July 23, 2019

On January 18, Project Pinball Charity donated a limited edition pinball machine to Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands to help entertain and ease the minds of patients and their families.

Project Pinball is a non-profit charity organization that places pinball machines in children’s hospitals and Ronald McDonald Houses to introduce therapeutic benefits to kids in a unique, fun, and engaging way.

“It is a distraction for children who want to get their mind off of being in the hospital, but also an opportunity to do something that gets you on your feet instead of staying on the bed or chair playing video games and watching television,” Manager of Emergency Management, Aaron Freedkin said. “Beyond that, therapeutically this machine can help with standing balance, hand-eye coordination, and building relationships between the patient and Child Life Specialists when they interact with each other on two-player games.”

The initial impulse behind this gift derived from Freedkin’s passion for both the Texas Children’s mission and playing pinball. After learning about Project Pinball Charity, he initiated contact and was ecstatic to find out that they would be able to donate a machine to Texas Children’s Hospital. From there, he managed the project with the charity. With additional help from a local arcade business, The Game Preserve, the community helped raise enough money for Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands to be the first hospital in Houston to receive this generous gift.

After about a 10-minute assembly process, representatives from Project Pinball Charity and The Game Preserve officially dedicated the new addition to the third floor Child Life Teen Room.

When asked why this donation was important to be a part of, Rusty Key, co-owner of The Game Preserve, pointed to the patients walking into the room to see the new game and said emotionally, “That is the reason. Just seeing their faces light up is why I work so hard to give back to the community.”

As a frequent pinball player in his spare time, 16-year-old patient Bobby Reeder made his way to be the first person to try the new pinball machine out.

“Before coming here, I didn’t know that the hospital even had one of these rooms, Reeder said. “I was so excited when I found out there was going to be a pinball machine.”

Project Pinball will maintain ownership of the machine when it comes to maintenance and will also train employees on simple repairs if necessary. Their dedication to providing patients with new therapeutic benefits and overall entertainment in the hospital is expected to expand to Texas Children’s West Campus and other hospitals in Houston.

The organization’s Senior Founder and Director, Daniel Spolar, expressed that his joy and passion towards donating to children’s’ hospitals is due to his own personal experience when his son was hospitalized.

“I know first-hand how it can be for children in these situations while my son was going through treatments. I want to do whatever I can to help ease their minds in the hospital while enjoying something that I can relate to,” Spolar said. “We are a grassroots company out of Florida whose purpose is to give back to the community, and we are excited to be able to expand to Texas Children’s Hospital.”

Texas Children’s Hospital has created Child Life activity spaces at each hospital to provide a fun, safe and procedure-free environment for our inpatient population and their families. The majority of the toys and gaming systems available for patients are generously donated from many community organizations. The latest donation serves as a new way for patients to have enjoyable activities during their stay.

“We are excited to have this new addition to our teen room! It is important for us to help patients cope and decrease any anxiety they may have, Child Life Specialist Amy Malespin said. “This pinball machine is yet another unique method of distraction for both patients and their families.”

It may feel like the Sahara when you step outside and you’re probably still planning a summer vacation; but ready or not, the first day of school is around the corner.

Thanks to the annual Back to School Fair, hosted by Texas Children’s Health Plan, our member families will be in great shape. The fair – taking place on three different days – will ensure that members have free backpacks, school supplies and are on the road to better health.

Health screenings and vaccines will also be available.

“We are so excited to once again host an event that means so much to our families,” said Alejandra Lima, event manager for Texas Children’s Health Plan. “Everyone knows that the first weeks of school set the tone for the rest of the year. We are proud to get our member families off to a strong start with our fair.”

Want to volunteer?
The planning team is still in need of volunteers for the events. Please check out the link below and sign up. As a Texas Children’s employee you are automatically cleared to volunteer and signing up is easy. Just click on the link below.

Save the dates!

Port Arthur
Friday, July 26
10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Central Mall
3100 FM 365
Port Arthur, Texas 77642

Saturday, August 3
10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Macroplaza Mall
171 Pasadena Town Square Mall
Pasadena, TX 77506

Saturday, August 10
8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
504 W. 32 Street
Tyler, TX 75702

Learn more about the event at healthy4school.org or call 1-800-990-8247.

