May 13, 2019

Last month, Texas Children’s Department of Surgery leadership announced that Dr. Paul Austin was named Texas Children’s new chief of Urology, the third Urology chief in the hospital’s 65-year history.

“I’m excited that Dr. Austin has accepted the position of chief of Urology at Texas Children’s,” said Surgeon-in-Chief Dr. Larry Hollier. “His clinical experience, combined with a successful research program, provides a wonderful foundation for the future of Pediatric Urology at Texas Children’s.”

Austin assumes the helm of the division from Dr. David Roth, who has served as chief of Urology for the past seven years and helped recruit Austin nearly two years ago. Under Roth’s leadership, Texas Children’s Division of Urology grew from three physicians and an advanced practice provider (APP) to one of the largest programs in the country, with 10 urologists, two research PhDs and six APPs. During this time, the division of Urology’s national status steadily improved and the program is currently ranked No. 4 in country according to U.S. News & World Report.

“I have enjoyed the growth of our division and appreciate the support of our leadership and administration,” Roth said. “I am excited that Dr. Austin is continuing the tradition of leadership for the Division of Urology that began with Dr. Edmond Gonzales over 40 years ago. He is an internationally recognized leader in pediatric pelvic health and is the right person to lead our division for years to come.”

Austin currently serves as Director of Texas Children’s Complex Urologic Reconstruction Program and Director of the Pediatric Urology Basic Science Research Program. He has co-authored more than a hundred articles and 25 book chapters, has edited four textbooks, and has three grants totaling more than $2.5 million in National Institutes of Health R01 funding.

Austin is also the current president of the American Association of Pediatric Urologists (AAPU) – one of the best-respected and most important societies for pediatric urologists in the United States – an organization that Roth co-founded more than 30 years ago.

“Since I first attended AAPU with a mentor of mine in 1996, it has been my favorite conference of the year,” Austin said. “It’s always a special time of learning, networking and collaboration. The sheer variety of talks and topics is always amazing, and the way these experts challenge each other, but in a respectful way, has always been a hallmark of the event. That is thanks to Dr. Roth’s vision, and it’s my honor to serve as AAPU president this year.”

Austin brings a bright and multifaceted vision for the future to the Division of Urology. In addition to keeping our clinical care at the forefront of pediatric urology on a national level, he wants to enhance the division’s capabilities in the treatment of complex urologic conditions and in research.

“Everyone has their niche, and you have to be aware of your team members’ passions and think about how you can help them grow and develop their talents, whether that be in patient care, education and teaching, or research,” Austin said. “My main goals are to grow our basic and clinical research enterprise, to provide encouragement, motivation and support that will lead our people to continued excellence and achievement in patient care, basic and clinical research, in competition for research prizes, and in leadership roles in the greater field of pediatric urology, and to foster multidisciplinary collaboration between Urology and other divisions and services across the Texas Children’s system.”

About Pediatric Urology at Texas Children’s

The Division of Urology at Texas Children’s Hospital offers the most advanced surgical care for routine urological needs as well as genitourinary problems related to congenital birth defects, trauma and a range of other medical conditions.

The division provides specialized, multidisciplinary care and expertise in fetal medicine, spina bifida, renal stone disease, gender medicine and complex urologic care. The division has also established a transition urologic care process that allows adolescent patients to transfer care to adult care providers.

We work closely with child-life specialists, who provide support to help patients and their families cope with the challenges frequently presented by urological disorders. Transitional follow-up care is provided for adolescent patients as they progress to adult care.

Learn more about Urology at Texas Children’s.

May 6, 2019

Last year, Texas Children’s Health Plan celebrated the fifth anniversary of The Center for Children and Women. With two locations, the center has prospered and continues to provide high-quality community-based primary health care. Learn more by visiting our 2018 virtual Annual Report.

Texas Children’s celebrated Laboratory Professionals Week April 21-27 with a variety of activities and events. Many were honored for their tenure in the department and others for their dedication to the mission of the profession.

“Laboratory Professionals Week provides the profession with a unique opportunity to increase public understanding of and appreciation for clinical laboratory personnel,” said Texas Children’s Director of Pathology Ann O’Connell. “The clinical laboratorian is a key member of our health care team, playing an increasingly vital role in the diagnosis and prevention of disease.”

The Texas Children’s Department of Pathology hosted two lectures and an awards ceremony during Laboratory Professionals Week. The first lecture honored Texas Children’s former Division Chief of Clinical Pathology and current Director of Pathology Informatics Gregory Buffone, Ph.D.

Buffone, who will soon retire after 40 years with Texas Children’s, has served in many roles in the Department of Pathology, always as a passionate advocate for patient safety and quality in laboratory medicine. In addition to a dedicated laboratory professional, Buffone also is an avid photographer. As a tribute to Buffone and his contributions to the Department of Pathology, several of his images are on permanent display in the Pathology Gresik Conference Room in the basement of the West Tower Building.

Pathologist-in-Chief Dr. James Versalovic celebrated his 10th anniversary as head of the Department of Pathology at Texas Children’s. Versalovic has been with Texas Children’s for nearly 18 years and has made significant strides in the Department of Pathology, growing the department’s faculty and clinical staff two fold. He spearheaded the creation of the Genomic Medicine and Transfusion Safety divisions and invested time and effort in growing the Texas Children’s Microbiome Center. Versalovic also led a multitude of critical initiatives across the organization. He was instrumental in the creation of the innovative partnership with Quest Diagnostics and most recently has worked on the adoption and implementation of Epic Beaker.

“Please join me in congratulating Jim on this milestone, and for his superb leadership and the incredible achievements he has accomplished during his tenure,” Texas Children’s President and CEO Mark Wallace said. “We look forward to celebrating many more years of success with him!”

