June 24, 2019

It’s time for the annual Periwinkle Kickball Classic, an event that raises money for an organization that provides healing programs and camps to children, young adults and families who are challenged by cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.

The one-day tournament will be held Saturday, November 2, at the Houston Sportsplex and ANYONE age 14 or older is eligible to play.

Each team is made up of at least 10 players, five of whom must be female. To enter, each team must raise at least $500.

This year, there will be two divisions:

“Just for Fun” – where your team will play in three round robin games in the morning but not compete in the playoffs.

“In It to Win It” – where your team will play in a multi-game tournament (each team is guaranteed three games). There will be champions in the Gold, Silver & Bronze brackets. We will also have a separate Texas Children’s Hospital bracket and crown a Texas Children’s champion.

Upon registering, you will select which division your team will compete in.

Click here to sign up your team today.

June 18, 2019

Melissa Nugent shares how Texas Children’s Well-being Studio is helping her reach her fitness goals and encourages her colleagues to take advantage of this great resource. More

June 17, 2019

No matter your goal – to lose weight, eat better, move more, develop a more positive mindset or all of the above – this summer is a great time to take advantage of Texas Children’s ongoing partnership with WW, the newly reimagined Weight Watchers program.

WW offers effective science-based programs, tools and experiences that encourage healthy eating and are flexible enough to fit into your daily life. Employees who sign up through Texas Children’s receive more than 50 percent off their WW membership, with the option to participate online or attend unlimited, in-person workshops in the community or right here at work.

WW meetings are held from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., every Tuesday at Feigin Tower. Check out the Connect calendar for exact room locations, and click here for more information about Texas Children’s reduced membership pricing.

Sample WW recipes

Visit the Fresh Bistro in the Pavilion for Women, Dots Café at West Campus, and The Woodlands Cafeteria during the week of June 17-21 for WW recipes, recipe cards, and point values displayed for grab-and-go items.

Featured menu items include:

  • Salmon with roasted chickpeas and veggies
  • Rigatoni with turkey sausage and kale

Get a free WW Insiders Box

Employees who purchase a WW membership between June 17 and July 26 are also eligible to receive a free Insiders Box, featuring mini cookbooks, a sampling of bestselling WW products, exclusive access wellness partners, and $35 in coupons. New members have until August 9 to redeem their kit. Click here for Insiders Box details.

For more information about Texas Children’s partnership with WW and enrolling in the program, visit the Human Resources Well-Being page on Connect or contact the Well-Being team at wellbeing@texaschildrens.org.

In 2018, The Walt Disney Company’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Robert Iger announced that Disney will dedicate more than $100 million to bring comfort to children and their families in hospitals across the globe, beginning right here at Texas Children’s. Learn more by visiting our 2018 virtual Annual Report.

Although great strides have been made in the battle against pediatric cancer, some children still do not survive. When this occurs, Texas Children’s does its best to envelop families with love, support and knowledge on how they can cope with such a profound loss.

One such program offered to bereaved families by Texas Children’s Cancer Center is the Retreat for Renewal. The weekend retreat is held at Camp for All in Burton, TX and features fun activities, as well as therapeutic breakout sessions for reflection and expression.

“Retreat for Renewal is a safe space where families can express their feelings and meet other people who are going through similar situations,” said Nicolle Bengtson, a Child Life Specialist involved in the program. “The experience really allows these families to bond and open up about their individual experiences.”

Funded by the Cancer Center and generous donors, Retreat for Renewal has been offered for almost a decade. However, the retreat primarily served English speaking families. This year Retiro de Renovación had its inaugural year. This retreat was created for Spanish speaking families.

Attended by eight families, Retiro de Renovación was held in March and included a combination of fun camp activities, and therapeutic breakout sessions. Bengtson and Child Life Specialist Alyssa DeMoss organized the retreat after experiencing the continued success of the Retreat of Renewal and identifying an unmet need for additional emotional support for the Cancer Center’s bereaved Spanish speaking families, in the language that felt the most comforting to them.

“We are excited to offer even more families this level of bereavement support,” DeMoss said. “It was really beautiful to see the parents and siblings at the retreat connect, and watch as the families created a new and meaningful support network.”

