December 20, 2017

Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers patients and their families at Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands got to shake hands with an extra special visitor last week thanks to the centers’ clinical director Dr. Ricardo Flores.

Flores and Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa are close friends, both being from Puerto Rico and organizing joint relief efforts after their homeland was battered by two hurricanes earlier this year. As a favor to Flores and as the result of a genuine desire to brighten a child’s day, Correa stopped by Texas Children’s newest community hospital on December 15 and spent a few hours shaking hands, posing for pictures and signing autographs.

“This time of year should be a time of happiness for children,” Correa said. “Hopefully I can be a distraction for them, even if it’s for a short time.”

Watch a video of Carlos Correa’s visit to Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands.

Several employees who saw the famous baseball player interact with the patients teared up and said Correa’s time at the hospital definitely made a difference.

“These kids have been through so much,” said Ashlee Krueger, a nurse with the Cancer Center. “It’s very touching to see them smile, laugh and have some fun.”

Flores said he is grateful to be able to arrange such an extraordinary visit for his patients, their families and some of the hospital’s employees.

“These children are the real champions,” he said. “They know what it means to fight and strive to stay strong each and every day.”

Click here to read more about Flores’ efforts in Puerto Rico.

In a little over a month, a Magnet appraiser team will visit Texas Children’s facilities for a site visit, which represents a huge milestone in the hospital’s journey towards achieving Magnet® re-designation.

Since 2003, Texas Children’s has been a Magnet-designated organization. Every four years, the hospital applies for Magnet® re-designation, which is the highest and most prestigious recognition provided by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), and reflects Texas Children’s commitment to providing excellent patient care.

From January 22 to 24, 2018, Magnet® appraisers will conduct a site visit at Texas Children’s, which is one of the many required steps to obtain Magnet® re-designation. The site visit will provide an opportunity for nurses and the entire health care team to engage with the Magnet® appraisers, share their exceptional accomplishments, highlight our great partnership, exceptional care delivery and collaboration to enhance patient outcomes.

Earlier this month, we launched a special series on Connect highlighting what employees “need to know” regarding this important site visit. To start the series off, we answered the questions: “What is Magnet?”…and “Why is it so important?”

This week, we answer these next two questions:

What steps have we taken in our journey towards Magnet® re-designation?

  • August 2015 – Texas Children’s application submitted to Magnet
  • February 2017 – Written documentation submitted to Magnet
  • August 2017 – Clarification questions answered and submitted to Magnet
  • October 2017 – Application and written documentation approved after appraiser review
  • January 2018 – Magnet® appraisers will conduct a site visit at Texas Children’s

After the site visit from January 22 to 24, the Magnet® appraisers will submit a report to the Magnet® Commission, which makes the final determination regarding Texas Children’s Magnet® re-designation.

Where can employees access and review the written documentation submitted to Magnet®?

Texas Children’s Magnet® document can be viewed here.

Stay tuned to Connect for more of what you “need to know” regarding our upcoming Magnet® site visit. To learn more about the ANCC’s Magnet Recognition Program®, click here.

Five-year-old Marianne Franco failed every hearing test since she was born, causing her to move through life lip reading and hearing what she could with a hearing aid. All of that recently changed when doctors at Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands turned on the cochlear implant Marianne received weeks before.

As an audiologist rang a bell, the girl gave a grin. When they continued to ask her questions, trying to gauge how much she could hear, Marianne’s mom, Lizette, whispered behind her daughter’s head.

“I hear that,” Marianne said.

“What did you hear?” her mom asked.

Marianne is not sure yet how to discern exactly what she’s hearing. She’s grown up lip reading and has been able to pick up amplified sounds through a hearing aid. However, the sounds have never been crisp or at a safe volume. That’s why her family opted for Texas Children’s physicians in The Woodlands to surgically place a cochlear implant inside her head and give her the chance to hear.

“I think she’s going to do fantastic with the implant,” said Pediatric Otolaryngologist Dr. Jill Beck, explaining that the implant in Marianne’s head is sending a wireless signal to the outside processor. The nerve that’s being exercised for the first time is so fragile they have to send very soft sounds that will gradually build with time.

Meanwhile, she has to learn what sounds to associate with words in both English and Spanish. It will be exhausting, but Marianne is willing to work hard. To understand her motivation, you have to think like a child. Minutes after her implant was on, she asked to go underwater. She’s never heard the sound of water.

“You’ve been dreaming about this right?” Lizette asked.

Beck said Marianne is one of four children at Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands to get this kind of implant. As technology gets better, she said, there’s a lot of promise that this will become a more routine procedure.

For more information about Texas Children’s cochlear implant team and the Eat & Hearing Center at Texas Children’s click here.

To watch KPRC Channel 2’s story about Marianne’s cochlear implant and reaction to hearing the world like she never has before, click here. To read a story in the Houston Chronicle about her implant, click here.

From festive holiday decorations to trees decked out in ornaments and lights, it sure is beginning to look and feel a lot like the holidays at Texas Children’s.