The annual Virginia Deeken Memorial Lecture presented by Aaron West Assistant Director also included two types of awards. The GJ Buffone Pathology Improvement Award recipients Dr. James Dunn, Clarah Mutandiro, Amber Ashgar, Marcus Mpwo, Awilda Rivera and Rina Riordan won the award for their Improved Turnaround Time for Urine Culture Reporting initiative. The Individual Excellence Award recipients were Purnima Rania and Renee Webb. The award honors employees who consistently going above and beyond expectations of job performance.

“Thank you for all of your hard work and contributions toward the care and diagnosis of our so many complex patients,” said Executive Vice President Mark Mullarkey. “Your work is endless, 24/7/365 and it directly impacts the care delivered to our patients we serve.”

April 29, 2019

Dr. Nilesh Desai, Division Chief of Neuroradiology at Texas Children’s, recently received the Edward. B. Singleton Award. This prestigious award acknowledges faculty within Radiology whose outstanding leadership and/or contribution to the mission of the department has a significant and positive impact on advancing patient care, education, research or Texas Children’s core values.

Desai is committed to providing excellent patient care by his willingness to speak with families outside the reading room and will offer support in this manner if needed. He has given families his personal cell phone number to follow-up with him anytime on concerns and does not shy away from interacting with patient families. He is very helpful and pleasant when contacted by technologists for assistance and is supportive of the leadership team. He is a respectful and passionate leader who motivates others to challenge themselves on seeking new ways on how to approach challenges and improve results.

Desai performs all aspects of neuroradiology and fetal imaging. His research interests include brain injury in congenital heart disease, non-accidental trauma and sickle cell anemia. He is a member of numerous organizations including the American College of Radiology, American Societies of Neuroradiology and Pediatric Neuroradiology, Children’s Oncology Group and the Society for Pediatric Radiology.

This award was named in memory of Dr. Singleton, an early pioneer in radiology and long-time physician at Texas Children’s.

April 23, 2019

Know a team member who exemplifies our mission and core values? Help us recognize and reward your colleague as a Super Star! To nominate, click read more.

April 22, 2019

The Purple Songs Can Fly documentary, “Journey to Hope,” was recognized with the Platinum Remi Award at the 2019 WorldFest-Houston.

“My father must have orchestrated this from heaven along with all the other angels watching over Mia, Layla, Dominic, Emily, Stephen and Christian,” said Anita Kruse, founder and executive director of Purple Songs Can Fly. “Thank you. Your love is eternal and shows us that hope is always here. This one’s for you.”

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 were thrilled to be included in this year’s line up at WorldFest-Houston, alongside many other wonderful, independent films,” Kruse said. “It was 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, showcased 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.”

To view the trailer, visit “Journey to Hope.” For more information about Purple Songs Can Fly, visit and for more information about 2019 WorldFest-Houston, visit

Bert Gumeringer, vice president of Facilities Operations and Support Services at Texas Children’s, received the 2019 Executive of the Year Award from the Texas Association of Healthcare Facilities Management (TAHFM).

This prestigious award recognizes an active TAHFM member who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and achievements in the field. Gumeringer received the award at the annual TAHFM Interlink Conference in April, where he was recognized for his leadership as past president and for his many contributions to the growth of the organization, which is now the largest community of health care facilities management professionals in Texas.

“I am so grateful to receive this incredible honor,” Gumeringer said. “I’ve done a lot for the TAHFM organization over the years, and I’ve always done it out of my spirit of volunteerism and education. I’m honored to receive this award, and I look forward to working with our members to continue to build on the great work that we started.”

At Texas Children’s Hospital, Gumeringer’s leadership has been instrumental in helping the organization cultivate and sustain an environment that is safe, clean and customer-focused that fully supports the hospital’s mission.

As vice president of Facilities Operations and Support Services, Gumeringer oversees a team of more than 1,000 who handle the daily operations and maintenance of all of Texas Children’s owned and leased buildings, which equates to 12.2 million square feet of space spanning over 125 locations across Greater Houston and Austin.

Gumeringer credits his team for helping to lead the organization through several transformations including the successful implementation of Mission Control, which has helped reduce transportation times, improve the patient acceptance process and optimize system communications. By successfully bringing the hospital’s operations into a unified state-of-the-art command center, Texas Children’s received the coveted 2017 Excellence in Healthcare Facility Management Award from the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE).

Gumeringer and his team have also been involved in other system wide initiatives including implementing new traffic flow processes for valet parking so families can get to their appointments on time; revamping shipping and receiving processes to ensure timely delivery of supplies; and leveraging vendor relationships to maximize the full value of every contract, while reducing operational costs and growing our hospital’s savings year-over-year.

Gumeringer says one thing he is most proud of is working with Texas Children’s Physician-in-Chief Dr. Mark W. Kline and the Baylor Pediatric AIDS Initiative (BIPAI) to develop training programs for facilities and IT professionals at the Centers of Excellence (COE’s) in Africa and Romania. BIPAI has developed a network of clinics that treat patients with pediatric AIDS and other diseases. Collaborating with the International Facility Management Association (IFMA), Gumeringer and his team were able to provide training in facility maintenance, financial management, project management and emergency management on site in Africa. Through this program five trainees have now been certified by IFMA as Facility Management Professionals overseeing facilities and IT operations at their respective COE’s.

Beyond his leadership responsibilities at Texas Children’s, Gumeringer also devotes much of his time serving the community. He currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Rise School of Houston, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to ensuring students with and without disabilities have access to a first-class education.

“Texas Children’s has had a long partnership with the Rise School that helps children discover their potential for achieving great things in life,” Gumeringer said. “My son, who has developmental disabilities, has had a profound influence on what I think and believe as a leader. Some of my best leadership lessons I have learned from him.”