December 22, 2015

On New Year’s Day, 13-year old Peyton Richardson and her family will ride on a float at the 127th Rose Parade for Northwestern Mutual, the presenting sponsor for the 2016 Rose Bowl game in Pasadena, CA. The theme of this year’s parade is Find your Adventure.

Peyton, who was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia in January 2015, is an aspiring ballerina who dreams of traveling around the world to visit the greatest ballet companies and to take a class with each of their principal dancers.

When Dr. Zoann Dreyer, her doctor at Texas Children’s Cancer Center, introduced her to Northwestern Mutual’s video contest, Peyton jumped at the opportunity to share her greatest adventure. Using her mother’s cell phone, she and her mom produced a video at home in their backyard.

After receiving numerous submissions from across the country, Northwestern Mutual selected Peyton’s video. Her greatest adventure and powerful message about not letting leukemia stop her from dreaming big are the inspiration for Northwestern Mutual’s float design aimed at raising awareness about childhood cancer.

“Cancer can take my hair. Cancer can take my school. Cancer can take some friends, but cancer is not going to take ballet,” said Carrie Richardson, as she recalled her daughter’s video message. “It was so powerful that Northwestern Mutual’s contest selection team fell in love with her.”

With the help of the Richardson family, Northwestern Mutual unveiled its float design that Peyton inspired for the 2016 Rose Parade during a special event at Texas Children’s Cancer Center on December 3, which also included a $25,000 check presentation from Northwestern Mutual to the Cancer Center.

“The name of the float is Dancing into Adventure,” Peyton said. “The swans have gold cancer ribbons around their necks because gold is childhood cancer awareness. On the music box with the ballerina, there’s the Australian ballet, the New York City ballet and the Royal Ballet. Those are the landmarks where I want to visit.”

The float will also be decorated with red roses that will be placed in green vials and affixed to the float. The vials contain signatures from Texas Children’s patients and their families. Everyone who signed the vials can “ride” on the float with Peyton.

“It’s really this link together through Peyton and Northwestern Mutual to bring awareness to childhood cancer and the need for research funds, and really to show that children with cancer can live and survive and have wonderful and meaningful lives,” Dreyer said. “There is a huge message in that float.”

Besides helping to design the float, Peyton will wear a beautiful Tiffany blue costume at the Rose Parade assembled by the Houston Ballet’s lead costume designer.

With just days away until her greatest adventure comes alive on national television, Peyton’s excitement is building.

“Once we are on the plane and we land, I think I am going to be like, “Wow, this is really happening. I’m going to be in the Rose Parade,” Peyton said. “I can’t wait.”

Neither can her mom.

“For us to be there, it’s like the end of a very long and hard year for her and our family,” Carrie said. “We’re very excited.”

Watch Peyton and her family ride on the Northwestern Mutual float in the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day. The parade will be broadcast on NBC at 10 a.m.

122315DirectEnergy640At a December 18 celebration, Texas Children’s Hospital announced a $5 million commitment from Direct Energy to the hospital’s Promise Campaign. The gift will be used to help expand Texas Children’s Heart Center in order to serve more children in the Houston community, Texas and the nation.

Direct Energy’s commitment is the largest corporate gift ever made to a Texas Children’s campaign priority. Nearly 200 employees from both institutions gathered at Texas Children’s to celebrate and hear remarks from Mark A. Wallace, president and CEO of Texas Children’s; Michael C. Linn, a member of Texas Children’s Board of Trustees and chair, along with his wife Carol, of the Promise Campaign; and Badar Khan, president and CEO of Direct Energy.

“Direct Energy’s generous support will help ensure Texas Children’s is able to continue to provide highly specialized care to each and every child who comes to us for help – and particularly to those who are the most critically ill and have the most complex needs,” Wallace said.

One of the highest priorities within the Promise Campaign is the expansion of the critical, surgical and emergency care services and facilities at the Texas Medical Center campus, including Texas Children’s Heart Center.

“Texas Children’s is a world-class provider of pediatric care and Direct Energy is proud to join forces with this extraordinary institution and make this meaningful gift,” Khan said. “We know our partnership with Texas Children’s will make a difference in the health and well-being of countless children and families.”

Texas Children’s recently began construction on a new 640,000-square-foot, 19-story pediatric tower. Texas Children’s Heart Center will be expanded and relocated to this pediatric tower to provide complex care more efficiently and serve even more patients. The new facility will also house pediatric intensive care units, cardiovascular intensive care units and operating rooms.

Texas Children’s Heart Center is ranked No. 2 nationally in cardiology and heart surgery by U.S. News & World Report. Each year, Texas Children’s Heart Center specialists see 20,000 patients in outpatient clinics. In 2014, Texas Children’s surgeons performed 900 congenital heart surgeries and 32 heart transplants – more than any other pediatric hospital in the nation. Texas Children’s has also pioneered many of the now-standard cardiac procedures used around the world.

