April 23, 2019

On his blog, Mark Wallace shares the story of how a group of NBA all stars became the Dream Team, and why they remind him of our one amazing team. Read more

April 2, 2019

Teen and pre-teen inpatient children now have a place to get away and partake in age appropriate activities during their stay at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus. On March 28, the Child Life department invited patients, families and staff to an open house for the Activity Room.

Over the years, the hospital has opened multiple child life activity spaces, typically playrooms, located on various floors of all three hospitals. These spaces provide a fun, safe and procedure-free environment for our inpatient population and their families.

The Child Life Department at Texas Children’s Hospital provides spaces for patients to get away from the medical setting and to enjoy and play as other children would at their age. For our teenage population, it is important to have an environment and activities that speak to their interests. At Medical Center Campus, through the support of Teammates for Kids, we have the Child Life Zone located in the West Tower that supports the activities and needs of our older patients.

As the Texas Children’s system continues to expand our locations and inpatient services, the Child Life departments continue to ensure that the pre-teen/teen population have a space where they can gather with other adolescents and know they have a space of their own.

“When you walk into most child life playrooms, you see toys intended for toddlers and young children,” Child Life Specialist Riley Hammond said. “There are toys and activities still in the Activity Room for kids of all ages, however; this space is geared specifically for children eight years and older.”

Located in the inpatient wing in the right corner on the fifth floor, the space that has been revamped into the new Activity Room. Previously, this space was a playroom and was underutilized due to staffing and volunteer availability, said Hammond.

Inside the new Activity Room, there are many developmentally appropriate devices and activities, some generously donated by our dedicated partners. In the far back, next to a large window that beams natural sunlight into the room is an electronic arcade-style basketball goal, generously donated by Wood, an energy services company, located next to West Campus that is a benevolent donor and supporter of Texas Children’s.

Right next to the basketball goal, is an all-in-one locker, known as “The Dalton Cart” that houses multiple electronic devices and video games. The Dalton Cart was generously donated by the Andy and Jordan Dalton Foundation, a foundation started by a professional football player, Andy Dalton, who calls Katy, Texas home. There is also an Xbox for patients to play the very popular, Madden, along with other video games generously donated by Child’s Play, a charity organization that seeks to improve the lives of children in pediatric hospitals through the kindness and generosity of video games.

The teen child life room also provides movies, board games, art materials, science kits and a host of other forms of entertainment. Most importantly, this space allows patients a place to simply get out of their hospital room. In the afternoon, there is a protected activity time for teens over the age of thirteen.

“It really helps kids and teens feel like themselves,” Child Life Activity Coordinator Mary Reddick said. “This is a room where they get to make choices for what they want to do, be in control and socialize. They meet other teens who are here at the hospital in the Activity Room and often realize, ‘hey I am not alone.’”

When Reddick and Hammond originally proposed this new play space, they wanted it to be easily accessible to patients and their families. The room is open Monday through Sunday, eight o’clock in the morning to eight o’clock in the evening, with intermittent child life staff and volunteer supervision.

Each campus now has a space that is dedicated to our teen population, and this is just one of the many ways that Texas Children’s Child Life Department works tirelessly to provide every child with a high-quality experience.

“It has been a huge transformation, not just with the physical things here in the room, but really I would say, the open accessibility has been one of our largest successes with this space,” Hammond said. “I’ve received ample feedback from staff with excitement that the space is open and being used by so many. We have many, many big dreams for what else can be in this space and we continue working closely with development to make this an even greater experience for our teens here at West Campus.”

March 25, 2019

Texas Children’s employees enjoyed a spice-filled start to National Nutrition Month® on March 6 with a full menu of original Indian dishes available for lunch at the Fresh Bistro, created by award-winning Compass Celebrity Chef Bal Arneson.

Employee Health & Well-Being partnered with Food and Nutrition Services and Morrison Food Services to bring Arneson to the Medical Center campus to share her cooking tips and recipes, which draw their flavor from carefully selected spices and healthful ingredients rather than cream and salt. Even her spin on classic butter chicken – a well-known dish that originated in Northern India – is made with yogurt instead of butter.

Arneson mingled with employees at the Fresh Bistro before doing a live cooking demonstration in Morrison’s Teaching Kitchen, which was set up in the Pavilion for Women conference rooms.

She also signed copies of her latest cookbook and answered questions about how home chefs can incorporate more spices into their family meals, noting that turmeric, coriander, cardamom, fennel and paprika are among her favorites for health benefits like reduced inflammation and more sound sleep.

The opportunity to bring her passion and love for food to Texas Children’s allowed Arneson to fulfill her ultimate purpose of serving others, she said. It was a special treat to use her knowledge and gifts to feed the people who heal and support our patients and their families.

“I believe the body is our temple and there is an energy inside us that needs to be nourished. You must fuel your body with the right nutrients,” Arneson said. “Food is your medicine and you are exactly what you eat.”

