July 21, 2015

72215WCSIU640Two nurses and a doctor donned personal protective equipment before entering the hospital room to check on the young patient who was exhibiting signs of a highly infectious disease.

While the physician patiently talked with the child’s worried mother, the nurses checked the patient’s vitals and drew a blood sample to be tested for diseases such as Ebola, Lassa and Marburg fevers.

A lab technician dressed in personal protective equipment gathered the blood sample and took it to a nearby lab that would produce results within hours.

Meanwhile, the doctor and nurses worked with a team of medical professionals watching and advising from an adjacent room equipped with an observation window to keep the patient stabilized.

Fortunately, this was not a real scene at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus but a detailed simulation that recently occurred in the soon-to-be-finished special isolation unit.

In October, the state-of-the-art facility will open its doors and a Special Response Team will stand ready to receive children suspected of having a highly contagious disease.

“Having a special isolation unit at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus will allow our system to offer our exemplary medical care to a very vulnerable population,” said West Campus President Chanda Cashen Chacón. “We have made tremendous progress since announcing the project in December and are still working full speed ahead.”

Construction on the eight-bed unit is near completion with operational planning, team training and final construction progressing rapidly. The project is like no other at Texas Children’s since the special isolation unit will incorporate all of the latest scientific and technological approaches to biocontainment, including negative air pressure, laminar air flow, high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration, separate ventilation, anterooms, biosafety cabinets, a specialized laboratory, special security access and autoclaves.

When complete, the unit will be fully equipped to care for any infant or child with a serious communicable disease, with all of the measures available to assure safety of the health care team, other patients and their families. The specialized biosafety level 3 laboratory will enable the care team to monitor the progress of patients and perform rapid detection methods to identify unusual pathogens.

Dr. Gordon Schutze will serve as medical director of the special isolation unit and Drs. Judith Campbell and Amy Arrington will be the unit’s associate medical directors. An elite volunteer-based team of experienced nurses and physicians – all of whom will have successfully completed an intensive advanced certification course and practicum in infection control, hospital epidemiology and management of infectious diseases in the critical care setting – will staff the unit.

Many members of the Special Response Team have been chosen, however recruitment for physicians, nurses, laboratory technicians and environmental services personnel is ongoing. To learn more about joining the Special Response Team, click here.

“The team that staffs this unit is key to making it successful,” Campbell said. “Many of our talented staff have stepped up to the plate to participate in this noble endeavor and we need more to raise their hands to volunteer.”

Another aspect of the unit that has recently ramped up is training and education. Led by Arrington, the training and education program for the special isolation unit is robust and has already included two almost full-day simulations. The first of which was a mid-construction simulation to assess any environmental issues important to the performance, health, comfort and safety of both our patients and our medical staff. The second simulation focused on clinical scenarios involving a patient suspected of having a highly contagious disease.

“The more we train the better off we will be in the event of an infected patient,” Arrington said. “It’s an ongoing process.”

When Cade Beasly’s parents got the news that their little boy was diagnosed with Osteo Sarcoma, it was a devastating moment that brought many fears. For nearly nine months, Cade underwent treatments that left him weak and tired. On May 27, Cade’s tests came back and he was finally declared cancer-free. He would no longer be spending hours at a time on the 14th floor of the Clinical Care Center as he endured pricks while receiving life-saving medications. Just a few weeks later, Cade was back for a special occasion. He was one of the first children to ring the end of treatment bell.

“It makes me so happy to see him ring that bell signaling the end of his treatment,” said Cade’s mom Jessica Peterson. “There are so many emotions when you reach the end of your child’s treatment, but this moment is definitely a happy one.”

Cade was there to join his friend Ethan Williamson who donated the bells, one on the inpatient cancer and hematology unit and one for the outpatient unit. Each Bell is placed next to a plaque that reads, “Let your strength and courage be felt by all, as this bell’s song fills this hall. For every time we hear this note, another life be filled with hope. Stay strong.”

The bells were unveiled during a ceremony within each unit that brought out patients, families and the cancer and hematology centers staff.

