August 20, 2019

It’s that time of year again! As many people are preparing to send their children back to school, we asked employees how they prepare their household for the new school year.

Walking the halls of Texas Children’s you may see someone in a red vest offering assistance or providing some type of support. Those are our volunteers, who have played an important role in the organization’s success since day one.

This summer The Woodlands Campus adopted the junior volunteer program to offer opportunities to teenagers and provide more support for patient care.

The volunteer program began when Texas Children’s opened its doors in 1954. Over the years the program has expanded to over 800 diverse active Auxiliary members who support patients, families and hospital staff.

“The role of the volunteer has really changed over the decades,” Assistant Vice President, Clinical Support and Research Administration, Paige Schulz said. “One of the things that’s really significantly changed is originally it was only women that volunteered at Texas Children’s. And then that was from the ‘50s really until the ‘80s, and then men started volunteering a lot more with our organization.”

Click below to view a video about the system-wide junior volunteer program.

In 2017, West Campus began their junior volunteer program based off of several requests from the Katy community. As the campus grew over the years, so did the need for a program.

“The juniors make a big difference in the patient’s experience in the hospital,” West Campus Senior Volunteer Coordinator Nora Lopez said. “When the patient comes in and they go to visit the doctor, they are scared. So if they play with someone before they are seen by the doctor, or nurse, or prior to any procedure or surgery, the patient is most likely in a better mood. So it’s a win, win situation and it makes a big difference in the hospital.”

The Woodlands Volunteer Services Department selected 12 high school students with an interest in working in the healthcare field to engage in tasks that enhances patient experience, whether it is providing games for them to play, snacks like popcorn and tea, or just having someone to talk to their age.

“The best part is their energy. They bring an enormous amount of energy to the hospital and their energy is contagious and it’s been so wonderful to have that contagious positive energy around the hospital,” The Woodlands Senior Volunteer Coordinator Zett Small said. “We are grateful to have the best, brightest, and most talented kids volunteering with us.”

Anvi Sana is a 16-year-old aspiring pediatrician who has always dreamed of working at Texas Children’s. The summer junior volunteer opportunity at The Woodlands combined her love for kids and thirst for the knowledge of health care. Sana expressed how much of a learning experience volunteering was and why it is beneficial for someone her age.

“I think as a teenager it teaches you a lot about the different kinds of people that you’re going to run into in a hospital,” Sana said. “I think doing a program like this as a teenager kind of opens up your eyes to the number of different people that you’re going to see or come across when you’re working in a hospital.

Being a volunteer at Texas Children’s is not just a job it is an experience for all ages, and backgrounds with endless possibilities.

“What I like to say about the volunteers are that they are the heart and soul of this organization,” Schulz said. “I’m excited about just the opportunity for us to expand beyond what maybe is a traditional volunteer assignment.”

Click here for information about the volunteer program.

Texas Children’s Health & Well-Being team has partnered with colleagues from Environmental Health & Safety, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Occupational & Physical Therapy to launch this month the “We’ve Got Your Back” video series, which provides employees with expert advice and insight on preventing back pain in the workplace – no matter your location, shift or role.

We’ve Got Your Back Episode 3: Exercises to Help Prevent Back Pain

Now that you’ve learned about using ergonomics to set up a safe and comfortable work environment and practiced the proper body mechanics for lifting objects in the first two episodes of the series, check out Episode 3: Exercises to Help Prevent Back Pain for advice and guidance from Dr. David Hudspeth, an employee health physical therapist, board-certified orthopedic specialist and certified manual therapist in Texas Children’s Occupational & Physical Therapy department.

“Sometimes our day-to-day activities can result in lower back tightness and pain,” Hudspeth said. “Too much of a good thing – like sitting, standing or walking – can contribute to stresses on our body. One of the best ways to counteract these stresses is to perform a few simple exercises.”

Click here to begin the third episode of “We’ve Got Your Back” and explore how to prevent back pain by maintaining your flexibility and building core strength through the hamstring stretch, hip flexor stretch and plank. Once you’ve got those down, stay tuned! Hudspeth also explains how to progress in difficulty with each exercise to give your body even more of a challenge.

