April 2, 2019

The 2019 WorldFest-Houston will shine light on pediatric cancer with the showing of the Purple Songs Can Fly documentary, “Journey to Hope.”

Purple Songs Can Fly, the first recording studio created on a pediatric cancer floor, was founded in 2006 at Texas Children’s Hospital. Thirteen years and thousands of songs later, six childhood cancer patients, Mia, Layla, Dominic, Emily, Stephen and Christian, come together as survivors to share “Journey to Hope,” an original musical featuring their own songs. Written and recorded in the Purple Songs Can Fly studio during their individual cancer journeys, these songs were created as a way to express the myriad of emotions and feelings a pediatric cancer diagnosis may bring.

“We’re thrilled to be included in this year’s line up at WorldFest-Houston, alongside many other wonderful, independent films,” said Anita Kruse, founder and executive director of Purple Songs Can Fly. “This is a great stage for our story to be told, truly shining a light on pediatric cancer.”

Now in its 52nd year, WorldFest, the Houston International Film Festival, will showcase more than 60 new independent feature films and more than 100 award-winning shorts from around the globe. The WorldFest mission is to recognize and honor outstanding creative achievement in film and video, while educating and introducing excellence in cinematic arts for the promotion of cultural tourism in Houston. Founded in 1961 as an international film society, it evolved into a competitive international film festival in 1968, and became the third such festival in North America, following San Francisco and New York.

“We’re so proud of Anita and the incredible patients who created such a beautiful film,” said Carol Herron, coordinator of the Periwinkle Arts In Medicine Program at Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers. “Purple Songs Can Fly has provided hundreds of patients and siblings the gift of sharing their journey through song, and we are so grateful for the opportunity to share this special piece with our community.”

The Purple Songs Can Fly documentary, “Journey to Hope” will be shown at 3 p.m. Sunday, Apr at Memorial City Cinemark 16 Theaters, located at Memorial City Mall, 301 Memorial Way in Houston. All events are open to the general public. Tickets start at $7.50 for matinees and are available online https://worldfest.org or at the Cinemark Memorial City box office.

To view the trailer, visit “Journey to Hope.” For more information about Purple Songs Can Fly, visit http://www.purplesongcanfly.org/ and for more information about 2019 WorldFest-Houston, visit http://www.worldfest.org/.

Hundreds of employees took their first look at Texas Children’s Well-Being Studio last week, exploring the bright new space on West Tower 20 that provides our one amazing team a convenient place at the Medical Center campus to turn holistic health goals into action and amplify unity through group classes at no cost.

Members of the Benefits & Well-Being team greeted attendees at the Open House for the Well-Being Studio, where classes officially began on March 25.

Employees snacked on healthy refreshments, infused waters and fruit smoothies as they walked through the nearly 2,000-square-foot space with room for classes of up to 40 participants. Click here for a full class schedule, including Yoga, Zumba, Barre, Core Blast, Gentle Stretch, Mindful Morning and more.

What was once the Heart Center waiting area has been transformed, with a new Well-Being Studio logo etched on the glass entry doors; open shelving for storage of personal belongings during class sessions; and fitness equipment that includes kettlebells, dumbbells, yoga mats, resistance bands, Pilates balls and foam rollers. A dedicated tranquility room is coming soon.

“The Well-Being Studio is another step toward our goal to have a healthy and strong workforce. It’s something people are engaged and excited about, and something we’ve consistently heard that our employees want,” said Vice President Jermaine Monroe. “Texas Children’s provides exceptional care to our patients and families and in order for that to happen, we have to empower and support our employees in their own well-being journeys.”

At the Well-Being Wheel, Open House guests met studio instructors while performing squats, push-ups, dumbbell curls and other light exercises to earn raffle prizes. There was also a table showcasing information about proper nutrition, and an interactive display on self-care where employees could create their own relaxing glitter wands.

Given a sneak peek and special opportunity to try classes at the studio a week early, wellness ambassadors – trained employees who agree to take an active role in raising awareness about on-site wellness offerings at Texas Children’s – said their colleagues would be pleased to finally have such a facility available.

“I’m a big proponent of being your best self. You can’t take care of patients if you’re not well yourself; you can’t pour from an empty cup,” said Brittany Walters, a wellness ambassador and clinical nurse coordinator in International Patient Services. “This studio is really important because it helps with work-life balance. You can come to work and have a place to refresh and rejuvenate.”

