June 19, 2018

On June 18, Texas Children’s Pediatrics opened its first primary care site in Austin, marking another milestone in Texas Children’s path toward creating a network of quality pediatric care for children and families living in the state’s capital city.

Located at 5625 Eiger Road, Suite 225, in southwest Austin, Austin Pediatrics is managed by Dr. Casey Mulcihy, who has more than 30 years of experience in caring for children. Mulcihy offers a full array of services for children of all ages including well child care or checkups, immunizations, same-day sick appointments, management of asthmas, ADD and/ADHD, and many other common pediatric conditions. He also provides courtesy pre-natal and introductory physician consultations.

Austin Pediatrics is unique because it is a solo pediatric practice, which means patients get one-on-one care with the same doctor at every visit. The office is able to provide 24/7 coverage for after-hours emergencies, through a network of other solo pediatricians in Austin.

“We are very excited about reaching this milestone,” said Kay Tittle, president of Texas Children’s Pediatrics. “It signifies the first step of many more to come in providing quality primary pediatric care to children and their families in Austin and the surrounding area.”

Executive Vice President Michelle Riley-Brown said opening Austin Pediatrics shows Texas Children’s commitment to caring for patients and their families in the Austin area.

“Primary care is extremely important to a child’s overall health and Texas Children’s Pediatrics provides the finest pediatricians dedicated to meeting the health care needs of infants to teenagers,” Riley-Brown said. “We are proud to be offering our expertise to children and families in Austin and are looking forward to being a vital part of their lives.”

Texas Children’s marked its beginnings in Austin on March 6 with the opening of our first Texas Children’s Urgent Care location. Located at 4477 South Lamar Blvd., the office provides high-quality, efficient and affordable pediatric-focused care after hours and on weekends.

Over the next five years, we hope to open more Urgent Care locations as well as continue to build our Texas Children’s Pediatrics network. Additional plans for 2018 include the opening of another Texas Children’s Pediatrics practice in July and the opening of Texas Children’s Specialty Care in Austin.

Scheduled to open in October, Texas Children’s Specialty Care brings subspecialty pediatric care and services into the community where it’s easy for children and families to access it. Our center will be staffed by Texas Children’s board-certified physicians, surgeons, therapists and clinical staff.

“When we say we’re coming to Austin, it means we’re bringing our unique brand of care to your community,” said Melissa Fischer, Texas Children’s Pediatrics director of community business development. “At every Texas Children’s location, children are seen and treated by experts trained to care for them.”

For more information about the new Austin Pediatrics location, click here. For more information about our long-term plans in Austin, click here.

June 5, 2018

In an effort to better serve patients seeking care at one of 10 Texas Children’s Urgent Care sites, wait times for each location have been posted on the Urgent Care website.

“Our goal is to be completely transparent to our families as to how long it takes for them to be seen,” said Melissa Fischer, director of community and business development for Urgent Care and Texas Children’s Pediatrics. “For families that live in between two locations, we believe that posting wait times will help our families choose which site to visit.”

The information also will help manage expectations around wait times, which average about 17 minutes from check-in to being taken to a patient room. Patients spend about 60 minutes from check-in to check-out.

The wait time feature on the Urgent Care website is automatically updated every five minutes based on the number of providers who are seeing patients and the number of patients who have checked in.

The feature was piloted at Texas Children’s Urgent Care Pearland and was then implemented in Austin. As of May, online wait times are available for all Urgent Care locations.

Save My Spot is also available to patients and families visiting one of our Urgent Care locations, allowing them to reserve a time slot from the comfort of their own home. All the patient family member has to do is pre-register online and the check-in process is expedited. Their personal information is also pre-populated which makes the process easier for existing patients.

“Patients and their families now look for ease and convenience in every aspect of their lives,” said Roula Smith, director of Urgent Care business operations. “You are able to save a spot at places like the DMV and restaurants, why not at Urgent Care?”

Smith added that, Save My Spot allows Urgent Cares to stay competitive as well as evenly distribute patients throughout the day to be more efficient overall.

Save My Spot also was piloted at the Pearland location, and is now available at all Urgent Care locations. More than 600 patients have used the feature to date.

Welcome, an electronic check-in process, is another feature that has been created to expedite the registration process. Check-in is done on an electronic tablet, making the experience paperless. This feature is expected to be rolled out to all Urgent Care locations soon.

Texas Children’s Urgent Care was launched in 2014 and currently has 10 locations, all of which are staffed by board certified pediatricians who diagnose and treat a wide variety of ailments, illnesses and conditions, including: asthma, strep throat, fever, minor burns, influenza, ear infections, allergic reactions and more. Procedures provided include: antibiotic injections, breathing treatments, fracture care and splinting, IV (intravenous) fluids, lab services, laceration repair and X-rays onsite.