August 13, 2019

When you watch the news these days, it’s hard not to be inundated with tragic stories and heart-wrenching events happening around the world – with some hitting very close to home.

The recent shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, impacted many people throughout the country. While these tragic events could happen anywhere, you might be asking yourself, “What is Texas Children’s doing to keep our employees, staff, patients and their families safe?”

“Creating a safe workplace environment at Texas Children’s continues to remain a priority,” said Organizational Resilience Director James Mitchell. “Our collaborative efforts to keep employees safe has matured over the years to include active shooter and workplace violence training.”

Over the past several years, Mitchell and his team have gone from implementing table-top exercises on mass shooting incidents to large-scale exercises. Beginning in early 2017 through earlier this year, they have conducted large scale active shooter exercises at Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands, Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, Lester and Sue Smith Legacy Tower and at Texas Children’s Health Plan. Additional exercises will be planned for 2020.

Also, the successful implementation of Everbridge, the hospital’s emergency notification system, has allowed his team and others to alert all employees quickly and over various methods – phone, text and email – in the event of an emergency, including an active shooter event.

“Our security team, led by Mike Crum, will upon request, provide any department within the Texas Children’s system active shooter and/or workplace violence training,” Mitchell said. “Our Emergency Management team can also provide this type of training to our staff if necessary.”

Along with training programs, additional steps are underway at Texas Children’s to promote workplace safety, while also keeping the safety of our patients and their families in mind.

With more than 12-million square feet of space among our 125 Texas Children’s locations, there are multiple entrances and exits to our facilities, especially at our Medical Center campus. The organization is looking at ways to reduce entry points to improve better monitoring.

“Our team has conducted risk assessments at 18 of our Texas Children’s locations,” said Vice President of Facilities Operations Bert Gumeringer. “By the end of the year, we will have completed assessments at all of our Texas Children’s facilities. The information gathered from these locations will help us identify other safety measures we may consider putting in place.”

In addition to improved lighting in our parking lots and an increase in security presence in certain areas, Gumeringer and his team are looking into implementing a visitor management program in other areas of the hospital similar to the one in place at Lester and Sue Smith Legacy Tower. This program operates by having a security officer present on each floor of Legacy Tower. Before gaining entry, visitors must present a government issued ID and wear an ID wristband that is tied to the hospital’s database.

While Texas Children’s biggest violent threat continues to be domestic in nature, Texas Children’s understands that mass shootings are of concern and could happen anywhere. That’s why the organization will continue to train and prepare staff for such an event.

At Texas Children’s, every employee plays a role in promoting workplace safety. If you see something that isn’t right, say something so these potential safety concerns can be addressed.

If your department is interested in scheduling active shooter or workplace violence training, contact Michael Crum at

This year the tremendously anticipated Camp For All 2U event debuted at Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands. For the first time patients and their families were able to experience summer camp in all hospitals this summer.

Camp For All 2U is a unique, barrier-free camp that brings the same eventful camping experience to patients and their siblings. Many patients may have missed out on those valuable experiences because they are in the hospital.

“We were thrilled to bring Camp For All 2U here for our patients and families in this community,” Cynda Parrish. “The main goal is to bring fun and normalization to our patients and families here. To have the opportunity to engage in camp-like activities instead of just sitting around at home or in their hospital rooms is exciting.”

For a week in June and July the program transformed areas of hospitals into camp spaces providing patients, who may not get the experience of camp outside of the hospital, the opportunity to enjoy a variety of games and activities.

Canoeing and the pie throwing events are a favorite at the Medical Center Campus every year, and West Campus introduced a robotics activity that engaged patients in a whole new way. The Woodlands campus provided activities including a mad science experiment, canoeing, arts and crafts and a hospital favorite, horses!

The horses were brought to The Woodlands hospital by a local organization called Inspiration Ranch which provides therapy horses with a similar purpose as our therapy dogs. Patients were invited to pet and paint on the horses, and ultimately enjoy a moment that maybe rare for most of them.

Inspiration Ranch is a Premiere Accredited Center through the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International, which breaks down barriers and celebrates the inclusion of individuals with physical, emotional, and social disabilities. They offer exceptional equine-assisted therapy and activities in a loving Christian environment, providing hope and improving the lives of those with physical, mental, and emotional challenges through Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies.

