October 16, 2018

Golfers wore their baddest pants, played their best golf and raised more than $500,000 for Texas Children’s Newborn Center at the Clubs of Kingwood last week. The Bad Pants Open, an annual golf tournament now in its 21st year, has raised more than $6.5 million in the past two decades to support continued innovation and excellence in the research, treatment and care of critically ill and premature infants as well as helping to fund support services for families with babies in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Presented by RBC Wealth Management/Capital Markets and chaired by Rob Cooksey, vice president of Texas Aromatics, golfers enjoyed breakfast provided by Chick-Fil-A, a long drive exhibition by Dan Boever and lunch on the course provided by Beck’s Prime. Players also enjoyed complimentary pre-golf stretching provided by Reach Stretch Studios and live on-site broadcasting by ESPN 97.5 Houston, the tournament’s media partner.

The event featured a post-play awards ceremony and dinner catered by Swift Events, where players were awarded plates painted by Texas Children’s patients for both the best golf scores and baddest pants. Monique Landor, a NICU nurse at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, was presented with the NICU Nurse of the Year award, a special recognition awarded at each tournament.

More than 2,500 critically-ill and premature infants receive essential care in Texas Children’s NICU each year, many of whom are born at nearby Houston-area hospitals. Texas Children’s is the nation’s largest NICU and one of only two Level IV NICUs in the greater Houston area. The next Bad Pants Open golf tournament is scheduled for Wednesday, October 2, 2019. More information is available at www.badpantsopen.com.

Heidi Allen rolled up the sleeve of her Kangaroo Crew uniform and looked stoically ahead as a nurse with Employee Health & Wellness gave her an annual flu vaccine.

Allen, a respiratory therapist with the Pediatric Intensive Transport Team, said during one of Employee Health and Wellness’ recent flu vaccine events that she gets the flu shot every year to protect herself as well as her patients and their families.

“Many are immunocompromised and don’t have the ability to fight off infections like we do,” Allen said. “I just think it’s a very responsible thing to do.”

Allen is one of 8,395 Texas Children’s employees who have gotten their flu shot, bringing our vaccinated employee population to 60 percent. The remaining 40 percent of Texas Children’s employees are highly encouraged to get their free flu vaccine from Employee Health and Wellness at one of the remaining scheduled flu vaccine events or by contacting Employee Health and Wellness to schedule a time to come by the Employee Health Clinic to receive a shot.

Employees who receive their flu vaccine by November 2, 2018, will be entered into a drawing to win one of 25 Nutri Ninja Pro Blenders. Employee Health will email winners at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, November 7.

Each fall, Texas Children’s employees are asked to get vaccinated against the flu to not only protect themselves but to protect those around them – their coworkers, family, friends, and their patients. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts this year’s flu season will begin in October. The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccination as the first and most important step in protecting against the flu and its potentially serious complications. To learn more about the upcoming flu season, click here.

See photos of your colleagues getting their flu shots below.

Employee Health will administer free flu vaccines to Texas Children’s employees, Baylor College of Medicine employees working at Texas Children’s facilities, Morrison, Crothall, or Compass contract employees and volunteers of Texas Children’s Hospital. Employee Health will administer free flu vaccines to Texas Children’s employees, Baylor College of Medicine employees working at Texas Children’s facilities, Morrison, Crothall, or Compass contract employees and volunteers of Texas Children’s Hospital.

Upon vaccination at Texas Children’s, staff will receive a 2018-2019 flu season sticker to place on their badges.

In order to protect our patients from exposure to influenza, employees who decline the flu vaccine for approved exemptions should wear a surgical mask when providing direct patient care services for the duration of the influenza season. See In order to protect our patients from exposure to influenza, employees who decline the flu vaccine for approved exemptions should wear a surgical mask when providing direct patient care services for the duration of the influenza season. See Required Influenza Vaccination Policy and Procedure for more details.

Texas Children’s employees are to complete their Flu Vaccine Consent Form online via the Employee Health & Wellness Portal prior to attending a flu vaccination event.*

This process greatly reduced the wait times for flu vaccination last year, as well as eliminated the need to scan or fax the Flu Vaccine Consent Forms to Employee Health. Click here to view a quick video tutorial on how to access the flu vaccine consent form online. For instructions on how to log in to the portal click here or click here to view step-by step instructions.

NEW PROCESS: Employees who receive their flu vaccine outside of Texas Children’s can easily submit their attestation and proof of vaccination via this online form. Employee Health will no longer accept proof of vaccination via fax or email.

If you have any questions, please contact Employee Health Services at 832-824-2150, option 2.

* Baylor College of Medicine employees working in Texas Children’s facilities will continue to complete paper consent forms when they receive the flu vaccine.

October 15, 2018

On October 6, nearly 500 Texas Children’s patients, parents and employees took a walk on the wild side at the Houston Zoo for the first Fall Family Festival, sponsored by Texas Children’s Transplant Services.

“It’s special for these patients to have an event like this,” said Medical Director of Transplant Services Dr. John Goss. “It’s exciting for these children to be able to play and interact with each other, and it’s truly a testament to what our multidisciplinary team can do.”

