April 22, 2019

This week is Patient Experience Week at Texas Children’s, a time that we highlight and celebrate the compassion that we provide to patients daily.

Disney Magic has officially arrived at Texas Children’s Hospital.

Invited guests from The Walt Disney Company, media outlets and health care organizations across the country joined Texas Children’s clinical and executive leadership to celebrate the launch of the Disney Team of Heroes pilot. Texas Children’s is the first hospital to work with Disney on this comprehensive new initiative that will enhance the patient and family experience at children’s hospitals across the globe through a unique combination of reimagined spaces, personalized moments and engaging content, all featuring Disney’s beloved characters and themes.

Watch the video to see how all these elements came together over the past three weeks.

“Disney’s commitment to bringing comfort and inspiration to children doesn’t stop at the gates of Disneyland or Walt Disney World, and we are so grateful Disney is bringing those values to us in this way,” said Texas Children’s Surgeon-in-Chief Dr. Larry Hollier. “The magic and joy we have all experienced at a Disney park is now apparent as you walk throughout our hospital, and I am looking forward to seeing how this special partnership enhances the patient and family experience.”

Texas Children’s relationship with The Walt Disney Company dates back to 1952 when Walt Disney himself gifted the hospital with an illustration depicting his vision for the hospital’s campus at the time. The partnership was further solidified in 2018 when Texas Children’s was chosen as the pilot hospital for this transformative, five-year commitment to the patient experience from The Walt Disney Company.

The Disney Team of Heroes launch was the culmination of a year of hard work and collaboration between a group of more than 80 Disney team members, including Disney’s famed Imagineers, and a dedicated team of Texas Children’s employees and caregivers.

“As the name itself implies, at Disney we know that if you want something to be timeless, and touch the hearts of millions, it requires a talented team to bring it all to life,” said Elissa Margolis, Senior Vice President of Enterprise Social Responsibility at The Walt Disney Company. “We could not have done this without all the guidance, partnership and collaboration from doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, child life specialists, creative teams, tech leaders and also, importantly, parents.”

Guests at the event got a first look at new Disney Team of Heroes experiences on a tour of Lester and Sue Smith Legacy Tower. These elements included the stunning Magic Mural, which allows patients and families to interact with characters and environments; mesmerizing Magic Windows, where favorite characters pop in for a brief visit before taking off again; captivating Magic Portals, seek-and-find activities that provide distraction while waiting for an appointment to begin; and Disney Products and Hospital Gowns, which help brighten patient rooms and bring familiarity into hospital stays. Additionally, Texas Children’s employees system-wide received themed Disney Team of Heroes Employee Badges featuring Disney characters. The badges will create opportunities to engage patients, and fellow employees, in a fun new way.

Stay tuned for a more in-depth look at the new Disney Team of Heroes elements on our Corporate Communications Instagram, @oneamazingteam. Learn more about Texas Children’s partnership with Disney, and check Connect frequently for more exciting updates.

The Purple Songs Can Fly documentary, “Journey to Hope,” was recognized with the Platinum Remi Award at the 2019 WorldFest-Houston.

“My father must have orchestrated this from heaven along with all the other angels watching over Mia, Layla, Dominic, Emily, Stephen and Christian,” said Anita Kruse, founder and executive director of Purple Songs Can Fly. “Thank you. Your love is eternal and shows us that hope is always here. This one’s for you.”

Purple Songs Can Fly, the first recording studio created on a pediatric cancer floor, was founded in 2006 at Texas Children’s Hospital. Thirteen years and thousands of songs later, six childhood cancer patients, Mia, Layla, Dominic, Emily, Stephen and Christian, come together as survivors to share “Journey to Hope,” an original musical featuring their own songs. Written and recorded in the Purple Songs Can Fly studio during their individual cancer journeys, these songs were created as a way to express the myriad of emotions and feelings a pediatric cancer diagnosis may bring.

“We were thrilled to be included in this year’s line up at WorldFest-Houston, alongside many other wonderful, independent films,” Kruse said. “It was a great stage for our story to be told, truly shining a light on pediatric cancer.”

Now in its 52nd year, WorldFest, the Houston International Film Festival, showcased more than 60 new independent feature films and more than 100 award-winning shorts from around the globe. The WorldFest mission is to recognize and honor outstanding creative achievement in film and video, while educating and introducing excellence in cinematic arts for the promotion of cultural tourism in Houston. Founded in 1961 as an international film society, it evolved into a competitive international film festival in 1968, and became the third such festival in North America, following San Francisco and New York.

