June 10, 2015

61015adelinemata640Formerly conjoined twin Adeline Faith Mata joined her family June 9 after being discharged from Texas Children’s Hospital. Her sister, Knatalye Hope, went home May 8, less than three months after she and Adeline underwent a successful separation surgery.

Dressed in matching striped pastel sundresses and accompanied by their 5-year-old brother, Azariah, the girls sat on their parents’ laps and smiled for cameras capturing the memorable event.

“We are so pleased with the progress of both Adeline and Knatalye following their first-of-its-kind separation surgery earlier this year,” said Dr. Darrell Cass, pediatric surgeon, co-director of Texas Children’s Fetal Center and associate professor of surgery, pediatrics and obstetrics and gynecology at Baylor College of Medicine. “They will both require additional therapies as they continue to grow, but we are thrilled with their outcomes and are optimistic they will continue to do very well.”

The Mata family will reside in Houston temporarily for follow-up appointments at the hospital before returning to their hometown of Lubbock.

“The past year has been such a whirlwind for our family and we are so thankful we can finally have both girls home with us,” said Elysse Mata, mother of the twins. “In addition to the great care our girls received, the thoughts, prayers and outpouring of love from the community really helped get us through the last year and we are grateful for everyone’s continued support.”

Knatalye and Adeline were born on April 11 at 3:41 a.m. at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, estimated to weigh 3 pounds, 7 ounces each. Delivered via Caesarean-section at 31 weeks gestation, Knatalye and Adeline were welcomed by their parents, Elysse and John Eric Mata, and their older brother, Azariah.

The family learned during a routine ultrasound on Jan. 13, 2014 that Elysse was carrying twins and they were conjoined. Subsequently, the family was referred to 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.

The girls spent the first 10 months of their lives in the Level IV neonatal intensive care unit at Texas Children’s. In December 2014, they underwent chest and abdomen area. The tissue expanders helped to stretch their skin in preparation for the separation surgery.

During their historic separation surgery in February, a team of more than 26 clinicians including 12 surgeons, six anesthesiologists and eight surgical nurses, among others, worked together to separate the girls who shared a chest wall, lungs, pericardial sac (the lining of the heart), diaphragm, liver, intestines, colon and pelvis. During the complex surgery, the team worked for approximately 23 hours on Knatalye and 26 hours on Adeline with the official separation occurring approximately 18 hours into the surgery. Among the surgical subspecialties involved were pediatric surgery, plastic surgery, cardiovascular surgery, urology, liver transplant surgery, orthopedic surgery and pediatric gynecology.

Following their separation surgery, the girls were cared for by a multidisciplinary team in the hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit before moving to lower-acuity units prior to discharge. Both girls also underwent additional surgeries including the removal of rods from their pelvises and the placement of a gastrostomy button in each girl. Adeline also underwent a tracheostomy surgery in April to aid in her breathing and lung development and was discharged on a ventilator to provide additional breathing support. Knatalye and Adeline continue to receive physical and occupational therapy after recovering from surgery and will be carefully followed by pediatric subspecialty experts.

“When I first met the Mata family and learned of the diagnosis, I was optimistic we would have a positive outcome,” Cass said.  “It is with great joy to watch them leave the hospital and I look forward to the day Elysse shares with me pictures of them walking into kindergarten together.”

June 9, 2015

U.S.News and World Report released its 2015-2016 Best Children’s Hospitals list today, and Texas Children’s Hospital maintained the no. 4 spot among the 184 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 rankings reflect what we all already know, that the trajectory of Texas Children’s is incredible. In our relatively short 60 year history we have achieved amazing feats. Through the commitment and enthusiasm our staff and employees display each and every day for our mission, we have become, and will continue to be, one of the preeminent resources for health and hope to all children and their families.”

U.S. News surveyed 184 pediatric centers to obtain clinical data in 10 specialties and asked 150 pediatric specialists in each specialty where they would send the sickest children. This year, specialty certified physicians were able to participate in Doximity in addition to the sampling of 150 specialty certified physicians.

These rankings are the result of a methodology that weighs a combination of outcome and care-related measures such as nursing care, advanced technology, credentialing, outcomes, best practices, infection prevention, and reputation, among other factors.

