February 21, 2017

Want to be part of the largest USATriathlon sanctioned kids triathlon in the world? Sign up to volunteer for the 2017 Houston Texans Kids Triathlon.

Presented by Texas Children’s Hospital, the event will be Friday, May 19 and Saturday, May 20 and Sunday, May 21 at NRG Stadium. Drawing more than 3,000 participants ages 6 to 15, the event aims to help build a generation of healthy, active responsible children.

Volunteers are needed for everything from course set-up and clean-up to registration, expo and race-day assistance. Click here to learn more and to sign up to be a 2017 Houston Texans Kids Triathlon volunteer.

Anesthesiologist-in-Chief Dr. Dean B. Andropoulos recently authored an article in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) about the December 14 U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) drug safety communication about prolonged or repeated anesthetics in young children and pregnant women in their third trimester.

The FDA’s communication states:

  • A single, short exposure to anesthesia appears to be safe.
  • There is some evidence that longer (>3 hours) or repeated exposures could have negative effects on behavior or learning.
  • Much more research is needed.

As a result of the communication and after deliberating with leaders in his department as well as the Department of Surgery and risk management, Andropoulos said in the NEJM article that Texas Children’s Hospital has changed its anesthesia practice and will discuss the warning before surgery with the parents of all children 3 years of age and younger.

In addition, Andropoulos said in the article, Texas Children’s Hospital has adopted the warning’s recommendation that a discussion occur among parents, surgeons, other physicians and anesthesiologists about the duration of anesthesia, any plan for multiple general anesthetics for multiple procedures, and the possibility that the procedure could be delayed until after 3 years of age. Parent-education materials that cover these topics also will be made available to our patients and their families.

“Even though anesthesia is much safer today than ever before, every anesthesia exposure and surgery has an element of risk and we must remain vigilant about communicating such risks to our patients and their families,” Andropoulos said. “In addition, the benefits of anesthesia must always be weighed against the risks of anesthesia itself.”

For more information, please contact the Texas Children’s Hospital Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine at ext. 4-5800. To read a blog by Andropoulos titled “Anesthesia and Your Child,” click here.

Cancer patients fighting one of the toughest forms of the disease – neuroblastoma – now have another treatment option at Texas Children’s Cancer Center.

I-131 MIBG, a targeted nuclear medicine therapy that combines metaiodobenzylguanidine (MIBG) with radioactive iodine (I-131), is now being offered at Texas Children’s Cancer Center, one of only a few centers in the nation where children can receive treatment with I-131 MIBG.

The therapy is administered intravenously and takes less than two hours. However once the infusion is complete, the patient needs to stay in a specially-equipped, lead-lined hospital room for several days for monitoring.

The Cancer Center in partnership with the Department of Pediatric Radiology opened an I-131 MIBG therapy suite January 25 on the ninth floor of West Tower. The suite contains three rooms: a lead-lined patient room where the therapy is administered, an adjoining room with a lead-lined viewing window where family members can spend the night and be with their child throughout the entire procedure, and an entry area where clinicians can meet, consult and observe the patient.

At an intimate ribbon cutting for the new suite, Deputy Director of the Cancer Center Dr. Susan Blaney said the opening of the suite represents a “tremendous milestone and a phenomenal effort on behalf of professionals from across the hospital.”

“Neuroblastoma is very challenging to treat and to have this option to offer patients to help them conquer this disease is tremendous,” she said, adding that it can be used to treat patients locally as well as regionally and beyond since there are only a handful of pediatric hospitals in the nation equipped with the expertise and infrastructure to offer the treatment.

The Department of Pediatric Radiology was heavily involved in the planning, design, simulation and execution of the suite and members of its nuclear radiology staff will administer the treatment.

“Being able to offer this treatment is a testament to our multidisciplinary approach to caring for our patients,” said Nuclear Radiology Division Chief Dr. Robert Orth. “By working with our Cancer Center colleagues, we can pull together our expertise to provide opportunities for the best possible outcomes.”

Co-Director of Texas Children’s Cancer Center’s Neuroblastoma Program Dr. Jennifer Foster said being able to offer I-131 MIBG therapy makes the Cancer Center a one-stop-shop for neuroblastoma patients and opens the door for additional referrals from areas across the country and globe. The suite also gives physicians like herself the ability to explore the use of I-131 MIGB therapy in combination with other therapies as part of novel clinical trials.

