April 2, 2019

More than a dozen Texas Children’s clinicians, who are also in academic roles at Baylor College of Medicine, were recently honored with the college’s Women of Excellence Award.

The award is one of the highest educational honors made by the college, highlighting individuals who demonstrate extraordinary dedication to issues that affect women at Baylor College of Medicine, or in their larger community.

The award also recognizes meritorious academic accomplishments, commitment to the mission and vision of Baylor, as well as direct teaching and evaluation, educational leadership, development of enduring educational materials and educational research.

“Congratulations on your outstanding accomplishment and we wish you many years of continued success,” said Dr. Toi Blakely, Associate Provost of Institutional Diversity, Inclusion and Equity & Student Services, and Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Pediatrics and Family and Community. ”Baylor College of Medicine is truly fortunate to have such outstanding role models dedicated to addressing issues affecting women at Baylor and the larger community through our mission and core values. Thank you for all you do.”

The following Texas Children’s clinicians received the Women of Excellence Award at a March 28 ceremony featuring remarks by Dr. Hannah Valentine, the Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity at the National Institutes of Health. For a complete list of award winners, click here.

  • Dr. Nishath Ali, Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Dr. Susan Blaney, Cancer and Hematology Centers
  • Dr. Catherine Eppes, Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Dr. Elaine Fielder, Emergency Medicine
  • Dr. Karin Fox, Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Dr. Erica Giwa, Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Dr. Charleta Guillory, Neonatology
  • Dr. Jill Ann Jarrell, Palliative Care
  • Dr. Karen Johnson, Neonatology
  • Dr. Lakshmi Katakam, Neonatal Intensive Care
  • Dr. Katherine Leaming-Van Zandt, Emergency Medicine
  • Dr. Krithika Lingappan, Neonatal Intensive Care
  • Dr. Jenelle Little, Neonatology
  • Dr. Shreya Sheth, Cardiology
  • Dr. Sara Kristen Sexson Tejtel, Department of Pediatrics
  • Dr. Sandhya Sara Thomas, Nephrology

On March 25, the first patient was seen in the new expansion of Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus Sleep Center. Going from six beds on the fourth floor, to nine beds with six available for future expansion on the second floor, the center will now be able to improve access for patients waiting to be treated for sleep conditions.

“We get about 40 to 50 referrals for a sleep study per day,” Neurophysiology Manager Wes Moulden said. “We were looking at anywhere between three to seven month wait times. Now that we have expanded the sleep lab we’ll be able to start diagnosing more children with sleep disorders, and doing sleep studies more efficiently.”

Texas Children’s Sleep Center is one of the few accredited centers in the country specializing in children’s sleep disorders. A sleep disorder is a disruption in a child’s normal sleeping pattern. The sleep center evaluates and treats common sleep disorders in children including problems falling asleep or staying asleep, sleepwalking and abnormal movements during sleep.

“An accredited pediatric sleep center is very rare and all three of our sleep labs have that recognition, Moulden said. “Another unique thing about our sleep center from a diagnostic standpoint, is that all of our technologists are registered technologists who have been formally educated and trained in this skill which is not normally the case.”

Our prestigious credentials also draws the attention of patients from all over the country to our sleep centers. In 2013, Maria Wilson moved her family to Houston from Idaho so that her daughter Sophia could be treated at our sleep center for what was eventually diagnosed as narcolepsy.

“I knew it was going to be a better situation,” Wilson said. “It was very nerve racking and I was nervous, but I knew it was a better move for us to be seeing doctors that have more experience with my daughter’s condition.”

Since being diagnosed and treated frequently at our West Campus Sleep Center for the past six years, Maria says that Sophia is doing much better and is also receiving a great deal of help as they prepare to transition out of the pediatric care system.

“We love Texas Children’s Hospital! After we got established as patients, we got to know the doctors and built relationships with them. That really helped her quality of life when it comes to going to school and functioning better overall,” Wilson said. “Now she’s transferring slowly to adult doctors, and I’m kind of sad. But for us, we love Texas Children’s, we love the doctors and nurses here, and the care that she’s received, so it is comforting to know that we have them in our corner.”

