June 28, 2017

Texas Children’s leaders and members of the Heart Center team gathered early Tuesday to celebrate U.S. News & World Report’s recent announcement that Texas Children’s is now ranked No. 1 in cardiology and heart surgery. Ranked second in the nation for the past two years, Texas Children’s Heart Center has surpassed Boston Children’s Heart Center, which had held the top ranking for the past 19 years.

“This ranking is a culmination of the many years our Heart Center team has dedicated to providing high-quality care to our patients,” said Chief of Cardiology Dr. Daniel J. Penny to a packed conference room at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women. “By being ranked No. 1 means we have an even greater role in shaping the field of pediatric cardiology and heart surgery.”

Surgeon-in-Chief and Chief of Congenital Heart Surgery Dr. Charles D. Fraser Jr. agreed and said the ranking is an incredible legacy that began long ago with Drs. Denton Cooley and Dan McNamara, both of whom were pioneers in their field and among the first to demonstrate that small children could safely undergo heart surgery.

“Every single one of you is responsible for this,” Fraser said to the crowd, which included Heart Center leaders Chief of Cardiovascular Anesthesia Dr. Emad Mossad, Chief of Critical Care Dr. Lara Shekerdemian and Anesthesiologist-In-Chief Dr. Dean Andropoulos. “There is no greater or lesser here.”

In addition to the entire Heart Center team, Fraser thanked Texas Children’s President and CEO Mark A. Wallace for “standing by us every single step of the way.”

Fraser said he remembers meeting with Wallace and the late Dr. Ralph D. Feigin when he first was being recruited to Texas Children’s Hospital back in 1994. The trio discussed creating a true Heart Center where each and every patient would be surrounded by medical professionals of the highest quality.

That goal has been achieved and so much more with the Heart Center’s surgical team performing more than 1,000 open-heart surgeries annually and 25 heart transplants in 2016, the most of any pediatric program in the nation.

The Heart Center’s cardiologists annually perform roughly 1,200 cardiac catheterizations, a less invasive treatment made possible by the threading of a long, flexible tube from a blood vessel in the leg to the heart. Most such cases would have required open-heart surgery 20 years ago.

The cardiology team also performs about 250 catheter-enabled ablation treatments in children with irregular heartbeats, a treatment that cauterizes the abnormal pathway to correct the problems. Such patients previously required lifelong medication.

Fraser and Penny said the Heart Center will continue to grow and that they are excited about its next step, which will be to move into Legacy Tower once it’s complete. The 19-floor vertical expansion will house new operating rooms, a new Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, neuro ICU rooms, surgical ICU rooms, a progressive care unit and eight floors dedicated to just the Heart Center.

“This No. 1 ranking will give us a greater role shaping the field, making the things that are impossible now possible in 2027,” Penny said. ”Although we’re No. 1 this year, we need to be better next year and the year after and the year after that.”

Read Mark Wallace’s blog, On The Mark, to learn more about the Heart Center’s No. 1 ranking.

June 27, 2017

Texas Children’s radiologist Dr. Victor Seghers was recently elected vice president of the Pediatric Imaging Council within the Society for Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI). This is a six-year term and Seghers will become president of the council in 2019.

In this leadership position, Seghers’ responsibilities will include recruitment of speakers and moderators for the annual mid-Winter meeting in January and annual convention in June. NMMI is a multidisciplinary medical association of more than 18,000 physicians, technologists, scientists, students and other health care providers. Established more than 50 years ago, their goal is to be the leader in unifying, advancing and optimizing molecular imaging with the ultimate goal of improving human health.

Seghers is double-board certified in Nuclear Radiology and Pediatric Radiology by the American Board of Radiology. He has published in numerous peer reviewed journals and his clinical and research interests include pediatric oncology and epilepsy with a focus on Positron Emission Tomography (PET) imaging.

Originally director of Body CT and MRI at Texas Children’s Hospital, he later served as division chief of Nuclear Radiology. He created the PET/MRI program, the first of its kind in a free-standing children’s hospital here at Texas Children’s.

Seghers is currently chief of Community Radiology and is the service chief for Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus and Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands.