For more information about the Well-Being Studio, including how to register as a member and attend a class, visit the studio page on Connect.

On March 25, the first patient was seen in the new expansion of Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus Sleep Center. Going from six beds on the fourth floor, to nine beds with six available for future expansion on the second floor, the center will now be able to improve access for patients waiting to be treated for sleep conditions.

“We get about 40 to 50 referrals for a sleep study per day,” Neurophysiology Manager Wes Moulden said. “We were looking at anywhere between three to seven month wait times. Now that we have expanded the sleep lab we’ll be able to start diagnosing more children with sleep disorders, and doing sleep studies more efficiently.”

Texas Children’s Sleep Center is one of the few accredited centers in the country specializing in children’s sleep disorders. A sleep disorder is a disruption in a child’s normal sleeping pattern. The sleep center evaluates and treats common sleep disorders in children including problems falling asleep or staying asleep, sleepwalking and abnormal movements during sleep.

“An accredited pediatric sleep center is very rare and all three of our sleep labs have that recognition, Moulden said. “Another unique thing about our sleep center from a diagnostic standpoint, is that all of our technologists are registered technologists who have been formally educated and trained in this skill which is not normally the case.”

Our prestigious credentials also draws the attention of patients from all over the country to our sleep centers. In 2013, Maria Wilson moved her family to Houston from Idaho so that her daughter Sophia could be treated at our sleep center for what was eventually diagnosed as narcolepsy.

“I knew it was going to be a better situation,” Wilson said. “It was very nerve racking and I was nervous, but I knew it was a better move for us to be seeing doctors that have more experience with my daughter’s condition.”

Since being diagnosed and treated frequently at our West Campus Sleep Center for the past six years, Maria says that Sophia is doing much better and is also receiving a great deal of help as they prepare to transition out of the pediatric care system.

“We love Texas Children’s Hospital! After we got established as patients, we got to know the doctors and built relationships with them. That really helped her quality of life when it comes to going to school and functioning better overall,” Wilson said. “Now she’s transferring slowly to adult doctors, and I’m kind of sad. But for us, we love Texas Children’s, we love the doctors and nurses here, and the care that she’s received, so it is comforting to know that we have them in our corner.”

Last week the sleep center team members, administration, and executives gathered on the second floor of West Campus for a ribbon cutting that marked the opening of four sleep clinics, and nine sleep lab beds.

“I wanted to thank all physician leaders, operations leadership, and anyone who had a hand in this much needed expansion,” Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus Vice-President Ivett Shah said. “Texas Children’s is dedicated to improving access to care and this expansion is another way that West Campus continues to provide high-quality care to the West Houston community and throughout the state of Texas.”

The rooms in the sleep center also have the capacity to perform electroencephalogram studies during the day (EEG), in-room monitoring devices, and a host of other quality equipment to ensure sleep studies are carried out properly, along with a scorer/nurse workroom.

“This space was specifically created with the comfort of the patient in mind,” West Campus Respiratory Care and Clinical Support Services Assistant Director Gbolahan Harris said. “Having these clinics and labs in one space helps to reduce patient and family anxiety while normalizing the experience for a sleep study within the sleep center.”

Rooms on the floor also have the flexibility to be converted back into Acute Care beds if West Campus reaches a point where there is a need.

In addition to larger rooms and more workspace, the idea was to increase the number of providers as well. Prior to opening the expansion Lacie Petitto began as the first full-time nurse-practitioner that will be working in the clinic.

“My background is in sleep medicine so I am so excited for the expansion and my new opportunity to treat children in the sleep center,” Petitto said. “When I was approached by the sleep division for this leadership position I was overjoyed to be a part of this opening. This type of work helps feed my passion for sleep medicine and treating patients with sleep disorders.”

Although they are not board certified to read sleep studies, however clinically, Advance Practice Nurses (APN) can see the patients, assess, diagnose, and treat them as well. This allows clinic volumes to open and more patients are seen and treated in a much more efficient way.

