January 24, 2018

On Monday, President Trump signed legislation extending funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for six years as part of the continuing resolution passed earlier in the day by Congress. This extension will ensure access to a range of pediatric services — from preventative visits to life-saving treatments — for millions of children in working families.

This is especially good news for health care organizations like Texas Children’s. More 71,000 of our patients are covered by the program.

“Since 1997, CHIP has provided essential health care to children of working families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but too little to afford private health insurance,” said Texas Children’s President and CEO Mark Wallace. “Texas embraced this program in 1999 and has seen it help improve the lives of millions of Texas children. This extension will continue to ensure strong, stable funding for state CHIP programs and the children and families it supports.”

The budget for CHIP ended on September 30 without lawmakers having reauthorized it as they had done intermittently several times within the past two decades since the program’s inception. The spending bill that the Senate and House adopted Monday provides six years of federal money for CHIP to fund coverage for nearly 9 million children and 375,000 pregnant women across the U.S. More than 430,000 children in Texas are covered by CHIP.

Before Congress created CHIP 20 years ago, 14 percent of American children simply went without health insurance. Nationally, the number of uninsured kids has been cut in half since Congress created CHIP.

“CHIP plays a critical role in health care coverage for kids,” Wallace said. “It has dramatically reduced the number of kids without health insurance, and it has given so many families access to the right care at the right time for their children. Monday’s legislation provides peace of mind, and that’s a win for our children.”

October 3, 2017

Texas Children’s President and CEO Mark Wallace and his wife, Shannon, recently donated a very special gift to the Texas Children’s Pawsitive Play Program in memory of their beloved black Labrador, Cadence. The Wallaces have generously pledged an initial $80,000 contribution to the program to enable Texas Children’s to hire another animal-assisted therapy coordinator and therapy dog team to provide therapeutic interventions for patients and families in the Legacy Tower.

“Shannon and I are both animal lovers through and through, and we could not think of a better way to honor Cadence than by donating to the Pawsitive Play Program in her memory,” Wallace said. “We were very attached to Cadence, who brought us so much joy before she passed away. We saw what a positive impact Elsa has made on our patients and their families, and we know the addition of a new therapy dog will allow even more of our patients, employees and staff to benefit from this program in the Legacy Tower.”

Since joining Texas Children’s one year ago, Elsa, Texas Children’s first therapy dog, has provided targeted therapeutic interventions to patients and their families in numerous patient care settings at the Texas Children’s medical center campus. The hospital’s second therapy dog will be specifically trained to care for patients and families in the critical care environment.

“The Pawsitive Play program has made an incredible difference in the healing process for our patients and their families,” said Texas Children’s Assistant Vice President Sarah Maytum. “And the impact extends to our employees and physicians as well. Elsa brightens everyone’s day. I often see her in the hallway, surrounded by a crowd of employees who have stopped to greet Elsa as she is on her way to see patients.”

Texas Children’s will again collaborate with Canine Assistants, a non-profit organization in Atlanta, Georgia, that has matched more than 1,500 therapy dogs, including individual and hospital placements. The organization will conduct a site visit to learn more about the critical care areas of the Legacy Tower before selecting the ideal therapy dog for that environment.

Many of the clinical areas that are moving into Legacy Tower have had great success with the Pawsitive Play Program already. Elsa visits the intensive care and progressive care units on a regular basis. While some patients will not be able to receive a visit from the new service dog because of their clinical conditions, the families, visitors and staff throughout Legacy Tower will be able to experience the comfort of our newest therapy dog.

The Wallaces’ contribution will support Texas Children’s second therapy dog and its handler over the 8-year service life of the dog. Texas Children’s plans to have this new furry companion on staff in early 2018. This will allow sufficient time to get the newest furry member of the team oriented and ready for the opening of Legacy Tower.

“Legacy Tower is so distinctive and innovative,” Wallace said. “It is being equipped with the most advanced technology and much larger, family-centered critical care spaces. It will complement the hospital’s existing ORs and radiology services, and will be home to Texas Children’s No. 1 ranked Heart Center. With so much to look forward to, Shannon and I thought it would be great to bring a special new therapy dog to the patients we will care for in our new critical care tower. We are so fortunate to be able to do something like this, and we both can’t wait to welcome our new friend.”

June 26, 2017

 The results of the 2017 U.S. News & World Report survey of Best Children’s Hospitals are in, and Texas Children’s Hospital maintained the No. 4 ranking overall. The scores were exceptionally tight among the top children’s hospitals, but Texas Children’s is again listed on the honor roll.