Purple Songs Can Fly artist and cancer survivor Christian Spear dedicated a song for the ceremony. Listen to the touching lyrics below.

72215ICD10640In less than 72 days, the codes that health care organizations use to report medical diagnoses and inpatient procedures will become standard across the globe. The federally-mandated conversion from ICD-9 to the expanded ICD-10 coding system will be implemented on October 1. This universal system will help us gather more accurate data, make more informed decisions and ultimately help us achieve better outcomes for our patients.

Texas Children’s ICD-10 preparedness teams have been working diligently for more than a year to ensure we are ready systemwide for this transition. We need you to be prepared as well. If you are a provider or a coder or work in any of the other impacted roles, make sure you complete the required training and education needed to ensure readiness.

Our goal is to reach 100 percent compliance by September 1, which is less than six weeks away.

Based on the latest education compliance statistics, we have a lot of work ahead of us to successfully achieve this organization-wide endeavor. Currently, 11 percent of Texas Children’s providers and 7 percent of nonclinical employees have completed their mandatory educational requirements. By educating ourselves over the next few weeks, the result will be a smooth transition come October 1.

Texas Children’s has partnered with Baylor College of Medicine to provide e-learning videos for our medical staff. Each clinical service area and identified departments have been assigned a self-paced learning module. The ICD-10 education team has prepared an area-specific curriculum for nonclinical employees that is available online through Health Stream.

To access the ICD-10 physician learning modules:
Go to www.healthstream.com/hlc/bcom.

Step 1: Enter your user name and password to log in:

  • Baylor providers – enter your current Baylor user ID and your employee identification number (typically a 5 or 6-digit number. If you need to reset your password, contact the Baylor Help Desk at 713-798-8737.
  • Texas Children’s and Texas Children’s Pediatrics providers – enter your NT login (Epic login). Then, enter this password: icd10. You will be prompted to reset your password.

Step 2: Access your specialty’s courses:

  • Select the My Learning tab at the top left of the screen
  • View the list of courses required for your specialty
    • Note: The assessment at the end of the course must be completed in order for the course to be marked as complete.
  • Optional: If you are interested in accessing other courses:
  • Click on the Catalog tab
  • Type in the specialty of interest to enroll in an additional course

All of the courses have been reviewed and approved by the appropriate section lead.
Note: CME credits are available for the general courses. These courses require a pre- and post-quiz to fulfill CME credits, and only on their completion will the courses be marked “complete.”

If you have questions with the Precyse learning modules, email Marcy Medlak at mamedlak@texaschildrens.org

To access the ICD-10 nonclinical learning modules:

To view, log into Health Stream (http://decisioncritical.ad.texaschildrenshospital.org/)

Step 1: Choose student/manager role. The courses are directly assigned to you.

Step 2: Click “Enroll in this course” to view.

Below are links to a quick fact sheet and helpful sites with basic information on ICD-10 to see how this change will impact your own medical record documentation:

ICD-10 Video
ICD-10 Fact Sheet
ICD-10 Industry Updates
ICD-10 Myths and Facts

July 14, 2015

71515HeartFAILUREICU640Texas Children’s Heart Center and the section of Critical Care Medicine cut the ribbon July 6 on a new, first-of-its-kind pediatric Heart Failure Intensive Care Unit. This highly-specialized 12-bed unit focuses on the treatment of children with heart failure, as well as those requiring intensive care before and after heart transplant.

“We are thrilled to be the first in the nation to offer this highly-specialized level of pediatric critical care,” said Dr. Paul Checchia, medical director of the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at Texas Children’s Hospital. “Patient outcomes will only continue to improve as we treat their unique needs in this new setting.”

Checchia and Dr. Lara Shekerdemian, chief of critical care medicine at Texas Children’s Hospital, oversee the unit. Drs. Antonio Cabrera and Jack Price, associate professors of pediatrics-cardiology and critical care at Baylor, serve as associate medical directors of the unit. Shekerdemian had the honor of leading the recent ribbon cutting, which was attended by attended by the CVICU team, Heart Center leadership, Physician-in-Chief Dr. Mark W. Kline, Surgeon-in-Chief Dr. Charles D. Fraser Jr., Chief of Pediatric Cardiology Dr. Daniel Penny, and other Texas Children’s leaders.

