at 31 weeks gestation, the twins each weighed 3 pounds, 7 ounces.

The girls’ parents, Elysse and John Mata, and their 5-year-old brother, Azariah, learned during a routine ultrasound on Jan. 13 that Elysse was carrying twins and they were conjoined. Subsequently, the family was referred from a physician in Lubbock, their hometown, to the Texas Children’s Fetal Center where they underwent extensive prenatal imaging, multidisciplinary consultation and development of plans to achieve a safe delivery and postnatal care.

Now 8 months old, the babies weigh about 15 pounds each and are doing well as they continue to be cared for by a team of specialists in the Level IV neonatal intensive care unit at Texas Children’s Hospital.

Elysse Mata said the day before the tissue expander placement surgery she is confident her girls are in good hands at Texas Children’s Hospital.

“I have an extreme amount of faith in the team at Texas Children’s and in God,” she said. “I know He put us here for a reason.”


The Solutions for Patient Safety (SPS) network has named Texas Children’s Hospital of the Month for the month of December in recognition of the organization’s efforts to improve patient safety and decrease patient harm. The award recognizes the hospital for many steps taken toward increasing patient safety including the organization of 10 different hospital acquired conditions (HAC) teams which include more than 100 employees and clinical staff. These teams review best practices from other hospitals within the network and implement those that work, while also sharing our successes with others. The award also recognizes the teams which have seen significant improvements since taking on new protocols. Over the last year, five teams have demonstrated significant decreases in harm by implementing process recommendations from the SPS network. The falls, surgical site infections, central line associated bloodstream infection and urinary tract infection HAC teams have fully adopted SPS prescribed bundles.

“As an organization, we are proud to be a part of a nationwide effort to decrease harm to patients,” said Trudy Leidich, director of quality and safety. “Through the Solutions for Patient Safety initiative, we have been able to share our best practices with other children’s hospitals and learn from their efforts as well. Being named hospital of the month is simply an acknowledgment that we are doing everything we can to improve safety within our hospital and we are honored to get this recognition.”

The SPS, formerly known as the Ohio Collaborative, began as a group of Ohio children’s hospitals working toward eliminating patient harm and soon expanded to a network of more than 80 hospitals across the nation, including Texas Children’s, which lead a national effort to implement the best strategies for creating the highest possible safety protocols for patient care.

Data sharing in the form of outcomes and process measures is another key component of the hospital’s participation in the collaborative. This data is combined with data from other participating hospitals to help identify trends and refine practice which result in an improvement of care. Since January 2013, Texas Children’s Hospital has submitted 100 percent of its HAC and Readmissions outcome data to the SPS.

Teams from Texas Children’s will continue this ongoing partnership with SPS and children’s hospitals across the nation to improve the quality and safety of care to our patients.


The holidays came early this year for Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine employees thanks to their hard work and dedication to the women and children they serve each and every day.

On December 19, all Texas Children’s Hospital employees and Texas Children’s based Baylor College of Medicine faculty and staff received a $50 gift card to Walmart from the Texas Children’s executive team as a token of appreciation for their contribution and commitment, and as a tribute to their service and hard work.

“Thank you for exemplifying our incredible culture, always putting service before self as you care for our patients, their families, your loved ones, and one another,” says a thank you note signed by all members of the executive team. “We are grateful for all you do, each and every day, to ensure Texas Children’s remains the very finest place to work, practice medicine, and receive care.”

Surgeon-in-Chief Dr. Charles D. Fraser Jr. was one of the executives who signed the note and said people who work at Texas Children’s are very special people.

“They decided to come here because they believe it’s a great thing to take care of children, their mothers and families,” Fraser said. “They are cut out a different cloth. That’s why we need to remember to take care of each other.”

Linda Aldred, a senior vice president with Texas Children’s, said, “Regardless of the role, we have seen remarkable service and hard work at every level of the organization this past year.”

“Our team member’s actions have had a tremendous impact on Texas Children’s, both big and small,” Aldred said. “We are grateful for their contribution and commitment and as a tribute to their service and hard work, we want to say thank you!”


Five years ago, Priscilla Boos heard the worst news she could ever imagine – her husband had been given six months to a year to live.

“I was devastated,” said Boos, who is a business manager in the Department of Pathology. “I started grieving the loss of my husband of 39 years that day.”

To deal with her feelings and to try and prepare for when her husband really was gone, Boos said she attended the Texas Children’s Employee Assistance Program’s Grief Recovery Group.

The free 10-week program is dedicated to helping people find the support they need to move beyond grief, whether it’s over the loss of a loved one, a divorce or a situation at work. Facilitated by EAP staff and open to all Texas Children’s and Baylor employees, the program follows specific tasks outlined in The Grief Recovery Handbook by John James and Russel Friedman.

“Recovery from loss is accomplished by discovering and completing all of the undelivered communications that accrue in relationships,” said EAP Program Manager Brent Lo-Caste-Wilken. “If you have experienced one or more losses, and you wish to move beyond the pain, this program offers you the probability of a richer and more rewarding life.”

Boos said the group made a huge difference in her life and that it made the journey toward her husband’s death much easier to bare.