For more information about Texas Children’s Urgent Care and its locations, click here.

May 29, 2018

On May 23, a day after the opening of phase one of Legacy Tower, another significant milestone was reached in Texas Children’s Hospital’s storied history. At 7:15 a.m., a 9-month-old boy was taken back to a new, state-of-the-art operating room for the first surgery in Legacy Tower, Texas Children’s new home for heart, intensive care and surgery.

Watch this video highlighting the clinical features of Legacy Tower, including the facility’s new operating and transitional ICU rooms.

Dr. Larry Hollier, surgeon-in-chief, Dr. Edward Buchanan, chief of plastic surgery, Dr. Howard Weiner, chief of neurosurgery, and Dr. Robert Dauser, neurosurgeon, along with a team of anesthesiologists, nurses, physician assistants and operating room staff, performed the successful craniofacial procedure. Following the surgery, the patient was taken to the hospital’s new neurological ICU, a first-of-its-kind unit dedicated to pediatric patients who require specialized neurological care.

“As the largest and busiest department of surgery in the country, we are called upon every day to perform some of the most complex surgeries on the sickest of children,” said Hollier. “Legacy Tower is an answer to those calls, and this is the first of many positive outcomes in our new home.”

Weiner agreed and said the new tower is a game changer that will allow various teams at Texas Children’s to offer better family-centric care.

“This is a huge day at Texas Children’s Hospital,” he said. “It’s a privilege to be here and to be part of something so transformational.”

Phase one of Legacy Tower, Texas Children’s 640,000-square-foot expansion, officially opened on May 22 with six technologically-advanced operating rooms for neurosurgery, orthopedics, plastic surgery, transplant and pediatric surgery – one with intraoperative MRI – and 84 ICU beds, including dedicated surgical, neurological and transitional ICU rooms. This milestone will help Texas Children’s continue to provide the highest-quality care possible to patients and families, particularly those children who are critically-ill.

Beginning at 7 a.m. on May 22, seven specially-trained clinical teams safely transported 45 critically-ill patients to their new, spacious, state-of-the-art critical care rooms. More than 150 Texas Children’s staff members were involved in the move, and the careful transfer of the patients took seven hours.

Click here to view a video and photo gallery of the patient move to Legacy Tower.

Dauser said the Legacy Tower, specifically the operating rooms and their location to other specialties and services, are fantastic.

“Having the ability to conduct an intraoperative MRI in a room adjacent to one of the ORs has tremendous advantages,” he said. “Having an ICU dedicated to neuro patients also is a plus.”

Buchanan said such features provide the perfect environment for him and his colleagues to treat some of the sickest and most complex patients in the country.

“We all are very excited,” he said.

The second phase of Legacy Tower will open in September and house Texas Children’s Heart Center®, ranked No. 1 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for cardiology and heart surgery.

Ten-year-old Skye Jeary couldn’t believe her eyes as she was wheeled into her new, spacious room in Texas Children’s Legacy Tower. She was in awe when she saw the size of her room and commented on how she’ll have plenty of space to accommodate her stuffed unicorn and her mom who is in a wheelchair.

On May 22, Texas Children’s reached an historic milestone when the doors of Legacy Tower opened for the first time to care for our most critically ill patients. Beginning at 7 a.m., seven specially trained clinical teams began safely transporting 45 critically ill patients from the pediatric intensive care unit and progressive care unit in West Tower to their new, spacious, state-of-the-art critical care rooms in Legacy Tower.

More than 150 Texas Children’s staff members were involved in the patient move to Legacy Tower, and the careful transfer of the patients took seven hours, which was a lot sooner than originally anticipated due to the efficiency and effectiveness of the Legacy Tower teams involved on Move Day.

“The planning for the patient move was unbelievably detailed,” said Dr. Lara Shekerdemian, service chief of Critical Care Services at Texas Children’s. “The patient move involved nursing, administration, physicians, nurse practitioners, all members of the team as well as the amazing family support team that guided the families through what could have been a potentially overwhelming event for them.”

Patient and family services teams were assigned to each family member to help accompany and escort them from their current unit to the new unit in Legacy Tower and to get them settled in their new rooms.

“Our families were so excited about the move,” said Michelle Lawson, director of Texas Children’s Clinical Support Services. “They were being cheered on along the way and they were excited to be in their brand new space. They couldn’t believe we built it just for them.”

The Legacy Tower Go Live Support Center was set up on the fourth floor of Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women and comprised of 867 individuals from across the hospital system who focused on patient move tracking from West Tower to Legacy Tower. The team included support staff from Supply Chain, Security, BioMedical Engineering, Facilities Operations, Information Services, Pharmacy, Respiratory Care, as well as ancillary support teams from Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands, Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus and our Health Centers.