National Nutrition Month® continues

The National Nutrition Month® celebration at Texas Children’s will extend through the end of March with the following events at the Medical Center, The Woodlands and West campuses:

Wednesday, March 20 | 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Cigna Health Education Table
Pavilion for Women, in front of Fresh Bistro
Join Cigna Health Coach Staci Tobolowsky Astrein, MCN, RD/LD from the Employee Health and Well-Being team to learn about available Cigna programs and resources, fun giveaways and nutrition education.

Every Wednesday through March 27 | 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
National Nutrition Month® Table Events
The Woodlands Lobby
Ask our registered dietitians your nutrition questions and learn tips for creating a healthier lifestyle.

March 1 – March 27
5-A-Day Fruit and Vegetable Challenge at West Campus
A month challenge to encourage employees at West Campus to eat more fruits and vegetables on a daily basis with a raffle drawing at the National Nutrition Month® Table on March 28. More information coming soon.

Thursday, March 28 | 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Eat a Rainbow Table Event
West Campus Corridor
Our West Campus dietitians will share tips on how to incorporate more fruits and vegetables in your daily routine. Ask your nutrition questions and learn tips for creating a healthier lifestyle.

For more information, visit the Well-Being page on Connect or email wellbeing@texaschildrens.org.

March 4, 2019

The Mark A. Wallace New Employee Pep Rally allows new employees to learn more about the organization and meet executives and other leaders within a festive atmosphere complete with foam fingers, pompoms and lively music. Participants at the most recent pep rally on February 15 included new and recent hires based at The Woodlands.

“The Woodlands is flourishing and we’re lucky to have all of you here,” President and CEO Mark Wallace told the new employees, recalling Texas Children’s early days in a single, seven-floor building – well before the opening of Legacy Tower at the Medical Center campus; the suburban hospitals at West and The Woodlands; and the urgent care centers and specialty care clinics that stretch across Harris County and now reach into Austin and Central Texas.

“In 1989, I knew this was our destiny,” Wallace said. “I knew Texas Children’s was going to grow and flourish because that was part of the plan: taking care of more patients and more families. The key to our success has always been the people and the leadership.”

Wallace reminded the new hires that they, too, are leaders in their personal and professional lives, and encouraged them to develop their own leadership definitions. He also introduced himself and shook hands with every new employee at the pep rally, pausing often to pose for photos and snap selfies.

March is National Nutrition Month®! Employee Health & Well-Being has partnered with Food and Nutrition Services and Morrison Food Services to sponsor a variety of National Nutritional Month events from March 6-27 with a focus on plant-based food:

Wednesday, March 6 | 11 a.m. to noon
Live Cooking Demonstration with Celebrity Chef Bal Arneson
Pavilion for Women, Fresh Bistro, Center Action Station
Television host, award-winning author, Compass Celebrity Chef and well-known culinary personality Bal Arneson will be sharing her trademark spice-infused cooking tips, including simple and healthy Indian recipes. Cookbooks will be available for sale in the Fresh Bistro, and Chef Arneson will also host a book signing from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Click here to learn more.

Tuesday, March 12 | 11:30 a.m. to noon
Lecture: Power of Plant-Based Foods
Presented by Staci Tobolowsky Astrein, MCN, RD/LD
Texas Children’s auditorium, Skype option available
Have you ever tried meatless Monday? Whether you are a vegetarian or curious about how to incorporate more plants into your diet, come learn the power of plant-based eating and how to make more plants part of your everyday routine. Click here to register.

Wednesday, March 13
Registered Dietitians Day
Let’s amplify unity and thank our Texas Children’s registered dietitians for all their hard work!

Thursday, March 14 | 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.
The Skinny Latte Challenge
Pavilion for Women, Coffee Corner
Not all coffee beverages are created equal. Come get the skinny on how to create and order a lower calorie latte. Enjoy free samples and challenge your taste buds to determine the difference between high- and low-calorie lattes.

Thursday, March 14 | 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
National Nutrition Month® Bridge Event
Medical Center campus, The Auxiliary Bridge
Texas Children’s registered dietitians will be available for questions at this fun and exciting event featuring a variety of activities on nutrition and tips for a healthy lifestyle.

Tuesday, March 19 | 11:30 a.m. to noon
Lecture: Get Your Gut in Gear
Presented by Staci Tobolowsky Astrein, MCN, RD/LD
Texas Children’s auditorium, Skype option available
The health of your gut plays an important role in your overall health and well-being. Learn why it is important to keep your gut healthy and happy. Get your gut in gear with several important nutrients that you can incorporate into your normal diet. Click here to register.

Wednesday, March 20 | 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Cigna Health Education Table
Pavilion for Women, in front of Fresh Bistro
Join the Cigna Health Coach Staci Tobolowsky Astrein, MCN, RD/LD from the Employee Health and Well-Being team to learn about available Cigna programs and resources, fun giveaways and nutrition education.

