Texas Children’s Hospital recently hosted Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher for a tour of Lester and Sue Smith Legacy Tower. It was a first visit for Fletcher, who represents Texas’ Seventh Congressional District, which includes residents of Houston, Bellaire, Bunker Hill Village, Hedwig Village, Hilshire Village, Hunters Creek Village, Jersey Village, Piney Point Village, Southside Place, Spring Valley Village, West University Place, and unincorporated Harris County west to Katy.
After being welcomed by President and CEO Mark Wallace, Fletcher visited Texas Children’s award-winning Mission Control. There she learned from Bert Gumeringer, vice president of Facilities Operations and Support Services; Gail Parazynski, vice president of Nursing; and Deb D’Ambrosio, director of Transport Services and Mission Control how the state-of-the-art operations center uses real-time data and cutting-edge technology to simplify and streamline processes, bringing together security, facilities, code response, critical care admissions, hospital-to-hospital transfers, critical clinical alarm monitoring and room management in one central location.
Next, Fletcher visited our therapy gym on the 23rd floor, where she observed a music therapy session for some of our youngest Texas Children’s Heart Center® patients. Chief of Pediatric Cardiology Dr. Daniel Penny and Chief of Congenital Heart Surgery Dr. Christopher Caldarone then led Fletcher through some of the facilities in our best-in-the-nation Heart Center. These included our outpatient cardiac clinic, the Charles E. Mullins Cardiac Catheterization Labs and our cardiovascular operating rooms.
Following her Heart Center tour, Fletcher concluded her time at Texas Children’s with a visit to the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) and our neurointensive care unit on the ninth floor of Lester and Sue Smith Legacy Tower. In the PICU, she had an opportunity to meet the parents of 10-month-old Emmy, who recently underwent a liver transplant. She was then guided through the neurointensive care unit by Medical Director of Neurocritical Care Dr. Jennifer Erklauer. This special unit – one of the first of its kind in the country – combines the latest neuro-monitoring techniques with collaborative team-based care for patients with neurologic issues. Fletcher saw firsthand the cutting-edge monitoring technology in our continuous EEG monitoring room, where patient brain wave activity is measured and reviewed in real time, 24/7, and can be used to detect seizure activity or acute changes in the brain that may require additional evaluation or intervention. While in the unit, she met the mother of 11-month-old Kayla, who has a rare seizure disorder.
The parents of both children told Fletcher about the helplessness they’d felt watching their infant children endure such dire health issues. But because of the expertise and care they’d experienced at Texas Children’s, they were filled with confidence that they were in the best possible place to help their children.