August 7, 2018

On August 4, more than 500 patients and families traveled from all over the country for the 2018 Texas Children’s Newborn Center family reunion. The Texas-themed event celebrated former patients who graduated from the Newborn Center in 2017 after spending 10 days or more in our neonatal intensive care units at Texas Children’s Hospital Medical Center Campus and Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands.

The reunion was held at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women where parents shared stories of hope and triumph with other neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) families and reconnected with the nurses and doctors who delivered life-saving care to their critically ill babies.

“The NICU reunion is one of the most special days of the year for those of us who work in the NICU,” said Texas Children’s Chief of Neonatology Dr. Gautham Suresh. “It is uplifting to see the families bring their children back to the hospital, and share the great progress their babies have made. During the reunion the families were able to visit with the employees, physicians and other families that they spent so much time with while being cared for in our NICU. On this day we also remember and pray for the families who unfortunately were unable to take their babies home. The resilience and the strength the families display during their babies’ NICU course and afterwards is admirable and inspires all of us.”

Highlights from the reunion included remarks from Suresh, Assistant Vice President of Nursing Heather Cherry, Newborn Center Family Advisory Committee (NFAC) member Ane Alfred, and Brian Brantley, the underwriter chairman for Bad Pants, an organization that has raised more than $6 million over the past 20 years to support the Newborn Center through the annual Bad Pants Open golf tournament.

The NICU reunion also offered children’s entertainment including a DJ, games, photo booth, face painting, crafts, airbrush tattoos, appearances from Minnie Mouse, SpongeBob Square Pants and Pikachu, and guests enjoyed a good old-fashioned Texas barbecue.

The Newborn Center team thanked everyone who helped organize this successful event including Texas Children’s NFAC Committee and Bad Pants.

It is that time of the year again; the end of summer means the beginning of a new school year. Texas Children’s Hospital’s Social Work Department organized a back-to-school fair to provide information to patients and their families to help them prepare for the new school year.

“Events like this provides community organization opportunities,” Social Work Manager Jackson Huynh said. “It allows them to reach and serve Texas Children’s patients and families affected by childhood illness that other community organizations will not be able to reach and serve due to a child’s hospitalization and/or rigorous outpatient treatment plan.”

On July 31, the Texas Children’s Hospital Medical Center Auxiliary Bridge quickly filled with tons of patients and their families waiting to take advantage of the opportunity to receive free school items.

Texas Children’s relationships and partnerships with many groups and agencies made way for a great response when it came to soliciting organizations to participate.

Below are the groups that occupied tables with information along with a few goodies for children and their parents to take with them.

  • One Step Closer Foundation – a non-profit, charitable organization whose main goal is to ease, as much as possible, the lives of those who suffer from cerebral palsy.
  • Houston Food Bank – a private non-profit organization and a certified member of Feeding America, the nation’s food bank network.
  • Neuhaus Education Center – a non-profit educational foundation dedicated to promoting reading success.
  • Families Empowered – a non-profit organization founded to support the escalating number of families searching for a great school for their child.
  • Disability Rights – recognizes the varied needs of people with disabilities in Texas.
  • HEP Bookstore – a homeschool resource; a bookstore specializing in instructional materials & books for home schooling in a range of subjects.

The One Step Closer Foundation provided the DJ and decorations for the bridge. In addition the foundation, along with the Houston Food Bank, backpacks and school supplies were also given away to patients and their siblings. The fair also provided opportunities for Texas Children’s departments such as Nutritionist, School Coordinators, Animal Assisted Therapy Program, Child Life, the hospital Dieticians, and schoolteachers, to showcase their skill set so that parents and students are more confident and prepared for the upcoming school year.

There was even a photo area created for parents to take school photos of their children. This was a very popular portion of the event for families, as it creates normalization for those who are not able to leave the hospital to attend school and pictures.

The social work department’s goal has been to create an immense presence and emphasize their role in maintaining exceptional patient experience year round.

“We work with families and provide them resources for the various agencies present, so we thought it would be great to bring the agencies here to the hospital,” Social Work Clinical Specialist DeAdra Cage said. “Providing resources to help parents work with the various schools is a big part of our job as Social Workers.”

Many parents who have children in the hospital may not have the time or financial ability to purchase all the necessities needed for school. This event was able to help make the start of the school year a little easier and among all things, let parents know that Texas Children’s is there to support them and their needs.

“It’s a great feeling to be able to assist our families who already have so much going on,” Cage said. “We are very proud of the outcome. As we anticipated, we had an awesome turnout! We were focused on helping the patients and siblings who happened to be on site the day of the event.”

With a goal of helping 300 children, the actual end result was 500. The back-to-school fair was an overall success and the Social Work Department hopes to make this an annual event for many years to come.

Texas Children’s recently convened the region’s first autoimmune encephalitis (AE) family day. Headlined by former NFL player Amobie Okoye, an AE survivor himself, the event was held on July 28 at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women. Seventy family members, 23 AE patients and their siblings, and 20 volunteers from Texas and beyond made the day a rousing success.

Dr. Eyal Muscal and the division of Immunology/Allergy, Rheumatology & Retrovirology hosted a nurse and family panel as well as educational sessions by members of the neurology, physical medicine and rehabilitation and behavioral health teams. Families also were able to form new connections and strengthen previous relationships formed via social media.

The goal of the event, titled Day of Hope, was to raise awareness of this spectrum of immune-mediated brain disorders. Plans are already underway for next year’s event, which will include adolescent AE health, transition to adult care, and needs of adult AE survivors.

July 5, 2018

When late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel faced off against Senator Ted Cruz in a one-on-one charity basketball game in Houston last month, the event brought in nearly $50,000 benefiting Texas Children’s Hospital – which was a lot more fundraising dollars than expected.

At the beginning of the competition, the loser of the game would contribute $5,000 to the winner’s charity of choice. Although Kimmel lost the game to Cruz, Kimmel personally donated $10,000 to Texas Children’s. His team worked closely with Texas Children’s Philanthropy to raise even more money.

Besides including a link to the Texas Children’s donation form on the ticket registration website, both teams explored other strategies to encourage more people to participate in this fundraising effort.

“We suggested Kimmel’s team use a Facebook fundraising application similar to a Go Fund Me page that subsequently helped us raise more than $14,000 in donations alone to Texas Children’s,” said Philanthropy Services Director Stacey Cook. “Once Kimmel’s team set up the site, people could share the fundraising page on their social media pages and encourage their family and friends to donate to Texas Children’s.”

In addition to leveraging the Facebook fundraising app, Philanthropy offered other opportunities for people to donate, including a text to give option and collecting onsite donations at the game. Also, half of the proceeds from the event’s merchandise sales, amounting to $7,500, went directly to Texas Children’s.

Generating over 883 million media impressions, Texas Children’s Public Relations and Social Media teams worked with Philanthropy to raise awareness about the charity basketball game. Many of our employees also helped spread the word through social media, and others donated to the fundraiser.

“Anyone can have a meaningful impact on fundraising at Texas Children’s,” Cook said. “In this case, every donation counted and helped us raise more than we ever anticipated for this event.”

June 19, 2018

It’s time for the annual Periwinkle Kickball Classic, an event that raises money for an organization that provides healing programs and camps to children, young adults and families who are challenged by cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.

The one-day tournament will be held Saturday, November 3, at the Houston Sportsplex and ANYONE age 14 or older is eligible to play.

Each team is made up of at least 10 players, five of whom must be female. To enter, each team must raise at least $500.

This year, there will be two divisions:

  • “Just for Fun” – where your team will play in three round robin games in the morning but not compete in the playoffs.
  • “In It to Win It” – where your team will play in a multi-game tournament (each team is guaranteed three games). There will be champions in the Gold, Silver & Bronze brackets.

Upon registering, you will select which division your team will compete in.

If you sign up a team by Wednesday, August 1, you will receive a free coffee from the Periwinkle Foundation! Click the link to sign up your team today: http://bit.ly/kickball2018.

June 12, 2018

Late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel just announced an exciting basketball game he will play right here in Houston – and you’re invited! On Saturday, June 16, Kimmel will face off against Senator Ted Cruz at Texas Southern University in a one-on-one charity basketball game benefiting Texas Children’s. Tough questions will be asked, ring ball will be played and Kimmel will interview Cruz live on the court.

Tickets to the event are free, but attendees are encouraged to donate to Texas Children’s.

Details can be found at www.kimmelvscruz.com. Support the hospital and show your spirit by wearing a Texas Children’s shirt to the game!

At Texas Children’s, taking care of our patients and their families begins with taking care of ourselves. In 2017, slips, trips and falls were the No. 1 cause of employee injuries across the organization, and Employee Health and Well-Being and Environmental Health and Safety are teaming up to raise awareness about these safety concerns and how they can be avoided.

There were a total of 184 slip, trip, and fall incidents among our employees last year, resulting in 892 days of restricted duty and 353 lost days of work. To address this important matter, Employee Health and Well-Being and Environmental Health want to help employees practice safe and simple behaviors to prevent slips, trips and falls.

WET FLOORS: Slippery floors are the No. 1 cause of slips and falls.

If you spill something or see a spill, please take responsibility by cleaning up the spill and/or reporting it to Facilities Services by calling ext. 4-5000.

Use caution around wet floor signs and encourage others to do the same.

Be especially cautious on rainy days, as water can be tracked into common areas.

STAIRS: While taking the stairs is great for your health and fitness and provides patients and their families’ priority access to the elevators, stairwells can be hazardous if you are not mindful. To prevent stairwell accidents:

  • Take your time when climbing or descending the stairs and never skip a step.
  • Firmly grasp the handrail at all times.
  • Stay focused and put down distractions such as your phone, food or beverages. As a reminder, food and drinks should not be consumed in common areas.

TRIPPING: To avoid tripping, please be mindful of your surroundings. Often the smallest misstep can cause the greatest injury.

Be alert; always watch where you walk. Keep your cell phones down and make eye contact with our patients and families as well as your colleagues.

Wear shoes with good traction.

If you notice a potential hazard, such as an electrical cord or box, please take the initiative to remove it.

Texas Children’s is proud to serve as a member of the Children’s Hospitals’ Solutions for Patient Safety Initiative, with over 130 Children’s Hospitals working together to reduce patient and employee harm. Thank you for practicing these safe behaviors and taking responsibility to ensure we create a safe environment for your co-workers, patients and their families.

If you have any questions, please contact the Well-Being team at wellbeing@texaschildrens.org.