Throughout the month of December, the Child Life Department and Volunteer Services collaborated with several organizations in the community to spread holiday cheer to patients and their families. From Texas Children’s Medical Center campus to Texas Children’s West Campus and The Woodlands campus, employees organized numerous fun activities for the kids that brought plenty of smiles and laughter to their faces.

Besides the annual tree lighting events to kick off the spirit of giving, children participated in holiday arts and crafts, built their own gingerbread houses and got their pictures taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Bennet’s Bears and United Airlines surprised inpatients with a special delivery of stuffed teddy bears. Texas Children’s beloved therapy dog Elsa also joined in on the festivities at the hospital.

Santa Claus also made his way to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women to spread some holiday cheer – but he wasn’t the only one dressed up in red. Babies in the NICU were dressed in their own tiny Santa hats and booties.

The visit from Santa was hosted by the hospital’s Newborn Center Family Advisory Committee and First Memories Texas, a volunteer group that helps families with babies in the NICU and CVICU at Texas Children’s to make memories and tell their children’s stories through photography.

It’s been nearly four months since Hurricane Harvey stormed through Texas, displacing more than 1 million residents and damaging some 200,000 homes while taking more than 80 lives. The destruction stretched more than 300 miles, and it’s estimated that repairs and rebuilding will cost billions of dollars.

Immediately after the storm, many employees donated time and resources to help fellow team members get back on their feet. Employees donated over 2,500 hours from their “Harvey Days” and more than $200,000 to the Employee Financial Assistance Fund. More than 670 requests were received for support related to Harvey, and the fund has been a great source of relief for many.

“We are fortunate to be able to help members of our Texas Children’s family who are in need of assistance after the storm. Many employees and their families are still living in temporary housing and haven’t begun to realize the total amount of recovery costs ahead of them,” said Employee Assistance Program Manager Brent LoCaste-Wilken. “We also are very appreciative and proud of those who have already donated their time and money to help co-workers. This type of generosity illustrates our culture of unity and compassion.”

Almost $550,000 in financial aid and $73,850 in gift cards have been provided to employees thus far. But the road to full recovery will be long for many, and every bit of additional support helps.

To view employee testimonials, click here.

How can I help?

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December 19, 2017

Dr. Carla Davis has been appointed the new head of the Section of Immunology, Allergy and Rheumatology and Chief of the Allergy/Immunology Service in the Department of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Jordan Orange, who currently holds this position, will be leaving Texas Children’s to become the new Chair of Columbia University’s Department of Pediatrics. Until his departure in the Spring 2018, Orange will work closely with Davis to ensure a smooth transition of leadership.

Davis earned an M.D. degree from Duke University Medical School in 1997. She completed pediatric residency training at Baylor and Texas Children’s, followed by postdoctoral fellowships in Allergy and Immunology (2001-2003) and HIV/AIDS Clinical Research (2000-2001 and 2003-2004). She joined the Baylor faculty as an assistant professor in 2005 and was promoted to associate professor in 2015. Davis is certified by both the American Board of Pediatrics and the American Board of Allergy and Immunology. She is an internationally recognized authority and investigator in the field of food allergies.

“Under Dr. Davis’ leadership, I have no doubt that our outstanding programs in Immunology, Allergy and Rheumatology will continue to flourish,” said Texas Children’s Physician-in-Chief Mark W. Kline. “Please join me in thanking Dr. Davis for her willingness to take on this important leadership role.”

Dr. Jordan Orange, professor of pediatrics and chief of the section of Immunology, Allergy and Rheumatology at Baylor College of Medicine, and the director of the Center for Human Immunobiology at Texas Children’s, is the recipient of the 2018 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award in Medicine from The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas (TAMEST).

Each year, the O’Donnell Awards recognize rising Texas researchers who are addressing the essential role that science and technology play in society, and whose work meets the highest standards of exemplary professional performance, creativity and resourcefulness.

As a trailblazing innovator in modern medicine, Orange was recognized for his accomplishments in defining a new class of diseases, natural killer cell deficiencies. These diseases take place when the body’s built-in defenses against infections, pathogens and cancer are defective and prevent the body from being able to adequately fight back. His work has uncovered immune deficiencies and identified secrets of these disorders to improve diagnosis and treatment for patients, particularly children.

“Learning more about how natural killer cells work could have an important role in the therapy of some of the most vexing medical conditions that we face,” said Dr. Mark W. Kline, chair of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine and physician-in-chief at Texas Children’s Hospital. “The potential of his work is just now beginning to manifest.”

“The TAMEST Edith and Peter O’Donnell Awards showcase the best and brightest among Texas researchers,” says TAMEST President Gordon England. “Their work is helping to advance science and open new pathways to discovery. We’re proud to recognize Dr. Jordan Orange for his achievements.”

Orange will be presented with this award at a special dinner and reception at the TAMEST annual conference on Thursday, January 11, in League City.