January 29, 2019

The countdown clock is ticking. In less than 24 hours, Texas Children’s Nursing will host its sixth virtual town hall from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. this Wednesday, January 30, at the Pavilion for Women Conference Center.

Nursing has partnered with the Corporate Communications team to organize this event to engage our team of more than 3,000 dedicated nurses that make up Texas Children’s largest employee population.

Hosted by Chief Nursing Officer Mary Jo Andre’, the town hall will include an overview of the nursing strategic plan, facility updates, as well as time for Q&A.

“By leveraging new technology at our town halls, we are able to engage with more of our nursing team members – near and far,” Andre’ said. “As our team continues to grow, it will be increasingly important for us to leverage technology and continue to identify innovative ways to enhance communication.”

For nurses who cannot attend the live event, there will be several gathering locations to view the live stream:

  • Wallace Tower – D.1200.31
  • West Campus – WC.150.20
  • Health Centers – Sugar Land, Cy-Fair, The Woodlands, Kingwood, Clear Lake, Bellaire
  • The Centers for Women and Children – Greenspoint, Southwest
  • The Woodlands Hospital – Conference Room A

Click here for instructions on how to access the livestream.

Forming your own huddles? Please submit sign-in sheet to jcchilds@texaschildrens.org.

January 28, 2019

The waiting room and infusion area of Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers turned into a full-fledged Houston Astros fan fest last week when players Tony Kemp and Robinson Chirinos as well as Orbit, the team’s mascot, came through to brighten the days of many of our patients and their families.

The visit was part of the Houston Astros Caravan, a yearly event that occurs prior to the onset of spring training to pump up fans for the upcoming season. Presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors, this year’s caravan kicked off January 22 and ended January 24 with stops in cities across Texas.

“The caravan is our last push to get people excited about the upcoming season,” said Rachel Bubier, an Astros community relations representative. “We are delighted that Texas Children’s is one of our stops.”

For more than an hour on the 14th floor of Wallace Tower, Chirinos and Kemp hugged, high-fived, visited with and took selfies with patients and families awaiting treatment or appointments in the Cancer Center. The players also decorated ball caps and pennants with the children and families.

The supplies for the art projects were provided by the Sunshine Kids Foundation, which has a partnership with the Astros to provide regular visits to Houston area children’s hospitals. The group’s aim is to provide patients and families with exciting, positive group activities, so they can have fun and celebrate life, even in the hospital.

“The caravan is a great opportunity for patients and families to break away while waiting for their treatment or for an appointment with their physician,” said Jennifer Wisler, director of children’s services with the Sunshine Kids Foundation. “We are thankful for the team’s dedication to such a worthwhile cause.”

Maria Lujan said the visit from the Astros and Sunshine Kids was a pleasant surprise, especially for her 7-year-old son Sam Lujan, who has been coming to the Cancer Center since May.

“When they have events like this it’s so nice,” Lujan said. “It distracts him from what he’s going though while he’s here.”

Dr. Susan Blaney, director of Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers, attended the event and said respites such as these are greatly appreciated.

“Our patients, families and staff work hard each and every day to combat cancer,” Blaney said. “Adding some fun to that hard work is always a bonus, and we are thankful that the Astros and Sunshine Kids provided that opportunity.”

The 2017 World Series champs Houston Astros will start their new season March 28 on the road against the Tampa Bay Rays.

The first home game will be April 5 against their American League West rival Oakland A’s.

Nearly 80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented, yet cardiovascular disease continues to be the No. 1 health threat facing women. When it comes to preventing the disease and taking care of your heart health, knowing your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and body mass index (BMI) numbers is the best place to start.

Join the Employee Medical Clinic this Friday, February 1, for “Go Red for Women Day,” featuring free heart education and blood pressure screenings for all Texas Children’s employees. Clinic staff will be on hand from 11 a.m.to 1 p.m., at the entrance of the Fresh Bistro in the Pavilion for Women at the Medical Center campus to conduct the screenings and provide employees with the critical personal health numbers that can help assess their risk for heart disease and stroke. Amplify unity by wearing red to show your support!

Launched by the American Heart Association, Go Red for Women is a comprehensive platform designed to encourage women to take charge of their own heart health and increase awareness of cardiovascular disease, which causes 1 in 3 deaths among women each year.

Wear Red for a Complimentary Heart-Healthy Sweet
Texas Children’s is also partnering with Morrison Chefs on Friday, February 1, to offer heart-healthy meal options in celebration of Go Red for Women. With the purchase of a heart-healthy meal, Texas Children’s badge holders wearing red will receive a complimentary heart-healthy sweet during lunchtime at the Pavilion for Women Fresh Bistro, Dot’s Cafeteria at West Campus and the coffee shop and café at The Woodlands. Sweets will be available while supplies last.

Healthy Heart Program
Your Employee Medical Clinic offers a Healthy Heart Program year-round at no cost to our employees. The program features three individual sessions with a registered dietitian who will work with you to improve your blood pressure and/or cholesterol through healthy lifestyle modifications, including nutrition, physical activity, stress management and blood pressure monitoring.