There were 83 hospitals that ranked in at least one specialty, and 12 hospitals were named to the honor roll, listed below:

Ranking Hospital Points Specialties in top 10
1 Boston Children’s Hospital 20 10
2 Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia 19 10
3 Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center 15 10
4 Texas Children’s Hospital, Houston 12 6*
5 Children’s Hospital Colorado, Aurora 7 6
6 Seattle Children’s Hospital 7 5
7 Children’s Hospital Los Angeles 6 5
8 Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC 6 4
9 Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, Ohio 5 5
10 Children’s National Medical Center, Washington, D.C. 5 3
11 Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago 3 3
11 Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta 3 3

The 12 children’s hospitals on the 2015-16 Honor Roll ranked at or near the top in three or more specialties. The order is by total points. A hospital that ranked among the highest 5 percent in a specialty received 2 points; a hospital that ranked in the next 5 percent got 1 point. Ties were broken by the number of specialties in which points were earned.

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:

  • #2 Cardiology & heart surgery
  • #2 Neurology & neurosurgery
  • #2 Pulmonology
  • #3 Urology
  • #4 Cancer
  • #4 Nephrology (kidney disorders)
  • #10 Diabetes & endocrinology
  • #11 Gastroenterology (digestive disorders)
  • #26 Neonatology
  • #26 Orthopedics

This year’s ranking demonstrates some significant gains among several Texas Children’s services. Here are a few highlights:

  • 7 services scored in the top 10*
  • 6 services were ranked among the top 5
  • 3 of the services among the top 5 now rank no. 2 in the nation
  • 7 of the 10 services maintained or increased their rank from 2014 (4 increased, 3 maintained)

* Note: Texas Children’s has services in the top 10 list in 7 categories. And of those, 6 are among the top 10 percent of all hospitals ranked.

“While we’re very proud of this achievement, we are never satisfied,” Wallace said. “We will continue to push ourselves and drive for even better results. Because ultimately, it’s not about a numerical ranking – it’s about delivering the best possible care and service to the patients and families who entrust us with their lives.”

The 2015-16 edition of Best Children’s Hospitals is available online at usnews.com/childrenshospitals.


Dr. Jennifer Arnold, neonatologist and medical director of Texas Children’s Simulation Center, is serving as the face of a grassroots advocacy effort called Speak Now for Kids through Children’s Hospital Association (CHA). Arnold has been involved in promoting children’s hospital initiatives to legislators after visiting the hill with her husband and their children to speak about children’s hospitals last year.

Representatives from Texas Children’s Hospital are joining children’s hospitals from across the nation in Washington, D.C. next week for the annual Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) Family Advocacy Day. The hospitals along with patient families speak with members of Congress to advocate for issues impacting children’s health. CHA continues to promote Speak Now for Kids, a grassroots initiative to get patient families and health care providers to promote issues that matter to pediatric patients by reaching out to their legislators.

Texas children’s patients representing the hospital in D.C. this year with their families include Audrina Cardenas. Born with her heart outside her chest, Audrina was delivered at Texas Children’s and underwent a strenuous surgery before being cared for at the hospital over several months. Lauryn Audrict’s family traveled to Houston from their home in Louisiana for Lauryn to receive her care at Texas Children’s Hospital. Lauryn underwent a frontal and temporal lobectomy in August 2013. Dr. Angus Wilfong, medical director of the comprehensive epilepsy program, will accompany the patients on the trip and make visits to key representatives and senators.

The team is once again promoting important legislation that would 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.

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 conditions.

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 messages on 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. Vote. Elected officials are elected by you to represent you. Register to vote and practice your right to do so. The best way to ensure your legislators listen is to vote for them.


Have you ever thought about becoming a runner, one of those people who laces up their brightly colored shoes and takes off rain or shine just to get some exercise? Or, maybe you already are an avid runner and simply enjoy logging in the miles. If you are either of these people, or are somewhere in between, now is the time to hit the pavement.

Texas Children’s Hospital recently was chosen to be an official charity for the January 17, 2016 Houston Marathon and Half Marathon, which means you can run for a reason. You can be on the Texas Children’s Running Team and fundraise on behalf of Texas Children’s Hospital, knowing your donations will directly impact the lives of countless sick children. The team is led by Kelli Calderwood, an employee of Texas Children’s and a sponsored distance runner. Read her blog post about the run here.