“We’re so proud of Anita and the incredible patients who created such a beautiful film,” said Carol Herron, coordinator of the Periwinkle Arts In Medicine Program at Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers. “Purple Songs Can Fly has provided hundreds of patients and siblings the gift of sharing their journey through song, and we are so grateful for the opportunity to share this special piece with our community.”

To view the trailer, visit “Journey to Hope.” For more information about Purple Songs Can Fly, visit www.purplesongcanfly.org and for more information about 2019 WorldFest-Houston, visit www.worldfest.org.

Bert Gumeringer, vice president of Facilities Operations and Support Services at Texas Children’s, received the 2019 Executive of the Year Award from the Texas Association of Healthcare Facilities Management (TAHFM).

This prestigious award recognizes an active TAHFM member who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and achievements in the field. Gumeringer received the award at the annual TAHFM Interlink Conference in April, where he was recognized for his leadership as past president and for his many contributions to the growth of the organization, which is now the largest community of health care facilities management professionals in Texas.

“I am so grateful to receive this incredible honor,” Gumeringer said. “I’ve done a lot for the TAHFM organization over the years, and I’ve always done it out of my spirit of volunteerism and education. I’m honored to receive this award, and I look forward to working with our members to continue to build on the great work that we started.”

At Texas Children’s Hospital, Gumeringer’s leadership has been instrumental in helping the organization cultivate and sustain an environment that is safe, clean and customer-focused that fully supports the hospital’s mission.

As vice president of Facilities Operations and Support Services, Gumeringer oversees a team of more than 1,000 who handle the daily operations and maintenance of all of Texas Children’s owned and leased buildings, which equates to 12.2 million square feet of space spanning over 125 locations across Greater Houston and Austin.

Gumeringer credits his team for helping to lead the organization through several transformations including the successful implementation of Mission Control, which has helped reduce transportation times, improve the patient acceptance process and optimize system communications. By successfully bringing the hospital’s operations into a unified state-of-the-art command center, Texas Children’s received the coveted 2017 Excellence in Healthcare Facility Management Award from the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE).

Gumeringer and his team have also been involved in other system wide initiatives including implementing new traffic flow processes for valet parking so families can get to their appointments on time; revamping shipping and receiving processes to ensure timely delivery of supplies; and leveraging vendor relationships to maximize the full value of every contract, while reducing operational costs and growing our hospital’s savings year-over-year.

Gumeringer says one thing he is most proud of is working with Texas Children’s Physician-in-Chief Dr. Mark W. Kline and the Baylor Pediatric AIDS Initiative (BIPAI) to develop training programs for facilities and IT professionals at the Centers of Excellence (COE’s) in Africa and Romania. BIPAI has developed a network of clinics that treat patients with pediatric AIDS and other diseases. Collaborating with the International Facility Management Association (IFMA), Gumeringer and his team were able to provide training in facility maintenance, financial management, project management and emergency management on site in Africa. Through this program five trainees have now been certified by IFMA as Facility Management Professionals overseeing facilities and IT operations at their respective COE’s.

Beyond his leadership responsibilities at Texas Children’s, Gumeringer also devotes much of his time serving the community. He currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Rise School of Houston, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to ensuring students with and without disabilities have access to a first-class education.

“Texas Children’s has had a long partnership with the Rise School that helps children discover their potential for achieving great things in life,” Gumeringer said. “My son, who has developmental disabilities, has had a profound influence on what I think and believe as a leader. Some of my best leadership lessons I have learned from him.”

April 20, 2019

Your name, title and department. How long have you worked here?
MaJomela ‘Joie’ Nagal, MBA, BSN, RN, CPN, Education Coordinator on 10 WT Neurology/Neurosurgery/Epilepsy Monitoring Unit. I have worked at Texas Children’s Hospital for 11 years.

Tell us how you found out you won a super star award.
I thought I was meeting with Sheranda Fesler, our assistant director of Clinical Practice, Nursing to discuss my FY 2019 goals. She came to meet with me but asked me to go with her to attend to a more urgent matter in a haste so I knew it had to be important. I was surprised to see my colleagues, 10 WT Leadership Team, Emily Weber, Jennifer Sanders and Jackie Ward in the conference room. Sheranda announced that I won Super Star Award. I still could not believe it, I kept looking around the room and I thought for a second that I recognized my husband in the corner. That was nice of Sheranda to invite my husband to come over and be part of my celebration. I had no idea how he was invited but Sheranda explained how she orchestrated the event. I could not explain the overwhelming joy and the mixed emotions but I knew in my heart that I was overjoyed.

