September 6, 2017
July 25, 2017

In support of Patient and Family Services’ Step Up for Patients First initiative, 2,083 enthusiastic Texas Children’s employees participated in the StairWELL Challenge during the month of June. Participating employees made physical activity a priority by committing to take two to eight flights of stairs a day to improve the elevator experience for our patients and their families.

Texas Children’s Patient Experience Team received several comments from family members expressing positive feedback about the challenge.

“Thank you to all of the staff and doctors who we saw taking the stairs,” one grateful family member said. “The elevators are always crowded and wrestling for elevator space is the last thing you want to worry about when taking your child to multiple appointments. Seeing staff walk up or down just a few flights of stairs was a kind gesture to free up space.”

Director of Patient and Family Services Katie Kalenda Daggett said “because of the positive feedback from our patients and families, we learned this simple act of putting patients first when moving about on our public elevators has made a strong and positive statement about our commitment to them.”

Many employees said the challenge was a fun and healthy way to improve the experience for our patients and their families. According to a post-challenge survey:

  • 79 percent increased the number of minutes they were physically active
  • 57 percent improved their fitness level
  • 23 percent made new connections and became more social at work
  • 41 percent amplified unity to serve patients and families first
  • 66 percent expressed they had fun
  • 54 percent shared they now have a high commitment to taking the stairs

Several employees plan to continue the challenge. The Information Services team, for example, started Walk and Talk Tuesdays and Vertical Friday, which includes climbing 20 flight of stairs at the Feigin Center.

Departments across the organization amplified unity during the challenge by leading group stairwell climbs and exercise activities. Take a look at this short video to see challenge participants in action.

“We encourage all Texas Children’s employees to continue to be part of this collaborative process to reduce extended wait times at the elevators,” said Director of Benefits and Well-being Jill Fragoso. “It is important to remember Step Up for Patients First is part of a broader initiative to enhance patient experience across the hospital system.”

Want to achieve a personal fitness goal and help preserve the mission of Texas Children’s Hospital? Runners can enter the sold out 2018 marathon and half marathon races through the Chevron Houston Marathon’s Run for a Reason charity program.

Texas Children’s Hospital is an official charity for the Houston Marathon and Armaco Half Marathon, taking place on Sunday, January 14, 2018. The Run for a Reason program is a way for runners to run the race of their choice with a guaranteed entry – on behalf of a charity.

Running for Texas Children’s Hospital is not just about the race, it’s a promise to our patients. By signing up to run and fundraise on behalf of Texas Children’s Hospital, your donations will directly impact the lives of countless children. Your race will become the race for our patients who are too sick – sometimes too sick even to play outside. Your support will allow us to expand our care to even more children who need our help.

Make your promise and join the Texas Children’s Running Team today! For additional information and ways to get involved, click here.

Please contact Claire O’Malley at ext. 4-2685 or

Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but a Blizzard® sounds so delightful! Beat the blazing summer heat with a Blizzard® from participating Dairy Queen restaurants on Miracle Treat Day, Thursday, July 27.

Plus, it’s for a good cause. For every Dairy Queen Blizzard® sold on Miracle Treat Day, $1 or more of that purchase will be donated to your local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital – Texas Children’s Hospital to help provide life-saving treatment for children in need.

Every minute, 62 children enter a CMN hospital for treatment. Over the past 30 years, the network has raised nearly $100 million to support pediatric hospitals across the United States.

To learn more, visit

July 18, 2017

Three years ago, Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus opened an eight-bed Pediatric Intensive Care Unit thanks to a generous $1 million donation by the Lauren and Lara Camillo family. This fall, the last chunk of a $50 million capital improvement effort will expand the unit to 22 beds.

Construction on the project hit a midway point this summer and is expected to be complete in October, providing Texas Children’s West Campus and the entire Texas Children’s system with an opportunity to serve more patients and families that need our care.

Initially, 16 of the beds will be used for intensive care and six will be for acute care. Two of the intensive care beds will have negative pressure and can be used for isolation. All of the beds provide more privacy for our patients and families, as well as better visibility and workflow for our nurses and other medical staff.

