December 22, 2015

On New Year’s Day, 13-year old Peyton Richardson and her family will ride on a float at the 127th Rose Parade for Northwestern Mutual, the presenting sponsor for the 2016 Rose Bowl game in Pasadena, CA. The theme of this year’s parade is Find your Adventure.

Peyton, who was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia in January 2015, is an aspiring ballerina who dreams of traveling around the world to visit the greatest ballet companies and to take a class with each of their principal dancers.

When Dr. Zoann Dreyer, her doctor at Texas Children’s Cancer Center, introduced her to Northwestern Mutual’s video contest, Peyton jumped at the opportunity to share her greatest adventure. Using her mother’s cell phone, she and her mom produced a video at home in their backyard.

After receiving numerous submissions from across the country, Northwestern Mutual selected Peyton’s video. Her greatest adventure and powerful message about not letting leukemia stop her from dreaming big are the inspiration for Northwestern Mutual’s float design aimed at raising awareness about childhood cancer.

“Cancer can take my hair. Cancer can take my school. Cancer can take some friends, but cancer is not going to take ballet,” said Carrie Richardson, as she recalled her daughter’s video message. “It was so powerful that Northwestern Mutual’s contest selection team fell in love with her.”

With the help of the Richardson family, Northwestern Mutual unveiled its float design that Peyton inspired for the 2016 Rose Parade during a special event at Texas Children’s Cancer Center on December 3, which also included a $25,000 check presentation from Northwestern Mutual to the Cancer Center.

“The name of the float is Dancing into Adventure,” Peyton said. “The swans have gold cancer ribbons around their necks because gold is childhood cancer awareness. On the music box with the ballerina, there’s the Australian ballet, the New York City ballet and the Royal Ballet. Those are the landmarks where I want to visit.”

The float will also be decorated with red roses that will be placed in green vials and affixed to the float. The vials contain signatures from Texas Children’s patients and their families. Everyone who signed the vials can “ride” on the float with Peyton.

“It’s really this link together through Peyton and Northwestern Mutual to bring awareness to childhood cancer and the need for research funds, and really to show that children with cancer can live and survive and have wonderful and meaningful lives,” Dreyer said. “There is a huge message in that float.”

Besides helping to design the float, Peyton will wear a beautiful Tiffany blue costume at the Rose Parade assembled by the Houston Ballet’s lead costume designer.

With just days away until her greatest adventure comes alive on national television, Peyton’s excitement is building.

“Once we are on the plane and we land, I think I am going to be like, “Wow, this is really happening. I’m going to be in the Rose Parade,” Peyton said. “I can’t wait.”

Neither can her mom.

“For us to be there, it’s like the end of a very long and hard year for her and our family,” Carrie said. “We’re very excited.”

Watch Peyton and her family ride on the Northwestern Mutual float in the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day. The parade will be broadcast on NBC at 10 a.m.

November 9, 2015


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.

October 6

Transient hypoglycemia in newborns may affect school-age academic outcomes

A new study led by Texas Children’s neonatologist Dr. Jeffrey Kaiser found that a brief drop in blood sugar at birth, commonly referred to as transient hypoglycemia, may be linked to lower literacy and math achievement test scores in fourth grade. More

October 6

Jae named to  Baylor College of Medicine curriculum committee

Dr. Andrew Jea, Fellowship Program Director, Director of Educational Programs for the Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery, and Associate Professor of Neurological Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine, was recently appointed to the college’s Medical School Curriculum Committee. More

October 6

Four neurologists will receive prestigious honors from the Child Neurology Society

The Neurology division at Texas Children’s was recognized not once, but four times at the 44th Annual Child Neurology Society Meeting in Washington, D.C. on October 9. More

111015ENT300October 6

Division of Otolaryngology experiences tremendous growth under Arjmand

In just a little more than a year, Dr. Ellis Arjmand has turned Texas Children’s Division of Otolaryngology into the largest pediatric ear, nose and throat program in the country. Prior to his coming aboard as chief of Otolaryngology in August 2014, the program had eight otolaryngologists providing services to the entire city of Houston and its surrounding area. Now, Texas Children’s Otolaryngology has 21 physicians stationed throughout Greater Houston. More

October 13

Texas Children’s anesthesiologists contribute to leading textbook in field

Anesthesiologist-in-Chief Dr. Dean Andropoulos and several members of his medical staff helped write and edit the recently published Anesthesia for Congenital Heart Disease, 3rd Edition. More

October 13

Clinical Care Center surgery patients now receiving post-surgery prescriptions at discharge

A pilot project was launched on October 13 in the Clinical Care Center that will allow the opportunity for surgery patients to have prescriptions filled prior to discharge. More