Promise: The Campaign for Texas Children’s Hospital is a comprehensive, $475 million fundraising effort launched in 2014 to help ensure the hospital meets the increasing need for specialized care for Houston’s rapidly growing pediatric community. For more information about the Promise campaign, visit

122315HandHygiene640Texas Children’s Hand Hygiene Committee recently organized a hand hygiene contest to underscore the importance of cleaning our hands before patient contact and to improve unit-based compliance rates which will help staff achieve their house-wide goal of 95 percent compliance or higher. This awareness campaign was primarily a nurse-led initiative to ensure hand hygiene continues to remain top priority for our health care providers while effectively preventing the transmission of germs.

“We must to do everything in our power to prevent patients from getting a hospital-acquired infection,” said Texas Children’s Infection Preventionist Darleen Yepes. “Hand hygiene is simple and effective but we need to be compliant 100 percent of the time. The purpose of the contest was to engage the staff in creating a hand hygiene campaign to raise awareness at the unit level through posters and a slogan.”

Participants included frontline staff from 22 inpatient units at Texas Children’s Main Campus, the Pavilion for Women and Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus. Each unit displayed their hand hygiene campaign flyer and poster at the entrance to their unit where it could be visible to doctors, nurses, therapists, patients and families.

Each unit’s hand hygiene compliance is measured by “secret” shoppers to determine how many opportunities to perform hand hygiene are met and how many opportunities are missed. Weekly and monthly compliance rates are measured and reported to the leadership team on each unit.

Our Hand Hygiene Committee members and executive leaders – Mary Jo Andre, John Nickens, Jackie Ward, Trudy Leidich, Dr. Judith Campbell and Dr. Lucy Marquez – judged the posters based on the following criteria: creativity of the hand hygiene slogan and theme, visual appeal of the images used and effectiveness of messaging content.

The first place winning unit from Main Campus/Abercrombie was the Hematology/Oncology unit from 9 West Tower. The slogan from Hematology was Germ Busters. Staff members played music and sang a catchy jingle for the judges. They also engaged patients and families. One of the mothers who wanted to reinforce hand hygiene among her family visitors came up with a cute rhyme about “cooties” and handwashing which she posted on the door and inside the patient’s room. Her sign is now posted outside every patient door on the unit as a reminder to perform hand hygiene.

The first place winning unit from Pavilion for Women/West Campus was the PFW NICU. The PFW NICU slogan was “Ask Me” if I have cleaned my hands and I’ll ask you the same.” The judges thought it was a very simple but highly effective poster because the ultimate goal is to change the culture where everyone will speak up and gently remind each other if we forget to perform hand hygiene.

“We thank all of the units for their participation,” Yepes said. “It truly reflects their commitment to helping us create a safe environment for our patients free from hospital-acquired infections by adhering to hand hygiene practices.”

Click on the photo gallery below from the hand hygiene competition.

122315PCICS640Intensivists, cardiologists, cardiovascular surgeons, nurses, and outcomes and quality experts from Texas Children’s Heart Center and Baylor College of Medicine served as presenters and moderators during the Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Society (PCICS) 11th International Meeting held December 9 through 11 in Houston.

Nearly 300 cardiovascular experts from 13 countries met during the two-day multidisciplinary, interactive conference, which includes cutting-edge research presentations and panel discussions. PCICS is an international professional forum for promoting excellence in pediatric cardiac critical care medicine. Through programs, meetings and educational curriculums, the society has a large role in vital research and training that will improve the level of care of pediatric patients with congenital heart disease and acquired cardiovascular disease.

“I’m thrilled so many of our leading Heart Center experts presented and moderated at this year’s conference in front of an international audience,” said Dr. Paul Checchia, medical director of the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU) at Texas Children’s and president of the PCICS.

Checchia, who also serves as a professor of pediatrics-critical care and cardiology at Baylor, and Dr. Lara Shekerdemian, chief of critical care medicine at Texas Children’s and professor of pediatrics-critical care and cardiology at Baylor, were program directors of the meeting. The 11 Texas Children’s Heart Center experts who presented or moderated throughout the meeting include:

