November 15, 2016

111616epilepsyinside640Imagine being a parent of a child who has uncontrollable seizures. After numerous doctor visits and four failed medication attempts, the cause of your child’s seizures remains a mystery. That was the grim reality Mallory Hansen and her husband, Craig, faced after their son’s epilepsy diagnosis.

“When Noah was 10 weeks old, we noticed he was not acting normally,” Hansen said. “We learned he was experiencing infantile spasms. He would have anywhere from 10 to 30 seizures a day, and with each occurrence, he experienced 30 to 100 epileptic twitches.”

Despite being diagnosed with epilepsy at four months old, Noah underwent numerous tests including MRIs, blood work, EEGs, seeing a neurologist and a genetic doctor to pinpoint the cause of his seizures, but still no answers. When their son was two years old, the Hansens relocated to Houston and Noah’s medical files were transferred to Texas Children’s Hospital. It was there that the family finally got the answers to their son’s perplexing medical condition.

“The neurology team at Texas Children’s performed more tests including nuclear medicine, MRIs and EEGs in their Epilepsy Monitoring Unit which meant Noah had to stay in the hospital for multiple days,” Hansen said. “It was after an MRI that the neurologist discovered the reason behind Noah’s seizures and epilepsy.”

At the age of two, Noah finally had a diagnosis: His right occipital lobe had brain tissue that did not develop correctly as an embryo which was causing his seizures.

Since previous medications didn’t stop Noah’s seizures, the only option remaining was brain surgery. During the first phase of surgery, an 8×6 grid was placed on the top of his brain like a mini EEG and electrodes were inserted to show the depth of Noah’s seizures. After two days of recording his seizures, Texas Children’s neurosurgeons had enough information to perform the resection surgery where they removed the bad tissue from Noah’s right occipital lobe.

Following two 12-hours operations, Noah has made a miraculous recovery with promising outcomes.

“Since his surgery in July 2014, Noah has not had a single seizure,” Hansen said. “Since May 2016, he’s been off all three of his seizure medications. Thanks to Texas Children’s, the entire epilepsy team, emergency unit, neurosurgeons, critical care team and all the staff we encountered, we are forever grateful.”

Like the Hansens, patients families from across the country come to Texas Children’s because of our neuroscience team’s multidisciplinary care and expertise in caring for the most difficult to treat neurological disorders.

Ranked No. 2 nationally in neurology and neurosurgery by U.S. News & World Report, Texas Children’s neurosurgery program is among the largest and most experienced pediatric neurosurgery units in the U.S., performing more than 950 surgeries annually for a broad range of pediatric neurosurgical disorders.

For more information about Texas Children’s Neuroscience Center, click here.

On November 2, Texas Children’s Cancer Center hosted the inaugural Pediatric Cancer Disparities Symposium, presented by Northwestern Mutual Foundation and Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. Experts from around the world attended in an effort to increase awareness of the disparities that exist for pediatric cancers, to stimulate the development of new research and to begin establishing a research strategy for addressing key disparities. The event included numerous panel discussions focusing on ways to improve outcomes for all children with cancer, regardless of their background.

111616playgarden640The playground adjacent to the Abercrombie Building will be closed for several months as it undergoes major renovations to create a new outdoor environment for our patients, families and staff.

Scheduled to be completed in spring 2017, this area will be entirely renovated to create a new “play garden” that includes multiple seating areas with shade structures, play equipment and new furnishings. The first three to four weeks will be the most disruptive with removal of existing structures and concrete. Facilities Project Management will need your team’s assistance to inform patients, families and staff about the noise that they will hear during this time.

The schedule below identifies the key activities that will occur during the next several weeks.

November 14 to Monday, December 12: Bellows will take over the construction site and block the “thru lane” on the Concourse drive.

  • Demo will include removal of concrete which may result in loud noise in this area for approximately three to four weeks. Complimentary ear plugs will be available for Valet staff and patients / visitors who will be in the area. This work will occur during normal business hours.
  • Lane closure has been coordinated with Valet and additional Valet staff will be in place to ensure vehicles are removed quickly from the concourse.
  • Signs have already been installed to direct pedestrian traffic.

December 12 plus four months: Bellows will begin to build back the area. Lane closures will be coordinated on an as-needed basis to allow for key deliveries and concrete pours.