“We had floor plans on the wall that were physically tracking the patients as they moved from West Tower to Legacy Tower,” said Matt Timmons, director of Business Operations and Support Services at West Campus. “We also documented it on a spreadsheet displayed on projectors so anybody in the Go Live Support Center knew exactly where our patients were throughout the entire move process.”

While patients were being moved safely to Legacy Tower, Mission Control ensured a smooth process for the patient move by collaborating with teams from the The Woodlands Campus and West Campus to manage the inflow of patients across the system while the move process was underway.

Seven hours after the patient move process began, staff cheered and clapped their hands as the last patient was moved to Legacy Tower.

“We call today the Super Bowl of patient moves,” said Texas Children’s Vice President of Nursing Gail Parazynski. “We observed the tireless leadership, unity, and undying compassion our team has exhibited all week during the first phase of the Legacy Tower Go-Live. The success of this go-live is a true testament to the leadership and dedicated teamwork at Texas Children’s Hospital.”

One day after this historic move, the first surgery was successfully performed in the new state-of-the-art operating room in Legacy Tower.

View the photo gallery of the patient move to Legacy Tower below. Click here to read the story of the first surgery in Legacy Tower and watch video of the state-of-the-art features of our new OR in Legacy Tower.

The second phase of Legacy Tower will open in September and house Texas Children’s Heart Center®, ranked No. 1 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for cardiology and heart surgery.

May 8, 2018

On Tuesday, May 22, Legacy Tower at Texas Children’s Hospital officially will open its doors to care for our most critically ill patients and their families. But before that day arrives, a lot of preparation and training is underway to get ready for opening day which is less than two weeks away.

Last month, multidisciplinary teams successfully completed a series of simulated patient care scenarios inside the Legacy Tower’s state-of-the-art pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), Progressive Care Unit (PCU) and OR/MRI suite to test the workflow processes in the new patient care spaces and address any potential safety concerns before the new building opens.

“For the PICU, we really focused on creating a virtual unit,” said Dr. Cara Doughty, medical director at Texas Children’s Simulation Center. “We wanted the team to participate in all of the routine work flows as well as participate in crisis scenarios and patient decompensations and codes that might happen in a PICU setting.”

In addition to clinical staff, patient families from Texas Children’s Family Advisory Committee participated in the PICU simulations and provided their perspective on how much this space is going to change the way that care is provided to children and families at Legacy Tower.

A few weeks after the PICU and PCU simulations, patient care scenarios were conducted in the operating room and MRI suite of Legacy Tower to address any potential latent safety threats and concerns before the new tower opens its doors to patients and their families.

“Our focus is not as much on design now, it’s really around those processes,” said Maria Happe, clinical senior project manager of Texas Children’s PICU Services. “We want to ensure our processes are correct, and that we ensure our training matches what we want to do and how we want to operate in this new space.”

Once the first phase of Legacy Tower opens on May 22, the tower will house new operating rooms with one intraoperative MRI, as well as a new PICU which will span four floors and open with six ORs and 84 ICU beds, including dedicated surgical, neuro and transitional ICU beds.

When phase two of the Legacy Tower opens in fall 2018, the tower will be the new home of Texas Children’s Heart Center® – ranked No. 1 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report in cardiology and heart surgery. The Heart Center will have an outpatient clinic, four catheterization labs with one intraprocedural MRI, cardiovascular intensive care unit, four cardiovascular ORs and cardiology acute care beds. The tower also will have a helistop, allowing for even greater access to Texas Children’s most critically ill patients.

The Legacy Tower project would not have been possible without tremendous collaboration from teams and departments across the organization. Click here to view the Legacy Tower Activation Teams and Departments that played an integral role in the design, construction and activation of Legacy Tower.

Employees and staff can see more of Legacy Tower on Connect throughout the month. Texas Children’s Corporate Communications Team will feature a series of stories and videos on Connect promoting Legacy Tower and sharing how we are preparing for this historic move.

May 1, 2018

Texas Children’s Hospital is committed to creating the best possible experience for our patients and their families. A significant part of this experience, that perhaps at times goes unnoticed, is our linen services. Linen forms an integral part of the services we provide – from clinical visits, to emergency visits or long stays.

Effective Friday, May 4, Texas Children’s will partner with a new linen vendor, Texas Textile Services. With more than fifteen years of experience and a state-of-the-art facility, Texas Textile has worked with various prestigious health care organizations throughout the Houston area.

Contact Linen Services at LinenServices@TexasChildrens.org or at ext. 4-5000, option 4, with questions regarding linen, scrubs, or ScrubEx machines.

