May 27, 2015


More than 400 employees and staff with 7,460 combined years of Texas Children’s service and expertise were given the royal treatment last week at the organization’s 27th Annual Employee Recognition Celebration.

Held on May 19 at the Bayou Event Center, the honorees dined at tables wrapped in linens and adorned with glittering candles and plush red, white and green flowers. After lunch, each honoree was led down a red carpet and onto a stage where President and CEO Mark A. Wallace and others shook their hands and thanked them for their 15, 20, 25, 30 and 40 years of service to Texas Children’s.

In addition to long-time honorees, recipients of the Best of the West, Mark A. Wallace Catalyst Leadership, Smiles and Super Star awards were recognized.

“You are the face of Texas Children’s Hospital. It’s not me, it’s not Dr. Andropoulos, it’s not Dr. Fraser, it’s not Dr. Kline,” Wallace said to the crowd. “It’s our 10,000 employees because you are here 24/7 every day.”

Valesca Adams, one of 10 honored for their 40-year milestone anniversary with Texas Children’s, said the organization and her job in Renal and Pheresis Services are a huge part of her life. In addition to “really liking” the people she works with, Adams said she loves the children and families she comes into contact with daily at the hospital.

“I love my job,” she said. “It’s fun to get up and come to work every day.”

Senior Vice President Linda Aldred said the annual employee recognition ceremony is a time to honor those who have given so much to carrying out the values and the mission of Texas Children’s to provide unparalleled family-centered care for our patients and their families.

“When people love what they do, when they believe in what they are doing, the results can be staggering and the contribution is too big to count,” Aldred said. “Your dedication is the heart of Texas Children’s past, present and future greatness, and that’s exactly what we are here to celebrate today.”

Congratulations to all of the honorees!

A copy of the event’s program can be found here.


Have you ever wanted the opportunity to share your perceptions about what it’s like to work at Texas Children’s? Have you ever wanted to share your candid thoughts and ideas about how we can be more efficient and effective as an organization?

If you answered yes, now is your chance to do so in a safe and confidential way. As part of Texas Children’s commitment to open dialogue with employees, we have launched the new Your Texas Children’s Experience survey to provide constructive feedback that will help us formally measure our performance, identify gaps and effectively plan/improve through this process.

“Your voice matters here at Texas Children’s,” said President and CEO Mark A. Wallace. “Recently, I have heard from some of you about concerns and challenges, and today, I want to hear from all of you through Your Texas Children’s Experience survey.”

Administered by Press Ganey from May 18 to Sunday, May 31, Your Texas Children’s Experience survey is confidential, anonymous and takes about 10 minutes to complete. To access the survey, refer to the personalized email with login information you have received from Press Ganey. If you did not get an email or want more information about the survey, contact Press Ganey at or call 800-849-2292, option 1.

Since 2003, the engagement survey has been a powerful way to measure how our organization has been upholding our core values. The survey also has served as a catalyst to affect positive changes around such issues as time off, attendance, holidays, benefit plans, the relocation of Employee Health to Main Campus and the addition of the Employee Medical Clinic.

Texas Children’s is aiming to meet or beat our last survey response rate of 83 percent for employees and 45 percent for physicians. Although your participation is voluntary, it is your opportunity to share your honest perceptions about how our organization is performing and positively impacting our culture as well as the experiences of your coworkers and our patient families.

“Response rates for previous surveys have shown that many of you do want to be heard and believe that getting involved is the right thing to do,” Wallace said. “In doing so, you are directly impacting the health of our Texas Children’s culture and our future.”

For more information regarding Your Texas Children’s Experience survey, we have included a brief overview for your reference. In addition, here are some helpful hints and reminders when taking the survey online:

  1. The survey takes about 10 minutes to complete and is accessible via any computer with internet access
  2. The survey is confidential and anonymous and is administered and analyzed solely by Press Ganey
  3. (Rule of 5) applies – This means that results for work units with fewer than five responses will be rolled up to the next level leader or integrated into a larger work unit
  4. Review the Definition of Terms on the instruction page
  5. Click Confidentiality Pledge in the top right corner to review the Press Ganey’s Pledge of Confidentiality
  6. Do NOT use forward & back navigation buttons in your browser; navigate using buttons on each screen of the survey (Back, Save Page & Continue)
  7. Review Answers before you submit your final answers
  8. Results are not final until you click Save Page & Continue after the close ended questions
  9. Open-ended comments are transcribed and themed by Press Ganey


In children, early signs of vision loss or problems due to retina and/or optic nerve dysfunction can be difficult to detect and diagnose. A new machine, called Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), is the latest imaging technology allowing Texas Children’s pediatric ophthalmologists to evaluate for retinal diseases, uveitis and optic nerve disorders.

