October 27, 2015


One of the perks about working at Texas Children’s is the comprehensive Total Rewards package we offer our employees, which includes health care coverage, retirement, paid time off and much more. With 2016 Benefits Annual Enrollment right around the corner, we are committed to helping you plan and select the benefits that best fit you and your family’s needs in the upcoming year.

Enrollment this year will be from Friday, October 30, through Friday, November 13. A newsletter highlighting your benefit options, some changes for 2016, and information on tools that can help make the enrollment process simple and successful was mailed to your home address on October 23.

If you want to change plans or coverage levels, or if you want to participate in the Health Care and/or Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts, you’ll need to elect your benefits during the enrollment period. If you don’t actively enroll during that time, your current benefits will automatically carry over next year, with the exception of Flexible Spending Accounts, which require you to actively enroll each year.

What’s new in 2016?
Here’s a short preview of what’s changing for 2016. You can learn more details in the 2016 Benefits Enrollment Guide on our benefits website.

  • CVS/caremark will be our prescription drug plan provider beginning January 1, 2016
  • More convenient retail locations including Walgreens
  • Mail-order pricing and quantities available only at CVS retail pharmacies
  • Modifications to the three medical plans
  • EPO and PPO prescription plan changes
  • In accordance with IRS guidelines the Health Care FSA limit has increased to $2,550
  • Changes to the PTO Sell Program due to regulatory requirements
  • New employees who join Texas Children’s on or after January 1, 2016 are immediately eligible for benefits

Where do I get more information about benefits?
Visit www.texaschildrensbenefits.org to learn more about your 2016 benefit options.

I need help selecting a plan. What resources are available?
You have access to Decision Direct, an interactive tool designed to help guide your decisions around which medical plan might work best for you and your family. Decision Direct is available on the benefits website under “Tools and Resources” and “Tools You Can Use To Decide”

How do I stay up to date with benefits information?
Text “TCHBENEFITS” to 88202 to receive important benefit reminders and activities year round.

How do I elect my benefits?
Log in to MOLI during Annual Enrollment and submit your 2016 benefits elections by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, November 13.

2016 Benefits and Well-Being Fair
There will be several opportunities during the upcoming weeks to ask questions about the 2016 Benefits package and to enroll in whatever plan you choose. Representatives from benefits vendors and Human Resources will be on hand during this year’s Benefits and Well-Being Fair from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, October 29, on The Auxiliary Bridge. This will also be a great opportunity to get your flu shot if you haven’t already done so.

We strongly encourage everyone to actively participate in Annual Enrollment. Life changes from year to year, so it is very important to take the time to review and assess our current benefits selections to ensure that they align with your personal health care and financial needs/goals. Take the lead today in making the best decisions for you and your loved ones.


Five outstanding Texas Children’s employees who exemplify leadership while upholding Texas Children’s mission and core values were honored October 23 at a luncheon naming the 2016 Catalyst Leadership Award recipients and the Catalyst Leader of the Year.

Six years ago, 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 in honor of Mark A. Wallace’s 20th anniversary as president and CEO. Nominations for the award are thoughtfully reviewed by the selection committee, which includes representatives from the organization’s senior executive team, Human Resources, Texas Children’s Board of Trustees, and Chief Executive Officer Mark A. Wallace.

“It was an impressive group of individuals nominated this year making the decision process extremely difficult,” Wallace said. “Please join me in congratulating these deserving individuals for their proven ability to lead by example both in their professional and personal lives.”

The 2016 Catalyst Leaders are:

Jamie Choi, Manager, Pharmacy
Preanka Desai, Administrative Supervisor, Radiology
Shannon Holland, Assistant Clinical Director, Nursing
Melissa Murrah, Director, Risk Management

The 2016 Catalyst Leader of the Year is Texas Children’s Pediatrics Humble/Atascocita Pediatrician Dr. Mark Farrior.

Farrior delivers the ultimate patient experience, both with his excellence in clinical practice, as well as his dedication to assist our physicians and staff to better care for all of our patients. “Leading tirelessly” is only the beginning of Farrior’s leadership style. He is one of the driving forces behind the usage of electronic medical records at Texas Children’s Pediatrics. He demonstrates excellent clinical judgment and serves as chairman for the TCP Practice Management Advisory Council, ensuring we provide the highest level of care for our patients and families.

“Dr. Farrior is an amazing person and physician,” said Dr. Stanley Spinner, chief medical officer and vice president of Texas Children’s Pediatrics. “Whenever we want to make something happen, Farrior is our go-to person. He’s always willing to go the extra mile.”

Farrior said being part of Texas Children’s is what keeps him going every day because the mission and guiding principles of the organization encourage him to focus on the quality of care he gives his patients. As for leadership, he said his best advice is to get involved and be engaged.

“Get on a committee, get to know the doctor’s in your group and help each other move forward,” he said. “We all are in this together.”

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

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

Five outstanding Texas Children’s employees were honored October 23 at a luncheon naming the 2016 Catalyst Leadership Award recipients and the Catalyst Leader of the Year.