Located on the fourth floor of the hospital and painted in calming pastels, the unit expansion includes two large nursing stations advanced practice provider workspace, a simulation room, nutrition room, lactation room, call room and conference space.

The patient rooms are spacious and have a private bathroom and seating/sleep area for family. The rooms are lined with windows that face outside, letting in sunlight and allowing for great views of the hospital grounds and surrounding community. The rooms also include several windows that face nursing stations and adjoining rooms, giving medical staff ample visibility at all times.

Equipment in the rooms and on the floor is robust and includes two blood gas machines for respiratory therapy and additional nurse station monitors. In the future, some of the rooms will be able to offer patients who need dialysis the capability of doing so from the comfort of their beds.

Also in the future, six of the rooms will have the ability to be converted into Neonatal Intensive Care Unit rooms. As a result, the unit will incorporate NICU design features such as a family transition room, lactation room and separate entrances to the NICU section of the unit.

“The design of this unit is extremely family friendly,” said Erica Ventura, one of three patient care managers in the PICU. “From the patient rooms to the nursing stations, everything is being constructed with the patient and the medical staff in mind.”

Karen Sripan, assistant clinical director of the PICU, agreed and said the planning and design of the PICU expansion has been going on since March 2016 and was comprehensive.

“We were very thoughtful in our design and engaged staff throughout the entire process,” Sripan said. “We also were mindful of ensuring room design consistency with the Woodlands PICU so that the layout of the rooms are familiar to staff and providers working at both campuses.

PICU Medical Director Dr. Matthew Pesek said he is very excited about the expansion and working in a space that is so geared toward patients, families and medical staff.

“Our staff will have a lot more mobility due to the large size of the patient rooms and families will have a lot more privacy,” Pesek said. “These two things alone will go a long way.”

The PICU expansion is the last project funded by a $50 million capital improvement effort that aimed at growing West Campus’ capacity and capability. To date the following projects have been completed:

  • Additional office and administrative support space for dedicated physicians and providers
  • An 18-bed expansion of the hospital’s acute care capacity, including a special isolation unit designed for children with highly contagious infectious diseases
  • Conversion of offices within ambulatory clinics into additional exam rooms to increase outpatient subspecialty access
  • A dedicated suite for Interventional Radiology service
  • A new 14 exam room clinic for Neurology, Renal & Dermatology

“Since the hospital opened in 2010, West Campus has continued to grow along with its surrounding communities,” said West Campus Assistant Vice President Sara Montenegro. “Texas Children’s is committed to continuing this growth and support of our patients and families in West Houston.”

After nearly five months of renovations, Texas Children’s recently opened an outdoor play garden for patients and their families so they can relax and have fun during their visit or hospital stay at Texas Children’s.

“The hospital can be a stressful environment for patients and their families,” said Rene Hoelker, a project manager for Texas Children’s Facilities Planning and Development. “The play garden provides a relaxing retreat for them to get away from their daily task of being in a patient room and actually enjoy their time here.”

Located outside the Abercrombie Building, a beautifully hand-painted mural greets visitors as they enter the Merle C. Donigan Play Garden. The play garden features a colorful display of child-friendly play pieces, musical instruments and plenty of shade structures, benches and lush landscape for optimal relaxation. Heat-resistant turf – green simulating grass and blue depicting rivers – keeps the ground cool during the hot weather.

“All of the play pieces were carefully designed to ensure our patients – whether ambulatory or confined to a wheelchair – can easily access the amenities offered in the play garden,” Hoelker said.

One of the biggest design challenges of this renovation project was figuring out how to creatively conceal the exhaust travelling from the underground parking garage into the play garden. Instead of just building a wall to mask the entry point, the Facilities Planning and Development team collaborated with a local muralist to transform this wall into a carefully designed piece of art.