Nearly two years ago, Kate Hurlbut, a nurse practitioner for Texas Children’s Pediatrics, and her husband Phillip, mourned the loss of their 7-week-old twin daughter, Ella, who was cared for at Texas Children’s Newborn Center.

Ella developed a widespread bacterial infection when she was five weeks old and fought hard for two weeks but passed away in September 2015. Their twin daughter, Anna, stayed in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for 83 days before going home to be with her family and 3-year-old brother Luke.

Since Ella’s passing, Hurlbut says one thing that has helped her and her husband find healing is providing support to other grieving NICU families going through similar situations.

“As thankful as we are for the care we received when Ella passed, it also made us realize the need for a more private environment for parents to be able to say goodbye to their babies,” Kate said. “So, when the opportunity presented itself to raise money to open a bereavement room for the Pavilion NICU in Ella’s memory, we felt like this was our opportunity to improve bereavement care for other grieving families.”

Thanks to the Hurlbuts fundraising efforts, their vision soon became a reality. On June 22, the Butterfly Room in the NICU at the Pavilion for Women was dedicated during a special ceremony attended by more than 80 people including NICU leadership, staff and NICU families. Speakers at the dedication ceremony included the Hurlbuts, Chief of Neonatology Dr. Gauthum Suresh, NICU Nursing Director Heather Cherry and NICU Vice President Judy Swanson.

Just as the Hurlbuts envisioned, the bereavement room is designed like a nursery with a crib, comfortable seating for the family and a special private place for families to take as much time as they need to say goodbye to their baby.

“We are incredibly grateful we have been able to raise the funds for this room thanks to the generosity of our friends, family, co-workers and our community,” Kate said. “We hope this room will bring peace and comfort to other bereaved families for many years to come.”

During his annual Department of Surgery year-in-review, Surgeon-in-Chief Dr. Charles D. Fraser Jr. asked his colleagues to take a moment to reflect on what they have accomplished over the past year and to contemplate the abundance of opportunities that lie ahead.

“Look at what went on in just one year,” Fraser emphasized by pointing to a timeline of accomplishments during the 2016-2017 academic year. “That’s a pretty big year.”

Over the past 12 months, the Department of Surgery has:

  • Greatly expanded its facilities at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands, Wallace Tower, Texas Children’s Specialty Care Bellaire and Texas Children’s Specialty Care Eagle Springs. The department, along with the entire Texas Children’s system, announced an exciting initiative to bring Texas Children’s to Austin within the next year and held a topping out ceremony for Legacy Tower, a 19-floor vertical expansion that will house new operating rooms, a new Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, neuro ICU rooms, surgical ICU rooms, a progressive care unit and eight floors dedicated to just the Heart Center.
  • Continued to build a dedicated team of pediatric-focused surgeons across nine surgical divisions: Congenital Heart Surgery, Dental, Neurosurgery, Ophthalmology, Orthopedics, Otolaryngology, Pediatric Surgery, Plastic Surgery and Urology. Over the previous academic year, the team grew to more than 100 surgeons and 111 advanced practice providers. Several members of the team earned prestigious awards and promotions for their academic, clinical and research efforts.
  • Strengthened its commitment to support surgical research by dedicating space to the Department of Surgery Research Lab and building a strong team of multidisciplinary surgeon scientists.
  • Maintained its focus on patient care in seeing more than 175,000 outpatient visits and 51,000 operating room hours over 27,600 cases.

“As you can see, we are dedicated to meeting our mission and vision with multiple community health centers and three Texas Children’s Hospital locations throughout the Greater Houston area,” Fraser said. “We take great pride in caring for children from all around the globe no matter how complex the problem.”

The ability to provide such care will continue to grow and improve, Fraser said, emphasizing the opportunities Austin and Legacy Tower will bring.

“The Austin community will really appreciate the TCH approach to patient care,” he said. “The opportunities there are boundless.”

The same goes for Legacy Tower, which Fraser said will enable his department to continue to focus on providing the highest quality surgical care.

