December 12, 2017

The holidays are approaching, and with that comes the gift-giving season! In your role at Texas Children’s, you might have encountered situations where patients, Health Plan members, or vendors want to give you gifts to express their gratitude. And you’ve probably thought to yourself, can I accept the gift? Depending on your job, accepting a gift may interfere with your professional responsibilities, and could trigger violations of certain laws or ethical rules. So what is appropriate? Below are some FAQs to ensure you and your staff are appropriately handling gifts among Texas Children’s workforce members, patients, Health Plan members, and vendors.

Patients and Health Plan members

Can I accept cash or cash equivalents from a patient, Health Plan member, or their family?

No. Never accept cash or cash equivalents (including gift cards) from patients or Health Plan Members. Even a $5 gift card to Starbucks is not appropriate.

What other gifts can I not accept from a patient, Health Plan member, or their family?

It is not appropriate to accept high dollar value gifts such as expensive pens, jewelry, electronics, tickets to sporting events or concerts, or other extravagant items.

What can I accept from a patient, Health Plan member, or their family?

Gifts with nominal value are acceptable if they are infrequent and do not create an obligation on your part. Examples include food, flowers, and balloons. These types of gifts should be shared with your co-workers.

Can I give a gift to a patient, Health Plan Member, or their family?

Yes, you can give nominal gifts, valued under $15 per item, or $75 annually per patient or Health Plan member.

Never give cash, cash equivalents (including gift cards), or high dollar value gifts.

How can I politely decline a gift without offending a patient, Health Plan member, or their family?

  • Always express gratitude, even when you cannot accept the gift.
  • Clarify that Texas Children’s does not generally allow you to accept gifts.
  • Stress that you do not want other patients or Health Plan members to feel like they have to give gifts.
  • In the rare circumstances where return of a gift is not possible, the gift must be delivered to the Office of Philanthropy, who will use it for the benefit of patients and families.

Can I accept cash or cash equivalents from a vendor?

No. Never accept cash or cash equivalents (including gift cards) from vendors.

What other gifts can I not accept from a vendors?

It is not appropriate to accept gifts from vendors that may influence or appear to influence their decision-making on behalf of Texas Children’s.

What can I accept from a vendor?

Gifts with nominal value are acceptable if they are infrequent, of nominal value and do not create an obligation on your part. Examples include food, flowers, and balloons. These types of gifts should be shared with your co-workers.

Unsolicited offers of entertainment or social events (e.g. attendance at a sporting or cultural event, participating in a sporting activity) as long as long as they are infrequent, do not improperly influence behavior, and will not influence any part of a decision making process.

Can I accept gifts from vendors that are involved in a bid/award process?

No. If a vendor is involved in a Request for Proposal, Request for Information, or Request for Quote, you may not accept any gift or meal, regardless of its value.


Can I give or accept a gift from a co-worker?

Yes, you can exchange gifts with your colleagues, as long as you paid for the gift yourself. You may not use Texas Children’s funds (e.g. eReimbursement, ProCard) for gifts for colleagues.

If you have a question about giving or receiving gifts, please contact Compliance and Privacy (ext. 4-2085 or

As of yesterday, 89 percent of Texas Children’s employees have received their flu shot. Last year, we achieved over a 90 percent vaccination rate, and this year, we want to beat that rate! We can do it! A special thank you to all of you for getting vaccinated!

If you have not received your flu shot, it’s not too late. Make your flu shot appointment today by calling:

  • Main Campus Employee Health at 832-824-2150 (option 2)
  • West Campus Employee Health at 832-227-1365
  • The Woodlands Employee Health at 936-267-5287

If you received your flu vaccine elsewhere, please submit verification to Employee Health either in person, via email to or via fax at 832-825-9437. Employee Health will provide a 2017/2018 flu shot badge sticker upon receiving your confirmation.

To view a brief overview of our flu shot participation thus far, click here.
To view testimonials from your peers on why they received their flu shot, click here.

“We encourage you to get your flu shot as soon as possible. We are already seeing positive flu cases at the Employee Medical Clinic ,” said Employee Medical Clinic physician Dr. Irene Lomeda. “People infected with flu shed the virus and may be able to infect others one day prior to symptoms and 5-7 days after symptoms. Remember, the flu affects people differently based on their body’s ability to fight infection. Even healthy children and adults can get very sick from the flu and spread it to friends, co-workers, and family.”