61015runforreasoninside200Signing up for the Houston Marathon and Half Marathon as a Texas Children’s Runner guarantees your entry into the race distance of your choice and all of the money you raise will go directly to the Promise Campaign, which focuses on five key initiatives:

  • CareFirst, for the expansion of our Critical Care services, ORs/PACU and Emergency Center at the Main Camp
  • Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands, our new 548,000-square-foot dedicated pediatric hospital serving the growing communities north of Houston
  • Endowed Chairs, which are a powerful tool in recruiting and retaining world-class physicians and scientists
  • Divisions and Centers of Excellence to provide ongoing support for specialty care programs and projects
  • Charity Care and hospital priorities, to help alleviate the financial burdens families take on with complex medical care and to provide flexible funds to address the hospital’s most pressing needs at any given time.

There is no better excuse to try something new or hone what you already know. Make your promise today and join the Texas Children’s Running Team. Here’s how:

Fundraise to Run

A fundraising entry is a way for runners to secure a guaranteed entry to the race of their choice, while fundraising for Texas Children’s Hospital. The minimum fundraising milestone to receive the guaranteed entry is $1,500 ($500 for Texas Children’s employees). Please complete this form and email it to Kelli Calderwood at kkcalder@texaschildrens.org to sign up and secure your registration. Donations can be received from May 2015 – February 2016. These donations can come from friends, family and employer matching programs. Some of the perks of being on the team:

  • Custom Texas Children’s race jersey
  • Prizes for fundraising milestones
  • Organized team runs
  • Access to a trained and experienced marathoner
  • Calls with a Development Manager to assist you in your fundraising efforts
  • A sponsored pre-race pasta dinner
  • A post-race party
  • A wild cheering station to cheer you to the finish
  • A personal tour of Texas Children’s Hospital – to show how your hard work will pay off
  • And much more!

Fundraising Milestone Prizes

  • $350 – A set of notecards designed by a Texas Children’s patient
  • $500 – Texas Children’s tumbler
  • $1,000 – Texas Children’s tee shirt
  • $1,500 – Texas Children’s hat
  • $2,000 – Texas Children’s sports bag
  • $5,000 – Framed artwork, painted by a Texas Children’s patient
  • $10,000 – A 2016 Ambassadors Membership

Support the Team

To support the Texas Children’s running team with a donation, please visit our fundraising page.


Fetal Center nurse Laura Mollett finally is getting the smile of her dreams, thanks to Texas Children’s discounted orthodontia services for employees.

Mollett, a nurse in the Fetal Center, had braces when she was young but they weren’t maintained properly and her teeth shifted. As an adult, she often thought about getting her teeth corrected but knew she didn’t have the time to make the regular appointments.

That changed when she learned Texas Children’s offers discounted orthodontia services in house to its employees. Mollett said she saw a flier about the services at a bridge event and called immediately. She got an appointment shortly afterward and is well on her way to having straight teeth again.

“It’s a wonderful program,” Mollett said. “In addition to the cost savings, it’s convenient. They get you in and out really fast because they know how important it is to get you back to work.”

Beginning in January, Texas Children’s began offering traditional braces and Invisalign at a discounted price to all employees, regardless of whether they are enrolled in the organization’s dental coverage. The services cannot be claimed under the dental plan or any other insurance plan, however eligible out-of-pocket expenses can be reimbursed through the Healthcare FSA.

Total out-of-pocket costs for these discounted services are:

  • Traditional braces: $3,000
  • Invisalign: $3,500

Dr. John Wirthlin, a craniofacial orthodontist on Texas Children’s cleft lip and palate team, leads the orthodontia program and said an added bonus to the discount is the convenience on-site orthodontia services offers to the patient.

“You would have to take a half a day off a month if you received services off campus,” Wirthlin said. “If you get your services here, all you have to do is walk over to the Clinical Care Center.”

The Orthodontic Clinic is located on the eighth floor of the Clinical Care Center.

For more information on this program, please call Ext. 2-3920 or email orthodonticptline@texaschildrens.org.