Last week the sleep center team members, administration, and executives gathered on the second floor of West Campus for a ribbon cutting that marked the opening of four sleep clinics, and nine sleep lab beds.

“I wanted to thank all physician leaders, operations leadership, and anyone who had a hand in this much needed expansion,” Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus Vice-President Ivett Shah said. “Texas Children’s is dedicated to improving access to care and this expansion is another way that West Campus continues to provide high-quality care to the West Houston community and throughout the state of Texas.”

The rooms in the sleep center also have the capacity to perform electroencephalogram studies during the day (EEG), in-room monitoring devices, and a host of other quality equipment to ensure sleep studies are carried out properly, along with a scorer/nurse workroom.

“This space was specifically created with the comfort of the patient in mind,” West Campus Respiratory Care and Clinical Support Services Assistant Director Gbolahan Harris said. “Having these clinics and labs in one space helps to reduce patient and family anxiety while normalizing the experience for a sleep study within the sleep center.”

Rooms on the floor also have the flexibility to be converted back into Acute Care beds if West Campus reaches a point where there is a need.

In addition to larger rooms and more workspace, the idea was to increase the number of providers as well. Prior to opening the expansion Lacie Petitto began as the first full-time nurse-practitioner that will be working in the clinic.

“My background is in sleep medicine so I am so excited for the expansion and my new opportunity to treat children in the sleep center,” Petitto said. “When I was approached by the sleep division for this leadership position I was overjoyed to be a part of this opening. This type of work helps feed my passion for sleep medicine and treating patients with sleep disorders.”

Although they are not board certified to read sleep studies, however clinically, Advance Practice Nurses (APN) can see the patients, assess, diagnose, and treat them as well. This allows clinic volumes to open and more patients are seen and treated in a much more efficient way.

“That’s never been done before at Texas Children’s as far as having a full-time nurse practitioner for sleep,” Moulden said. “The center is multi-faceted we have a variety of providers. Some are neurologists, some are pulmonologists, and we are the primary pediatric partner for the Baylor College of Medicine Sleep Fellowship program where we train physicians as well.”

The ultimate goal of the sleep center moving forward is to continue to provide the same high-level services, but on a larger scale.

“Sleep providers should have dreams, and their dreams should come true as they have today,” Texas Children’s Sleep Center Medical Director Dr. Daniel Glaze said. “We anticipate a lot of work, but it will also be a lot of fun. We look for this to be a model for other sleep institutions, and are committed to providing the best diagnostic and overall care for children with sleep complications.”

Texas Children’s employees are now just a phone call or secure video conference away from connecting with board-certified doctors and pediatricians anytime, anywhere, for more than a dozen common or chronic health conditions.

All employees and their eligible dependents who are enrolled in a Texas Children’s medical plan have access to Cigna Telehealth, a new benefit introduced during 2019 Annual Enrollment. Eligible members can use Cigna Telehealth to reach a doctor from home or when traveling throughout the United States, for a variety of general issues: allergies, fevers, headaches, infections, insect bites, nausea, joint aches and more. Pediatric care for your covered dependents is also available via Telehealth for cold and flu, constipation, nausea, pink eye and earaches in children.

Consultation and prescribing are provided 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, by doctors from Amwell, a leading telehealth platform. All telehealth consultations are subject to the same confidentiality requirements that apply to consultations in a doctor’s office. Simply follow these instructions to download the Amwell for Cigna app to register, find a doctor and access services via phone or video for a $20 co-payment under Texas Children’s Traditional Plan, or a 20 percent coinsurance under the Consumer Plus Plan. For more information about Telehealth, click here to view this short video or visit our Benefits website (scroll down to Telehealth). Employees are highly encouraged to download the Amwell for Cigna app to their phones today and register their information in advance so they and their covered dependents can utilize the service immediately when a need arises.

Some members who have already used Telehealth have shared that the service has been a welcome addition to their Cigna benefits. Others have expressed how impressed they were by how easy it is to navigate and use the app, and how quickly they were connected with a doctor after requesting an appointment.