In closing, Fraser asked the members of the department of surgery to contemplate how each are to leave a mark on Texas Children’s legacy and keep improving the care they are able to give our patients. He said he believes that Texas Children’s will make its mark as one of the top pediatric surgical centers in the world by establishing more endowed chairs, building a surgical simulation laboratory, producing national and internationally known leaders and tackling some of society’s major public health problems.

“I humbly believe there is no other children’s hospital like Texas Children’s Hospital,” Fraser said. “I also believe that we continue to be presented with unique opportunities to become even better. Our job is to make sure we seize those opportunities, some of which could come around only once in a lifetime.”

To read the recently released 2016 Department of Surgery Annual Report, click here.

On June 19, sickle cell patients, families, physicians and others joined forces to celebrate World Sickle Cell Day and raise awareness about sickle cell disease, an inherited red blood cell disorder that affects about 100,000 Americans and many more worldwide.

Held in the lobby of the Children’s Nutrition Research Center, the event featured an art project created by sickle cell patients from across the globe, music from a sickle cell patient involved in Purple Songs Can Fly, educational booths from various sickle cell-related organizations and comments from members of the Texas Children’s Sickle Cell Center.

View photos from the event below.

“Sickle cell disease is a condition that affects a large number of people worldwide,” said Dr. Donald Mahoney Jr., director of Texas Children’s Hematology Center. “It can affect every organ in the body and can cause serious complications if not treated.”

Texas Children’s has been at the forefront of the fight against sickle cell disease for decades, screening newborns for the disease since the 1950s. In 2001, Texas Children’s combined efforts and created Texas Children’s Sickle Cell Center, which offers comprehensive family-centered care for children with this complex blood disorder.

The program’s individualized course of treatment includes patient care, education, psychosocial support services, screening and counseling for children and their families. Serving more than 1,100 children each year, Texas Children’s Sickle Cell Center is one of the largest in Texas, offering the latest treatments including hydroxyurea, transfusions and stem cell transplantation.

“We are really fortunate here at Texas Children’s to be able to provide such dedicated care,” said Dr. Amber Yates, co-director of Texas Children’s Sickle Cell Center. “We have a large team and all we do is focus on children with sickle cell disease.”

The team also focuses on research and combatting sickle cell disease overseas in Africa where many more people suffer from the disease and screening and treatment are limited.

“We are one of the main centers of clinical research in sickle cell disease,” said Dr. Alex George, co-director of Texas Children’s Sickle Cell Center. “We have a strong research infrastructure and we have a well-organized clinical and research basis, which makes us an attractive research partner both for industry, pharmaceutical companies and for other institutions.”

Researchers collaborate with colleagues at other research institutions on different projects involving possible new medications for patients with sickle cell disease. Such research, George said, is key to treating and curing these patients.

The program’s global efforts began in 2011 in Angola where Texas Children’s physicians started screening and treating babies with sickle cell. To date, close to 200,000 babies have been screened with about one in 65 having sickle cell disease disease. Texas Children’s is also in Malawi, Uganda, Botswana and other areas of Sub-Saharan Africa screening and treating children with sickle cell disease, and training local physicians to do the same.

“Our hope is that there will be a day when the place where a child is born does not determine whether or not they survive this disease,” said Dr. Gladstone Airewele, director of Texas Children’s Global Hematology Program.

Click here to read a blog by Jamilah Cummings, the mother of Joshua, a patient sickle cell disease at Texas Children’s Hospital. To learn more about Texas Children’s Sickle Cell Center click here.

Click here to watch ABC-13’s segment about Yates’ patient Anaya Sparks. The 7-year-old triplet has sickle cell disease.

While construction progress continues to be made on the vertical expansion of Texas Children’s Legacy Tower, several changes to our shuttle service routes will take effect starting on Thursday, July 6.

To accommodate construction work on the new tower, the Level 1 and 3 South Elevator Lobby and escalators will be closed for several months at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women. As a result, the Pavilion for Women Direct Stop will be moved to a temporary shuttle stop on Fannin Street.

Two additional shuttles will be added to the Pavilion for Women and Feigin Direct routes during peak morning and afternoon rush hour.