Since implementing error prevention training almost a year ago, more than half of Texas Children’s employees – 8,075 clinical and nonclinical staff – have completed their required training. While these numbers are impressive, our goal is to achieve 100 percent compliance by Tuesday, June 30.

In July 2014, Texas Children’s launched error prevention training to ensure all employees and medical staff across the organization are equipped with the necessary tools to keep patients safe. This training initiative is a critical component of our CareFirst promise – to focus on what’s right for our employees and medical staff, and most importantly, what’s right for our patients, their families and their care.

Error prevention training is based on the notion that every Texas Children’s employee – regardless of job title or position – plays an important role in preventing and eliminating preventable harm to patients.

“Every day, we provide care to the sickest of the sick at Texas Children’s, and when you’re taking care of that many severely ill children and women, it’s a great challenge,” said Texas Children’s President and CEO Mark A. Wallace. “Everyone recognizes that creating a safe environment – focusing on safety and error omission – is job one. Doing no harm to our patients is first and foremost.”

That’s where error prevention training comes into play. Texas Children’s Chief Safety Officer Dr. Joan Shook says delivering clear, concise and complete communication is paramount to ensuring the safest possible patient care.

“Once training is completed, employees know how to effectively communicate concerns requiring action, how to support a questioning attitude, and how to employ three-way communication to achieve greater clarity,” Shook said. “When everyone speaks a common language and shares the same expectations, we can eliminate preventable harm to patients.”

As part of our commitment to patient safety, Texas Children’s has pledged that every member of our workforce and medical staff receive this critical training. Frontline staff are required to take three hours of classroom training and non-clinical employees can complete their training online.

June 30 is the deadline to compete error prevention training. Click here to log in to the E-learning module.

“Error prevention training will propel us to the next level of safety at Texas Children’s and encourage employees to speak up when something doesn’t seem quite right,” Shook said. “We have a moral obligation. If we can prevent harm to patients, let’s prevent it.”

Click here to watch a CareFirst video highlighting how each of us can make patient care safer at Texas Children’s by advancing error prevention initiatives.


Aisha Jamal from Business Planning is the latest Texas Children’s Super Star employee. “I think a Super Star is someone who is passionate about Texas Children’s and our mission,” Jamal said. “It is someone who doesn’t just do what is expected but instead takes it to the next level, exceeding both one’s own as well as others’ expectations.”

Read more of Jamal’s interview:

Q&A: Aisha Jamal, February 2015 Employee

Your name, title and department. How long have you worked here?
Aisha Jamal, Senior Project Manager in Business Planning. I have worked at Texas Children’s Hospital for 7 years.

What month are you Super Star for?
February 2015

Tell us how you found out you won a super star award.
My executive Paola Álvarez-Malo called me in for an early morning meeting, and after we wrapped up, walked me back to our suite. I opened the door, the room was dark, and as I walked in, I heard “Surprise!!!!” My entire team was there and they had decorated my area with stars, lights, streamers, and confetti. My leader Roula Zoghbi Smith, told me about the award, and we celebrated with a team breakfast. It was a complete surprise, and I was so touched by this amazing and thoughtful celebration.

What does it mean to be recognized for the hard work you do?
It is an honor and a privilege to work at Texas Children’s, and I am very grateful for this award.

What do you think makes someone at Texas Children’s a super star?
I think a Super Star is someone who is passionate about Texas Children’s and our mission. It is someone who doesn’t just do what is expected but instead takes it to the next level, exceeding both one’s own as well as others’ expectations.

What is your motivation for going above and beyond every day at work?
I love everything Texas Children’s stands for and enjoy being able to contribute in some small way to our mission to heal sick children.

What is the best thing about working at Texas Children’s?
The wonderful people I get to work with every day! I have the most amazing colleagues and friends at Texas Children’s Hospital, and it is a joy to come to work and share my day with them (Paola, Roula, Megan, Thomas, Brad, Angie, Michelle and Josh).

Anything else you want to share?
I would like to thank all the wonderful people who have mentored me throughout my career here at Texas Children’s as well as all the members of the Business Planning, Financial Services, Corporate Finance, and Payroll teams. I’d especially like to thank Samantha Raffield, Neil, Jennifer Wilson, Alec King and most of all Paola Álvarez–Malo.