February 14, 2017

Ronald McDonald House Charities® (RMHC) of Greater Houston/Galveston in conjunction with Texas Children’s Hospital recently announced the unveiling of its new Ronald McDonald Care Mobile® medical unit. Operated by Texas Children’s, the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile® is a state-of-the-art, fully-equipped pediatric clinic on wheels designed to meet the health care and treatment needs of children in the Greater Houston and Galveston area.

The medical unit was unveiled at a ribbon cutting ceremony with special guest and speaker Mayor Sylvester Turner on February 10 at the McDonald’s restaurant located at 1619 South Loop West.

“I am excited about this wonderful collaboration between Ronald McDonald House Charities and Texas Children’s Hospital,” the mayor said. “Thanks to Ronald McDonald Care Mobile®, many children in our community will have access to immunizations, well-child and urgent care visits, vision and hearing screenings, free medicine through an on-site pharmacy, and specialty care referrals, including mental health and social service referrals.”

In addition, Sylvester said, the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile® also will be offering sports physicals, allowing more area youngsters to have the opportunity to participate in school athletics.

Staffed by pediatricians, nurse practitioners, nurses, and medical assistants from Texas Children’s, Ronald McDonald Care Mobile® will provide medical care to more than 3,000 children per year in a 60-mile radius around the Texas Medical Center. The new unit’s arrival is expected to expand service reach by 10 percent in the first year.

Tanya Gee, Executive Director of RMHC® Houston & Galveston said that working in partnership with community health care leaders, the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile® bridges gaps between underserved children and local community agencies.

“It travels to locations lacking pediatric resources or underutilizing existing ones,” Gee said. “We want to thank our partners at Texas Children’s for their tireless dedication to our shared mission of service to the children of Houston and the local McDonald’s Owner for their incredible generosity.”

President of Texas Children’s Pediatrics Kay Tittle said her organization is looking forward to the continued impact the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile® will have on families in Houston.

“At Texas Children’s, our goal is to build a community of healthy children, and our mobile clinics allow us to provide trusted, high-quality medical services to children who normally might not have the opportunity to receive health care,” Tittle said.

The Ronald McDonald Care Mobile medical unit was made possible by a donation of $400,000 from the McDonald’s Owner/Operators Association of Greater Houston. Through its Fry Fund initiative, Houston area McDonald’s restaurants donated three cents for every case of French fries sold over the past four years.

“As local business people, we are committed to supporting the communities we live and work in,” said President of the McDonald’s Owner/Operators Association of Greater Houston Matthew Kades. “The families served by the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile® are our neighbors. McDonald’s is a big brand, and with partners like Ronald McDonald House Charities® and Texas Children’s Hospital, we can make a big impact right here in Greater Houston.”

Texas Children’s Executive Vice President Michelle Riley-Brown said that to date, the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile® has served more than 40,000 patients, and with this incredible updated unit, the impact will only continue to grow.

“Thanks you to everyone for your continued support of our Mobile Clinic Program,” Riley-Brown said. “We are looking forward to the continued impact the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile® will have on families in Houston.”

For more information about our Mobile Clinic Program click here. For more information about Ronald McDonald House Charities® click here.

21417WallofHope250On September 8, 2011, Katy Haynes, a former neonatal nurse at Texas Children’s, became the patient family when her daughter, Maggie, was cared for at Texas Children’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Maggie was diagnosed with a giant omphalocele, a condition in which the abdominal muscles do not close properly and the intestines push out into the umbilical cord creating a large sac. She spent two weeks in the NICU.

“The staff started out as my colleagues and in the end, became the caregivers to our sweet Maggie,” Haynes said. “I truly owe Maggie’s short NICU stay to the great team that took care of her. They trusted me as a nurse and her mother, and worked with me to create a care plan that would work both in the NICU and at home.”

Today, Maggie is a thriving 5 year old. Despite having abdominal surgery, she is a strong, compact, muscular powerhouse. Haynes say her daughter excels at gymnastics and anything that she sets her mind to accomplishing.

The Haynes family is one of 10 NICU families featured in the second installation of the Wall of Hope, a permanent photography exhibit that was unveiled during a special ceremony on February 9 at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women. The exhibit will be housed on the fourth floor of West Tower.

“The Wall of Hope was created to inspire and give hope to families who currently have a baby in the NICU at Texas Children’s,” said Family Centered Care Specialist Tamara Thrasher-Cateni, who worked with the Newborn Center Family Advisory Committee (NCFAC) and Facilities to coordinate the Phase II initiative and unveiling ceremony. “Babies born prematurely or with health issues can spend weeks and months in the NICU, so this exhibit is a way to celebrate all they have overcome.”