Many of the families expressed how much the retreat meant to them in written comments. One family wrote that it was nice to be able to share their stories with other families going through the same thing. Another family mentioned meeting others who were going through a similar situation made them feel less alone.

“It was nice to take time to remember our loved ones,” the family member said.

The Spanish-speaking retreat – Retiro de Renovaciόn – was funded by the Texas 4000 for Cancer cycling team, which rode 4,000-plus miles from Austin, TX to Anchorage, Alaska, in an effort to raise money for cancer-related programs and efforts.

The group donated $25,000 of their proceeds to Texas Children’s for the Retiro de Renovación. The Cancer Center is grateful for the donation and hopes to be able to hold future Spanish-speaking retreats.

June 11, 2019

More Texas Children’s Pediatrics patients over the age of 18 will have the opportunity for a smooth shift to adult care as the Transition Medicine program expands to include seven locations: Corinthian Pointe, East, Gulfgate, Gulfton, Kingsland, Palm Center, and Ripley House.

Transition Medicine is the process of educating, organizing and eventually transferring patient care from the pediatric to the adult health care system. During this time the patient and their parent are informed of various ways to optimize the patient’s health moving forward. Texas Children’s is dedicated to helping patients transfer care smoothly without a decline or break in their treatment.

In 2016 Dr. Cynthia Peacock, medical director of Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine’s Transition Medicine Clinic, was awarded the “Healthy Tomorrows Partnership for Children Program” 5-year grant from the Health Services Research Administration to increase transition readiness at Texas Children’s Pediatrics.

“I wrote the grant to help the Texas Children’s practices because lots of the referrals within the Texas Children’s family were struggling in the community to find someone to take care of them,” Peacock said. “This was especially prevalent amongst children and youth with special health care needs.”

The grant provides funding that also serves as an incentive to encourage clinics to become involved in the program and begin developing their own transition medicine process by educating their staff and providers.

“As we are providing care for an increasing number of complex care patients, our need to have a well-defined system for transitioning care to adult providers who are capable of continuing to provide the care these patients and their families need has never been greater,” Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Texas Children’s Pediatrics and Texas Children’s Urgent Care, Dr. Stan Spinner said. “Our partnership with Dr. Peacock is providing us with the education and the tools necessary to help ensure a successful transition for our patients and their families.”

Upon receiving the grant, Dr. Rebecca Laster was selected as the physician leader to work with the clinics and help them identify specific tools that they could use to promote transition readiness and transfer. Her experience as a physician in the community clinics sparked her desire to want to assist these patients during this transition.

“I always think back to a time when one of my patients had a really hard time transitioning to adult medicine. That made me want to learn more about the process so I could better assist them,” Laster said. “Although, we have a lot of patients who’d like to stay with us forever, sometimes that’s not appropriate because we’re not trained in adult care. Therefore, I have the transition conversation with every single one of my patients so they know how important it is to eventually find an adult physician, and if they can start the process of thinking about it early on then everybody’s prepared.”

Many young adults between the ages of 18 to 21 transition their care to adult providers when they leave for college or enter the workforce. But for those with complex chronic pediatric diseases, transitioning is a struggle filled with barriers and challenges that include patient maturity, psychosocial and family needs, coordination and reimbursement issues, and identification of adult providers able to care for unique patient populations.

“Coordination of care is essential to avoiding gaps in care and adverse health outcomes for our patients. This is especially true with our vulnerable populations who have multiple chronic illnesses and complex health and social needs,” Nurse Care Coordinator of Texas Children’s Pediatrics, Pam Brock said. “We help provide support and guidance to our patient/families in navigating this process and by making sure all needs are met prior to transition. This helps to ensure a smooth transfer and avoids disruptions in their care. This program has increased overall fund of knowledge surrounding transition and continues to help improve the transition process for our patient/families.”

Jimmy Garcia is a 20-year-old patient at the Texas Children’s Pediatrics Ripley House location and has recently transitioned to adult care at The Transition Medicine Clinic at Baylor College of Medicine (BMC). Garcia has a global developmental delay, cerebral palsy, scoliosis, an intellectual delay, and is also non-verbal and non-mobile. He has been a patient at Texas Children’s since he was only a few months old, and is one of the many patients who benefit from the Transition Medicine program as they get older. His mother, Cynthia Garcia says that she didn’t know what to expect during the transitioning process, and is thankful for the assistance that their physician provided.