“We are very excited about having this treatment capability at Texas Children’s,” Foster said.

Patrick DeClaire, a neuroblastoma patient at the Cancer Center, and his family attended the ribbon cutting ceremony.

“I’m so pleased that families like ours will have the option of receiving this therapy at Texas Children’s,” Laurie DeClaire, Patrick’s mother, said.

Earlier today, Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers, Baylor College of Medicine International Pediatric AIDS Initiative at Texas Children’s Hospital, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, His Excellency the President Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama of the Republic of Botswana and the Honorable Minister Dorcas Makgato of the Ministry of Health and Wellness through public-private partnerships with the governments of Botswana, Uganda and Malawi, announced a $100 million initiative to create an innovative pediatric hematology-oncology treatment network in southern and east Africa. The comprehensive initiative called Global HOPE (Hematology-Oncology Pediatric Excellence) will build long-term capacity to treat and dramatically improve the prognosis of thousands of children with cancer and blood disorders in southern and eastern Africa.

In the United States, 80 percent of children with cancer survive. In sub-Saharan Africa, the overwhelming majority of pediatric patients do not survive. The mortality rate is estimated to be as high as 90 percent, meaning thousands of children die from cancer across Africa each year. This is in large part due to an inadequate healthcare infrastructure and a significant lack of expert physicians and other healthcare workers trained to treat children with cancer. The most common types of childhood cancers are blood cancers, including leukemia and lymphoma.

Global HOPE will partner with local Governments and Ministries of Health to build medical capacity to diagnose and treat pediatric blood disorders and cancer in Botswana, Malawi and Uganda. The initiative will also create significant clinical, educational and research capabilities. Doctors, nurses and ancillary professionals will be recruited from around the world to provide training to local healthcare professionals and to begin treating children with blood disorders and cancer immediately.

“This project is building on a solid foundation for pediatric cancer treatment in Botswana that began with pediatric oncologists from Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers,” said His Excellency the President Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama of the Republic of Botswana. “The Global HOPE program will bring to Botswana the latest bio-medical technologies and the potential to work with local institutions such as the Botswana Innovation Hub and University of Botswana to quickly increase the survival of children with cancer and life-threatening blood disorders in Botswana and the region.”

The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation is committing $50 million over five years to fund the training of healthcare providers as well as clinical infrastructure and operations. BIPAI will raise an additional $50 million for the initiative.

“We are eager to get started on this critical initiative to help children with blood disorders and cancer. Working with our partners and drawing on our expertise of building sustainable health systems in underserved countries, we will help make a significant difference in the outcomes for children while creating a blueprint for other countries to follow,” said Dr. Giovanni Caforio, chairman of the board of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation and chief executive officer of Bristol-Myers Squibb Company. “This initiative builds on 18 years of success of the Foundation’s SECURE THE FUTURE program and will offer new hope to families impacted by pediatric blood disorders and cancer.”

As public-private partnerships, the various governments will each play an important role in developing the pediatric hematology-oncology network, assisting with the training, technical assistance, logistics and resources to support Global HOPE.

The Global HOPE initiative will train an estimated 4,800 healthcare professionals from Botswana, Uganda, Malawi and other African countries, including doctors and nurses specializing in pediatric hematology-oncology and social workers. The program estimates that over 5,000 children will receive care in the first five years.

“With only five pediatric oncologists currently in the countries of Botswana, Malawi and Uganda combined, there are simply not enough expert doctors to treat all the children diagnosed with blood disorders and cancer. We believe in these countries there are more than 11,000 new cases annually of pediatric cancer and 40,000 new cases of serious, life-threatening blood disorders such as sickle cell disease and hemophilia. Because of these staggering numbers, more healthcare providers with special expertise are urgently needed,” said Dr. David Poplack, director of Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers and Professor of Pediatric Oncology at Baylor College of Medicine. “Global HOPE will help build capacity in the region to diagnose and care for children with blood disorders and cancer, offering the potential for transformational change in survivorship for these children.”

The Global HOPE initiative will be modeled on the work of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, BIPAI and the Governments of Botswana, Uganda and Malawi, which created the largest pediatric HIV treatment network in the world, leveraging existing experience, infrastructure, and public/private partnerships created through the initiative. Since 2003, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation and BIPAI have trained 52,000 healthcare professionals and currently provide care for nearly 300,000 children with HIV and their families in sub-Saharan Africa, lowering the mortality rate for these children to 1.2 percent.