The Wall of Hope exhibit features 10 portraits chronicling each patient’s challenges throughout their time in the NICU and showcasing how they are thriving today.

“This event was emotional, informative and refreshing,” said Erika-Michelle Best, whose daughter, Nalah, was treated for osteogenesis imperfecta, also known as brittle bone disease, in the NICU for 14 weeks. “It is refreshing to know that you’re not alone. It is also an honor to know Nalah’s story can help someone else, uplift someone, brighten their day and most importantly give them hope.”

The unveiling ceremony also included remarks from Texas Children’s Chief of Neonatology Dr. Gautham Suresh, NICU Nursing Director Heather Cherry, and Newborn Center Vice President Judy Swanson.

“Looking at the photographs of our NICU graduates, listening to the parents speak about their children with pride and describing how much joy the children brought to their families, I am reminded about the true reason why all of us come to work every day at Texas Children’s,” Suresh said. “I feel privileged to serve and give our patients and their families the best care possible. I am humbled by the strength and resilience of the children and their families.”

Texas Children’s therapy dog Elsa is almost two years old and she sure knows how to warm patients’ hearts on Valentine’s Day.

Wearing a bright red heart-shaped necklace, Elsa and her handler, Sarah Herbek, were busy making their rounds on the inpatient floors of West Tower bringing plenty of smiles to children’s faces.

“Knock, knock, Elsa is here delivering Valentine’s,” Herbek said as she and Elsa visited 6-year-old Texas Children’s patient Abigail Arias in her hospital room.

“She is so beautiful,” Abigail said, as Elsa surprised her with a pink heart-shaped Valentine’s Day card while Abigail’s parents, grandparents and brother looked on with excitement.

Making these special deliveries to patient families was enjoyable for Elsa too. With every card delivery, she received a reward – whether it was a hug, a pet on the head, a tummy rub or a few treats from her handler.

Christian Edmonds is grateful to Texas Children’s for allowing a therapy dog to visit patients, like his 7-year-old daughter Isabel, who is an oncology patient here. Having Elsa drop by made her day extra special.

“Isabel really likes dogs and having someone bring Elsa to visit her, really helped to break up the monotony of being in a hospital room all day,” Edmonds said. “This was very special to Isabel.”

The cards that Elsa delivered were made by Girl Scout troops and schools from elementary to college levels. Several Texas Children’s departments – The Central Business Office and Social Workers – made several as well.

21517WalterSowells640Walter Sowells, Human Resources Technician, Human Resources, died February 10 at the age of 39.

Walter began his career at Texas Children’s in December of 1999. He was a member of the Organizational Development team in Human Resources and managed the conference center in the Meyer Building. Walter was a gentle, patient man, known for his sense of humor and ability to get along with everyone. He will be greatly missed by his team and fellow employees.

Walter is survived by two children, Isaiah and Nathan and his wife, Earlisha.


Saturday, February 18

Trinity Gardens Church of Christ

7725 Sandra Street

Houston, TX  77016


10 a.m. to 11 a.m.


11 a.m.

Friends of Walter’s from Texas Children’s Hospital are welcome to attend.

21517BestoftheWestinside640Two Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus staff members recently received the Best of the West award, which recognizes employees who have exceled at demonstrating Texas Children’s values – leading tirelessly, living compassionately, amplifying unity and embracing freedom.

Dr. Deborah Shardy, medical director of the West Campus Cancer, Hematology and Infusion Center, received the award for her unwavering dedication to serving her patients, their families and her clinical team.

Some of her colleagues and patient families have said the following about Shardy:

  • Dr. Shardy is not only an incredible physician in a very difficult field, she has a true passion for our patients and would go above and beyond for each one of them. She demonstrates our core values on a daily basis. She lives for the cause and not the applause, I am honored and blessed to work with her.
  • She lives selflessly always putting others needs above her own. Working long days and nights, performing procedures in clinic and in the operating room, covering call for the inpatient units, and many countless consults. She lives compassionately while keeping a positive outlook each day and encourages others to focus on the patient, ensuring their safety and comfort despite their sometime very difficult circumstances.
  • Dr. Shardy is always willing to help in any situation. Even when she is very busy, there is never a problem that is too big for her to solve. Her persistence in all situations helps our families feel safe and well cared for. If my child were being treated at Texas Children’s Cancer Center, I would want Dr. Shardy to be my child’s doctor.