“We’ve dedicated six decades to conducting innovative research and providing the most advanced treatments possible to children in need of specialized care,” said Texas Children’s President and CEO Mark Wallace. “Our pioneering culture, coupled with our commitment to quality, service and safety, have led us to become one of the nation’s premier pediatric hospitals and unquestionably the best in Texas.”

The teams within Texas Children’s Heart Center also received some big rankings news this morning – Texas Children’s is now ranked No. 1 in cardiology and congenital heart surgery. Ranked second in the nation for the past two years, Texas Children’s Heart Center has stepped into the No. 1 spot, surpassing Boston Children’s Heart Center, which had held the top ranking for the past 19 years.

Texas Children’s has 8 specialties ranked in the top 10 this year, and the hospital improved outcomes across all specialties. There are approximately 190 children’s hospitals in the U.S., and this year, U.S. News ranked the top 81 pediatric centers in 10 specialty areas, so being recognized within the top 10 is no small feat. Here are a few highlights of this year’s rankings for Texas Children’s:

  • GI Surgery developed an advanced hepatology training program this year and added a fellow to the program, which helped move Gastroenterology and GI Surgery up to no. 4.
  • Quality improvement drove excellent outcomes in Endocrine, which moved Diabetes and Endocrinology up to no. 6.
  • Neonatology closed major gaps, had an overall improvement in unintended extubations, and over the last 3 years, had a 55 percent decrease in central line associated blood stream infections, moving neonatology up to no. 11.
  • Orthopedics continued upward movement in the rankings and is now ranked no. 16.

The rankings are the result of a methodology that weighs a combination of outcome and care-related measures, such as nursing care, advanced technology, credentialing, outcomes, best practices, infection prevention, and reputation, among other factors.

“From a measurement perspective, our survey results demonstrate how hard we’re working as an organization to deliver high quality care to our patients,” Wallace said. “The more consistently we deliver high quality care and the safer we deliver that care to our patients, the better their outcomes are, and the better our overall numbers are.”

Texas Children’s 2017 U.S. News rankings

#1 Cardiology and heart surgery

#2 Pulmonology

#4 Cancer

#4 Gastroenterology and GI surgery

#4 Nephrology (kidney disorders)

#4 Neurology and neurosurgery

#6 Diabetes and endocrinology

#6 Urology

#11 Neonatology

#16 Orthopedics

Learn more about the U.S. News rankings here:

 

June 22, 2017

The nation is possibly less than a week away from seeing the passage of a new health care bill – the American Health Care Act (AHCA). This is the bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last month to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also referred to as Obamacare. After weeks of review, the U.S. Senate unveiled its version of the health care bill on Thursday. It’s important for Texas Children’s employees to understand how the bill could potentially impact the patients in our care, as significant cuts to Medicaid are proposed.
“A lot of people may not realize that more than 50 percent of Texas Children’s Hospital patients rely on Medicaid,” said Texas Children’s President and CEO Mark Wallace. “This program is essential to Texas Children’s mission of providing care to help every child live the healthiest and most fulfilling life possible. Children do not choose to be born into poverty, and they should not be penalized for their circumstances by having the government reduce their access to health care.”

Texas’ Medicaid program enrolls approximately 4.2 million people. Among those, more than 3 million – or about 75 percent – are children and pregnant women. They make up 75 percent of the covered population, yet they account for less than 25 percent of current Medicaid costs. This is because Medicaid gives children access to a medical home with a regular pediatrician, well-child exams and preventive services, which keeps them healthier and their health care costs lower.

“Put simply, the majority of Texas’ Medicaid population – low-income mothers and children – are not the reason program costs are high,” Wallace said. “Yet, they will suffer the most if legislation that fundamentally changes the Medicaid program goes forward.”

Texas Children’s Health Plan covers more than 430,000 children and pregnant women in Medicaid and CHIP. Based on the provisions outlined in the Senate’s version of the bill released today, millions of non-disabled children and pregnant women who rely on Medicaid could experience cuts to their health care. The Senate is pushing to vote on the bill before the July 4 congressional recess.

Texas Children’s is working to educate and influence lawmakers on the importance of Medicaid for our patient families and those across the country cared for at children’s hospitals.

“Since Medicaid is a state-federal partnership, we’re meeting with lawmakers in Austin and D.C. and encouraging them to protect the children and pregnant women who are most vulnerable to the proposed cuts to Medicaid,” said Texas Children’s Government Relations Director Rosie Valadez McStay.

