February 20, 2018

Texas Children’s President and CEO Mark Wallace recently enjoyed an intimate surprise celebration in the building that bears his name. Last week, a few leaders, staff members and Texas Children’s ukulele choir joined him for the unveiling of a new plaque, which officially dedicates the building in his honor.

“Thank you so very much for this,” Wallace said to the choir and the small crowd. “I’m deeply honored by this special moment with all of you.”

As Wallace approached the bridge, he was surprised by a small crowd and the ukulele choir, which sang an original song that music therapists Marial Biard and Alex Brickley composed about Wallace’s legacy of leadership.

Acts of leadership create tidal waves of growth.
Pledging your life to accelerate healthcare.
You’re an exemplar of this oath.

Those are just a few lyrics from the ukulele choir’s song, The Texas Children’s Way. Brickley, who co-leads the choir with Biard, said The Texas Children’s Way is the lyrical epitome of Wallace’s vision for the hospital.

“We wanted to make sure we used Texas Children’s core values in the lyrics,” Brickley said. “We knew we wanted to incorporate those because that’s what Mark Wallace said leadership is about and that’s what Texas Children’s stands for.”

The choir includes employees of all professions and allows them a break during the day to step away from work, relax, and learn music. The choir performs for our patients and is often requested for employee events.

The newly unveiled plaque hangs at the end of The Auxiliary Bridge near the third-floor entrance to Wallace Tower. Previously, Texas Children’s 16-floor clinical building had been the Clinical Care Tower. In March, Texas Children’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously to rename the building Mark A. Wallace Tower in honor of our long-time President and CEO.

Wallace took the reins of Texas Children’s Hospital in 1989, and under his leadership, Texas Children’s has become the largest and most comprehensive pediatric and women’s health care organization in the nation. Although obviously surprised by the small celebration, Wallace immediately offered a few words of aspiration and a promise.

“Even though we’ve done a lot in these last several years together, the best is yet to come,” Wallace said.

Special thanks to the ukulele choir members who performed at Mr. Wallace’s plaque unveiling:
Saharay Alamos-Almeida
Marial Biard
Alix Brickley
Ashby Gleditsch
Amanda Harris
Caley Johns
David Kolacny
Nick Ryan Magdoza
Danh K Nguyen
Halle Nick
Hannah Nilsen
Ashley Wood

The Clinical Research Center/Research Resources Office presented the Clinical Research Award for First Quarter 2018 to Dr. Daniel Leung, associate professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition where he serves as Director of Clinical Research.

This award was established by the Clinical Research Center in collaboration with the Research Resources Office to recognize and honor individual contributions to protecting the best interest of the research subjects and compliance with applicable rules and regulations.

Leung’s research activities in the CRC focus on caring for children with a variety of liver disorders. He is an active investigator in the NIH-supported CFLD and ChiLDReN Networks which study cholestatic and cystic fibrosis-related liver disease and led the recently completed Cystic Fibrosis Foundation sponsored multi-center Baby Observational Nutritional Study (BONUS). Leung also oversees the Viral Hepatitis Program at Texas Children’s Hospital which offers cutting edge antiviral therapies through several clinical trials to children throughout the state who have Hepatitis B and C. Virtually all these patients are seen for study treatment and long-term follow up with the support of CRC staff. With the new pipeline of oral direct acting antivirals (DAAs) against hepatitis C, children with chronic HCV can now be cured in as short as 12 weeks with minimal to no side effects. Leung credits the outstanding nursing staff in the CRC and research coordinators through the RRO as “true co-laborers in helping cure and eradicate viral hepatitis in children and breaking the vicious cycle of these viruses.”

On February 9, more than 350 guests joined event chairs Sidney Faust, Judi McGee, Elsie Eckert and Scott Basinger for the 10th annual Celebration of Champions fashion show and luncheon at the River Oaks Country Club.

The event featured a fashion show with pediatric cancer survivors from Texas Children’s Cancer Center walking the runway with this year’s Community Champions, a group of notable Houstonians who do so much to help children battling cancer and make the community a better place.

More than your typical fashion show, it was a “look at me now” moment for children who have seen some dark days early in their lives in their fight with cancer. View a gallery of photos from the event below.