The entire renovation project could take up to four months to complete.

For questions or concerns about this project, please contact Rene Hoelker at Ext. 4-2370.

111616wcveteransday640Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus honored its veterans on Veteran’s Day, November 11, with a photo tribute displayed across the campus.

Veteran’s Day is a time our country pays fitting tribute to our military veterans. The holiday coincides with other holidays, including Armistice Day and Remembrance Day, celebrated in other countries to mark the anniversary of the end of World War I. The United States previously observed Armistice Day before renaming it Veteran’s Day in 1954.

Texas Children’s thanks all its veterans for their service.

November 8, 2016

It was 11:20 on a Friday morning when a bus of 50 high school students were rushed to Texas Children’s Emergency Center (EC) with gunshot wounds, blast and shrapnel injuries and psychological trauma. Physicians, nurses and other critical care teams worked quickly to attend to the victims’ injuries.

“It was a tense situation with lots of patients coming in with different diagnoses,” said Natashia Bush, one of the night shift managers in the EC. “One of our logistical challenges was to figure out how to get everything done in one room and still have the ability to triage the patients out of the room and get new patients in the room for emergent care.”

While the scenes played out in our Emergency Center looked real, fortunately, this was only an exercise. Texas Children’s emergency response plan was put to the test during a comprehensive mass casualty incident exercise on October 7, which included nearly 150 Texas Children’s staff and employees and about 150 members of the Houston Police Department SWAT team, Houston Fire Department Emergency Medical Services and 400 students and staff at Michael E. DeBakey High School for Health Professions.

The exercise involved mock shootings, an improvised explosive device and a hostage situation at DeBakey High School. Many of the shooting victims were then brought to Texas Children’s Hospital EC. The intent was to help assess the organization’s mass casualty incident plan, emergency communications, incident command structure and patient flow.

“I think Texas Children’s did a fantastic job during this drill,” said Texas Children’s Executive Vice President Mark Mullarkey. “We saw it as an opportunity to learn and identify our gaps. Our ability to be critical of ourselves afterward is only going to make us improve as we move forward and be better prepared to serve the community.”

This was the first time Texas Children’s executed an emergency exercise of this scale and scope with external and internal participants. Having multiple agencies involved and simulating a mass casualty incident as realistically as possible helped our teams identify what went well with the exercise and what areas needed improvement.

“One thing we learned from this drill is that our response needs to be the same, regardless of what the incident is,” said Executive Vice President John Nickens. “We can always lower our intensity, but we should respond the same and be prepared. We are fortunate at Texas Children’s to have the resources and talent to do it.”

While triage in the Emergency Center was very fast and efficient which demonstrated the existing level of preparation with the EC, one particular area of improvement that topped the list was improving the flow of communication from the EC to other areas.

“While we have certainly identified areas for improvement, we should not consider this a failure, but rather it is the goal of our exercise,” said James Mitchell, assistant director of Texas Children’s Emergency Management. “We should also remember that we carry out preparedness efforts not simply to meet regulatory requirements, but because we support a vulnerable community, and care deeply about those we serve.”

In the coming weeks, Emergency Management will meet with all of the major group participants for feedback to create a formal, institutional mass casualty incident plan. The team will work with teams in Radiology, the ORs, PICU, the Blood Bank and other areas to conduct smaller scale tabletop exercises using the same scenario to ensure we have learned all lessons possible from this event.

11916drhollierpressganeyinside640Improving the experience for every patient and family who comes to Texas Children’s Hospital for surgery is a top priority for Dr. Larry Hollier, associate surgeon-in-chief for clinical affairs and chief of plastic surgery at Texas Children’s. Over the past two years, he has led the charge at the hospital to ensure every family feels there is no better place for their children to receive surgical care.

To honor him for his work in improving the patient experience at Texas Children’s, Press Ganey, a leading provider of patient experience management solutions, presented Hollier with the 2016 Physician of the Year award at the annual Press Ganey National Client Conference.

Members of the Ambulatory Surgery Patient Experience Workgroup and leaders throughout Texas Children’s nominated him for the award.