The second recipient of the Best of the West award this quarter is Maura Dugan, a senior speech pathologist who helped launch upWORDS, a program aimed at closing the opportunity gap by giving parents the knowledge of how to improve the quantity and quality of language spoken with their child and educate them on the long-term impact language can have on their child’s success in life.

Some of her colleagues and patient families have said the following about Dugan:

  • Maura’s dedication and perseverance have resulted in a very impressive upWORDS program that provides resources that may result in life-long change for children and families in our community. Parent feedback has been impressive and families achieved 100 percent attendance during the first session of classes, demonstrating the impact this program has for them and their children. Maura has gone well above and beyond to establish and maintain a high-quality, impactful program in addition to her other responsibilities.
  • Maura’s dedication and compassion for the children and families she works with is obvious in everything she does. She has worked not only to initiate the upWORDS program at Texas Children’s but also continues to work with a multi-disciplinary team to significantly improve speech therapy services for children with hearing impairment and cochlear implants.
  • She does all that she does with little fanfare, as most not directly involved with these programs would know little about her constant drive to provide the most innovative, effective care for her patients and children in the community. Maura not only exemplifies the “Best of the West,” but what all therapists should strive to emulate.

If you would like to nominate someone for the Best of the West award, please click here and fill out the nomination form. You also can pick up a form at West Campus and return it to any of the black mailboxes in the following areas: DOTS Kitchen, the Coffee Spot, in the Human Resources office, the Emergency Center hallway or on the wall near the third-floor elevator.

Last week, Texas Children’s employees celebrated The American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign by learning about heart health through education and free blood pressure checks, provided by the Employee Medical Clinic.

Year-round, the Employee Medical Clinic offers a Healthy Heart Program at no cost for employees. The program features three individual sessions with a registered dietitian who will work with you to improve your blood pressure and/or cholesterol through healthy lifestyle modifications including nutrition, physical activity, stress management and blood pressure monitoring. Click here to learn more.

February 7, 2017

2817P3patientsatis640“There is no question that it was worth the wait to have my great granddaughter seen and cared for by such thorough and caring professionals,” wrote a Texas Children’s patient family. “It is obvious why extremely sick children from all over the world are brought to Texas Children’s for treatment.”

This heartfelt sentiment shared by the great grandmother of a 4-month-old child who was treated at Texas Children’s Emergency Center shows how important it is to keep the patient family’s experience at the forefront of everything we do to optimize the compassionate care we provide to patients and their families.

At Texas Children’s, we are doing just that. Due to the tremendous dedication of our employees and staff, the organization exceeded its P3 goal for patient satisfaction in FY16 by five percentile rank points.

While being in the fifty-eighth percentile means Texas Children’s performed better than 58 percent of other leading women’s and children’s hospitals, this percentile is more than just a number. It reflects our commitment to improving the experience for every patient and family who comes to Texas Children’s for care.

“We are consistently collecting feedback from patient families and measuring it against both our past performance and the performance of our peers,” said Texas Children’s Director of Patient and Family Services, Katie Kalenda Daggett. “Improvement initiatives and activities implemented across the system are directly related to feedback received from patient families through the survey.”

The patient satisfaction survey is administered by Press Ganey to patient families at Texas Children’s Medical Center Campus, Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women and Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands. On a scale from 1 to 5, families are asked about their experience from scheduling an appointment to being discharged. This survey also contains a comment section where families provide detailed responses about their experience.

“The richest component in the survey are the comments submitted by our patient families,” said Maggie Weimer, senior project manager of Patient and Family Services. “They pour their hearts out sharing everything from what we did well in to what we could have done differently, and individually recognize staff members who went above and beyond to make their experience an exceptional one.”

Based on Press Ganey survey results, the Patient Experience Team will be focusing on several priority initiatives in FY17, one of which is to improve the elevator experience for patients and families who depend on the Clinical Care Tower elevators to shuttle them to and from their clinic appointments.

“This has been a huge, on-going concern for our patient families,” said Elisa Mozley, assistant director of Patient and Family Services. “We are partnering with Facilities, HR and other teams from across the hospital to develop creative solutions that we can implement to improve the patient experience around elevator use.”

Additional efforts this year will be placed on providing more food options for inpatients at the Medical Center Campus through the MyDining initiative and optimizing employee visibility of the Caught You Caring Program, an organization-wide initiative that has recognized hundreds of employees for their everyday acts of kindness and other “above and beyond” efforts to show they care for Texas Children’s patients.

“We are focusing our patient experience efforts around the concepts of compassion, communication and connectedness,” Daggett said. “Hardwiring these principles into actions throughout the organization will demonstrate to our patients and their families that we put them first, all while working to create a healthier future for children and women.”