May 13, 2019

Last month, Texas Children’s Department of Surgery leadership announced that Dr. Paul Austin was named Texas Children’s new chief of Urology, the third Urology chief in the hospital’s 65-year history.

“I’m excited that Dr. Austin has accepted the position of chief of Urology at Texas Children’s,” said Surgeon-in-Chief Dr. Larry Hollier. “His clinical experience, combined with a successful research program, provides a wonderful foundation for the future of Pediatric Urology at Texas Children’s.”

Austin assumes the helm of the division from Dr. David Roth, who has served as chief of Urology for the past seven years and helped recruit Austin nearly two years ago. Under Roth’s leadership, Texas Children’s Division of Urology grew from three physicians and an advanced practice provider (APP) to one of the largest programs in the country, with 10 urologists, two research PhDs and six APPs. During this time, the division of Urology’s national status steadily improved and the program is currently ranked No. 4 in country according to U.S. News & World Report.

“I have enjoyed the growth of our division and appreciate the support of our leadership and administration,” Roth said. “I am excited that Dr. Austin is continuing the tradition of leadership for the Division of Urology that began with Dr. Edmond Gonzales over 40 years ago. He is an internationally recognized leader in pediatric pelvic health and is the right person to lead our division for years to come.”

Austin currently serves as Director of Texas Children’s Complex Urologic Reconstruction Program and Director of the Pediatric Urology Basic Science Research Program. He has co-authored more than a hundred articles and 25 book chapters, has edited four textbooks, and has three grants totaling more than $2.5 million in National Institutes of Health R01 funding.

Austin is also the current president of the American Association of Pediatric Urologists (AAPU) – one of the best-respected and most important societies for pediatric urologists in the United States – an organization that Roth co-founded more than 30 years ago.

“Since I first attended AAPU with a mentor of mine in 1996, it has been my favorite conference of the year,” Austin said. “It’s always a special time of learning, networking and collaboration. The sheer variety of talks and topics is always amazing, and the way these experts challenge each other, but in a respectful way, has always been a hallmark of the event. That is thanks to Dr. Roth’s vision, and it’s my honor to serve as AAPU president this year.”

Austin brings a bright and multifaceted vision for the future to the Division of Urology. In addition to keeping our clinical care at the forefront of pediatric urology on a national level, he wants to enhance the division’s capabilities in the treatment of complex urologic conditions and in research.

“Everyone has their niche, and you have to be aware of your team members’ passions and think about how you can help them grow and develop their talents, whether that be in patient care, education and teaching, or research,” Austin said. “My main goals are to grow our basic and clinical research enterprise, to provide encouragement, motivation and support that will lead our people to continued excellence and achievement in patient care, basic and clinical research, in competition for research prizes, and in leadership roles in the greater field of pediatric urology, and to foster multidisciplinary collaboration between Urology and other divisions and services across the Texas Children’s system.”

About Pediatric Urology at Texas Children’s

The Division of Urology at Texas Children’s Hospital offers the most advanced surgical care for routine urological needs as well as genitourinary problems related to congenital birth defects, trauma and a range of other medical conditions.

The division provides specialized, multidisciplinary care and expertise in fetal medicine, spina bifida, renal stone disease, gender medicine and complex urologic care. The division has also established a transition urologic care process that allows adolescent patients to transfer care to adult care providers.

We work closely with child-life specialists, who provide support to help patients and their families cope with the challenges frequently presented by urological disorders. Transitional follow-up care is provided for adolescent patients as they progress to adult care.

Learn more about Urology at Texas Children’s.

May 6, 2019

Choose one of Mark Wallace’s first five Leadership Maxims:

  1. Leadership always influences or determines outcomes – not some of the time, but all of the time.
  2. Leadership applies to everyone.
  3. We lead in our professional lives and in our personal lives.
  4. We all should have our personal definition of leadership.
  5. The key characteristics to look for when selecting people are a winning attitude and a strong work ethic.