52815ophthalmologyinside175“The OCT is an imaging tool that is similar to ultrasound but uses light waves instead of sound waves to create high resolution images of the retina and optic nerve,” said pediatric neuro-ophthalmologist Dr. Veeral Shah. “This type of imaging allows us to detect changes in retina and optic nerve structure that may reflect loss and damage of visual function that might not be visible with an ocular examination.”

The OCT machine produces ancillary images that can reveal and monitor optic nerve edema, atrophy, subretinal fluid and signs of retina degeneration. The machine can image the retina and optic nerve in second, and overall will help pediatric ophthalmologists identify retina/optic nerve damage, which will aid in diagnoses, monitoring disease pathology, and determine precise medical or surgical intervention.

Only a handful of pediatric hospitals have an OCT machine and even fewer private practices have access to one. Texas Children’s purchased two of the machines late last year and have been using them since December. One of the OCT machines is in the Ophthalmology Department’s diagnostic imaging center and is used daily in the ophthalmology clinic. The other OCT machine has a hand-held design that can be used on sedated children or in the operating room to make intraoperative decisions.

“It is a great ancillary modality to make clinical decisions,” Shah said. “It’s especially helpful when evaluating young children who are preverbal, nonverbal, or unable to recognize vision loss.”

The Ophthalmology Division at Texas Children’s Hospital is one of the premier pediatric ophthalmology surgery programs in the nations with exceptional expertise, depth and quality of services and patient volumes. Our ophthalmologists perform more than 1,100 procedures each year and see more than 16,000 patients annually. They also are involved in clinical research to help improve the treatment of pediatric eye disorders.


More than 125 people recently attended the 25th Annual Specialist Education in Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation Conference organized, in part, by Texas Children’s Hospital.

Neonatologists, critical care physicians, surgeons, nurses and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) specialists gathered for three days in the Texas Medical Center to exchange information and ideas about the technique that can provide both cardiac and respiratory support to patients whose hearts and lungs are unable to provide an adequate amount of blood flow and oxygen to sustain life.

ECMO works by removing blood from a person’s body, pumping it through an oxygenator, and then returning the blood via a continuous circuit. Generally, it is a life-sustaining therapy that can be used in the later stages of heart or lung failure to provide an opportunity for proper treatment of the disease process and, hopefully, organ recovery.

“The relative infrequence of utilization, in addition to the high mortality and morbidity, makes proper education and training an absolute necessary component for personnel involved in the care of patients supported with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation,” said Dr. Matthew Musick, the activity director for the conference and PICU physician at Texas Children’s Hospital. “The goal of the conference is for participants to enhance their fund of knowledge and practical management strategies to better care for their patients.”

Many of Texas Children’s experts in the field of ECMO were highlighted at the conference as multiple presentations were given by our esteemed faculty and staff, including Dr. Darrell Cass, Dr. Lara Shekerdemian, and Dr. James Thomas. A wide scope of practice including sessions regarding therapeutic options for patients with congenital diaphragmatic hernia, the innovative use of ECMO for trauma patients, emerging ECMO technology for isolated heart failure, and the utility of simulation in ECMO programs were covered.


Texas Children’s Newborn Center hosted its seventh annual Remember Me Always ceremony on May 16. The ceremony was generously sponsored by the Sinisi and Senn families in honor of their daughter, McKenzie.

Developed in partnership with families and staff, the Remember Me Always ceremony brought comfort to Texas Children’s families who suffered the loss of a beloved baby, and the physicians, nurses and staff who cared for them.

Special highlights of the ceremony included welcome remarks from Patricia Bondurant and Vincent and Erin Sinisi; keynote speakers Dr. Stephen Welty and Amanda Harris; soothing music from harpist, Heather Woitena; a beautiful memorial video presentation and the dedication of a memory tree in honor of babies who touched so many lives.

Families placed hearts in honor of their children on the memory tree. Prayers and notes written on biodegradable note cards were planted with the tree. The Remember Me Always memory tree, located outside the Feigin Center near West Tower, will serve as a permanent reminder of all the babies from the Texas Children’s Newborn Center family who left this world too soon.

May 19, 2015


The Texas Children’s surgical team that facilitated the separation surgery of the conjoined Mata twins was honored at the Texas Capitol in Austin. Dr. Darrell Cass, Dr. Larry Hollier and Head OR Nurse, Audra Rushing, were all recognized on the floor of the State House and the State Senate for their outstanding leadership in preparing for, and successfully executing, the historic separation surgery that occurred for the first time in the Houston area in nearly 20 years. They were also joined by Elysse Mata, the mother of the twins, and members of her family. Houston area State Representative Armando Walle introduced the resolution in the House and recognized the team and family on the House floor while Houston area State Senator Joan Huffman introduced the resolution in the Senate where they were lauded with applause from the Senate gallery.