“At the same time, we – Texas Children’s staff and employees – can do our part to advocate for our patients by reaching out to our elected representatives and ask them to protect health care. If we’re vocal and consistent in reaching out to those elected to represent us, we can help craft health care policy that could make a real difference for all children.”

We need you to speak up for our patients. Visit the Speak Now for Kids website to send a letter to Texas Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn about why we must protect health care for children and pregnant women. Even if you already sent a letter in response to Mr. Wallace’s request last month, please do it again – every time you speak up, it makes an impact.

March 3, 2017

One of Texas Children’s most recognizable buildings now has a brand new name. The Clinical Care Tower has been renamed the Mark A. Wallace Tower in honor of Texas Children’s long-time President and CEO.

The announcement of the renaming came at the culmination of a Board of Trustees meeting on Thursday evening. It was the work of the Board and a complete surprise to Wallace. As the meeting appeared to arrive at its routine close, Board Chair Ann Lents opened the doors of the board room to welcome a few guests – Wallace’s wife Shannon and the entire Executive Council. Lents then proceeded with reading the Board’s resolution to rename the building in honor of Wallace’s 27 years of leadership and service to the organization.

“When you came to Texas Children’s, our hospital was a good but regional provider,” Lents said. “Now Texas Children’s is the largest and most comprehensive provider of children’s and women’s services. You brought a sense of mission and unbounding energy and a generosity of spirit to the job that are all the more remarkable given that you’ve been at it since 1989.”

Wallace and his wife were filled with emotion as the announcement unfolded in the room of about 100 Board members and executives. Expressing his appreciation, Wallace recognized the commitment of the Board, staff and dedicated employees.

“When [late Board member] George Peterkin recruited me, he convinced me that with this Board, Dr. Feigin and this community that we could do something incredible,” Wallace said. “I never imagined anything like this. We’ve gone from one location, seven floors, 350,000 square feet and 1,400 employees to all of this because of the Board, the great medical staff and our employees. Our employees are so committed to this organization and to the children, women and families we take care of. I can’t adequately put into words how much this means to me.”

When Wallace took the helm of Texas Children’s in 1989, the hospital was still contained in a single building – the seven-story Abercrombie Building. The West Tower and Clinical Care Tower (now, the current Feigin Tower) were completed shortly after in 1991. In 2003, as part of a $345 million project, the West Tower was expanded and a new, 16-floor Clinical Care Tower was built at the corner of Holcombe and Fannin. The building houses most of Texas Children’s outpatient clinics, including Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers, Neurology and Orthopedics.

Because of the prominent location of the clinical building, it continues to be one of the most visible of the Texas Children’s medical center buildings, making it a perfect choice for the naming honor. But Lents noted that the honor is a milestone in a continuing journey.

“This is not a capstone naming, this is an interim recognition,” Lents said. “We are looking forward to many more years of your leadership.”

TEXAS CHILDREN’S BOARD OF TRUSTEES RESOLUTION

WHEREAS, upon arriving at Texas Children’s as President and Chief Executive Officer, Mark A. Wallace stated that “my goal is for Texas Children’s to be the preeminent pediatric hospital in the world”;

WHEREAS, in his pursuit of that goal, Mark A. Wallace’s visionary leadership and tireless commitment have elevated Texas Children’s to a level of excellence and preeminence not even imagined when he joined Texas Children’s in 1989;

WHEREAS, integral to the goal of preeminence, Mark A. Wallace’s vision has encompassed and supported the development of leaders at all levels, based on his steadfast belief that “leadership always influences or determines outcomes — not some of the time, but all of the time”;

WHEREAS, the members of the Board of Trustees of Texas Children’s wish to express their deep gratitude and sincere appreciation to Mark A. Wallace and honor, recognize and commemorate his inspirational leadership as well as his unwavering pursuit of excellence;

IT IS NOW, THEREFORE, RESOLVED that in recognition of his devotion and personal commitment to Texas Children’s, we hereby rename the Clinical Care Tower as the Mark A. Wallace Tower at Texas Children’s Hospital; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Board of Trustees looks forward to many more years of Mark A. Wallace’s commitment and extraordinary leadership in guiding Texas Children’s to continued preeminence in creating a healthier future for children and women throughout our global community by leading in patient care, education and research.

UNANIMOUSLY adopted this 12th day of January, 2017.

January 18, 2017
Wednesday, January 18, 2017: Noon update

The Houston area experienced a severe, fast developing weather event overnight and very early this morning. Heavy rainfall caused flooding in isolated areas.