If you’d like a refresher on Mr. Wallace’s Leadership Maxims before writing your submission, watch his short Maxims videos here on the blog.
Write about how that maxim applies to you and your job at Texas Children’s. Please keep your stories between 350 and 500 words.
Click here to read Mr. Wallace’s blog about this year’s maxim leadership challenge.

Please email your submissions to Texas Children’s News at

April 30, 2019

On his blog this week, Mark Wallace invites you to share your leadership story with him and how it relates to his leadership maxims. Read more

Houston Texans linebacker Benardrick McKinney announced the 161st pick in the 2019 NFL Draft on April 27 live from NRG Stadium during the Houston Texans Kids Triathlon. The triathlon is the largest kids triathlon in the word and is presented by Texas Children’s Hospital.

Flanked by triathletes, Texans cheerleaders and TORO, McKinney excitedly proclaimed to a live and national broadcast audience that the Texans had chosen defensive end Charles Omenihu as the team’s 161st draft pick. The Pro Bowler and TORO then took a celebratory dip in the Texans Kids Triathlon pool!

Click here to watch a video of the pick and here to see photos.

More than 3,000 participants ages 6 to 15 turned out for the Houston Texans Kids Triathlon on April 27 and 28 at NRG Stadium, making it the largest USATriathlon sanctioned kids triathlon in the world for the fourth consecutive year.

Texas Children’s Hospital presents the event as part of the hospital’s partnership with the Texans and local sponsorship of PLAY 60, the NFL’s initiative aimed at encouraging kids to get sixty minutes of play per day.

Click here to see photos from the triathlon.

April 29, 2019

To provide patients access to our care, we must have the clinic rooms available to see them. A new pilot program was recently launched to test the concept of space sharing between our specialty clinics in Wallace Tower.

The initiative is helping us identify underused or vacant spaces. Subsequently, we can determine if another clinic can temporarily see patients in those spaces, which expands our capacity for appointments.

The three-month pilot began on floors 8 and 9 in Wallace Tower in September 2018. Texas Children’s Space Utilization Initiative and Transition Experience (SUITE) Team found that provider absences – whether due to PTO, conferences or inpatient service rounds – equated to 10 to 20 percent of exam rooms being open at any given time. Of the 103 four-hour clinic sessions requested, 43 sessions were accommodated.

“Partnering with the Financial Services team, we estimate an overwhelming opportunity to accommodate an additional 17,000 to 35,000 clinic visits in Wallace Tower alone, with potential to generate over $4.9M in additional margin for Texas Children’s,” said Brian Cordasco, lead for the SUITE team.

On January 14, the SUITE team launched a second pilot on floors 11, 16, and 17 in Wallace Tower that will span a period of three months to identify any opportunities for space sharing across these clinics.

The long-term goal is to apply the lessons learned from these pilots and implement a larger solution, which will include an IS portal to quickly identify space availability across the entire hospital system.

About Texas Children’s Patient Access Initiative

Launched in August 2017, Texas Children’s Patient Access Initiative is an on-going, collaborative effort to improve patient access across the organization. Since then, Texas Children’s has made significant progress to ensure patients easily and conveniently get in the door so we can provide the care they need, when they need it.

Click here for a list of other tools and features we’ve implemented across the system to improve access, care coordination and patient experience at Texas Children’s.

April 15, 2019

A brand-new clinic at Texas Children’s West Campus is empowering children with visual impairment to make the most of the sight they have and live more independent lifestyles.

Texas Children’s Vision Enhancement Center – the only pediatric low vision clinic in Houston and one of only a few in the nation – was started this past January to meet the tremendous need for specialty care for children in Greater Houston living with various forms of visual impairment that can’t be corrected with glasses, contact lenses, surgery or medicine.