What does it mean to be recognized for the hard work you do? How has the organization helped you achieve your personal and professional goals?
I am so honored to be recognized and so grateful to have received this award. It gives me a great sense of confidence to know that my hard work is being recognized. It also is comforting to know that my colleagues appreciate my efforts. It is an honor and a privilege to work here at Texas Children’s Hospital and be surrounded with incredible people to work with. Texas Children’s has a lot of wonderful opportunities to offer and these kept me motivated and continued to inspire me to learn more, improve and grow in my nursing profession. My journey here at Texas Children’s started when I was hired as a staff nurse. Texas Children’s has provided an environment in which front line staff like myself was able to engage and join the unit based and house-wide committees which supported nursing practice and fostered participatory decision making, professional accountability and career growth. I have taken on various expanded roles in the unit level and house wide. After fulfilling several unit-based expanded roles and becoming involved with various projects, I began to see the need and the value as an informal leader. Along the way, I have met amazing people and inspirational leaders who were instrumental in achieving my personal and professional goals. I felt that I could best contribute to advancing the growing and evolving nursing profession through nursing education.

What do you think makes someone at Texas Children’s a super star?
A Texas Children’s Super Star must uphold and exhibit a passion for Texas Children’s mission, must provide quality and excellent clinical patient care, a role model in exhibiting integrity and ethical behavior, and value others by showing respect, compassion and empathy. A super star is someone who is able to take action and initiative to solve problems, someone who is not only willing to embrace change but be the change agent.

What is your motivation for going above and beyond every day at work?
My biggest motivation for going above and beyond is knowing that I work with an amazing team whom I really care about and inspire me to do better each day. It gives me sense of great satisfaction knowing that staff are empowered, equipped with knowledge and training to safely care for the patients and ultimately provide quality and excellent nursing care. It also gives me the sense of fulfillment to witness the journey of a novice nurse, to be there to nurture them on their professional development and until they become experts.

What is the best thing about working at Texas Children’s?
The best thing about working at Texas Children’s is working alongside extraordinary people that I share the same passion serving pediatric population. Knowing that I am part of an organization that is family centered care, full of opportunities, supports nursing practice, advancing in technology and serves not only the children but as well as women in the global community and more importantly leading in patient care, education and research.

What does it mean to you that everyone at Texas Children’s is considered a leader? What is your leadership definition?
I believed that commitment to excellence starts with the leader, so know in your heart that where you are is where you were placed to serve and share your skills and talents. A leader is able to develop others by highlighting their strengths, minimizes their weaknesses and builds upon that. A leader is someone who is an effective communicator, can connect with staff, can foster a positive work culture environment, able to incorporate core measures in daily practice. Someone who is a positive influencer, can lead by example, is reliable and trustworthy.

Anything else you want to share?
I would like to thank my fellow Educator, Heather Morand-Reid who nominated me and to the 10 WT staff and the Leadership Team whom she collaborated with to make this possible. Thank you team!

April 15, 2019

An experience Charlene James had at Texas Children’s Hospital years ago made a lasting impression, prompting the now veteran volunteer to give back to a place she has come to love.

Decades ago, James’ daughter spent a month at Texas Children’s Hospital due to a case of viral meningitis. During her stay, Texas Children’s doctors, nurses and other staff and clinical personnel cared for her child just as she had hoped – with tender loving care, and for that, James is forever grateful.

“I said then that when I retired, I would give back to the place that took such good care of my daughter,” James said. “I have, and I love it.”

For the past 10 years, James has given her time and much of her heart to Texas Children’s Hospital, primarily holding babies in the Newborn Center and also taking on positions on The Auxiliary to Texas Children’s board, including president and currently financial officer.

James’ service and the contributions of so many like her were celebrated last week during Volunteer Appreciation Week. Filled with various activities, the five-day affair included a social mixer, lunch, and special presentation from Joel Cowley, President and CEO of the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo.

In his role, Cowley is responsible for the efforts of more than 34,000 volunteers and 120 full-time staff in conducting a 23-day event that draws nearly 34,000 livestock show entries and an annual attendance of more than 2.4 million.

During his presentation, Cowley said he has a great appreciation for volunteers and the value they have to an organization. He said the number of volunteers working the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo has doubled in the past 15 years, and that without such a dedicated volunteer force, the event wouldn’t be such a huge success.