If you are on the fence about receiving your flu vaccine this year, please watch this six-minute Texas Children’s video, Facing Influenza, to see real Texas Children’s families experience the challenges and heartbreak from the flu.

As a reminder, staff who does not receive their flu shot will be required to wear a surgical mask when providing direct patient care services for the duration of the flu season. See Required Influenza Vaccination Policy and Procedure for more details. Employee Health is not accepting flu declination documentation yet. More details on the declination process will be shared in the coming weeks.

Thank you for helping protect our patients, families, workforce, and community by receiving your flu shot.

Dr. Paul Sirbaugh, chief of Pediatric Emergency Medicine since 2012, has been named chief medical officer for Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands, effective January 2, 2018. Sirbaugh will succeed Dr. Charles Hankins, who will be joining CHRISTUS as system senior vice-president of pediatrics and president and chief medical officer of The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio.

Sirbaugh brings a wealth of expertise and experience to this leadership role. In addition to a medical degree and board certification in pediatrics and pediatric emergency medicine, Sirbaugh earned a Masters of Business Administration degree from Rice University. He has served as the pediatric medical director for the City of Houston Emergency Medical Service for the past 22 years and is an extremely broad-based clinician, medical educator and clinical investigator. He currently serves as associate professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine.

“We are extremely fortunate to have a proven leader of Dr. Sirbaugh’s impeccable character and abilities step into this important role,” said Texas Children’s Physician-In-Chief Dr. Mark W. Kline. “We thank all of you, but especially our Woodlands-based faculty and staff, for joining us in congratulating Dr. Sirbaugh and welcoming him to The Woodlands community.”

For the fourth year, Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus has been named one of the 10 top children’s hospitals in the nation by The Leapfrog Group, an independent hospital watchdog organization. The award recognizes achievements in patient safety and quality and is widely acknowledged as one of the most competitive and exclusive honors an American hospital can receive.

“We are honored to again be recognized as a top performing children’s hospital by The Leapfrog Group,” said Michelle Riley-Brown president of Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus and executive vice president of Texas Children’s Hospital. “Our entire team of physicians, nurses and employees strive to provide a safe environment where we can deliver the highest quality care possible for our patients and their families. We applaud our team for their tireless work and the incredible care they provide for the children in our community every day.”

In the survey, Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus received a Top Children’s Hospital distinction and was recognized nationally alongside 45 Top General Hospitals, 18 Top Rural Hospitals, 36 Top Teaching Hospitals and only nine other Top Children’s Hospitals.

“We are proud to recognize Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus as a 2017 Leapfrog Top Hospital,” said Leah Binder, president and Chief Executive Officer of Leapfrog. “This demonstrates extraordinary dedication to patients and the local community. The entire staff and board deserve praise for putting quality first and achieving results.”

The Leapfrog Group is an organization that provides the only national, public comparison of hospitals across safety, quality and efficiency dimensions. Performance across many areas of hospital care is considered in establishing the qualifications for the award, including infection rates, maternity care, and the hospital’s capacity to prevent medication errors.

To see the full list of institutions honored as 2017 Top Hospitals, visit

On February 10 at Third Coast on Bertner Avenue in Houston, Texas Children’s Chief of Otolaryngology Dr. Ellis Arjmand and Dr. Oded Netzer, professor of business at Columbia Business School in New York City, will lead an interactive workshop focused on the psychology of decision making in medicine.

During the 8-hour course, attendees will learn about the psychology of decision making and how to make smarter decisions in the presence of uncertainty.

Building on the landmark research from two trailblazing psychologists, Drs. Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, attendees will learn how to recognize cognitive bias and systematic errors in decision making. Topics discussed include:

  • Cognitive Bias and Decision Making
  • Systematic Forms of Error: Understanding Our Biases
  • System I and System II: Thinking Fast and Slow
  • Interrogating the Data
  • Understanding Error in Medical Decision Making
  • Syntheses vs. Summary
  • Reducing Bias in Medical Decision Making

To register for the Continuing Medical Education course or for more information about the event, click here.