The clinic, made possible through a generous gift from Kathy and George Bishop, is spearheaded by Texas Children’s pediatric optometrist Dr. Kelsie Morrison and provides children with tools and techniques to maximize their functional vision so they can perform daily tasks and educational activities.

“The Vision Enhancement Center is the product of a partnership between Dr. Morrison, the Eye Care Department at Texas Children’s and our wonderful hospital administrative partners,” said Dr. David Coats, Texas Children’s chief of Ophthalmology. “This great new service provides promise and hope, and I am very proud to be a part of a team that is so committed to helping children with vision impairment live healthy, happier lives.”

The most common causes of visual impairment, or low vision, in children are inherited or congenital eye diseases, such as oculocutaneous albinism, retinal dystrophies (such as retinitis pigmentosa or Stargardt’s disease), retinopathy of maturity, nystagmus, and optic nerve hypoplasia.

These conditions typically cause one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Loss of ability to see detail (visual acuity)
  • Loss of side or peripheral vision (visual field)
  • Constant double vision (diplopia)
  • Inability to navigate steps or the edge of curbs (contrast sensitivity)
  • Inability to distinguish colors

Children with low vision face special challenges in school, where great emphasis is placed on learning in a visual environment.

“The majority of what we learn as children is absorbed visually,” said Morrison. “The conditions that our patients have make it difficult to take in visual input and process it. Our job is to get a baseline measurement of their functional vision and then test different solutions, such as magnification devices or electronic systems, to find the best fit for each individual patient and to improve their quality of life.”

The Vision Enhancement Center administers a complete assessment of visual function, eye health and the visual demands each patient experiences in educational, home and community settings. This initial exam is a critical step in determining how the child uses their vision to function and whether visual aids and other environmental modifications can make daily tasks – such as reading and writing – more comfortable and manageable. To help gain a clearer picture of the child’s needs, teachers, therapists or other health care workers are encouraged to attend appointments if possible.

A review of visual equipment already in use at home and school, as well as of textbooks and school materials, helps the optometrist make suggestions and offer guidance on what other magnification tools may be needed, such as telescopes, magnifiers, electronic systems (e.g., video displays, virtual reality mountings), or special tools to help patients who have difficulty with contrast or glare. Additional guidance may be offered on potential environmental alterations that can be made at home or in the classroom to help maximize the patient’s vision and improve their daily life.

The response from the community has been tremendous. Volume has been high since the clinic’s opening and there are already plans for expanding clinic space.

“The care and healing provided at this clinic have the ability to transform children’s lives,” said Dr. Allen Milewicz, Texas Children’s chief of Community Surgery and chief surgical officer at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus. “These impactful therapies, and the work of dedicated physicians like Dr. Morrison, make me proud to be part of Texas Children’s.”

Learn more about the Vision Enhancement Center and other services provided by Texas Children’s Division of Ophthalmology.

Texas Children’s MyChart has an electronic waitlist that automatically texts and emails families when appointments become available sooner. Over 2,100 patients have accepted an appointment an average 45 days earlier than their previously scheduled appointment.

Since implementing the electronic waitlist on MyChart in 2018, we’ve received positive feedback from our patients and families about the convenience of this new tool.

“My son’s original appointment was scheduled for September 4, but when I got an electronic notice via MyChart asking me if I wanted to accept an appointment in June, I accepted it,” said Monica Blancas. “While we usually go to the medical center for appointments, I didn’t mind driving a little further for my son’s appointment in Katy if it meant that I could get him in to see a doctor a lot sooner than scheduled.”

Click here for more information on how to opt in to receive New Wait List Offer text messages.

About Texas Children’s Patient Access Initiative

Launched in August 2017, Texas Children’s Patient Access Initiative is an on-going, collaborative effort to improve patient access across the organization. Since then, Texas Children’s has made significant progress to ensure patients easily and conveniently get in the door so we can provide the care they need, when they need it.

Click here for a list of other tools and features we’ve implemented across the system to improve access, care coordination and patient experience at Texas Children’s.