“That’s never been done before at Texas Children’s as far as having a full-time nurse practitioner for sleep,” Moulden said. “The center is multi-faceted we have a variety of providers. Some are neurologists, some are pulmonologists, and we are the primary pediatric partner for the Baylor College of Medicine Sleep Fellowship program where we train physicians as well.”

The ultimate goal of the sleep center moving forward is to continue to provide the same high-level services, but on a larger scale.

“Sleep providers should have dreams, and their dreams should come true as they have today,” Texas Children’s Sleep Center Medical Director Dr. Daniel Glaze said. “We anticipate a lot of work, but it will also be a lot of fun. We look for this to be a model for other sleep institutions, and are committed to providing the best diagnostic and overall care for children with sleep complications.”

Texas Children’s employees are now just a phone call or secure video conference away from connecting with board-certified doctors and pediatricians anytime, anywhere, for more than a dozen common or chronic health conditions.

All employees and their eligible dependents who are enrolled in a Texas Children’s medical plan have access to Cigna Telehealth, a new benefit introduced during 2019 Annual Enrollment. Eligible members can use Cigna Telehealth to reach a doctor from home or when traveling throughout the United States, for a variety of general issues: allergies, fevers, headaches, infections, insect bites, nausea, joint aches and more. Pediatric care for your covered dependents is also available via Telehealth for cold and flu, constipation, nausea, pink eye and earaches in children.

Consultation and prescribing are provided 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, by doctors from Amwell, a leading telehealth platform. All telehealth consultations are subject to the same confidentiality requirements that apply to consultations in a doctor’s office. Simply follow these instructions to download the Amwell for Cigna app to register, find a doctor and access services via phone or video for a $20 co-payment under Texas Children’s Traditional Plan, or a 20 percent coinsurance under the Consumer Plus Plan. For more information about Telehealth, click here to view this short video or visit our Benefits website (scroll down to Telehealth). Employees are highly encouraged to download the Amwell for Cigna app to their phones today and register their information in advance so they and their covered dependents can utilize the service immediately when a need arises.

Some members who have already used Telehealth have shared that the service has been a welcome addition to their Cigna benefits. Others have expressed how impressed they were by how easy it is to navigate and use the app, and how quickly they were connected with a doctor after requesting an appointment.

One Texas Children’s employee recently used Telehealth for her 12-year-old son, who needed treatment for an itchy and rapidly spreading rash. With the pediatrician’s office closed and her son more miserable by the minute, she downloaded the Amwell for Cigna app. The employee found it easy to enter relevant health history and upload pictures of the rash, and had a diagnosis from a doctor and a prescription called in to their pharmacy. The whole process took less than 30 minutes.

When another employee developed a case of poison ivy on a recent weekend, she downloaded the app and was face to face with a doctor via video conference in what she expressed “seemed like no time at all.”

Questions?
Please contact our Total Rewards team at 832-824-2421, select option 1 and then 7 to speak to a Benefits team member from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday or email totalrewards@texaschildrens.org.

Already used Cigna Telehealth?
We want your feedback on this new benefit offering! Please share your experiences with us via email at wellbeing@texaschildrens.org.

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 19, 2019

Patients along with their family members and even neighbors had the opportunity to enjoy Spring Break at an event hosted by The Center for Children and Women that included tons of family fun open to the community. The Center invited families to take part in over-the-top entertainment all while picking up a few health and wellness tips to get kids through the remainder of the school year.

The Center introduced this event about 5 years ago targeting physical fitness strategies and goals for children. This year they decided to bring this family affair back for Nutrition month.

“We have a lot of tips on nutrition, some on healthy snack options, along with resources that perhaps they would not have known about if they had not attended this event,” Marketing Manager at Texas Children’s Health Plan, Veronica Arzayus said. “We also welcome the opportunity for the community to see the Center and all the wonderful services that it offers while enjoying the festivities. This is definitely something that you would want to take your kids to in a safe and comfortable environment.”

This two-weekday event was held last week at The Center’s Greenspoint location on Wednesday and at the Southwest location on Friday. Despite unexpected rain and thunderstorms on the first day, according to The Health Plan, over 500 attendees flooded The Center as activities were brought inside.

Events such as this are important as one of our system-wide operational goals focuses on childhood obesity. The goal is to help prevent diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol in children, and promote a healthier lifestyle overall.