“When it was time for him to go, we talked about a lot of things most couples don’t talk about during that time,” she said. “We wouldn’t have been able to have had that conversation had I attended the Grief Support Group.”

Most people don’t get the opportunity to complete unfinished conversations like Boos did because their loved is already gone or their loss has already occurred. Grief recovery helps people who are both anticipating a loss as well as suffering the effects of a loss that has already happened. In short, it helps people complete anything that was left unfinished at the time of a loss.

“Successful completion of unfinished emotions allows us to become complete with the often painful reality that the physical relationship has ended,” James and Friedman said.

To sign up for the next session of the Grief Recovery Group see below. Space is limited, so don’t delay.

What do I need to know if I am interested in participating in the Grief Recovery Group?

  • For the safety and success of all participants, commitment to and attendance at the 10-week program are essential.
  • Group sessions will be held in the Meyer Building first-floor conference room from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. every
  • Thursday beginning January 22 and ending March 26.

To register for the program go to the Learning Academy webpage, call Ext. 4-3327 or email

Eden McCleskey’s kiddos, Austen (9 months) and Jess (almost 2).

Bump Watch thanks everyone who contributed adorable pictures capturing memorable moments of their kiddos this holiday season.

As we ring in the New Year, the smiles on these tiny faces spread plenty of holiday cheer!

Caroline Nakamura's 6-month-old son, Luke, loves his festive green suit.
Caroline Nakamura’s 6-month-old son, Luke, loves his festive green suit.

xDr. Susan Leong-Kee's 15-month-old twins, Daniel and Abigail, love to entertain.
Dr. Susan Leong-Kee’s 15-month-old twins, Daniel and Abigail, love to entertain.


Harper with mom
Harper (who will be 2 in May) poses with her mom, Veronika Javor.


Keno Okiomah Xmas Portrait 2014
Ujiro Okiomah’s 10-month-old son Keno is looking handsome as ever!

Anabelle Boudrea
Annabelle (9 months) is fascinated with holiday lights. Her dad is Warren Boudrea.


Cameron Griffith
Julie Griffith’s 5-month-old son, Cameron, enjoys the radiant spotlight.


Yamil Torress
Mercedes Sleiman’s son, Yamil Torres (2), is happy to meet Santa Claus.


Madison Beasley
Rachel Beasley’s daughter, Madison, dawns her festive knit cap while she snoozes.


It’s holiday photo time for Lord-Rudy Goudy’s kids: Zariya (12), Zion (6) and Zachary (1).


Natasha Curtis’ kids, Arden Monroe and Chandler Curtis, hang out with Santa’s reindeer.


Vivian yay
Amy Puglia’s daughter, Vivian (4 months old), doesn’t mind being held by Santa Claus.


Emmy and Presley Cohen
Jennifer Cohen’s girls, Emmy (6 months) and Presley (3), are ready for the holidays!


Kaylan Berss’ son, 16-month-old Brantley, has a special holiday announcement!


Krystal Hall’s 6-year-old son, Dezzmone, untangles the holiday lights to decorate outside.


Christian Jacques
Christian (3) can’t wait to open gifts from his parents, Brian and Samantha Jacques.


Cadence Picture
Maria Dahl’s daughter, Cadence (4), smiles for the camera!


Zachary Goudy
One-year-old Zachary Goudy wishes everyone a blessed holiday season!


Michelle Riley-Brown and Dr. Charles Hankins received a heartfelt goodbye December 16 from the people they have served during the past four years at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus.

The farewell came as a surprise to the leaders, who will be moving to Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands at the beginning of the new year. Soon after they arrived at what they thought was a routine leaders meeting, a room packed with colleagues directed their attention to a video about the history of West Campus and how Riley-Brown and Hankins have been key to its success.

“The Woodlands is lucky to get such a great team,” one employee said in the video.

“It’s because of you that we are the best of the west,” another employee said.

“Please come back!” another employee jokingly pleaded.

With tears in their eyes, Riley-Brown and Hankins watched the video and the many other gestures of appreciation their colleagues made during the hour-long affair.

Some of those gestures include:

  • A framed photo of a large group of West Campus employees standing next to a large “Thank You” sign.
  • A T-shirt with Riley-Brown’s signature saying, “That’s how we roll.”
  • The unveiling of a “That’s how we roll” program that will give children coming into the hospital the opportunity to hitch a ride to their appointment in a toy car.
  • The announcement that Riley-Brown and Hankins are the Best of the West winners for the month of December.

“I am going to miss every one of you,” Riley-Brown said at the meeting. “It’s been a true blessing working with you.”
Hankins said he would take all of his colleagues at West Campus with him to The Woodlands if he could, but that wouldn’t be the right thing to do.

“The reason I wanted to go to The Woodlands is because I didn’t want to compete, I wanted to cooperate,” he said. “We all are going to work together to make Texas Children’s better for the whole community.”

Riley-Brown will become president of Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands, and Hankins will become chief medical officer of the institution, which will open its doors to outpatient care in the fall of 2016 and inpatient services the following year. Riley-Brown and Hankins will assume their new roles in January.