“The impact our volunteers have on the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo is immense,” Cowley said. “The fact you are at Texas Children’s providing support and care to patients, families and caregivers is an incredible value as well.”

Director of Volunteer Services Paige Schulz said the more than 1,000 Texas Children’s volunteers who support patients, families and hospital staff through a number of assignments throughout the Texas Children’s system are the heart and soul of the organization and that each and every one of them are deeply appreciated.

“We are so thankful for the time and talent our volunteers dedicate to Texas Children’s,” she said. “Our organization wouldn’t be the same without them.”

According to many volunteers, they wouldn’t be the same without Texas Children’s.

Volunteer Herb LeDee said the two days a week he spends volunteering at the front desk of the Outpatient Building in The Woodlands are some of his best.

“Every day is a fun day,” he said. “When I leave, I feel complete.”

LeDee was named Volunteer of the Year during last week’s festivities. He was one of the first volunteers in The Woodlands and has the most service hours and Caught You Caring awards of any volunteer in that area.

If you are anyone you know is interested in volunteering at Texas Children’s, click here for more information.

A brand-new clinic at Texas Children’s West Campus is empowering children with visual impairment to make the most of the sight they have and live more independent lifestyles.

Texas Children’s Vision Enhancement Center – the only pediatric low vision clinic in Houston and one of only a few in the nation – was started this past January to meet the tremendous need for specialty care for children in Greater Houston living with various forms of visual impairment that can’t be corrected with glasses, contact lenses, surgery or medicine.

The clinic, made possible through a generous gift from Kathy and George Bishop, is spearheaded by Texas Children’s pediatric optometrist Dr. Kelsie Morrison and provides children with tools and techniques to maximize their functional vision so they can perform daily tasks and educational activities.

“The Vision Enhancement Center is the product of a partnership between Dr. Morrison, the Eye Care Department at Texas Children’s and our wonderful hospital administrative partners,” said Dr. David Coats, Texas Children’s chief of Ophthalmology. “This great new service provides promise and hope, and I am very proud to be a part of a team that is so committed to helping children with vision impairment live healthy, happier lives.”

The most common causes of visual impairment, or low vision, in children are inherited or congenital eye diseases, such as oculocutaneous albinism, retinal dystrophies (such as retinitis pigmentosa or Stargardt’s disease), retinopathy of maturity, nystagmus, and optic nerve hypoplasia.

These conditions typically cause one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Loss of ability to see detail (visual acuity)
  • Loss of side or peripheral vision (visual field)
  • Constant double vision (diplopia)
  • Inability to navigate steps or the edge of curbs (contrast sensitivity)
  • Inability to distinguish colors

Children with low vision face special challenges in school, where great emphasis is placed on learning in a visual environment.

“The majority of what we learn as children is absorbed visually,” said Morrison. “The conditions that our patients have make it difficult to take in visual input and process it. Our job is to get a baseline measurement of their functional vision and then test different solutions, such as magnification devices or electronic systems, to find the best fit for each individual patient and to improve their quality of life.”

The Vision Enhancement Center administers a complete assessment of visual function, eye health and the visual demands each patient experiences in educational, home and community settings. This initial exam is a critical step in determining how the child uses their vision to function and whether visual aids and other environmental modifications can make daily tasks – such as reading and writing – more comfortable and manageable. To help gain a clearer picture of the child’s needs, teachers, therapists or other health care workers are encouraged to attend appointments if possible.

A review of visual equipment already in use at home and school, as well as of textbooks and school materials, helps the optometrist make suggestions and offer guidance on what other magnification tools may be needed, such as telescopes, magnifiers, electronic systems (e.g., video displays, virtual reality mountings), or special tools to help patients who have difficulty with contrast or glare. Additional guidance may be offered on potential environmental alterations that can be made at home or in the classroom to help maximize the patient’s vision and improve their daily life.

The response from the community has been tremendous. Volume has been high since the clinic’s opening and there are already plans for expanding clinic space.

“The care and healing provided at this clinic have the ability to transform children’s lives,” said Dr. Allen Milewicz, Texas Children’s chief of Community Surgery and chief surgical officer at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus. “These impactful therapies, and the work of dedicated physicians like Dr. Morrison, make me proud to be part of Texas Children’s.”

Learn more about the Vision Enhancement Center and other services provided by Texas Children’s Division of Ophthalmology.