It was a morning full of fun and festivities, as 106 current and former Texas Children’s transplant patients and their families gathered for face painting, snow cones, music from a live DJ and a lunch buffet at the Masihara Pavilion. Rather than holding a special ceremony, the festival simply provided kids with an opportunity to come together and have fun with other kids who’ve been through similar ordeals, and to remind them that they’re not alone.

“Being together in a fun, social setting is so important for transplant recipients,” said Riki Graves, whose daughter, Juliana, had a life-saving heart transplant at Texas Children’s in 2014 – at just 17 days old. “This event was a wonderful way to let kids get know to know other kids who’ve been through transplant, or are waiting, so they can feel like normal kids and not like a sick child who is different or needs special care.”

Graves says the event was also a special way to thank transplants recipients’ biggest supporters – their siblings – who usually feel the hospital stays and extra care given to the recipients more deeply than the rest of the family.

Transplantation began at Texas Children’s in 1984, when Dr. Denton Cooley performed a pediatric heart transplant. Since that time, Transplant Services at Texas Children’s Hospital has grown into one of the largest pediatric programs in the nation, performing 112 solid organ transplants in 2017, making it the most active pediatric transplant program in the nation. Our depth of skill and service, both within the program and throughout the hospital, gives us the ability to care for newborns to young adults in need of heart, kidney, liver and lung transplants.

Transplant Services is proud of its long list of firsts, including the hospital’s first – and 1 of only 3 in the nation – triple transplant of heart, lungs and liver in one procedure. We also performed the first pediatric lung-kidney transplant in the United States. Since 2004, 25 patients have been transplanted with double organs, including liver-kidney, liver-lung, heart-lung, heart-kidney and lung-kidney.

Learn more about Transplant Services at Texas Children’s.

October 2, 2018

Fueled by a passion for healthy living and motivating their colleagues to make health a priority in their own lives, our wellness ambassadors are spreading the word about all the ways Texas Children’s can support you in your well-being journey – from free boot camp classes, to exciting challenges that bring our employees together to focus on feeling their best inside and out.

In addition to their awareness campaign, the wellness ambassadors are also looking for employees to join the program. In taking on the role, ambassadors agree to undergo training, serve a one-year term and complete approximately one hour of service per month in promoting on-site wellness offerings at Texas Children’s. This service could include sharing communications from the Employee Health and Well-Being team, which manages and oversees the ambassador program; making announcements in staff meetings; and being the departmental point of contact for questions about wellness offerings.

“Sometimes people are hesitant to put more on their plate when it already feels full, but being a wellness ambassador is far from a chore; it sparks conversation and motivates others to be the best they can be,” said Amber Rosta, quality assurance coordinator at The Woodlands campus who was drawn to volunteer because she wanted to amplify unity and be involved in rallying her department around a positive, shared cause.

“It’s exhilarating to hear success stories and inspiration under our very own roof,” Rosta said. “Initiatives to take the stairs, do squats as a group and get up and move really bring a sense of community, and there’s far more to offer than only working out.”

Along with access to wellness perks and invitations to community wellness events, ambassadors also get the inside scoop on the latest offerings developed by Employee Health and Well-Being. They receive monthly newsletters and are the first to know when a new challenge will start, a new program has been added or a new event has been planned.

Sr. Project Manager Bethany Lowe saw becoming an ambassador as a unique opportunity to bring her love for all forms of wellness – especially physical activity, nutrition and mental health – into the workplace. She enjoys learning and sharing information about the wide variety of well-being programs available to employees at Texas Children’s, such as weight loss assistance and discounted gym memberships.

“Wellness does not have to be limited to time outside of the office. You can focus on drinking enough water or getting your steps in while you are at work and still be a productive employee,” Lowe said. “As wellness ambassadors, we get to provide encouragement to our teams so that together, we can strive towards improving our health and well-being – mind, body and soul.”

Interested in volunteering to be a wellness ambassador?

Mark your calendars and plan to join the Employee Health and Well-Being team at one of the ambassador recruiting and reconnection events below. Meet and talk to our current wellness ambassadors and get an exclusive sneak peek at upcoming well-being initiatives. Registration for all events will be open until Monday, October 8.

Main Campus
Tuesday, October 9
3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Click here to register

West Campus
Wednesday, October 10
3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Click here to register

The Woodlands
Thursday, October 11
3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Click here to register

For more information about the Wellness Ambassador Program at Texas Children’s or to volunteer, send an e-mail to wellbeing@texaschildrens.org.

September 4, 2018

Each year in September, Texas Children’s Cancer Center goes gold to honor the courageous journeys of our patients and families who have been touched by pediatric cancer and to create awareness about the challenges these children and their loved ones face. It is also a special time to honor the Cancer Center’s staff and everyone involved in the care and support of those who come to Texas Children’s seeking our aid.

Today, you will hear from patients, family members, doctors and other medical staff as they explain why they Go Gold in September and what makes raising awareness about pediatric cancer so important. Additional comments from staff and Cancer Center supporters will be highlighted on Instagram @oneamazingteam.