“The success we’ve had in radically changing the course of pediatric HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa is due in large part to the tremendous support provided by the country governments, healthcare providers on the ground and donors who have made our work possible,” said Dr. Mark W. Kline, president and founder of BIPAI, physician-in-chief of Texas Children’s Hospital and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine. “We look forward to helping patients and their families by embarking on this unchartered area of cancer care in Africa. Working with our partners, we aim to build a self-sustaining infrastructure that changes the tide of these childhood diseases in sub-Saharan Africa.”

About the Republic of Botswana and the Ministry of Health and Wellness

Botswana is a country with two million inhabitants in southern Africa with abundant and diverse natural resources. The official languages are English and Setswana. Since independence in 1966, Botswana has been a parliamentary republic; the chief of state and head of government is the president. Botswana’s economy is a success story in southern Africa due to the investment of the government in the education, health, clean water and telecommunications sectors to create a better standard of living for its citizens and to foster a conducive environment for free enterprise to prosper. The Ministry of Health and Wellness aims to improve the physical, mental, and social well-being of every citizen of Botswana to fully contribute to the development of Botswana through a healthy nation.

About the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation

The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation is committed to improving the health outcomes of populations disproportionately affected by serious diseases by strengthening healthcare worker capacity, integrating medical care and community-based supportive services, and addressing unmet medical need. The Foundation engages partners to develop, execute, evaluate and promote innovative programs to help patients with lung cancer and removing barriers to accessing care in the United States, HIV and comorbid diseases such as cervical and breast cancers and tuberculosis in sub-Saharan Africa, hepatitis B and C in China and India and veterans’ mental health and well-being in the U.S. Since 1999, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation’s SECURE THE FUTURE® initiative has been working with partners in Africa to provide care and support for communities affected by HIV, tuberculosis, women’s cancer and most recently, lung cancer. Global HOPE will apply this same transformational model to pediatric oncology and hematology in a number of the same geographic areas.

About Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers at Texas Children’s Hospital

Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers is the largest pediatric hematology-oncology program in the U.S., treating patients from 35 states and 26 countries. The centers perform advanced patient care, cutting edge clinical and laboratory research and has largest training program for pediatric hematology-oncology in the U.S. With a staff of renowned experts, the centers have developed a wide array of programs aimed at curing children with diagnoses ranging from the most common to the very rare. The team of 186 faculty and nearly 1,000 staff have pioneered many of the now standard treatments for pediatric cancer and blood disorders. TXCH has a long-standing commitment to improving global health.

About Baylor College of Medicine International Pediatric AIDS Initiative at Texas Children’s Hospital

Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative (BIPAI) is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing pediatric and maternal health care in resource limited settings. BIPAI medical teams offer free medical care and medical education for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, malnutrition, obstetrics/gynecology, hematology/oncology and more. Partnering with Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine, BIPAI operates in 11 countries, caring for nearly 300,000 children and their families.

Click here to read a story about the Global HOPE announcement in the Houston Chronicle.

As part of our commitment to our employees’ health and well-being, Texas Children’s is excited to announce the opening of an Employee Medical Clinic at West Campus.

When will clinical services be available?

Beginning March 1, 2017, employees at West Campus, as well as in nearby Texas Children’s Pediatrics practices, can access clinical services on the first and third Wednesday of each month. To provide convenient access, the medical clinic will share office space with the Employee Health Clinic located on the second floor of West Campus. Hours of operations will be from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. While scheduled appointments are preferred, walk-in patients will be worked into the schedule based on availability.

What services can I receive?

Dr. Irene M. Lomeda, from our clinic in the Texas Medical Center, will be the physician on-site. In addition to primary and urgent care services, the following services will also be offered:

  • Annual physicals/well-woman/well-men exams
  • Rapid strep, flu, glucose, urinalysis, and pregnancy testing
  • Chronic disease management for conditions such as diabetes and heart disease
  • Phone consultations (for established patients) for treatment of non-emergency medical issues
  • Vaccinations (meningococcal, papilloma virus, pneumococcal and shingles)
  • Travel medicine (limited)
  • Health Coaching program

Employees enrolled in Texas Children’s medical insurance plans will have a $10 co-pay per visit. Your privacy is of the utmost importance to us; your information will be secure via confidential electronic medical records, which is hosted externally.