October 13

Super Star Physician: Dr. Sunjeev Patel

Dr. Sunjeev Patel of Texas Children’s Pediatrics Lakewood is the latest Texas Children’s Super Star physician. “Being part of Texas Children’s Pediatrics has allowed me to not only see patients in the office, but it also has given me the opportunity to be involved with understanding and improving quality of care,” Patel said. Read more of Patel’s interview and find out how you can nominate a Super Star. More

111015SIUfinishingtouches300October 13

Finishing touches being put on Special Isolation Unit in preparation of opening

Pastel paint, shiny floors and spacious rooms equipped with the latest scientific and technological approaches to biocontainment are just a few of the features of the soon-to-be-finished Special Isolation Unit at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus. The 8-bed unit designed for children with highly contagious infectious diseases is set to open later in October. More

October 20

Vasudevan receives grant for liver cancer research

The Macy Easom Cancer Research Foundation has awarded pediatric surgeon Dr. Sanjeev Vasudevan a $75,000 grant for research into a form of pediatric liver cancer called hepatoblastoma, which is a disease that usually affects children under the age of five. More

111015TransitionMedicine300October 20

Texas Children’s Transition Medicine team holds victory celebration dinner

Nearly 90 percent of children born with chronic or disabling conditions are surviving into adulthood, prompting the need for health care providers to develop appropriate and timely transitions of care. Texas Children’s is ensuring patients here experience a smooth transition to adult care. More

111015LeeWoodruffGrandRounds300October 20

Lee Woodruff inspires packed auditorium at Department of Pediatrics grand rounds

When ABC News Anchor Bob Woodruff was injured by a roadside bomb while reporting in Iraq, his wife, Lee, became his caretaker. Recently, she visited Texas Children’s to share her inspiring patient-family story with the Department of Pediatrics at Grand Rounds. More

October 27

NRI study: Deep brain stimulation restores learning, memory in Rett syndrome mice

In a recent study led by Drs. Huda Zoghbi and Jianrong Tang, and published in the journal Nature, researchers from the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s and Baylor College of Medicine, demonstrated that deep brain stimulation of a specific area of the brain reverts learning and memory deficits in a mouse model of Rett syndrome, a leading cause of intellectual disability in girls. More

October 27

NRI researcher receives the Janett Rosenberg Trubatch Career Development Award

Dr. Mingshan Xue, a Carolina DeLuca scholar and researcher at the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s, has been awarded the Janett Rosenberg Trubatch Career Development Award. More

October 27

2016 Catalyst Leadership Award receipients named at luncheon

Five outstanding Texas Children’s employees who exemplify leadership while upholding Texas Children’s mission and core values were honored October 23 at a luncheon naming the 2016 Catalyst Leadership Award recipients and the Catalyst Leader of the Year. The award was created six years ago by members of Texas Children’s Board of Trustees in honor of Mark Wallace’s 20th anniversary as president and CEO. More

September 15, 2015

Every summer, Texas Children’s staff and their patients make the 90-mile trek to Camp for All, a 100-acre, barrier-free recreational facility that enables children with special needs to experience the thrill of camping just like normal kids their age.

“It’s a place where they feel safe and comfortable because everyone is just like them,” said Texas Children’s Neurology Chief Dr. Gary Clark, who is the lead physician at Camp Spike N Wave. “In partnership with the Epilepsy Foundation, we provide the medical infrastructure so children can have a safe camping experience, while doing everything that anybody would do in any other camp.”

Wheelchair bound or not, children engage in a fun-filled week of adrenaline-pumping activities like zip lining, rock wall climbing, swimming, horseback riding, archery, rope courses, basketball, and canoeing in a lake. They build friendships and unleash their independent spirit, while focusing less on their illness or physical disabilities.

Texas Children’s oncologist Dr. ZoAnn Dreyer is the medical director for Camp Periwinkle. She and her staff collaborate with the Periwinkle Foundation to bring more than 185 patients from Texas Children’s Cancer Center to camp each summer.

“Often times, our patients are marked by their cancer,” Dreyer said. “Being in the normal environment can be really tough for them. Here at camp, the playing field is equal for everyone.”

Camps like Camp Periwinkle and Camp Spike N Wave would not be possible without the diligent efforts of Texas Children’s own, Dr. Robert Zeller, chief of the Blue Bird Clinic, who collaborated with other physicians to create Camp for All in 1993.

“I had a patient with epilepsy who couldn’t go to camp because camps wouldn’t accept children with this condition,” Zeller said. “This prompted me to develop a camp for children with medical and physical challenges where they can discover life without barriers. It’s my way of giving back to my patients.”

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

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

To access the ICD-10 nonclinical learning modules:

To view, log into Health Stream (

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.