For more information about the Healthy Heart Program or to make an appointment, please call 832-824-2424.

Cigna Health Coaching and Heart Health Programs
Cigna provides complimentary health coaching to help employees achieve their health and well-being goals, as well as manage and prevent chronic conditions like hypertension, hyperlipidemia, coronary artery disease, heart failure and many more. These programs will help you understand your condition and provide education and resources to support you in your health journey, while also developing individualized goals to help you make meaningful, healthy lifestyle changes.

To learn more about these Cigna programs, contact Staci Tobolowsky Astrein, Cigna’s on-site health coach at Texas Children’s, at 832-824-3068 or sxtobolo@texaschildrens.org.

January 22, 2019

Since the launch of Patient Access 2.0 Initiative in October 2018, Texas Children’s already has received positive feedback from patient families who describe online scheduling as “simple and convenient.”

“I was surprised that Texas Children’s had this option,” wrote a Texas Children’s family. “It was very convenient and the scheduling process was very easy and streamlined.” Another patient family wrote, “I found the online scheduling button on my child’s physician’s profile page, which I love and appreciated.”

During the first wave of implementation in November, eight specialties went live with online scheduling. The online scheduling option, offered in both English and Spanish, allows current patients, new patients and referred patients to schedule appointments via DocASAP, Texas Children’s online scheduling partner. Patients and their families can also use this new online tool to schedule clinical appointments in Austin.

Patients can access the online scheduling button on Texas Children’s homepage. Once this button is clicked from the homepage, patients land on the new texaschildrens.org/appointment page and can view all scheduling options available. Patients can also access online scheduling directly from provider profiles and department pages, where the scheduling tool appears to schedule a visit with a provider.

On January 23, 11 more specialties – Adolescent Sports Medicine, Centers for Women and Children Women’s Services, Genetics, Infectious diseases, Nephrology, Neurosurgery, Otolaryngology, Pediatric Surgery, Retrovirology, Rheumatology and Orthopedics – went live with this new online feature.

The third wave of online scheduling will go live in March 2019. Once implemented, a total of 30 specialties will be offering this online scheduling option to their patients across the hospital system.

To date, 220 patients have already used DocASAP to schedule their appointments.

Space utilization initiative improves patient access, volume

A major contributor to patient access is the ability to use space within the Texas Children’s system effectively by identifying when and where space is available to optimize patient throughput.

In September 2018, Texas Children’s Space Utilization Initiative and Transition Experience (SUITE) Team tested the concept of space sharing on floors 8 and 9 in Mark Wallace Tower over a 3-month period. The purpose of this initiative was to identify any underutilized or vacant space and determine if another clinic can temporarily “touchdown” in the vacant space to see patients coming in for a clinical appointment.

The team found that provider absences whether it be PTO, conferences and inpatient service rounds equated to 10 to 20 percent of exam rooms being open at any given time. Transparency around when and where these openings occur allowed other providers to request and use the rooms for clinic sessions with their patients. Of the 103 four-hour clinic sessions requested in our first pilot, 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.

In the short time since the space testing initiative began, clinic staff have already noticed a difference.

“We appreciate this project as it has helped our clinic easily identify where and when space is available,” said Orthopedics Practice Administrator Laurie Roy. “We now have a process to quickly approve or decline requests which saves time.”

Other patient access improvements

Texas Children’s patients and their families continue to benefit from the hospital’s patient access improvements that were implemented last fiscal year. Below is an update on where we are today:

Standard clinic sessions: After evaluating 944 provider templates, additional slots were found where physicians could see patients for a duration of four hours. By standardizing clinic sessions for all specialties, 53,000 new appointments were added to the system that had not existed before.

MyChart (online patient portal) activation: Since launching the MyChart Challenge to engage teams around the patient access initiative, Texas Children’s has seen an increase in the number of patients signing up for MyChart. In Oct. 2017, the organization had less than 8,000 monthly activations compared to over 18,000 in March. To date, Texas Children’s has a total of 72,006 same-day MyChart activations.

MyChart and DocASAP direct scheduling: More than 2,000 patients have already used this MyChart feature to schedule their return appointments. In FY18, more than 20 specialties have gone live with online scheduling for MyChart users making the scheduling process easier for over 3,330 patients. To date, more than 200 appointments have been made via DocASAP.

Electronic Waitlist: Since implementing this feature on MyChart that automatically offers up available appointments via text or email to patients desiring a sooner appointment, approximately 1,000 patients have accepted an appointment on average 55 days earlier than their prior appointment.

Referrals: Referral processes were also streamlined which eliminated the 60 different referral processes that previously existed across the system, thus making scheduling visits easier. The hospital has seen a 74 percent increase in captured referrals since June 2018 with central transcription team in place.

January 15, 2019


Want to help build a generation of healthy, active children? Sign them up for the 2019 Houston Texans Kids Triathlon and Texas Children’s Hospital will pay their registration fee.