One Texas Children’s employee recently used Telehealth for her 12-year-old son, who needed treatment for an itchy and rapidly spreading rash. With the pediatrician’s office closed and her son more miserable by the minute, she downloaded the Amwell for Cigna app. The employee found it easy to enter relevant health history and upload pictures of the rash, and had a diagnosis from a doctor and a prescription called in to their pharmacy. The whole process took less than 30 minutes.

When another employee developed a case of poison ivy on a recent weekend, she downloaded the app and was face to face with a doctor via video conference in what she expressed “seemed like no time at all.”

Please contact our Total Rewards team at 832-824-2421, select option 1 and then 7 to speak to a Benefits team member from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday or email totalrewards@texaschildrens.org.

Already used Cigna Telehealth?
We want your feedback on this new benefit offering! Please share your experiences with us via email at wellbeing@texaschildrens.org.

Teen and pre-teen inpatient children now have a place to get away and partake in age appropriate activities during their stay at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus. On March 28, the Child Life department invited patients, families and staff to an open house for the Activity Room.

Over the years, the hospital has opened multiple child life activity spaces, typically playrooms, located on various floors of all three hospitals. These spaces provide a fun, safe and procedure-free environment for our inpatient population and their families.

The Child Life Department at Texas Children’s Hospital provides spaces for patients to get away from the medical setting and to enjoy and play as other children would at their age. For our teenage population, it is important to have an environment and activities that speak to their interests. At Medical Center Campus, through the support of Teammates for Kids, we have the Child Life Zone located in the West Tower that supports the activities and needs of our older patients.

As the Texas Children’s system continues to expand our locations and inpatient services, the Child Life departments continue to ensure that the pre-teen/teen population have a space where they can gather with other adolescents and know they have a space of their own.

“When you walk into most child life playrooms, you see toys intended for toddlers and young children,” Child Life Specialist Riley Hammond said. “There are toys and activities still in the Activity Room for kids of all ages, however; this space is geared specifically for children eight years and older.”

Located in the inpatient wing in the right corner on the fifth floor, the space that has been revamped into the new Activity Room. Previously, this space was a playroom and was underutilized due to staffing and volunteer availability, said Hammond.

Inside the new Activity Room, there are many developmentally appropriate devices and activities, some generously donated by our dedicated partners. In the far back, next to a large window that beams natural sunlight into the room is an electronic arcade-style basketball goal, generously donated by Wood, an energy services company, located next to West Campus that is a benevolent donor and supporter of Texas Children’s.

Right next to the basketball goal, is an all-in-one locker, known as “The Dalton Cart” that houses multiple electronic devices and video games. The Dalton Cart was generously donated by the Andy and Jordan Dalton Foundation, a foundation started by a professional football player, Andy Dalton, who calls Katy, Texas home. There is also an Xbox for patients to play the very popular, Madden, along with other video games generously donated by Child’s Play, a charity organization that seeks to improve the lives of children in pediatric hospitals through the kindness and generosity of video games.

The teen child life room also provides movies, board games, art materials, science kits and a host of other forms of entertainment. Most importantly, this space allows patients a place to simply get out of their hospital room. In the afternoon, there is a protected activity time for teens over the age of thirteen.

“It really helps kids and teens feel like themselves,” Child Life Activity Coordinator Mary Reddick said. “This is a room where they get to make choices for what they want to do, be in control and socialize. They meet other teens who are here at the hospital in the Activity Room and often realize, ‘hey I am not alone.’”

When Reddick and Hammond originally proposed this new play space, they wanted it to be easily accessible to patients and their families. The room is open Monday through Sunday, eight o’clock in the morning to eight o’clock in the evening, with intermittent child life staff and volunteer supervision.

Each campus now has a space that is dedicated to our teen population, and this is just one of the many ways that Texas Children’s Child Life Department works tirelessly to provide every child with a high-quality experience.

“It has been a huge transformation, not just with the physical things here in the room, but really I would say, the open accessibility has been one of our largest successes with this space,” Hammond said. “I’ve received ample feedback from staff with excitement that the space is open and being used by so many. We have many, many big dreams for what else can be in this space and we continue working closely with development to make this an even greater experience for our teens here at West Campus.”