February 13, 2018

On January 13, Texas Children’s successfully performed its fourth conjoined twins separation, giving identical twin girls Anna Grace and Hope Elizabeth Richards a chance at a normal life.

The 7-hour procedure was performed by a multidisciplinary team of nearly 75 surgeons, anesthesiologists, cardiologists and nurses from eight specialties. Click here to see a list of surgeons, clinicians and nurses in the operating room during the milestone procedure, and here to view a photo gallery documenting the twins’ journey the day of their separation.

“The success of this incredibly complex surgery was the result of our dedicated team members’ hard work throughout the last year,” said Surgeon-in-Chief and Chief of Plastic Surgery Dr. Larry Hollier. “Through simulations and countless planning meetings, we were able to prepare for situations that could arise during the separation. We are thrilled with the outcome and look forward to continuing to care for Anna and Hope as they recover.”

The girls were born on December 29, 2016, at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women to their parents Jill and Michael, and two older brothers Collin and Seth. Weighing a combined 9 lbs. 12 oz. and delivered via Caesarean-section at 35 weeks and five days gestation, Anna and Hope were conjoined at their chest and abdomen, through the length of their torso and shared the chest wall, pericardial sac (the lining of the heart), diaphragm and liver. In addition, they had a large blood vessel connecting their hearts.

The Richards family, from north Texas, learned Jill was carrying conjoined twins during a routine ultrasound. The family was then referred to Texas Children’s Fetal Center, where they underwent extensive prenatal imaging, multidisciplinary consultation and development of plans to achieve a safe delivery and postnatal care. They temporarily relocated to Houston in order to deliver at Texas Children’s and be close to the girls during their hospital stay. For the past year, Anna and Hope have been cared for by a team of specialists in the level IV and level II neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Planning and preparation

During much of that time, medical staff prepared for the separation, using extensive imaging with ultrasound, echocardiography, CAT scans, magnetic resonance (MRI) and even a virtual 3-D model of the girls’ anatomy. Closer to the surgery date, almost 50 medical personnel involved in the procedure participated in a lengthy simulation of the separation.

“These are the kind of procedures you plan for the worst and hope for the best,” said Pediatric Surgeon and Co-Director of Texas Children’s Fetal Center Dr. Oluyinka Olutoye. “We were blessed that this was the best case scenario. Everything went very well. The procedure was as well as we could have hoped.”

The Richards family is grateful to Texas Children’s for the care provided to their daughters since they found out they were expecting conjoined twins.

“We’ve thought about and prayed for this day for almost two years,” said the girls’ mom, Jill Richards. “It’s an indescribable feeling to look at our girls in two separate beds. We couldn’t be more thankful to the entire team at Texas Children’s for making this dream come true.”

Anna and Hope are recovering in the CVICU and expect to be released to a regular room soon. Both girls will face additional surgeries in the future to ensure their chest walls are stabilized. Otherwise, doctors expect them to lead normal lives.

“What we try to do here at Texas Children Hospital is essentially provide our patients with as normal of a life as we can,” said Pediatric Plastic Surgeon Dr. Edward Buchanan. “I think in this case with these two little girls we were able to achieve that.”

A history of success

The Richards separation is the fourth conjoined twins separation performed at Texas Children’s. The first pioneering procedure occurred February 16, 1965, when a team of surgeons separated 9-week-old conjoined twins Kimberly and Karen Webber. The Webber twins were connected at the liver and pericardium. The second separation happened on June 9, 1992, when Texas Children’s surgeons successfully separated Tiesha and Iesha Turner, who were 1 year old and shared a sternum, liver, entwined intestines and fused organs.

The third conjoined twins separation happened nearly three years ago on Feb. 17, 2015, when a team of more than 40 clinicians from seven specialties separated 10-month old Knatalye Hope and Adeline Faith Mata during a marathon 26-hour surgery. The twins were connected from the chest to the pelvis and shared a chest wall, pericardial sac, diaphragm, liver, intestinal tract, urinary system and reproductive organs. Today, Knatalye and Adeline are almost 4 years old and are doing very well, walking, talking, even learning how to ride a bike.

Since Texas Children’s opened its doors in 1954, multiple sets of conjoined twins have been referred to the hospital for consideration. However, in many of these cases, separation was not medically possible. Olutoye, who has participated in five conjoined twins’ separation surgeries, two at Texas Children’s Hospital and three at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said he and a team of experts from various specialties look at every case very closely and consider many factors before deciding how to move forward.

“Separating conjoined twins takes a tremendous commitment,” Olutoye said. “We all are privileged and honored to be part of each and every case, especially the ones where we can help.”