“We are excited about our additional capacity and space to care for our critically ill cardiovascular patients in a less congested and more family supportive setting, said Kerry Sembera, a heart center clinical liaison.

Sembera and Gail Parazynski, assistant vice president of Critical Care, worked in collaboration with physician leadership to execute a successful intensive care room design as well as plan for safe transition of patients to this new environment. Patient Care Manager Amanada Wollam in partnership with the CVICU nursing team, were enthusiastic champions of the unit leading to a seamless transition.

The heart failure and cardiac transplantation programs at Texas Children’s Heart Center are among the largest and most successful programs in the world. More than 650 cardiomyopathy patients are cared for each year by a team of physicians, nurse coordinators and administrative personnel. When a transplant is not immediately available, a variety of circulatory support devices are used as a bridge to transplantation. Currently, Texas Children’s Heart Center is able to offer a wide range of mechanical circulatory support devices, as well as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), to children whose hearts are failing: Maquet Rotaflow, Cardiac Assist Tandem Heart, Thoratec Paracorporeal VAD (ventricular assist device), Thoratec HeartMate II, Berlin Heart EXCOR, Heartware LVAD and Syncardia Total Artificial Heart.

June 10, 2015

61015adelinemata640Formerly conjoined twin Adeline Faith Mata joined her family June 9 after being discharged from Texas Children’s Hospital. Her sister, Knatalye Hope, went home May 8, less than three months after she and Adeline underwent a successful separation surgery.

Dressed in matching striped pastel sundresses and accompanied by their 5-year-old brother, Azariah, the girls sat on their parents’ laps and smiled for cameras capturing the memorable event.

“We are so pleased with the progress of both Adeline and Knatalye following their first-of-its-kind separation surgery earlier this year,” said Dr. Darrell Cass, pediatric surgeon, co-director of Texas Children’s Fetal Center and associate professor of surgery, pediatrics and obstetrics and gynecology at Baylor College of Medicine. “They will both require additional therapies as they continue to grow, but we are thrilled with their outcomes and are optimistic they will continue to do very well.”

The Mata family will reside in Houston temporarily for follow-up appointments at the hospital before returning to their hometown of Lubbock.

“The past year has been such a whirlwind for our family and we are so thankful we can finally have both girls home with us,” said Elysse Mata, mother of the twins. “In addition to the great care our girls received, the thoughts, prayers and outpouring of love from the community really helped get us through the last year and we are grateful for everyone’s continued support.”

Knatalye and Adeline were born on April 11 at 3:41 a.m. at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, estimated to weigh 3 pounds, 7 ounces each. Delivered via Caesarean-section at 31 weeks gestation, Knatalye and Adeline were welcomed by their parents, Elysse and John Eric Mata, and their older brother, Azariah.

The family learned during a routine ultrasound on Jan. 13, 2014 that Elysse was carrying twins and they were conjoined. Subsequently, the family was referred to Texas Children’s Fetal Center where they underwent extensive prenatal imaging, multidisciplinary consultation and development of plans to achieve a safe delivery and postnatal care.

The girls spent the first 10 months of their lives in the Level IV neonatal intensive care unit at Texas Children’s. In December 2014, they underwent chest and abdomen area. The tissue expanders helped to stretch their skin in preparation for the separation surgery.

During their historic separation surgery in February, a team of more than 26 clinicians including 12 surgeons, six anesthesiologists and eight surgical nurses, among others, worked together to separate the girls who shared a chest wall, lungs, pericardial sac (the lining of the heart), diaphragm, liver, intestines, colon and pelvis. During the complex surgery, the team worked for approximately 23 hours on Knatalye and 26 hours on Adeline with the official separation occurring approximately 18 hours into the surgery. Among the surgical subspecialties involved were pediatric surgery, plastic surgery, cardiovascular surgery, urology, liver transplant surgery, orthopedic surgery and pediatric gynecology.