“It is important to shine a positive spotlight on healthy nutrition, activity, exercise, etc., all while engaging with the community in a meaningful way,” Vice President of Texas Children’s Health Plan, Tangula Taylor said. “I think that’s part of us giving back, helping, assisting, partnering with our community, the families that we serve to share healthy lifestyle options and alternatives that can have an impact on their overall quality of life.”

Along with providing educational material on nutrition, thanks to the corporate sponsors of the event, The Houston Food Bank, the Houston Dynamo, corporate partners, The Children’s Museum of Houston and Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Houston, and community partner Kids Meals, there were also food and activities for the entire family to encourage exercise and healthy eating habits.

Other activities included, mini Zumba lessons, music and fun performances with a live DJ, face painting, an inflatable obstacle course hula hoop/ jump rope competitions, and a healthy snack tasting challenge.

With a total of over 800 participants for both days this year, The Center is excited to see this event continue annually.

“I’d like to see it grow. When you have an event such as this, you want it to be successful in terms of the number of participants, target audience, and then, once it’s successful, you want it to grow,” Taylor said. “We want to connect with more families, tell them about the Health Plan and the Center and ultimately be a partner for them along their health and wellness journey.”

Invigorate your mind, body and spirit at Texas Children’s new Well-Being Studio, which opens Monday, March 25 on the 20th floor of West Tower at the Medical Center campus. Whether you want to find your Zen in a Mindful Morning class or burn some calories in Zumba, the studio provides our employees a dedicated space to turn holistic health goals into action and amplify unity with colleagues through group classes.

The Well-Being Studio is part of the Human Resource team’s continuous efforts to bring new programs and services that support our employees in achieving a healthier, more active lifestyle. The studio offers employees and BCM employees working on-site at Texas Children’s locations a full slate of classes for a variety of work schedules, interests and abilities. Employees are welcome to participate at no cost and at any location. Please click here for the Class Schedule.

Join us for Our Open House!
Tuesday, March 26 | 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
West Tower- Floor 20
During the Open House, you will have the opportunity to tour the studio space, enjoy healthy refreshments, and learn more about the upcoming well-being classes and offerings.

What can I expect at the Well-Being Studio?
Formerly the Heart Center waiting area, the Well-Being Studio comprises nearly 2,000 square feet of open space for classes of up to 40 participants. Restrooms and water fountains are located just nearby, and open shelves are available for storage of personal items. As there are no locker rooms or showers in the studio, the class schedule has been designed for the more high-intensity, high-energy classes to take place after 5 p.m.

I want to take a class at the Well-Being Studio. How do I get started?
First, click here to register as a member and complete the release and waiver of liability forms.
Next, submit your completed forms in person before a class.
Once we have your forms, you will receive a sticker to put on your employee badge.
Finally, check out the Class Schedule and attend the sessions that interest you! The sticker on your badge will let us know your forms have been submitted and you’re cleared to participate.

What should I know about taking a class?
Class space is limited and participants are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis, so be sure to arrive at the Well-Being Studio on time or even slightly early for your desired session.
To get to the studio, take the express elevators in the West Tower lobby. You’ll need your badge to access the 20th floor.
Remember to wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing or exercise attire.

Not located near the Medical Center campus? We have also added well-being classes at Texas Children’s community campuses.

Health Plan: Boot Camp classes on Mondays from 5-6 p.m., and Tuesdays from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., at the Fitness Center in the basement. Note, you must work in the Health Plan building to attend these classes.
Meyer Building: Boot camp classes on Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., on the roof of Garage 19. All employees are welcome.
The Woodlands: Boot camp classes on Wednesdays from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., on the garage roof. All employees are welcome.
West Campus: Zumba classes on Tuesdays from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., in WB.505.21 Ballroom on the 5th floor. All employees are welcome.

Texas Children’s badge holders can also receive reduced monthly membership rates, waived enrollment fees and discounted programs and services from numerous well-being partners. ClassPass, our newest partner, offers one of the world’s most flexible memberships that allows you to work out where you want, when you want and how you want – including on-demand videos and live-streaming classes. Visit the Well-Being page on Connect to learn more.

The Well-Being team would love to hear your questions and comments about the Well-Being Studio and all of our well-being offerings! Send us a message at wellbeing@texaschildrens.org.