In addition to showcasing the latest fashion trends from Saks Fifth Avenue and Dillard’s, the event also featured a special appearance by the honorary event chairs Jeff Bagwell and Mary Lou Retton. Bagwell and Retton kicked off the event with the lighting of the Torch of Hope and later took the runway alongside patient champions.

Since its inception, the event has raised more than $1.5 million for the Long Term Cancer Survivor Program at Texas Children’s Cancer Center, which monitors patients for delayed side effects and complications caused by previous cancer therapies. Not every pediatric cancer treatment center continues to care for its patients into adulthood however, caregivers at Texas Children’s Cancer Center recognize that health concerns for childhood cancer patients do not end when their cancer treatment is successfully completed.

The program currently has 25,000 long-term pediatric cancer survivors nationwide enrolled in Passport for Care®, an online resource guide developed at Texas Children’s and Baylor College of Medicine that provides individualized health care information to guide physicians’ care for late risks and effects from childhood cancer treatment. It has developed an international reputation as a leader in the field and has attracted a world-renowned faculty involved in local, national and international research that benefits today’s pediatric cancer patients and future survivors.

The event’s Community Champions included Jeff and Rachel Bagwell, Mary Lou Retton, Dr. David Poplack, Lisa McCoy, Linda and Mark Evans, Winell and Doug Herron, Kristy and Chris Bradshaw, Christie and Billy McCartney, Kathi and Bill Rovere, Tena and Tyson Faust, Hannah and Cal McNair, Penny and John Butler, Mary and John Eads, Diane and John Riley, Courtney and Christopher Sarofim. Among the event’s other medically-minded supporters were Flo Crady, Emily Crosswell, Bo Butler, Scott Butler, Megan Cushing, Bethany Hibbetts, Caroline Walter, Joanna and Brad Marks, Lisa and Mike O’Leary, Carmen and Butch Mach.

IT’S A GIRL! Elsa now has a little sister. Texas Children’s first therapy dog, is not the hospital’s only female, four-legged, furry friend. A new therapy dog will be arriving at the end of the month, and Child Life just announced that it will be a GIRL.

The gender reveal was broadcast live through ZTV, or channel 19, on the hospital’s internal television station. This was the first live segment for the channel. Be sure to tune in from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday – Friday, for more exciting television shows that the Kids Zone has to offer.

Elizabeth Ellen “Betsy” Parish, journalist and author of Texas Children’s history book, Legacy: 50 Years of Loving Care, Texas Children’s Hospital, 1954-2004, died at her home on Tuesday, February 13. At 71, she left behind a legacy of her own with her passion for documenting and preserving the history of health care in Houston.

Parish is a native Houstonian, earning a college degree in Journalism from the University of Houston. She used her journalistic skills to become a newspaper columnist and public relations executive, eventually being acknowledged as “Houston’s hot media personality.”

Upon writing Legacy for our hospital, she was given the opportunity to produce historic literature for other medical institutions. She co-authored Houston Hearts: A History of Cardiovascular Surgery and Medicine and The Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center, published in 2014, as well as, Reflections – Houston Methodist Hospital, published in 2016.

Most recently, she edited Tributes, a compilation of previously published articles regarding Dr. Michael DeBakey, which was published in 2017.

Texas Children’s is appreciative of her contribution to the documentation of our hospital’s story, and we will continue to remember her as her name lives on the cover and throughout our history book.

A memorial service in celebration of the life of Elizabeth Ellen Parish is to be conducted at eleven o’clock in the morning on Friday, the 23rd of March, at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, 717 Sage Road in Houston.

In lieu of flowers and customary remembrances, memorial contributions may be directed to The Betsy Parish Fund, c/o The Parish School, 11001 Hammerly Blvd., Houston, TX 77043.

February 14, 2018

Two-month-old Finley Sloan got a special visit from her interventional cardiologist Dr. Aimee Liou last week when she walked into her room on the 15th floor of the Heart Center carrying a tiny red knit hat.