Texas Children’s Hospital was the presenting sponsor of the 2017 Via Colori street painting festival in downtown Houston. The Division of Otolaryngology took the lead within Texas Children’s to man a booth at the event and ensure a strong Texas Children’s presence.

Otolaryngologists, audiologists, speech pathologists, nurses and clinic staff participated in playing yard games with families in attendance and sharing information about the hearing and speech services at Texas Children’s. Dr. Ellis Arjmand, chief of otolaryngology at the hospital, took the main stage to talk about the Hearing Center at Texas Children’s.

Via Colori is one of the city’s largest and most popular art festivals. Produced by the The Center for Hearing and Speech, the event is held to fund critical health and educational services for local children with mild to profound hearing loss.

All proceeds from Via Colori benefit The Center for Hearing and Speech, which is a partner of the Texas Children’s Hearing Center.

December 5, 2017

A little over a year ago, Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands Outpatient Building opened its doors to the Greater Houston area and beyond. Since then, the ever-growing team of providers and support staff have seen 50,000 plus patients in the outpatient areas and received numerous compliments from the patients and family members they serve.

“Our first year has been packed with many new and exciting opportunities,” said Julie Barrett, director of outpatient and clinical support services for the Outpatient Building. “We have grown substantially, adding new service lines, providers and staff, and we have established a culture that exemplifies our mission to provide the best possible care for our patients and their families.”

Designed with a “spirit of the woods” theme to incorporate the lush, woodsy landscape that surrounds it, the six-floor, 209,973-square-foot Outpatient Building opened in October 2016 housing almost 20 areas of specialized care including cardiology, sports medicine, neurology and hematology/oncology. A dedicated medical staff at the facility works in conjunction with the Texas Children’s system to provide top-notch medical care.

Connected to the almost year-old Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands on floors one and two, the Outpatient Building offers a fresh, new kid-friendly environment to families seeking the best pediatric care for their children. A state-of-the art sports physical therapy gym is on the first floor, check-in and check-out stations resembling a child’s club house are at the entrance of each clinic, and spacious exam rooms and provider work stations line many of the building’s halls.

Susan Niles, a senior athletic trainer with Sports Medicine, said the Outpatient Building’s Sports Medicine staff has grown substantially since it starting seeing patients a year ago, adding nurses, physical therapists, athletic trainers and a sports dietitian. Such growth has allowed the staff to provide quicker access to therapy services, Niles said. It also has provided opportunities for research.

“Using technology from the motion analysis lab, we have launched a research project that we hope will provide breakthrough information on concussions,” Niles said. “We are the only campus with a motion analysis lab and we are excited to use the technology for our patients.”

Ambulatory Services Therapy Manager Jay Mennel said another unique service offered in The Woodlands comes by way of an Alter-G treadmill, an anti-gravity treadmill utilized by sports therapy patients, he said. Such a specialized service combined with other specialty clinics led to the therapy staff completing more than 18,000 outpatient visits during the Outpatient Building’s first year in operation.

“We have some fantastic physicians and great senior leadership at The Woodlands, which has helped our department grow at an exceptional rate,” Mennel said. “We hope to continue to grow this next fiscal year.”

Heather Jordan, a staff nurse in Outpatient Surgical Services, Melanie Garcia, a medical assistant with Plastic Surgery, and Yvonne Barham a staff nurse with Diabetes and Endocrine, all said they have seen tremendous growth in their areas and that they have seen patients from all over Texas and surrounding states.

“Our patients have come from Nacogdoches, Lufkin, Bryan/College Station, Corpus Christi, Port Arthur, and Louisiana,” Barham said. “Many of the local residents have stated how happy they are to not have to travel for their regular office visits.”

Garcia agreed and said patient experience is something that everyone at The Woodlands Outpatient Building takes to heart. “We go above and beyond on a daily basis to make sure every patient feels special,” she said. “We are always improving, always compassionately serving each other and our patients.”

When asked what’s next, leaders, providers and staff point to continued growth and involvement in The Woodlands community.

“Now that we are here and have established workflows, processes and procedures, we can begin to work on things such as more access to patients and families, and staff being more involved in the community,” said Shawnda Kelley, ambulatory manager of various service lines at the Outpatient Building. “I am happy and proud to be a part of this new beginning and can’t wait to see what’s next.”