“It’s a little different from therapy dogs when it comes to training because we have to put children on the horse, but the overall goal is the same, the therapeutic value.” President and CEO of Inspiration Ranch, MG Tindall said. “We know for a fact that being next to a horse is calming, they are non-judgmental, and they provided happiness along with and experience some children may not have had before. We appreciate Texas Children’s for allowing us to provide this for the patients.”

View photos from Camp For All 2U below.

Texas Children’s has been adapting camp activities for patients and their siblings in a hospital setting since 2016. Camp For All 2U West Campus was an expansion of the Medical Center Campus event and generously funded by community partner Wood.

“Camp For All 2U is just one of the many opportunities that we have available for patients and their families to enjoy this summer in the hospital,” Child Life Coordinator Mary Reddick said. “The Camp For All 2U staff makes it very easy to engage patients through a series of games and activities that they just love!”

After returning for the fourth consecutive year, an expanding to The Woodlands Campus this year, Child Life Specialist Sarah Herbek said that she is excited to see the program grow across the system and more patients are able to experience this amazing event.

“It feels great to know that Camp is reaching our Katy and Woodlands communities. Camp For All 2 U teaches kids what they can do, not what they can’t do,” Herbek said. “I love that Texas Children’s Hospital recognizes the importance of allowing kids to be kids and as we continue to grow as an institution, we still make it a priority to provide these types of programs for our patients and families.”

Although there is a pre-registration process, patients are more than welcome to join in on the fun if they happen to come across the camp activities at all campuses.

“Camp for All 2U brought tons of laughing and dancing from patients, smiles and excitement from employees, and tears from parents,” Parrish said. “We absolutely look forward to making this an annual event and provide more new and exciting things for the Woodlands community.”

For more information about Camp For All, visit

Texas Children’s Health & Well-Being team partnered with colleagues from Environmental Health & Safety, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Occupational & Physical Therapy in launching this month’s “We’ve Got Your Back” video series, which provides employees with expert advice and insight on how to prevent back pain in the workplace – no matter your location, shift or role.

After kicking off the series with a video focusing on using ergonomics to arrange your desk and work environment for optimal comfort and safety, this week’s installment will focus on proper lifting techniques. The episode will feature tips and information on proper body mechanics and techniques from physical therapist Meredith Howell, who also serves as sports PT residency director and site coordinator for clinical education on the Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation team.

“With the use of proper lifting techniques, back injuries can be prevented,” Howell said. “Setting up the environment to prepare for the lift, whether large or small, can improve safety. Always know that if the lift is challenging, you can reach out to team members for assistance.”

Click here to watch the second episode of the “We’ve Got Your Back” series and learn both what to do and what not to do when lifting, as well as the best practice to follow for lifting objects of all kinds: keeping your spine straight, using your legs and hips to complete the lift and lower the object back to the ground.

For the second consecutive year, Texas Children’s Hospital hosted a day of recognition for the families and survivors of Autoimmune Encephalitis (AE). Last year, the event was called a Day of Hope. This year it was called Day of Strength.

Organized by Pediatric Rheumatologist Dr. Eyal Muscal and held on July 27 at the United Way-Greater Houston, the purpose of the event was to provide a space for patients to receive updates about their disease, attend sessions about coping strategies, and take advantage of opportunities to connect with other AE patients and families. This year’s program focused on coping and resiliency and also included special activities to honor siblings of AE patients and, for the first time, breakout sessions for adult AE patients and families.

Various organizations participated in the event, including the Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis Foundation, Inc. Foundation President Nesrin Shaheen was a guest speaker at the event and addressed the importance and the huge strides that have been made by the AE Community of Caregivers and Survivors over the past 10 years in raising the profile of AE and particularly, anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis which still leads the pack in prevalence.

“We salute, Dr. Muscal for his enlightened leadership in recognizing the families affected by this important disease,” Shaheen said.

Muscal applauded everyone who participated in the event and to those who helped organize it, including Sarah Brock, Christina Cowperthwait, Monica Guevara and Chivon McMullen-Jackson.