Community locations

Every Wednesday through March 27 | 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
National Nutrition Month® Table Events
The Woodlands lobby
Ask our registered dietitians your nutrition questions and learn tips for creating a healthier lifestyle.

March 1 – March 27
5-A-Day Fruit and Vegetable Challenge at West Campus
A month challenge to encourage employees at West Campus to eat more fruits and vegetables on a daily basis with a raffle drawing at the National Nutrition Month Table on March 28. More information coming soon.

Thursday, March 28 | 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Eat a Rainbow Table Event
West Campus Corridor
Our West Campus dietitians will share tips on how to incorporate more fruit and vegetables in your daily routine. Ask your nutrition questions and learn tips for creating a healthier lifestyle.

Resources to Support Your Nutrition

The Employee Health and Well-Being team provides a variety of no-cost and low-cost nutrition resources for our employees, including:

For more information, please visit the Well-Being page on Connect or email wellbeing@texaschildrens.org.

February 18, 2019

After coming to Texas Children’s throughout her youth as a patient, recently hired medical assistant Blanca Alonso got something she always wanted – the opportunity to join the organization as an employee at Texas Children’s Specialty Care Sugar Land.

“It’s really incredible working with the kids and patients, and I don’t plan on going anywhere else,” said Alonso, one of more than 40 new members of the Texas Children’s family who attended the first Mark Wallace New Employee Pep Rally of 2019, held February 4 at West Campus.

Fashioned in the same back-to-school theme of the Texas Children’s Hi orientation, the pep rally allows new employees to learn more about the organization and meet executives and other leaders within a festive atmosphere complete with foam fingers, pompoms and lively music. Participants included new and recent hires based at West Campus, as well as those from specialty care clinics in surrounding communities.

“West Campus is flourishing and we’re lucky to have all of you here,” President and CEO Mark Wallace told the new employees, recalling Texas Children’s early days in a single, seven-floor building – well before the opening of Legacy Tower at the Medical Center campus; the suburban hospitals at West and The Woodlands; and the urgent care centers and specialty care clinics that stretch across Harris County and now reach into Austin and Central Texas.

“In 1989, I knew this was our destiny,” Wallace said. “I knew Texas Children’s was going to grow and flourish because that was part of the plan: taking care of more patients and more families. The key to our success has always been the people and the leadership.”

Wallace reminded the new hires that they, too, are leaders in their personal and professional lives, and encouraged them to develop their own leadership definitions. He also introduced himself and shook hands with every new employee at the pep rally, pausing often to pose for photos and snap selfies.

As she enjoyed refreshments and connected with her new colleagues, Shamira Connor reflected on the warm welcome she has received since becoming a medical assistant at the Sugar Land specialty care clinic. “I’ve always wanted to work at Texas Children’s. Now I’m here and I love it,” she said.

January 22, 2019

As of January 11, 90.7 percent of Texas Children’s employees had received the flu vaccine. A special thank you goes out to all of you who have taken such an important step in protecting yourselves, your colleagues and our patients and families. Although we are excited to see so much participation across the system, we still want to encourage employees to get their vaccine. It is not too late!

“Flu activity has increased over the past three to four weeks here in Houston, we are already seeing positive flu cases at the Employee Medical Clinic, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) anticipates flu activity to increase in the coming weeks,” said Dr. Irene Lomeda, the Employee Medical Center physician. “The good news from the most recent CDC data is that the flu vaccine seems to be on target for the major flu strain affecting this year’s flu season with lesser hospitalizations and lesser pediatric deaths.”

Employee Health continues to administer flu vaccines at no cost to Texas Children’s employees. The flu vaccine is also covered at 100 percent under our Texas Children’s Medical Plan, enabling employees to receive their flu vaccine at no cost through any in-network provider or retail pharmacy. If you have any questions about the safety and effectiveness of the flu vaccine, you may call Employee Health at 832-824-2150, option 2.

Staff who do not receive their flu vaccine should wear a surgical mask when providing direct patient care services for the duration of the flu season, which was declared on December 19, 2018. See Required Influenza Vaccination Policy and Procedure for more details.

If you elect to decline the flu vaccine this year, you are required to complete a Flu Declination Form. Prior to completing the declination form, review the Flu Vaccine Information Statement (VIS). The declination form can be found on the Employee Health and Wellness Portal. Follow these instructions to gain access:

Log in to the Employee Health and Wellness Portal. If this is your first time logging into the portal, click “Having trouble logging in” to reset your password. For instructions on how to log in to the portal click here or click here to view step-by step instructions.
Once you log in, click on the “Forms” tab, then select the 2018-Flu Declination Form.

Let’s amplify unity and prevent the spread of infections by practicing good health habits:

  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
  • Stay home when you are experiencing flu-like symptoms. If you begin to feel sick with flu-like symptoms while at work, call the Employee Medical Clinic at 832-824-2424.
  • Wash your hands often. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home and at work, especially when someone is ill.
  • For more tips on preventing the flu, visit CDC Flu Prevention.