Krisanne Graves recently visited Vietnam with a group of volunteers and shares how their charitable efforts brought smiles to the faces of many children in need of foster care. Read more

July 16, 2019

Jenny Tcharmtchi shares her recent experience volunteering with her PICU colleagues at the Houston Food Bank and how their positive efforts are helping to create a healthier community for countless children and families in need. Read more

July 15, 2019

In the spirit of living compassionately for our growing workforce, Texas Children’s entered into a partnership with ComPsych in January to launch EAP Plus, an enhanced Employee Assistance Program that offers a wide variety of new services in addition to traditional counseling. In the first three months of the new service, more than 2,000 employees utilized EAP Plus services. This service has been a valuable asset to our employees and is now available to physicians and advanced practitioners in medical staffing working at Texas Children’s locations.

How can EAP Plus help?

Suppose you want to find the perfect amusement park for your vacation. Simply call EAP Plus on Texas Children’s dedicated phone line to connect with resource specialists who will listen to your questions and research answers tailor-made to your needs. Within a few business days, you’ll have a full report of practical information and affordable alternatives that can be delivered to you via e-mail, fax or second-day air.

There is virtually no limit to what the EAP Plus specialists can research and find for you:

  • Temporary child care
  • Summer camps for sports, theater, computing or any other interest
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • College summer learning programs for teens
  • Amusement parks or resorts in your area or across the county
  • Museums, science centers, zoos and aquariums your kids will love
  • Kid-friendly destinations across the U.S. and the globe
  • Concerts or exhibits coming to your area
  • The best hiking trails in your area for little legs
  • National Parks highlights
  • Kayaking and canoeing outfitters
  • The cleanest beaches with the safest waters
  • Considerations when traveling abroad with children
  • Country-specific resources for your overseas voyage
  • Minivan or car rental options
  • Pet care and boarding services
  • Fun and creative projects you can do at home
  • Ideas for outdoor grilling
  • Tips on growing your own vegetable garden
  • Bike sales and repairs, and more

No matter what you need to pull off the perfect summer, you can count on EAP Plus for information, resources and referrals. Confidential assistance is available at no cost 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for work-life planning and more. Click here to check out family travel tips from EAP Plus, including advice for traveling on a budget, surviving a road trip with the kids, packing up the pets, adjusting to work after returning from vacation and more.

How can I access my EAP Plus benefits?
Access your EAP Plus benefits in one of two ways:

  1. By calling 833.EAP.PLUS (833-327-7587) to connect with a certified counselor 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Representantes que hablan Español están disponibles.
  2. By visiting EAP Plus online at http://www.guidanceresources.com/
    Employees should then click “register” and enter EAPPLUS as the Organization Web ID.

What can an employee expect when they call EAP Plus?
When an employee calls, they will speak with a GuidanceConsultant, a masters- or doctorate-level counselor who will collect some general information and listen to the employee’s concerns. The GuidanceConsultant will then provide a referral to a local counselor who best fits the employee’s unique needs. The employee can then set up an appointment to speak with the counselor over the phone or schedule a face-to-face visit. EAP Plus is strictly confidential.

What counseling services will EAP Plus provide?
EAP Plus provides free short-term counseling with local counselors who can help employees with emotional concerns. If the counselor determines that the issues can be resolved with short-term counseling, the employee will receive counseling through EAP Plus. However, if it is determined that the problem cannot be resolved in short-term counseling, and longer-term treatment is needed, the employee will be referred to a specialist early on, and the employee’s insurance coverage will be activated.

On his blog this week, Mark Wallace shares highlights of his visit at Texas Children’s Specialty Care Austin for the first New Employee Pep Rally in the area. Mr. Wallace officially welcomed nearly 70 new employees, physicians and staff to our one amazing team, who are excited about what we are bringing to Austin! Read more

July 2, 2019

As the nation celebrates Independence Day on July 4, Maria Dahl reflects on her service in the U.S. Army and how her experiences inspired her to pursue a career in nursing. Read more