As the event’s presenting sponsor, the hospital will foot the bill for 50 children of Texas Children’s employees to participate in the event slated for April 27 and 28 at NRG Stadium. The complimentary registrations are not retroactive, therefore if you have already signed up for the event, we cannot provide a reimbursement.

Drawing more than 3,000 participants ages 6 to 15, the event is expected to be the largest USATriathlon sanctioned kids triathlon in the world for the fourth consecutive year.

Click here for more information.

If you are interested in receiving one of the complimentary spots, please fill out this form and submit it to chris.kidstriathlon@gmail.com.

Another way to participate in the event is to volunteer! This event presented by Texas Children’s Hospital would not be possible without our wonderful volunteers. This year’s event is expected to draw more than 3,000 participants and 10,000 spectators. In total, we need about 350 volunteers to run a safe, efficient event. If you are interested in signing up, click here.

January 7, 2019

‘Twas the week before Christmas when patients, families and staff at Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands welcomed a very special visitor. But it wasn’t Santa Claus, nor his elves. It was the All-Star shortstop for the Houston Astros – Carlos Correa.

The first stop on the visit was the main lobby, where Correa met with some of our cancer patients and their families before a dedication ceremony for the piano Correa donated last year after an inspiring visit to our campus in The Woodlands.

“The work that I saw being done here and the quality of the care the doctors and staff were providing was breathtaking,” Correa said. “It’s a privilege for me to be able to try and create a special experience for the patients and their families with my piano, and I hope it will provide a joyful distraction and entertainment for many years to come.”

To dedicate the instrument, Dr. Ricky Flores, clinical director of Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers at The Woodlands, played “Stella del mattino (Morning Star),” a piece whose beautiful simplicity he connects with the patients for whom Texas Children’s cares – who he says are simply beautiful.

“This piano has been an amazing gift to have here,” Flores said. “Many patients, and even some of our providers, have played it and enjoyed it so much. We are very grateful to Carlos for it.”

Following the ceremony, Correa and members of his family paid a special visit to the Acute Care Floor. They took time to pose for photos and to speak individually with several patients and their families who have spent the holidays in the hospital. Correa even talked favorite superheroes and movies. For those families, it was a holiday visit they surely won’t forget.

“I would like to thank the doctors, the patients and the staff at Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands for inviting me,” Correa said. “I greatly admire the capabilities and commitment of the care providers and was inspired to witness the strength and courage of the patients they are treating. I hope my visit brought some happiness, joy and motivation for these wonderful people.”

Toss out those rigid and complicated New Year’s resolutions! Instead, kickstart 2019 by setting your intentions with One Word and gaining the tools and knowledge to become a healthier, happier you – not just for the year, but for life.

Join your Employee Well-Being and EAP Plus teams for the first Kickstart 2019 Workshop Series, which will feature the following activities and sessions:

Create Your Well-Being Vision – Choose one word that sums up how you want to be or live this year, then learn how to build the lifelong skills and behaviors you need to create and follow healthy habits that stick.

Ready to get started? We are too! Click here for the My One Word goal card and post it somewhere visible to maintain inspiration throughout the year.

Mastering Meal Prep – Eating healthy is all about the preparation. Learn how to master meal prep, from navigating the grocery store, to identifying the tools that should become your best friends in the kitchen, to finding easy recipes that you can cook in bulk. Meal prep is a tool that can be utilized by everyone, whether you are new to the kitchen or a well-seasoned home chef.

Fundamentals of Fitness – With all the fresh motivation the new year gives you to achieve your fitness goals, you’re primed and ready to tone up – but where and how exactly do you start? Get ready for a dynamic discussion about building a new workout routine and putting it into action.

Focusing Daily Energy – Between work, family and other responsibilities, our lives pull us in so many directions each day. Learn how to focus and shift your energy to the right places, at the right times. Make more mindful choices on how you spend your time and connect with people who bring positive energy.

Register Today
Click here for a full schedule of the Kickstart 2019 Workshop Series, including all session dates and locations. Class space is limited, register today.

Ready, Set, Win in 2019 with WW and New Fitness Partnerships
Weight Watchers is now “WW,” a reimagined and revamped program designed to inspire healthy habits for real life for people, families and communities around the world. WW is about more than weight loss; it’s about providing participants with a partner in wellness – whether that means eating better, moving more, developing a positive mindset, taking pounds off the scale or all of the above. WW also includes the new WellnessWins™ rewards program to recognize members at every steps of their wellness journey.

Click here to check out the new WW and join from January 2-25 to be enrolled in the Jumpstart Promotion, and as a new members, you’ll receive a free gift.

Texas Children’s badge holders receive reduced monthly membership rates, waived enrollment fees, and discounted programs and services from a variety of wellness partners. Click here to learn more about all of Texas Children’s wellness partnerships.

Introducing ClassPass, our newest wellness partner, offering one of the world’s most flexible memberships that allows you to work out where you want, when you want and how you want. Click here to learn more.

If you have any questions, contact the Well-Being team at wellbeing@texaschildrens.org.