Click here to see the video of the house presentation of the resolution. (Texas Children’s honored at 26:30)

The Texas Children’s Government Relations team utilized this opportunity to highlight the excellent care provided at Texas Children’s Hospital and the need for increased state funding for children’s hospitals. After the ceremonies, the team met with key State legislators who will be instrumental in crafting the State’s budget for the next two years including State Representative Four Price, State Representative Sarah Davis, State Senator Charles Schwertner, and State Senator Paul Bettencourt.

A link to the House resolution can be found here and a link to the Senate Resolution can be found here.


Texas Children’s Hospital is proud to announce its second annual Distinguished Surgeon Award recipients. With this award, we honor leaders who forged a path of innovation in surgical excellence, research and education at Texas Children’s Hospital. Leadership in the Department of Surgery chose the recipients and announced this year’s winners May 8 at the department’s annual faculty dinner. A permanent installation honoring all Distinguished Surgeon Award recipients will soon be near the main OR on the third floor of Abercrombie.

This year’s Distinguished Surgeon Award winners are:

Dr. O.H. “Bud” Frazier
O. H. “Bud” Frazier is a pioneer in developing mechanical assist circulatory devices to treat severe heart failure, and a leader in the fields of heart transplantation and circulatory support. He has performed more than 1,200 heart transplants and implanted more than 700 left ventricular assist devices (LVADs), more than any other surgeon in the world. He is currently Chief, Center for Cardiac Support; Director, Cardiovascular Surgery Research; and Co-director, Cullen Cardiovascular Research Laboratories at Texas Heart Institute. Dr. Frazier was instrumental in helping Texas Children’s Hospital to develop a pediatric heart transplant service. When a six-month-old infant girl was dying of heart failure in 1984, Dr. Frazier proposed a procedure that had never before been done in an infant: a heart transplant. Dr. Frazier engineered obtaining a donor heart, and with lead surgeon, Dr. Denton Cooley, the two made history at Texas Children’s Hospital on November 11 of that year when they implanted a new heart into the infant’s chest. This surgery opened the way for heart transplants to be performed in small children.

Dr. Edmond T. Gonzales, Jr.
Dr. Edmond T. Gonzales, Jr. has been an integral part of the leadership and development in the Texas Children’s Hospital Department of Surgery, as well as a distinguished surgeon in the field of Pediatric Urology. Dr. Gonzales was the chief of Urology at Texas Children’s from 1974 to 2012. He was named Chief of Surgery serving from 1988 to 2010 and was the hospital’s first Surgeon-in-Chief, guiding surgical efforts from 2008 to 2010. He was then named the first Director of Surgery at Texas Children’s West Campus from 2010 to 2014. In his nearly 40 years at Texas Children’s, Dr. Gonzales has established a legacy of excellence for which the hospital and Baylor College of Medicine honored him by creating The Edmond T. Gonzales, Jr., MD, Chair in Pediatric Urology which he held from 2004 to 2012. A strong belief in advanced training for young surgeons led Dr. Gonzales to become a leader in the establishment and expansion of pediatric urology fellowship programs across the country. Together with a group of colleagues, he created an organized approach to selecting fellows and increasing the number of fellowships available. The American Urological Association manages fellowships today based on this work. As a result, pediatric urology fellowship positions have more than quadrupled since the early 1980s.

Dr. David E. Wesson
Dr. David E. Wesson is Associate Surgeon-in-Chief at Texas Children’s Hospital and Professor of Surgery and Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Wesson is well known internationally for participating in some of the earliest definitive studies on the non-operative treatment of solid organ injuries in children. His research brought about a new method of treating splenic trauma nonoperatively, and resulted in this protocol becoming the standard of care not only for children but also for all age groups.

In 1997, Dr. Wesson was appointed chief of Pediatric Surgery at Texas Children’s, a position he held until 2012. After arriving at Texas Children’s, building a superior trauma program became a goal. He recruited pediatric surgical subspecialists with the ability to care for children with a broad spectrum of traumatic injuries and continues to serve as a mentor to trauma residents and fellows. He led the effort to attain Level I accreditation for the Texas Children’s Hospital Trauma Center, and he served as its director from 2007 to 2014. He was also instrumental in building other programs such as the Texas Children’s Fetal Center, bariatric surgery and surgical oncology.