“We started to think about what themes we wanted to design,” Hoelker said. “We came up with the four seasons. As visitors walk around the mural, it transitions from summer, spring, fall to winter.”

Muralist Sebastein Boileau and his team spent countless hours hand designing and painting the mural as well as the light tower, which illuminates the play garden at night with different shades of color depicting the changes in season.

“Since this is for the children, we incorporated a lot of animals and fun colorful elements in our mural design,” said Boileau. “We hand painted from the background to the foreground the same way you would a painting. We approached this project more like a big painting rather than a mural.”

Patients and their families in Abercrombie can also view the play garden from their patient room window. For patient families like Madison Fitzgerald, she is thankful to have this space available for her son and other children at the hospital.

“In the middle of the medical center, all you see are hospitals,” Fitzgerald said. “To see something bright and fun for the kids, something that they can enjoy that is not so scary, is a huge benefit.”

The new Abercrombie play garden was named in memory of the late Merle C. Donigan, a long-time Texas Children’s Auxiliary member who graciously donated funds to support this renovation project.

Texas Children’s has received the 2017 “Most Wired” designation for outstanding health care-based technology from Hospitals & Health Network Magazine – the flagship publication of the American Hospital Association.

The annual Most Wired survey polls hospitals and health systems nationwide regarding information technology (IT) initiatives in the areas of infrastructure, business and administrative management, clinical quality and safety, and clinical integration.

The 2017 survey of 698 participants represents 2,158 hospitals – almost 40 percent of all hospitals in the United States. Texas Children’s has earned Most Wired recognition in 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017.

“Earning our fourth Most Wired designation reflects the hard work of the Information Services team and our many clinical and operational partners at Texas Children’s,” said Myra Davis, senior vice president of Information Services. “The survey results provide industry-standard benchmarks to measure IT adoption and meaningful use for operational, financial and clinical performance in health care delivery systems.”

Texas Children’s noted several IS achievements, including enhancements to patient safety, patient care and the patient experience. Notable accomplishments include:

Applying PPID safety standards to breast milk – IS partnered with Nursing, Pharmacy, Milk Bank, Dietary and Clinical Informatics & Training to extend PPID safety protocols to breast milk. Centers for Disease Control guidelines say feeding expressed breast milk to the wrong child should be treated as an accidental exposure to bodily fluids. The new PPID controls hold breast milk to the same safety standards as medications in order to reduce the possibility of an adverse event from a baby receiving expressed milk intended for another infant.

Automated patient meal ordering service – IS partnered with Morrison Healthcare to implement MyDining, an automated complex diet ordering interface within Epic. The system automates patient meal delivery to:

  • Enhance patient safety in acute care settings by ensuring the right patient gets the right meal at the right time, based on physician diet orders for considerations like allergies, restrictions and supplement requirements.
  • Boost patient satisfaction by tracking, reporting and improving the on-time meal delivery workflow.

The Nerve Center – IS partnered with Nursing, Physician and Transfer Center leadership to deliver technology to support the organization’s transfer of about 1300 patients a year in a way that demonstrates excellence and efficiency. The technology provides:

  • Decreased time for the transfer team out the door
  • Improved and clear documentation on patient transfers
  • Most up-to-date information needed to make the best decisions on patients coming or leaving Texas Children’s Community provider satisfaction

New app to improve patient experience – IS introduced a new “Bedside” inpatient portal at The Woodlands campus to provide medical information, entertainment options, communication benefits and instructional videos using tablet devices. The goal of MyChart Bedside is to empower patients/parents to:

  • Improve patient satisfaction
  • Enhance quality and safety of care
  • Increase MyChart usage
  • Better meet compliance objectives

“In health care today, implementation and adoption of health care technology is crucial in advancing outcomes and experiences,” said Julie McGuire, director of Enterprise Systems for Information Services. “The Most Wired designation shows that Texas Children’s is leading not only in our clinical care outcomes but in the use of technology that drives improved outcomes and advancements in care.”

The 2017 Most Wired Survey is published by Health & Hospitals Network. Most Wired results are available here.