The loud beeps and vibration from a small black pager alert providers that urgent communication is needed. But other than a number to call back, there isn’t much information these pages provide on either side of the equation. The physician doesn’t have accurate information as to the urgency of the page or what it may concern. The person paging doesn’t have any way to close the loop and know if the communication has been received by the right person.

“Pagers themselves are outdated,” said Dr. Joan Shook, chief safety officer. “Everyone is accustomed to using phones for communication and we know it’s much more efficient than paging.”

A group of physicians and administrative leaders spent months looking for a flexible solution to this communication problem. After reviewing several vendors for the job, the team chose SPOK, a mobile paging system that is HIPAA compliant to allow for fast, secure messaging and closed-loop communication.

“The reason we have on-call providers is to deliver the right care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” said Matt Girotto, vice president in the Department of Surgery. “This new system not only improves the way we talk to each other, it also improves our safety by ensuring a timely response for all of our patients’ needs.”

The new paging system allows select users to upload an on-call schedule, while allowing those on the schedule to go in and make changes as their on-call schedules change. The changes are made immediately and can be viewed across the system. The program allows you to search for the on-call provider in each specific unit, making communication with the right person for a case fast and easy.

“This new system brings much better communication among providers and even allows confidential texting about personal health information,” Shook said. “Bringing this into the clinical arena is a huge step forward for the organization and for our patients.”

The system also includes a personal device component that allows users to download a mobile app for communicating about patients. This allows provider-to-provider texts that are safe and secure. The app shows when a provider has received and read a message and even has a feature to automatically escalate a problem if the page is not viewed or answered.

“The vision is for our patients to receive the right care at the right time,” Shook said. “Excellent communication among providers only positively impact the care we are able to provide.”

This new scheduling system is officially live on Sunday, November 1. To download the mobile app and sign up for the new system, contact your leader.


Greg Alpers from Critical Care Services is the latest Texas Children’s Super Star employee. “Because practices such as shared governance and servant leaders are ingrained in the nursing profession, the idea that everyone is a leader is a reality and not simply a buzz word,” said Alpers. Read more of Alpers’ interview, and find out how you can nominate a Super Star.

Q&A: Greg Alpers, August 2015 Employee

Your name, title and department. How long have you worked here?
Greg Alpers, Inventory Control Coordinator, Critical Care Services. I have worked at Texas Children’s for 13 years.

What month are you Super Star for?
August 2015

Tell us how you found out you won a super star award.
It was the ultimate surprise party. My manager scheduled a meeting that I thought would result in a substantial “to-do list” for myself.

What does it mean to be recognized for the hard work you do? How has the organization helped you achieve your personal and professional goals?
It was a big kick for me to be thanked by a group that I admire and respect. Critical Care Services is a small department that supports the Intensive Care Units. My manager is highly supportive and ensures that I have the necessary access to work effectively. I have an extremely experienced and talented counterpart for a resource. There is a seasoned unit secretary who is always generous with her extensive knowledge. I have a network of helpful people in Facilities Operations, Supply Chain, Laundry Services, Security Services, and Information Services.

What do you think makes someone at Texas Children’s a super star?
The sort of people that I am in contact with in Cardiology Beds and Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit are people that I view as super stars. From the doctors to the nurses and the patient care assistants; the dedication and focus on the patient’s well-being is absolute.

What is your motivation for going above and beyond every day at work?
I really want to support the caregiver. Their need for supplies is so that they can help others.

What is the best thing about working at Texas Children’s?
The people are the best thing about working at Texas Children’s. You would be hard pressed to find a more selfless and professional group. It’s a very caring environment.

What does it mean to you that everyone at Texas Children’s is considered a leader? What is your leadership definition?
Anyone in the nursing units, including nurses, patient care assistants, and unit support assistants, can ask me for supplies at any time. It sometimes seems that everyone is a leader except for me. When I encounter a member of leadership they sometimes tell me what I need to do. More often than not, however, it is the leader who ends up with a task to do. Because practices such as shared governance and servant leaders are ingrained in the nursing profession, the idea that everyone is a leader is a reality and not simply a buzz word. To me, a leader is someone who takes ownership.

Anything else you want to share?
My wife was a registered nurse for 36 years. She obtained her state certification when she was nineteen, made nursing a career, and even added duel Masters Degrees to her resume. I was always proud of her accomplishments. My esteem for her increased many times after I began working at Texas Children’s Hospital.


Dr. Mingshan Xue, a Carolina DeLuca scholar and researcher at the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s, has been awarded the Janett Rosenberg Trubatch Career Development Award.

This award is conferred by the Society for Neuroscience, the world’s largest professional organization of neuroscientists and physicians dedicated to understanding the brain and the nervous system. The award recognizes two early-career scientists for their originality and creativity in neuroscience research.

Xue was recognized for his significant contributions to the study of cortical circuits. As a graduate student at Baylor College of Medicine, he demonstrated that a protein that regulates neurotransmitter release performs opposite functions in mammals and fruit fly models, highlighting the importance of species differences while also explaining how this and other proteins are able to control neurotransmitter release.