“Dr. Hollier is very passionate about the patient experience, and he embraces all of the different touch points that comprise a patient and family’s care experience,” said Sarah Maytum, assistant vice president of patient and family services at Texas Children’s. “In leading the Ambulatory Surgery Team, he not only sought input from front line staff, he listened, acted on their input and empowered staff members to take ownership of project implementation.”

Hollier has been responsible for leading patient experience innovations within the Department of Surgery including: same-day surgery consultation appointments, standardized pre-surgery materials, the surgery greeter program, direct scheduling for Texas Children’s Pediatrics providers and for Texas Children’s Emergency Center; surgical patient ingress/egress patterns; and a physician communication course, called Breakthrough Communications, aimed at enhancing the conversation between patients, families and caregivers. He has also been instrumental in advancing the hospital’s expertise in caring for patients with a range of complex conditions while simultaneously becoming a leader in outcomes measurement and patient experience.

Recently, the Meds to Beds program, which delivers post-surgery medications to a patient’s bedside before discharge, was highlighted in NEJM Catalyst as a highly innovative program. Meds to Beds not only enhances the surgery experience for patients and families, but has also resulted in improved pharmacist and OR staff satisfaction.

“We in the Department of Surgery are extremely proud of the extraordinary work being done at Texas Children’s to optimize the care experience of our patients and their families,” said Dr. Charles D. Fraser Jr., Texas Children’s surgeon-in-chief. “Dr. Larry Hollier has been an outstanding and visionary leader for the surgery service in partnering with Sarah Maytum and the Patient Relations team. His recognition by Press Ganey is a testimony not only to his enormous contributions, but to the effective team spirit we are so proud of in the Texas Children’s Hospital family.”

Hollier holds the S. Baron Hardy Endowed Chair in Plastic Surgery at Texas Children’s and serves as professor and chief of Plastic Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine. In addition, he is chairman of the Medical Advisory Board of Smile Train, an international children’s charity that provides free cleft repair surgery and comprehensive cleft care worldwide, and serves on the board of the Duke Global Health Institute focusing efforts on reducing health disparities. Hollier has authored more than 190 articles for scholarly and professional publications, written 37 book chapters and sits on the editorial board of numerous journals. His surgical specialties include craniofacial conditions, cleft lip and palate, and microsurgical hand repair.

11916compliancelancelightfoot175At Texas Children’s, doing what’s right is of the utmost importance to maintaining the quality of care we provide our patients, their families, and our Health Plan members. That’s why the role of the Compliance and Privacy Office is integral to our organization’s health and success.

The office’s team is committed to maintaining the highest ethical, legal and professional standards by providing leadership and oversight of all Texas Children’s business practices. Areas of prominent interest to the office include:

  • Safeguarding protected health information
  • Adhering to private payer billing standards
  • Complying with all state and federal laws and regulations as well as Texas Children’s policies and procedures

“At Texas Children’s, we are committed to leading tirelessly in maintaining an ethical workplace,” said Texas Children’s Vice President and Compliance and Privacy Officer Lance Lightfoot. “By upholding the highest standards of integrity and ethical behavior, we enable Texas Children’s to better fulfill its important mission of creating a healthier future for children and women.”

To recognize and promote the importance of integrity and ethics at Texas Children’s, the Compliance and Privacy Office will be celebrating National Corporate Compliance and Ethics Week (Monday, November 7Friday, November 11) by hosting a series of awareness events throughout the organization. These events are wonderful opportunities to meet members of the Compliance and Privacy Office team, learn more about what they do, play games and win prizes.

The events also offer a chance to keep your personal information secure as well as our patients’ and our Health Plan members’. Twice during National Corporate Compliance and Ethics Week, the office is providing employees a free, safe and secure opportunity to destroy any confidential personal documents that are ready for disposal. The Shred Days will be held Tuesday, November 8 at West Campus, and Friday, November 11 at Main Campus. For a complete schedule of this week’s events, click here.

For more information about the Compliance and Privacy Office click here and if you have any questions, please call the office at Ext. 4-2085 or send an email to

How can you help?
Unethical, illegal or questionable activity should be reported to one of the following sources:

  • Your immediate supervisor
  • The Compliance and Privacy Office at Ext. 4-2085
  • The Texas Children’s Confidential Hotline at 1-866-478-9070 (available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week)

Retaliation for voicing concerns made in good faith is a violation of Texas Children’s policy.