To learn more about the services offered at the new Employee Medical Clinic at West Campus, please click here.

February 19, 2017
Sunday, February 19, 2017: 6:26 p.m.

Texas Children’s leadership and the Department of Emergency Management are closely monitoring the weather as the Greater Houston area is expecting a potential threat of heavy rainfall overnight.

Rain is forecasted to begin around 2 a.m. Monday morning and reach the Texas Medical Center by 4 a.m.  Heavy downpour is expected to continue until 9 a.m. Some areas may receive up to 4 to 6 inches of rain, which subsequently could cause street flooding.

We urge employees to exercise caution when navigating roadways and avoid flooded areas as you head home or make your way into work. Please plan for additional travel time and be prepared to identify alternate routes in case roadways are flooded. Also, be sure to communicate with your leaders should your arrival to work be delayed due to the inclement weather conditions.

As for clinical staff, there may be the possibility for one-to-one switch-outs on Monday morning if some staff are having trouble arriving to work due to treacherous road conditions.

We  urge staff in our outpatient operations, Texas Children’s Pediatrics, Health Centers and The Centers for Women and Children to be prepared to reach out to patients regarding potential scheduling changes.

At this time, we are planning for normal operations. We will keep you posted should this status change.

For more information, including the latest weather, traffic and road conditions, go to the Emergency Management Connect site and the National Weather Service website.

Ivett Shah
Administrator on call

James Mitchell
Emergency Management

February 14, 2017

On February 9, Texas Children’s and W.S. Bellows Construction celebrated the topping out of Texas Children’s new Pediatric Tower in the Texas Medical Center.

Under a large tent across the street from the tower’s 400-foot-tall structure, nearly 700 guests cheered as Texas Children’s President and CEO Mark A. Wallace, Texas Children’s Board of Trustees Chair Ann Lents, and W.S. Bellows Construction President Laura Bellows, led the countdown.

“Five, four, three, two, one, hoist that tree!”

As the guests eagerly watched from below, a 7-foot-tall Loblolly pine tree was hoisted to the top of the hospital’s Pediatric Tower commemorating the successful completion of the building’s external structure.

Chase Fondren, whose daughter Ella was treated for biliary atresia as an infant, shared his family’s experience at Texas Children’s and how the vertical expansion of the Pediatric Tower will benefit other patients and families.

“We experienced first-hand the issues of not having enough bed choices, of the small PICU rooms, and having to fit in the hospital’s current capacity,” Fondren said. “I am extremely excited that this building behind us is going to triple the size of the PICU. That’s been a much needed expansion and will be a huge asset for patient families.”

During the topping out ceremony, Wallace recognized everyone for their contributions and support of Texas Children’s Pediatric Tower expansion. He applauded the phenomenal leadership of Texas Children’s Board of Trustees, our project partners, FKP Architects and W.S. Bellows Construction, as well as Texas Children’s executive leadership team, the Pediatric Tower leadership team and all of our donors who have so generously contributed to the Promise Campaign, which will partially support facility developments for the hospital’s new tower.

“All of you who are here today helped us achieve this construction milestone of our pediatric tower which will provide the opportunity for us to serve even more patients and their families,” Wallace said. “No longer will we have to say no to a child who needs to be transferred into an ICU. No longer will we have to cancel surgery or reschedule surgery because we don’t have a CVICU bed or critical care bed. That building right there is the solution to these issues.”

Slated to be completed in 2018, the 25-floor Pediatric Tower will house 126 beds for pediatric and cardiovascular intensive care, six new operating rooms (ORs) with the latest technology to complement the hospital’s existing 19 ORs, and will be the new home of Texas Children’s Heart Center, including the outpatient clinic, four cardiovascular ORs and four catheterization labs. This expansion includes reinvesting in the programs needed by the hospital’s most critically ill patients.

“At the end of the day, it’s not about the building,” said Lents as she addressed the crowd. “It’s all about the patients and being sure that today, in five years and in 20 years, we can help the children who need the care and the treatment that only Texas Children’s Hospital can give them.”

Following the tree topping ceremony, guests enjoyed a delicious BBQ lunch and some event goers got a tour of the construction site led by Texas Children’s Pediatric Tower leadership team and crew members from W.S. Bellows Construction, who is overseeing the vertical expansion project.

View photo gallery of the Pediatric Tower Topping Out event below.