His current research focuses on the balance of excitatory and inhibitory signaling in the cortex, and how this balance is disrupted in neurological disorders like autism spectrum disorder and epilepsy.

Xue, an assistant professor in the Department of Neuroscience at Baylor, received this prestigious honor during the Society for Neuroscience’s annual conference in October.

October 20, 2015

102115TransitionMedinside640Texas Children’s Transition Medicine Team hosted its third annual dinner event with the evening’s theme – Transition is a Victory. The celebration was held at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women in conjunction with the 16th Annual Chronic Illness and Disability Conference. More than 100 people attended the dinner to learn about the progress Texas Children’s has made developing transition solutions.

Nearly 90 percent of children born with chronic or disabling conditions are surviving into adulthood. People with sickle cell disease are living into their sixties and the number of adults with cystic fibrosis now outnumbers the children. This victory has left providers and hospitals nationwide with the challenge of defining and constructing appropriate and timely transitions of care.

Transition Medicine describes the planned process of educating, coordinating and transferring patient care from the pediatric to the adult health care system in a way that optimizes a patient’s health and ability to function. Texas Children’s is dedicated to helping patients transfer care smoothly without a decline or break in their treatment.

Many young adults between the ages of 18 to 21 transition their care to adult providers when they leave for college or enter the workforce. But for those with complex chronic pediatric diseases, transitioning is a struggle filled with barriers and challenges that include patient maturity, psychosocial and family needs, coordination and reimbursement issues, and identification of adult providers able to care for unique patient populations.

At the conference and the dinner, Texas Children’s patients, family and staff shared their inspirational stories and spoke to the importance of a solid transition program. The conference featured discussions on legal issues and quality improvement strategies involved in health care transition, as well as opportunities to meet and talk with faculty, exchange ideas among participants, and share knowledge and information about how best to plan for a successful transition from pediatric to adult care.

Physician speakers from Texas Children’s delivered presentations including conference founder and chair Dr. Albert Hergenroeder and Drs. Heidi Schwarzwald, Carla Tapia and Connie Wiemann.

Administration leaders John Nickens, Diane Scardino, and Daniel DiPrisco along with Drs. Marcia Katz, Angelo Giardino and Albert Hergenroeder spoke about educational efforts, innovative quality and process improvement strategies and recognized supporters of transition medicine. They were joined by family advisor, Jeb Ligums who awarded the 2015 Benjamin B. Ligums Scholar to Dr. Rebecca Laster from Texas Children’s Pediatrics Gulfton location. The scholar program allows a provider in the community to receive training on the adult special needs population and project management assistance in setting up a referral process between providers.

The dinner also included a presentation from Texas Children’s congenital heart patient Kristin Edwards who shared her touching story of transition from pediatric to an adult care at Texas Children’s. The evening wrapped up with Dr. Ahmet Uluer, director of the Weitzman Family BRIDGES Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, who spoke in support of a collaborative nationwide approach to Transition Medicine.

Click here to watch a video about Texas Children’s Transition Medicine Program. For questions or additional information, contact Kris Barton at Ext. 4-1265 or email her at krbarton@texaschildrens.org

102115LeeWoodruffGrandRounds640Her husband went from telling the evening news to being the news and Lee Woodruff took on a role no one could have predicted. When ABC News Anchor Bob Woodruff was injured by a roadside bomb while reporting in Iraq, Lee immediately took on the role of a lifetime, caretaker to a loved one with a traumatic brain injury.

With four children waiting for their dad to come home, Lee was determined to walk out of those hospital doors with her husband, but there was a long road to that day.

Woodruff was invited to Texas Children’s by Physician-in-Chief Dr. Mark W. Kline who asked her to speak at the Department of Pediatrics grand rounds expressing her patient perspective.

“You probably don’t hear this from us as patient families enough, but thank you,” Woodruff said to the group. “As you do your job, I hope you remember that families heal together so include them in the equation.”

Woodruff asked the auditorium full of physicians to remember to care for the entire family. She recalled a turning point during her husband’s hospital stay when someone asked how she was doing. A moment she won’t forget, patient-and-family centered care at its core.

For Woodruff, whose husband endured a difficult path to recovery, there is one message she finds most important. While being sensitive to not give false promises, she asked providers to think before the difficult discussions.

“Just think, ‘how can we have this conversation differently?’” Woodruff said. “How can you leave room for hope?”

For Woodruff and her family, it was the nurses who provided that hope by sharing stories of success and survival of other patients who had brain injuries similar to that of her husband. Woodruff held on to that hope and eventually did see her husband wake up, regain his strength and recover from his brain injury. She said those few months in the hospital changed her perspective and left her forever grateful to the work of those dedicated to healing the sick.

Bob Woodruff did eventually walk out of that hospital room with his wife and continues to report at ABC News. Now a CBS news contributor and New York Times best-selling author, Lee has partnered up with her husband to use their experiences in inspiring groups like the physicians at Texas Children’s and help wounded veterans.