Liou, a self-taught knitter, made the hat herself in honor of National Heart Awareness Month and chose to give it to Finley, who has been a patient at Texas Children’s since she was born. The hat fit the little girl’s head perfectly.

“I am thrilled to be able to serve patients in this capacity,” Liou said. “To be able to show them kindness, compassion and warmth on top of giving them the best possible clinical care is really special.”

In addition to Liou, several other Texas Children’s staff and friends of the Heart Center crafted hats for patients in recognition of Heart Month, a time focused on heart health and the seriousness of cardiovascular disease, which claims the life of one person every 38 seconds in America.

Congenital heart defects are the most common form of cardiovascular disease in children and are the top congenital abnormality. Affecting one out of every 1,000 newborns, more than 35,000 babies in the United States are born with congenital heart defects each year.

To shine a light on these statistics and the work done at Texas Children’s to prevent and treat heart disease, almost 50 hats in various shades of red and pink have been handed out this month to patients of all ages at the Heart Center. Pediatric Cardiologist Dr. Judith Becker made close to 30 of the hats.

A long-time knitter and crocheter, Becker stopped her craft in the early 2000s because of carpal tunnel syndrome. She had corrective surgery in 2010 but was not motivated to pick up her needles again until this year when she learned about the effort to knit hats for patients at the Heart Center to highlight Heart Month.

“It was a great reason to get started again, and I had a great time,” Becker said. “It’s always nice to be able to do something extra for our patients.”

The patients who received the hats were extremely appreciative of the generous gesture. Finley and 8-year-old Stephanie Villafuerte, were all smiles after donning their new festive attire, and may others expressed their gratitude.

Both Liou and Becker said they hope the knitting circle continues to generate hats for patients treated at the Heart Center.

“I would like to see this continue,” Liou said. “It’s a great way to demonstrate our family-centered care.”

Interested in knitting a hat? Contact Laura Higgins at ext. 6-1981 or llhiggin@texaschildrens.org.

For more information on our Heart Center, click here.

February 13, 2018

The countdown has begun! February 11, marked 100 days until the first phase of Legacy Tower officially opens at Texas Children’s Hospital Texas Medical Center campus.

Through this 408-foot vertical expansion, Texas Children’s is adding 657,000 square feet. When Legacy Tower opens its doors to patients and families on Tuesday, May 22, the tower will house new operating rooms with one intraoperative MRI, as well as a new pediatric intensive care unit (ICU), which will span four floors and open with six ORs and 84 ICU beds, including dedicated surgical, neuro and transitional ICU beds.

When the second phase of the Legacy Tower opens in fall 2018, the tower will be the new home of Texas Children’s Heart Center® – ranked No. 1 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report in cardiology and heart surgery. The Heart Center will have an outpatient clinic, four catheterization labs with one intraprocedural MRI, cardiovascular intensive care unit, four cardiovascular operating rooms and cardiology acute care beds. The tower will also have a helistop, allowing for even greater access to Texas Children’s most critically ill patients.

Texas Children’s Legacy Tower team and its external partners have made significant progress to date, including some of our most recent construction, staffing and activation milestones listed below:

  • Completion of mid-construction simulation-based clinical systems test for the OR/MRI. Detailed simulation and training planning to support the opening of Phase One.
  • Garage 21 enhancements and reconfiguration to serve both the Pavilion for Women and Legacy Tower to improve traffic flow and wayfinding, increase public parking capacity and create clear access to the Pavilion and Legacy Tower elevators.
  • Recruitment efforts have been progressing well. Nearly half of the 871 positions for Legacy Tower have been filled. The remaining positions are being actively recruited.
  • Furniture as well as medical and technology equipment deployment is underway in Legacy Tower.

Texas Children’s also launched a new Legacy Tower website (www.legacytower.org) that features a countdown clock to opening day. The newly designed site provides highlights of all of the services housed in the new tower including a timeline of the phase one and phase two openings of Legacy Tower.

Other exciting milestones on the horizon include the delivery of our intraoperative MRI for Legacy Tower on February 18 and the anticipated arrival of our new Legacy Tower therapy dog, thanks to a generous gift from Texas Children’s CEO Mark Wallace and his wife Shannon in memory of their beloved dog, Cadence.