Following their separation surgery, the girls were cared for by a multidisciplinary team in the hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit before moving to lower-acuity units prior to discharge. Both girls also underwent additional surgeries including the removal of rods from their pelvises and the placement of a gastrostomy button in each girl. Adeline also underwent a tracheostomy surgery in April to aid in her breathing and lung development and was discharged on a ventilator to provide additional breathing support. Knatalye and Adeline continue to receive physical and occupational therapy after recovering from surgery and will be carefully followed by pediatric subspecialty experts.

“When I first met the Mata family and learned of the diagnosis, I was optimistic we would have a positive outcome,” Cass said.  “It is with great joy to watch them leave the hospital and I look forward to the day Elysse shares with me pictures of them walking into kindergarten together.”

March 10, 2015

bench and beside Header

Bench and Bedside is a digest of the previous month’s stories about the clinical and academic activities of our physicians and scientists. We welcome your submissions and feedback.

Top news story


Hope, faith and expertise: Surgical team leads historical Mata conjoined twins surgery

Knatalye Hope and Adeline Faith Mata, conjoined twin girls born at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women in April 2014, underwent a successful separation surgery on February 17 at Texas Children’s Hospital. Led by surgeon Dr. Darrell Cass, a team of more than 26 clinicians worked together for more than a day to separate the girls who shared a chest wall, lungs, pericardial sac, diaphragm, liver, intestines, colon and pelvis. Watch the video or read the story for a behind-the-scenes look at this monumental undertaking.

February 25

Surgical Seed Grant Award recipients named

Six researchers representing congenital heart surgery, general surgery, ophthalmology and plastic surgery were recently named the recipients of the 2015 Surgical Seed Grant Awards given by the Department of Surgery. This grant program allows surgery researchers to generate the preliminary data necessary for National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant applications and other extramural funding. In total, more than $275,000 in grants will be awarded to the following recipients:

  • Ophthalmologist Dr. Lingun Kong Intravitreal Polymer Nanoparticle Drug Delivery System for Treatment of Retinopathy of Prematurity
  • Congenital Heart Surgeon Dr. Carlos Mery Development of a Novel Open Fetal Cardiac Surgical Intervention for Creation of an Atrial Septal Defect in Patients with Hypoplastic left Heart Syndrome & an Intact or Highly Restrictive Atrial Septum
  • Plastic Surgeon Dr. Edward Buchanan Psychometric Assessment of the Medical Interview in the Pediatric Population
  • Congenital Heart Surgeon Dr. Iki Adachi Pediatric Myocardial Alterations in Response to Ventricular Assist Devices
  • Ophthalmologist Dr. Mohamed Hussein Exploring the Role of the Choroid and the Autonomic Innervation in the Development of Retinopathy of Prematurity
  • Pediatric General Surgeon Dr. Sanjeev Vasudevan A “Pan-Omic” Analysis of Vascular Invasion in Pediatric Solid Tumors

Read more about the Surgical Seed Grant Awards.

February 24


Luna co-leads GI study to offer hope for son, children with autism spectrum disorders

Have you ever wondered why life leads us down certain career paths? For Dr. Ruth Ann Luna, the answer is obvious – her immense curiosity and passion for research to improve the quality of life for sick children. As director of Medical Metagenomics at Texas Children’s Microbiome Center, Luna focuses much of her research on the link between disturbances in the gut microbiome – bacterial communities in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract – and GI symptoms in children. Read more

February 17

Texas Children’s expands its subspecialty, therapy services to Kingwood

Quality is key, but convenience also plays a big part in the decision-making process when parents are looking for subspecialty and therapy services. That’s why Texas Children’s works to make such services convenient to families throughout the Greater Houston area. The organization’s most recent efforts focus on Kingwood, where Texas Children’s Specialty Care at Kingwood Glen recently, and Texas Children’s Hospital Outpatient Therapy at Kingwood Glen and Texas Children’s Hospital Sports Medicine Therapy at Kingwood Glen opened in October. Read more