The rain is expected to continue the remainder of today, with heavy rainfall possible in isolated areas. Rain will shift to the southeast tomorrow.

Texas Children’s Hospital, Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands and Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus are open and operational.

However, all outpatient clinics at the medical center campus and some Texas Pediatrics locations opened late due to poor road conditions. Affected outpatient clinic patients who would like to reschedule can call our central scheduling line at ext. 4-1000. Texas Children’s Pediatrics patients who were affected and who would like to reschedule can call their pediatrician’s office directly.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017: 9 a.m.

The Houston area experienced a severe, fast developing weather event overnight and very early this morning. Heavy rainfall caused flooding in isolated areas.

The rain is expected to continue the remainder of today  with heavy rainfall possible in isolated areas. Rain will shift to the southeast tomorrow.

Texas Children’s Hospital is open and operational. However, all outpatient clinics at the medical center campus will operate on a two-hour delay and will open at 10 a.m. Patients who would like to reschedule can call our central scheduling line after noon today at 832-824-1000.

Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands outpatient services and Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus are open and operational.

Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women is open and operational.

Due to severe weather, several Texas Children’s Pediatrics locations are operating on a delay today.

  • 9:30 a.m. opening: Ashford, Sugar Land, Heights
  • 10 a.m. opening: Westchase, Pediatric Medical Group, Town and Country, Memorial, Cohan and Masharani, Green Park, Cullen, Gulfton
  • 10:30 a.m. opening: Piney Point

We will continue to provide updates as we receive them.

October 5, 2016

active-shooter-exerciseTexas Children’s emergency response plan will be put to the test during a comprehensive mass casualty exercise this Friday.

Our Emergency Management team is working with the Houston Police Department SWAT team and Houston Fire Department emergency medical services to coordinate a full-scale active shooter exercise with students and staff at Michael E. DeBakey High School for Health Professions.

“Every day we hear reports in our own community of incidents that can result in a significant number of patients arriving at Texas Children’s requiring critical care,” said Risk Management Director Melissa Murrah. “Whether the issue is an active shooter – which is all over the media today – a chemical release or severe weather, it is essential that we are prepared to respond in support of our community.”

The nearly six-hour exercise will involve mock shootings, an improvised explosive device and a hostage situation. The intent is to observe the agencies’ emergency response, to refine the collective response and to help us be better prepared to treat those harmed in a real incident. In addition, Texas Children’s Emergency Management is hoping to test our mass casualty incident plan, emergency communications, incident command structure and patient flow.

About 400 DeBakey High School staff, students and parents will be involved in the exercise, which will begin with a safety briefing to prepare students. The exercise will be activated at 9 a.m. on the campus with an active shooter incident. Students will be triaged initially on site at the high school, and about 50 of them will arrive at Texas Children’s Emergency Center around 11:20 a.m. with mock life-threatening injuries like gunshot wounds, crushing injuries, blast and shrapnel injuries and psychological trauma.

When the students arrive at Texas Children’s, they will be mostly contained to the Emergency Center and Rapid Treatment Areas on the first floor of West Tower so as not to impact care and treatment of our actual patients. Injured students will be in full moulage, which is a detailed application of make-up that simulates wounds.

“Two essential elements of good performance are training and exercise,” said Emergency Management Manager Aaron Freedkin. “Training provides the foundation, and exercises test that foundation. To ensure our training is tested, we must practice as closely as possible to reality. Whether through use of realistic make-up for patients in a mass casualty incident or donning personal protective equipment for decontamination exercises, training efforts pay off when a real incident occurs.”

More than 20 Texas Children’s operations, clinical and logistics teams will be involved in Friday’s exercise, including Emergency Medicine, Trauma Services, Respiratory Therapy, Diagnostic Imaging, Pathology, Child Life, Security, Marketing/PR and others. This is the first exercise of its kind and scope that Texas Children’s has coordinated, but the current climate makes it critical that the organization be prepared.

“Given the risks we face along the Texas Gulf Coast, we spend significant time preparing Texas Children’s in hurricane response and preparedness,” said Emergency Management Assistant Director James Mitchell. “Yet, the reality is that we face a wide range of hazards that are manifesting more frequently than ever before.

“Severe weather and flooding, as we experienced repeatedly this spring, increasing occurrence of active shooter incidents and acts of terrorism all require our planning and preparation. As such, we are dedicated to testing our system in innovative and realistic ways across a variety of scenarios throughout the year.”