  • Dr. Patricia Bastero, pediatric intensive care physician at Texas Children’s and associate professor of pediatrics-critical care at Baylor, presented: Lessons Learned from Simulation: How to Keep a Safe Environment for Real Life Event Debriefings.
  • Kathleen Carberry, director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Outcomes and Impact Service, moderated: Wave the Magic Wand: What do Bedside Nurses Need to Create a Safer Culture?
  • Dr. Charles D. Fraser Jr., surgeon-in-chief and chief of congenital heart surgery at Texas Children’s and professor of surgery and chief of the division of congenital heart surgery at Baylor, moderated: The Risks We Used to Take: Panel of Innovators.
  • Trudy Leidich, director of quality and safety at Texas Children’s, presented: Reassurance vs. Criminal Charges, How Do We Handle/Talk About Errors?
  • Dr. Carlos Mery, congenital heart surgeon at Texas Children’s and assistant professor of surgery-congenital heart surgery at Baylor, presented: Congenital Heart Disease in Mexico: Building Programs and Changing Paradigms.
  • Dr. Jack Price, pediatric cardiologist at Texas Children’s and associate professor of pediatrics-cardiology at Baylor, presented: Candidate Selection: Different Views from Across the Spectrum – Medical.
  • Dr. Craig Rusin, cardiology research core, physiological signal processing and algorithm development at Texas Children’s and assistant professor of pediatrics-cardiology at Baylor, presented: Capturing Data in CVICU: When is Enough, Enough?
  • Kerry Sembera, CVICU nurse at Texas Children’s, served on the panel: Wave the Magic Wand: What do Bedside Nurses Need to Create a Safer Culture? and presented: Improving Patient Outcomes: Just in Time!
  • Shekerdemian moderated: The Future is Now: Updates on Trials and Research and present: PHN/NIH Update.
  • Dr. James Thomas, pediatric intensive care physician at Texas Children’s and professor of pediatrics-critical care at Baylor, presented: Ethics in ECMO: How to Handle Difficult Cases.
  • Dr. Eric Williams, medical director of quality at Texas Children’s and associate professor of pediatrics-critical care at Baylor, presented: Being Resilient: The Cardiac ICU as a Complex Socio-Technical System.

122315Acutecare640To meet the growing need for pediatric inpatient acute care beds, the Acute Care Nursing Team has opened a temporary Acute Care Holding Unit (ACHU). The unit is located in the West Tower on the fourth floor (across from the NICU Sibling’s Playroom-Old NICU pod S) and can hold up to 10 non-complex, low acuity care patients.

The purpose of the ACHU is to improve patient flow through the Emergency Center (EC) by moving patients from a bed in the EC to an area where they will be cared for by an Acute Care RN. This move will free up high acuity EC beds which are currently being occupied by low acuity care patients.

“Texas Children’s has been experiencing unprecedented patient volumes,” said Monica Simmons, assistant clinical director of nursing for the ACHU. “This morning there were 25 patients holding in the Emergency Center waiting for a bed to open in the Acute Care units. This creates a backlog in the EC because the beds are occupied and new patients cannot be seen.”

By moving acute care patients to this new area, the beds in the EC will be used to see additional patients which will help reduce wait times in the EC and improve patient flow and patient satisfaction. It will also free the EC staff to care for the EC patients (which is their practice specialty) and allow acute care patients to be cared for by Acute Care staff.

The ACHU at West Tower is a temporary holding unit until the new 16-bed inpatient acute care unit opens on 5 North Abercrombie in March 2016. The unit will see primarily Pediatric Hospital Medicine patients of all ages and all diagnoses. The unit is currently under construction.

From now until March 2016, the ACHU will be open Mondays at 7 p.m. to Fridays at 7 p.m. to reflect the hospital’s highest census times.

122315nurseresident640The July 2015 class of nurse residents were recognized at their graduation ceremony on December 10. Chief Nursing Officer Mary Jo Andre delivered an inspirational welcome to the graduates and guests – encouraging the graduates to get involved and to stay connected with their fellow nurse residents.

The 47 graduates were applauded by proud friends, family members, co-workers and leaders as they received their certificates. Each nurse resident was required to select a project to work on during their residency. The posters illustrating their respective projects were on display at the graduation ceremony. All attendees were encouraged to view the poster projects and graduates were available to respond to questions.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, graduates and their guests enjoyed refreshments.

Nursing Professional Development Specialist Megnon Stewart, who shepherded the graduates through their residency program, described the July 2015 class as “extraordinary. The nurse residents went above and beyond to give back to their units as shown through their evidence based and/or quality improvement projects.”

Stewart also recognized Clinical Training and Development Coordinator Jaime Choate who helped co-lead the group; as well as the educators, clinical nurse specialists and the nurse residents preceptors who ensured that each resident had a successful orientation.

122315radiothon640Cox Media Group Houston recently held the 12th annual Cure Kids Cancer Radiothon benefitting Texas Children’s Cancer Center, the largest pediatric cancer center in the nation. This year’s radiothon raised more than $592,000.

During the two-day radiothon, DJs on Country Legends and The Eagle broadcasted live from Texas Children’s and shared inspiring patient stories with listeners, encouraging them to take action and back the cause. Funds raised during the radiothon will support innovative research and treatment advances aimed at treating and curing childhood cancer. Texas Children’s Cancer Center strives to provide personalized, comprehensive services that address both the physical and emotional aspects of the disease.

Cox Media Group Houston has raised millions of dollars for Texas Children’s Cancer Center since the Cure Kids Cancer Radiothon began in 2004. In appreciation of their long-standing partnership, Texas Children’s has recognized Cox Media Group Houston with a special naming opportunity in the Cancer Center Infusion Play Area.

Click here for more information about Texas Children’s Cancer Center.