Multidisciplinary care enhances outcomes for women with placenta accreta

Due to our success in treating the most severe cases of morbidly adherent placenta, Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women continues to attract numerous patients from across the country. With the rise of caesarean births in the U.S., this potentially life-threatening condition is becoming more common among pregnant women. Morbidly adherent placenta – known as placenta accreta, increta or percreta, depending on the depth of uterine invasion – occurs when the placenta and its blood vessels grow deeply into the wall of the uterus and is unable to detach after childbirth. “The number of women we care for with morbidly adherent placenta is rapidly escalating as our outcomes continue to attract a growing number of referrals,” said Texas Children’s OB/GYN-in-Chief Dr. Michael Belfort, a world-renowned placenta accreta expert and founder of the Morbidly Adherent Placenta Program at Baylor College of Medicine. Read more

Texas Children’s Pediatrics opens sixth Community Cares practice

In February, Texas Children’s Pediatrics announced Texas Children’s Pediatrics Kingsland as its newest practice. Located at 21715 Kingsland Blvd., Suite 103, in Katy, Texas Children’s Pediatrics Kingsland is among six practices in the Texas Children’s Pediatrics Community Cares Program. The Community Cares Program provides trusted, high-quality pediatric medical services for children who otherwise would seek care from emergency rooms or possibly go without care or treatment due to low family incomes and/or lack of health insurance. Dr. Punita Sunder serves as the primary physician at Texas Children’s Pediatrics Kingsland. Board certified by the American Board of Pediatrics, Sunder received her undergraduate degree from Rice University and earned her medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine. She earned her doctorate in philosophy from The University of Texas Medical Branch and completed her residency at Baylor. Read more

February 10


3-D Model of Mata twins helps surgeons prepare for girls’ separation

In the months before the separation surgery of conjoined twin girls Knatalye Hope and Adeline Faith Mata, comprehensive, multidisciplinary planning was underway. With help from a Dallas printing company, Chief of Radiology Research and Cardiac Imaging Dr. Rajesh Krishnamurthy built a 3-D model of the twins’ anatomy to help surgeons plan for the girls’ separation. The model was built using a computerized image data set of the twins and a 3-D printer. The detailed model includes a detachable, transparent liver and was especially helpful in the planning of the pelvic portion of the surgery, which presented an interesting and challenging anatomical situation because each girl had her own pelvic organs but each of those organs received blood supply from the other girl. Watch the video or read the story about the 3-D model. Read more

Friends, colleagues attend Singleton tribute ceremony

Family, friends and former colleagues of the late Dr. Edward B. Singleton, Chief Emeritus of the Edward B. Singleton Department of Pediatric Radiology, gathered to celebrate the life of the late physician and relive their favorite memories of the jovial Singleton. Browse the photo gallery to see some of the moments from this tribute ceremony. View the photo gallery.

February 9


Milewicz named chief surgical officer at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus

In February, Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus announced Dr. Allen Milewicz as chief surgical officer. In his new role, Milewicz will be responsible for organizing Texas Children’s surgery within the community, focusing on Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus. Additionally, he will be working in conjunction with the entire Texas Children’s Department of Surgery to optimize surgical service for patients, families and referring physicians. “I look forward to expanding surgical services in the community while ensuring that each patient receives the experience, expertise and clinical outcomes for which Texas Children’s is known,” Milewicz said. Read more

February 6

Cutting Edge of Pediatrics conference draws more than 100 participants

The first “Cutting Edge of Pediatrics” conference sponsored by the Department of Surgery was held in January, providing 138 Houston-area pediatricians, family practice physicians and advanced practice providers an opportunity to learn about common pediatric surgical conditions from Texas Children’s surgeons. The surgeons and pediatric providers engaged in lively discussions of the topics, which included anesthesia, ethics, adolescent gynecology, ophthalmology, orthopedics, otolaryngology, pediatric general surgery, plastic surgery and urology. Following a welcome from Surgeon-in-Chief Dr. Charles D. Fraser, Jr., presenters included Dr. Dean Andropoulos, Dr. Jennifer Bercaw-Pratt, Dr. David Coats, Dr. Nicolette Janzen, Dr. Edward Lee, Dr. Mark Mazziotti, Dr. Julina Ongkasuwan, Dr. Scott Rosenfeld and Dr. Veeral Shah. Read more