“I still wanted him to continue to see Dr. Wright,” Garcia said. “She was such a great pediatrician to him and our family, and Jimmy just feels so comfortable with her. However, everyone in the office was very positive during the process and prepared and helped us to be comfortable with accepting that Jimmy was eventually going to leave them.”

Texas Children’s academic partnership with BCM allows for an effortless transition for our patients. The goal of the BMC clinic is to prevent urgent health care crisis and to minimize the impact of a shrinking social support network that these patients and families have come to rely on in the pediatric health care system. According to Garcia, transitioning into adult care was just as easy as transferring out of the pediatric system. Their pediatrician, along with the Garcia’s social worker were very instrumental in assisting with paperwork and other aspects of the process.

“When it came time to schedule Jimmy’s first appointment, it was so smooth and easy,” Garcia said. “Our first visit to the transition clinic was also amazing. It was a joy seeing everyone so accepting of Jimmy. When we go to the doctor now, he knows the clinic, and he recognizes the environment. Jimmy is non-verbal so he doesn’t exactly express his words or anything, but the smiles, his reactions, those are things that let us know he’s comfortable and he’s aware of his surroundings. He’s doing really well!”

The program began with two clinics during the pilot year and grew through the third year. While currently in its fourth year of the grant, the goal is to identify additional clinics that are willing to participate. At the beginning of the process, clinics sign a memorandum of understanding, then identify the activities they would like to implement and goals they want to achieve to help with addressing transition.

Patients like Garcia represent the hard work that the transition medicine team has put forth, and the success of the program as a whole allows for more practices to be added and even more patients to be helped. Identifying patients who will need help transitioning in the future is key.

“Transition is not an event, it’s a process,” Peacock said. “You can’t drop someone off at the curb. It’s really about making sure that they engage.”

Engaging with the teenager and parent to make sure they have a plan, looking into insurance options, knowing what the next steps will be in advance helps to facilitate the transfer more efficiently. All seven participating practices have done this and more as they recently met their goals for the 2018 grant cycle and are looking forward to celebrating their continued success.

“Texas Children’s Pediatrics is excited to have many locations become a part of the Transition Medicine Program,” President of Texas Children’s Pediatrics, Kay Tittle said. “The goal is that this success continues on past the length of the grant, more practices are added, and we to continue to address transition effectively.”

These clinics are provided with an array of resources in the form of trainings, Epic tools, and supports for developing their own transition initiatives. If you work with TCP and are interested in learning more about Transition Medicine and how you can help support these efforts, please reach out to Pam Brock, RN pmbrock@texaschildrens.org, or Dr. Rebecca Laster, rblaster@texaschildrens.org.

June 10, 2019

Camp Periwinkle Days came to the Cancer and Hematology Centers last week creating a fun surprise for patients and families arriving for their appointments.

“This could not have happened at a more perfect time,” said Sarah Payne as she watched her two daughters stuff with cotton a plush pig and monkey wearing astronaut outfits. “She was not excited about coming today.”

Organized by The Periwinkle Foundation and sponsored by Northwestern Mutual, the two-day affair included NASA-themed decorations and displays, various arts and crafts, face painting, games, music and more. The camp was held in the Cancer and Hematology Centers’ infusion and waiting room areas for easy access to all.

“Our goal is to bring the magic of summer camp to those who might not have otherwise have the opportunity to go,” said Doug Suggitt, executive director of The Periwinkle Foundation. “We are always so pleased to see the smiles on the faces of those who get to experience the camp and are thankful to our partners for making it such an impactful event for everyone involved.”

This is the ninth year Camp Periwinkle Days has been held at the Cancer and Hematology Centers and the third year for Northwestern Mutual to sponsor the event.

Northwestern Mutual Managing Partner Jeff Reeter volunteered at the camp and said it was a joy to participate in such a wonderful occasion.

“It’s a very heartwarming experience that probably impacts us more than the patients and families we encounter,” Reeter said. “We are so grateful to be a part of it.”

Director of Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers Dr. Susan Blaney said she is thankful for everyone who continues year after year to make the event such a success.

“Fighting cancer is hard,” Blaney said. “A little extra fun goes a long way for these patients, families and staff.”

To learn more about Camp Periwinkle click here. To learn more about Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers click here.