Throughout the month, there are several events scheduled across the organization geared toward raising awareness about childhood cancer. Some of those event are listed below. Please check the Connect calendar and the Cancer Center’s Facebook page for additional details. Also, visit the Texas Children’s Blog for Cancer Center related posts throughout the month.

“We are proud to say that our Cancer Center helps children fight and defeat cancer every day,” said Dr. Susan Blaney, director of Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers. “We hope you will stand with us in Going Gold for childhood cancer, so that together, we can create a healthier future for children in our care.”

Upcoming cancer awareness activities:

  • September 4 at 2 p.m. – Main Campus Going Gold Parade and Ribbon Tying Event starting on fourth floor of the Pavilion for Women and ending on The Auxiliary Bridge.
  • September 4 at 6 p.m. – Vannie Cook Children’s Clinic in McAllen Going Gold Parade and Ribbon Tying Event
  • September 5 at 10:30 a.m. – West Campus Going Gold Parade and Ribbon Tying Event in front of hospital’s main entrance
  • September 6 at 10:30 a.m. – The Woodlands Going Gold Parade and Ribbon Tying Event in the main lobby of the hospital
  • September 8 at 2 p.m. – The opening of and reception for the Periwinkle Foundation’s Making A Mark exhibit on The Auxiliary Bridge. The exhibit, which highlights the art and creative writing by children touched by cancer and blood disorders at Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers, will be in the bridge throughout the month.
  • September 13, 20 and 27 at 1 p.m. – KPRC Channel 2 will air segments highlighting the Cancer Center.
  • September 13-14: International Pediatric Thyroid Cancer Conference in Cullen Auditorium at Baylor College of Medicine.
  • September 14 at 10:30 a.m. – Be the Match Patient Walk on the eight floor of the Cancer Center in the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit
  • September 16-19 – Houston City Hall will be lit gold
  • September 21 – The President of Botswana Mokgweetsi Masisi to visit Cancer Center
  • September 25 at 9 a.m. – The annual Hyundai Hope on Wheels Tour will stop at Texas Children’s in support of research and programs that bring us closer to better treatment and possible cures to cancer. The tour is a united effort of Hyundai dealers who travel the country to present Hyundai Scholar grants to children’s hospitals.

To learn more about Texas Children’s Cancer Center, click here.

August 27, 2018

On August 10, The Woodlands Clinical Nutrition and Milk Bank team partnered with Morrison Catering, Texas Children’s internal food vendor, to host the 2018 Kids Eat Right Month.™

The theme this year was “Back to School,” celebrating the new academic year. A yogurt parfait station was available for staff and patients to build their own nutritious layers of Greek yogurt, granola, and fresh fruit – a quick recipe for busy school mornings. All the ingredients was generously provided by Morrison Catering.

Food themed games were offered to engage participants with each other. The MyPlate bean bag toss was a game where kids had to throw the right food in the correct MyPlate section. This game was designed to demonstrate knowledge of “slow,” “go,” and “whoa” foods. Patients used food-stuffed shopping carts to deliver the foods to the correct “slow,” “go,” or “whoa” basket.

At the end of the event a back-to-school packed lunch box was given away in a raffle.

August 21, 2018

While many students across the Houston area are heading back to school this week, Texas Children’s Trauma and Grief Center (TAG) is helping students at Santa Fe High School emotionally and mentally prepare for the new school year following the tragic events that unfolded on campus three months ago.

Texas Children’s TAG Center has been partnering with other organizations in the Santa Fe community, including the Gulf Coast Center, to support the Santa Fe Strong Resiliency Center. Created in the aftermath of the Santa Fe school shooting, the Resiliency Center provides mental health services to those impacted by this tragedy.

“The impact this tragedy left behind is significant and it will take time for everyone to heal and adjust,” said Dr. Julie Kaplow, director of Texas Children’s TAG Center. “As Santa Fe students return to classes this week, we have TAG Center clinicians on hand at the high school – and across the Santa Fe school district – to provide emotional support to students, teachers and families who need it.”

Last week, Kaplow met with Santa Fe parents at a back-to-school meeting to discuss what to expect as their children return to school, the red flags they need to be aware of, how they can help their children transition back to school following this tragedy, and how to help their kids feel safe and secure.

“It’s been a very busy few weeks for our team,” said Kaplow. “Our TAG Center clinicians are continuing to provide trauma- and grief-informed assessment and intervention, both within the Resiliency Center as well as Santa Fe High School, and we’re providing on-going training and consultation to therapists serving the Santa Fe community.”

While the healing time from a school tragedy like this is different for each person impacted, Kaplow and her team will continue to partner with the Santa Fe community to provide services to these children.

In addition to these collaborative efforts, Kaplow says the Texas Children’s TAG Center plans to conduct a large-scale needs assessment across the Santa Fe school district that will help identify those students who are struggling the most and ensure they have access to the intervention they need close to home.

Click here for more information about Texas Children’s TAG Center.