February 3

Texas Children’s researchers push for universal newborn biliary atresia screening

Texas Children’s pediatric gastroenterologist Dr. Sanjiv Harpavat is working to ensure every newborn is screened for biliary atresia, a rare but deadly liver disease affecting 1 in 10,000 births in the U.S. It’s the number one reason for liver transplants in infants. Biliary atresia occurs when the bile duct connecting the liver to the small intestine is blocked. The buildup of bile in the liver scars the tissue so rapidly that most infants need a liver transplant to survive. “Infants with biliary atresia have more scarring after the first few months of life than a chronic alcoholic’s liver,” said Harpavat. “An important way to improve their outcomes is by detecting and treating the disease early before symptoms appear.” Read more

February 2


CRC presents research award to Dr. Carla Davis

The Clinical Research Center presented the Clinical Research Award for Fourth Quarter 2014 to Dr. Carla Davis, Pediatrics-Allergy & Immunology, Baylor College of Medicine. The award was established by the Clinical Research Center in collaboration with the Research Resources Office to recognize and honor individual contributions to protecting the best interest of the research subjects and compliance with applicable rules and regulations.

Submissions for Bench and Bedside

Bench and Bedside is produced monthly by Texas Children’s Corporate Communications team to spotlight recent news about Texas Children’s physicians and scientists. The team welcomes submissions related to speaking engagements, staff awards/recognition, research, clinical work and academic activities. Send your questions or submissions to connectnews@texaschildrens.org.

January 13, 2015


If getting in shape or losing weight top your list of New Year’s resolutions, you are not alone. According to several polls and surveys conducted across the United States, the No. 1 New Year’s resolution for 2015 has to do with fitness, whether it be “losing weight,” “getting in shape,” or “staying fit and healthy.”

At Texas Children’s, our goal is to help you thrive in 2015 while building a collective atmosphere supporting your well-being. Given the popularity of fitness and weight loss this time of year, we want to remind you of the fitness center discounts available to all Texas Children’s Hospital badge holders and their families through Employee Health and Wellness.

Participating fitness centers include: 24 Hour Fitness, LA Fitness, Lifetime, Blast Fitness, UT Recreation Center and the YMCA. Discounts apply to current and former members, so check your current rate to see if the discounts provided through Texas Children’s can reduce your costs.

Another perk offered at Texas Children’s that will help maximize your fitness and weight loss goals is access to a new 17-week series of Weight Watchers, the world’s most effective weight loss program. The program is launching soon onsite at Main Campus. An informational open house will take place Tuesday, January 20 in Feigin Center 02A and the first official session of the series will be Tuesday, January 27 in FC 18A. All sessions will be from 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Please fill out this form if you’re interested.

In addition to fitness and weight loss, there are several other ways you can thrive in 2015, and Texas Children’s has a variety of services available to help you look, feel and live your best life yet. Some of those services are:

Employee Medical Clinic – Did you know the Employee Medical Clinic can serve as a convenient solution to all of your primary care needs? All Blue Cross Blue Shield medical members are covered at 100 percent for annual exams, and additional lab work can be done for a small co-pay. The Employee Medical Clinic also offers a variety of educational programs to help you live well with diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. A team of medical providers and a Certified Diabetes Educator/Dietitian will provide you with the practical tools and knowledge to effectively manage your conditions. Contact the Employee Medical Clinic for more information and to schedule your appointment: Ext: 4-2150.

Tobacco Cessation – As of September 1, 2014, Texas Children’s medical plan members can receive free tobacco cessation medications and over-the-counter treatments with a prescription. For more information or additional guidance, please call the Employee Medical Clinic at: Ext: 4-2150.

Employee Assistance Program – Offers counseling, stress management, financial assistance and grief recovery programs. For more information, please call: Ext: 4-3332.

We wish you a Happy New Year and hope you thrive in all areas of your life in 2015 and beyond.