“We are increasing the number of direct shuttles to Feigin and Pavilion for Women to minimize the impact on employees who rely on the shuttle service to get to and from work at Texas Children’s Medical Center Campus,” said Ransome Shirley, assistant director of Supply Chain Management. “This change will increase the round trip time for the Pavilion for Women Direct route by 8 to 9 minutes. Even though the Pavilion route will be longer due to the increased number of buses, wait times should remain the same.”

One significant change that will impact employees will be the return route to Garage 19. The return route will be longer for employees who take the shuttle from the Pavilion for Women Fannin Stop. The return route will start from Fannin to John Freeman to Bertner to Old Spanish Trail and then to Greenbriar.

To alert staff of these new changes, signage for the new shuttle re-routes will be placed at Garage 19, Meyer, Feigin and the Pavilion for Women shuttle stops.

Circulator routes and hours of operation will remain the same.

For more information on our shuttle services and pick up schedules, click here. To track the shuttles location in real time, this information can be accessed on your desk top here and on your smartphone here.

Legacy Tower Garage B3 and B4 elevators

After more than two months of renovation, the B4 South Elevator lobby of the Legacy Tower Garage (TMC garage 21) is now available for public and staff use. Meanwhile, the B3 South Elevator lobby will be out of service for at least three months as its renovation gets underway.

While parking will be permitted on level B3, elevator access will be restricted to the Pavilion for Women B3 lobby (North). Signage has been placed inside the South elevator cabs and on the construction barricades at Level B3 to direct physicians, staff and guests to the Pavilion for Women.

Contact Facilities Project Manager Ted Gillis at ext. 4-2368 with questions.

June 26, 2017

 The results of the 2017 U.S. News & World Report survey of Best Children’s Hospitals are in, and Texas Children’s Hospital maintained the No. 4 ranking overall. The scores were exceptionally tight among the top children’s hospitals, but Texas Children’s is again listed on the honor roll.

“We’ve dedicated six decades to conducting innovative research and providing the most advanced treatments possible to children in need of specialized care,” said Texas Children’s President and CEO Mark Wallace. “Our pioneering culture, coupled with our commitment to quality, service and safety, have led us to become one of the nation’s premier pediatric hospitals and unquestionably the best in Texas.”

The teams within Texas Children’s Heart Center also received some big rankings news this morning – Texas Children’s is now ranked No. 1 in cardiology and congenital heart surgery. Ranked second in the nation for the past two years, Texas Children’s Heart Center has stepped into the No. 1 spot, surpassing Boston Children’s Heart Center, which had held the top ranking for the past 19 years.

Texas Children’s has 8 specialties ranked in the top 10 this year, and the hospital improved outcomes across all specialties. There are approximately 190 children’s hospitals in the U.S., and this year, U.S. News ranked the top 81 pediatric centers in 10 specialty areas, so being recognized within the top 10 is no small feat. Here are a few highlights of this year’s rankings for Texas Children’s:

  • GI Surgery developed an advanced hepatology training program this year and added a fellow to the program, which helped move Gastroenterology and GI Surgery up to no. 4.
  • Quality improvement drove excellent outcomes in Endocrine, which moved Diabetes and Endocrinology up to no. 6.
  • Neonatology closed major gaps, had an overall improvement in unintended extubations, and over the last 3 years, had a 55 percent decrease in central line associated blood stream infections, moving neonatology up to no. 11.
  • Orthopedics continued upward movement in the rankings and is now ranked no. 16.

The rankings are the result of a methodology that weighs a combination of outcome and care-related measures, such as nursing care, advanced technology, credentialing, outcomes, best practices, infection prevention, and reputation, among other factors.

“From a measurement perspective, our survey results demonstrate how hard we’re working as an organization to deliver high quality care to our patients,” Wallace said. “The more consistently we deliver high quality care and the safer we deliver that care to our patients, the better their outcomes are, and the better our overall numbers are.”

Texas Children’s 2017 U.S. News rankings

#1 Cardiology and heart surgery

#2 Pulmonology

#4 Cancer

#4 Gastroenterology and GI surgery

#4 Nephrology (kidney disorders)

#4 Neurology and neurosurgery

#6 Diabetes and endocrinology

#6 Urology

#11 Neonatology

#16 Orthopedics

Learn more about the U.S. News rankings here: