January 15, 2018

Inclement weather update no. 3: Resuming normal operations

As of this afternoon, normal operations have resumed throughout the Texas Children’s system. Our clinics and primary care offices are now seeing patients during our regular hours and accommodating appointments that had to be rescheduled.

We want to thank all of you for carefully braving the weather to come into work yesterday and today. Your efforts to be here and your dedication to our patients ensured that we provided them safe, seamless care, and further demonstrate that we are an organization of staff and employees who think and act quickly and thoughtfully during times of challenge.

As we prepare for another deep freeze tonight, please be careful as you return home to your families. We encourage you to exercise caution when navigating roadways as some areas may still be wet or icy from earlier precipitation.

Judy Swanson
Administrator On Call

James Mitchell
Emergency Management

Inclement weather update no. 2: Tuesday, 2:15 p.m.

As expected, much of the Houston area is experiencing rain and below freezing temperatures. As we continue to monitor local reports, Texas Children’s leadership throughout the day has been assessing the needs and staffing of both patient care and non-patient-care areas within the hospitals, clinics, practices and health centers.

New information

  • Inpatient operations. At this time, we are continuing operations as normal throughout the Texas Children’s system. Leaders will continue to assess staffing needs and will make adjustments accordingly. Staff who want to come in early prior to their shift should contact their leader.  If you choose to spend the night, bring an overnight bag. Cots will be available for staff if you are unable to return home.
  • Outpatient operations. We are planning to suspend outpatient services by 3 p.m. today. Outpatient clinics will open at 10 a.m. on Wednesday to allow patients and staff more time to arrive to their destination.
  • Shuttles services from Garage 19 and Meyer to the Medical Center  Campus are running on schedule.
  • One-to-one handoff will occur in the inpatient areas at shift change

Medical Center campus retail food service
Food Court: closing early at 3 p.m.
Fresh Bistro:  normal hours 6:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Coffee Corner: closing early at 9 p.m. (sandwiches, paninis, salads and soup) – usually stays open until 11pm

*This is the plan for now, although staffing could affect opening times
Coffee Corner: 6 a.m. – midnight
Fresh Bistro: 6:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. (will evaluate station closures based on staffing and volumes)
Food Court: 10:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. (will evaluate station closures based on staffing and volumes)

West Campus Retail Food Service
DOTS Kitchen – will remain open until 6:30 p.m., Deli window in DOTs will remain open until 8pm (EXTENDED HOURS).
Coffee Spot: Closes at 2:30 p.m. per normal operations.

*Planned to maintain normal hours, given that staff can arrive tomorrow morning safely.
Coffee Spot: will open at 6:30am
DOTS Kitchen: will open at 7am

Sleet and freezing rain are expected to create hazardous road conditions especially during the afternoon/evening commute. We encourage staff to exercise caution when navigating roadways especially on bridges and overpasses as water can freeze very quickly with a sudden drop in temperatures. Please plan for additional travel time, and be sure to communicate with your leaders should your arrival to work be delayed due to the inclement weather conditions.

We will continue to monitor the weather and assess any possible impacts to you, our patients and their families. and will send additional global alerts as needed. For more information, including the latest weather, traffic and road conditions, go to the Emergency Management Connect site and the National Weather Service website.

Judy Swanson
Administrator On Call

James Mitchell
Emergency Management

Inclement weather expected tomorrow: Monday, 9:30 p.m.

The National Weather Service is forecasting rain and below freezing temperatures across much of southeast Texas. Light rain is expected to begin at 2 a.m. on Tuesday. The morning commute is not expected to be affected. However, as temperatures begin to drop during the mid-morning hours, sleet and freezing rain could create hazardous road conditions especially during the afternoon commute.

We are monitoring local reports and will continue to do so throughout tonight and tomorrow morning. As of now, Texas Children’s is expected to remain fully operational. This includes both patient care and non-patient-care areas within the hospitals, clinics, practices and health centers. However, leaders are assessing the needs and staffing of their respective areas and will subsequently provide any further information or instruction.

We know staff and employees may be concerned about the impending weather conditions. Please remember that we all are here to take care of our patients, and ensuring that their care is safe and seamless is our priority. Please plan to get an early start tomorrow so you can make a thoughtful assessment of the current weather situation and your plans for reporting to work safely. We encourage you to exercise caution when navigating roadways and plan ahead in case there is an interruption to any city services or school closures.

For more information, including the latest weather, traffic and road conditions, go to the Emergency Management Connect site and the National Weather Service website.

Judy Swanson
Administrator On Call

James Mitchell
Emergency Management

December 19, 2017

Each year, about 50,000 people across the United States make donations ranging from a few dollars to $10,000 or more through the Office of Philanthropy’s Direct Mail program. Often, donors send heartfelt notes wishing our patients, clinical staff, and other team members well, or they mention fond thoughts of their own children or grandchildren.

To help capture that spirit during the holidays, which can be a tough time for those not able to spend it at home, the program offered its donors the opportunity to sign and return paper origami cranes as a way of sending good wishes and hope to our patients and their families.

Japanese legend has it that mystical cranes can live for 1,000 years, and because cranes represent good health, people often work together to create 1,000 paper cranes – called senbazuru – to promote the health of someone special to them.

In honor of our patients and families, a Tree of Hope decorated with 1,000 cranes will remain in the lobby of the Mark A. Wallace Tower throughout the holidays. Patients and families are welcome to take a crane as a gift from our donors, each of whom stopped during a busy time of year to think about Texas Children’s and our mission.

December 12, 2017

Texas Children’s Hospital was the presenting sponsor of the 2017 Via Colori street painting festival in downtown Houston. The Division of Otolaryngology took the lead within Texas Children’s to man a booth at the event and ensure a strong Texas Children’s presence.

Otolaryngologists, audiologists, speech pathologists, nurses and clinic staff participated in playing yard games with families in attendance and sharing information about the hearing and speech services at Texas Children’s. Dr. Ellis Arjmand, chief of otolaryngology at the hospital, took the main stage to talk about the Hearing Center at Texas Children’s.

Via Colori is one of the city’s largest and most popular art festivals. Produced by the The Center for Hearing and Speech, the event is held to fund critical health and educational services for local children with mild to profound hearing loss.

All proceeds from Via Colori benefit The Center for Hearing and Speech, which is a partner of the Texas Children’s Hearing Center.

December 5, 2017

It’s beginning to look a lot like the holidays at Texas Children’s. The annual tree lighting ceremonies kicked off the season of joy with Santa and Mrs. Claus spreading holiday cheer to patients and their families.

On November 30, Senior Vice President Tabitha Rice and Nancy Baycroft, president of The Auxiliary to Texas Children’s Hospital, kicked off the tree lighting event on The Auxiliary Bridge. Within seconds, the bright lights magically turned on and Santa’s HO HO HO could be heard as he walked down the hallway bearing gifts. Every child received a stuffed holiday bear. Santa also visited patients who were not able to leave their rooms. St. John’s School Choir sang holiday carols to more than 50 patients and their families.

Santa Claus also spread holiday cheer to more than 145 guests at the inaugural Tree Lighting event at Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Charles Hankins delivered the welcome speech and Vice President Trent Johnson thanked the event sponsors, Newfield Exploration and The Woodlands Art Council, and wished everyone good cheer. Children took photos with Santa and participated in fun activities including making holiday ornaments and picture frames.

Approximately 8,000 people attended the 10th annual Tree-Lighting Celebration in the courtyard at LaCenterra at Cinco Ranch on November 18. Three-year-old Paris Ndu, a patient at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, had the honors of lighting the 30-foot Christmas tree to kick off the holiday season.

With the holiday season upon us, there’s plenty of cheer left for patients, families and employees. Be sure to check out one of these holiday gatherings on your clinic floors and get in the holiday spirit.

  • Thursday, December 7 – Gingerbread house making (10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in The Zone)
  • Thursday, December 7 – Storybook Theater with Elsa (3 p.m., The Woodlands campus lobby)
  • Monday, December 11 – Junior League Big Santa Event (1 p.m. in The Zone)
  • Friday, December 15 – Bennett’s Bears visit fifth-floor inpatient (The Woodlands)
  • Tuesday, December 19 – Santa visits patients (1 p.m., West Campus)
  • Thursday, December 21 – Holiday Piano & Violin Duo (11:30 a.m. The Woodlands campus lobby)
  • Friday, December 22 – Bennett’s Bears visit clinic floors (10 a.m., West Campus)

In a little over a month, a Magnet appraiser team will visit Texas Children’s facilities for a site visit, which represents a huge milestone in the hospital’s journey towards achieving Magnet® re-designation.

Since 2003, Texas Children’s has been a Magnet-designated organization. Every four years, the hospital applies for Magnet® re-designation, which is the highest and most prestigious recognition provided by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), and reflects Texas Children’s commitment to providing excellent patient care.

From January 22 to 24, 2018, Magnet® appraisers will conduct a site visit at Texas Children’s, which is one of the many required steps to obtain Magnet® re-designation. The site visit will provide an opportunity for nurses and the entire health care team to engage with the Magnet® appraisers, share their exceptional accomplishments, and highlight our great partnership, exceptional care delivery and collaboration to enhance patient outcomes. After the site visit, the Magnet® appraisers will submit a report to the Commission on Magnet®, which makes the final determination regarding Texas Children’s Magnet® re-designation.

From now until the Magnet® site visit in mid-January, a special series will be featured on Connect highlighting what Texas Children’s employees “need to know” regarding this important site visit.

To start the series off, we’ll answer the questions: “What is Magnet?”… and “Why is it so important?”

What is Magnet?

Magnet is a credential bestowed by the American Nurses Credentialing Center which formally recognizes an organization’s attainment of nursing excellence.

Why is it so important?

Obtaining and maintaining Magnet designation is important because it benefits patients, nurses and our organization. Examples of the benefits include:

  • Enhanced ability to attract and retain top talent
  • Improved patient outcomes, safety and satisfaction
  • Strengthened collaborative culture
  • Advanced nursing practice and shared governance structure
  • Heightened business and financial successes

Stay tuned to Connect for more of what you “need to know” regarding our upcoming Magnet® site visit. To learn more about the ANCC’s Magnet Recognition Program®, click here

While construction progress continues to be made on the vertical expansion of Texas Children’s Legacy Tower, several changes will take effect starting on Monday, December 11.

With the re-opening of the Level 1 shuttle entrance, escalators and Level 3 South Elevator Lobby at the Pavilion for Women, employees will be able to resume direct shuttle service from Garage 19 to the Pavilion for Women.

Since July 6, the Pavilion for Women Direct Stop had been re-routed to a temporary shuttle stop on Fannin Street to accommodate construction work on the Legacy Tower and minimize the impact on employees who rely on these services to get to and from the Medical Center Campus. This temporary stop on Fannin Street will be discontinued beginning on December 11. Signage alerting employees and staff of this change will be placed at Garage 19, Meyer Building, Feigin Tower, and the Pavilion for Women shuttle stops.

To learn more about shuttle services and pick up locations, click here. To track the shuttles location in real time, this information can be accessed on your desk top here and on your smartphone here.

Additional renovations underway on Legacy Tower

Since July 6, elevator access to Level 3 of Legacy Tower was shut down so crews could create new lobbies. Now, with the re-opening of Level 3 on December 11, planning and coordination have already begun for renovation of Level 5 elevator lobby and Radiology waiting room, work that scheduled to begin Tuesday, December 12 and last through March 2018.

In addition, improvements to Garage 21 parking levels will begin on December 11 starting with the level B4 south end under Legacy Tower. Work in the garage will occur one-half floor at a time and be complete by May 2018. As a reminder, South elevator access to Level 1 will remain closed through March 2018.

Stay tuned to Connect for future updates regarding the impact of construction on the Legacy Tower.

November 21, 2017

Because of the complexity of conditions seen at Texas Children’s, many patients and families view the health system and its staff as a family that supports them both inside and outside the hospital. That relationship was on full display November 15 when several patients of the Texas Children’s Craniofacial Clinic were given the opportunity to attend a free, early screening of the movie, Wonder.

Wonder tells the incredibly inspiring and heartwarming story of August Pullman, a boy with facial differences who enters fifth grade, attending a mainstream elementary school for the first time. Based on the New York Times bestseller, the film stars Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and Jacob Tremblay.

“We feel that this screening was a wonderful opportunity to highlight the courage displayed by so many of the children that we help treat every day,” said Dr. Larry Hollier, chief of plastic surgery and associate surgeon-in-chief for clinical affairs at Texas Children’s. “And it reinforces the importance of seeing things through others’ point of view. Finally, we thought it was a great opportunity for everyone to attend a real movie premiere.”

The premiere was sponsored by members of the Children’s Craniofacial Association and Texas Children’s Craniofacial Clinic team, which treats and researches complex craniofacial differences such as Treacher Collins Syndrome, the one highlighted in Wonder.

Held at AMC Studio 30 on Dunvale Road in Houston, the screening of the movie began with patients and families walking down a red carpet and posing for photographs before making their way to the theater. The event ended with comments from two Craniofacial Clinic patients and their family members.

Grace Anto, a 10-year-old Craniofacial Clinic patient, said she could relate to much of what August, the lead character in the movie, went through.

“I have felt like Auggie,” she said. “Every time I make a new friend, it’s like a new beginning.”

Twelve-year-old Lance Dromgoole, another Craniofacial Clinic patient, agreed and said his favorite part of the movie was when August and Jack became friends.

“That was definitely the best,” he said.

Like the lead character in Wonder, Lance and Grace have had multiple surgeries to correct their craniofacial differences. Grace has had 10 surgeries and Lance has undergone 38. Some of those procedures helped Lance breathe better and others gave him actual ears, something he was born without.

Lance’s grandmother, Kathy Dromgoole, said she will never forget the first time Lance was able to put on sunglasses and that she will forever be grateful for the care her grandson has received at Texas Children’s. Regarding the movie, she said she hopes Wonder shows people that children with craniofacial differences are normal kids and that they deserve to be treated as such.

Grace’s mother, Lynn Anto, said the movie beautifully illustrates the power of kindness and how greatly it is needed people’s lives.

“Everyone is going through something,” she said. “And everyone could use a little kindness.”

Athena Krasnosky, a nurse practitioner with the Craniofacial Clinic and one of the organizers of the screening, told last week’s audience that Texas Children’s sees itself and its patients and families as one big happy family, and that everyone within the Craniofacial Clinic was thrilled to have been able to watch such a meaningful film together.

“We are so glad to have been able see this movie together tonight as a family,” she said. “We hope you enjoyed it.”

Haley Streff, a genetic counselor with Texas Children’s and another organizer of the movie screening, echoed Krasnosky’s comments and said the moving screening was a powerful experience.

“All of us here have a connection to someone with a craniofacial difference,” she said. “We all can relate in one way or another to what just happened on that movie screen.”