July 29, 2019

Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers recently honored three team members with the Bravo Award for going above and beyond to ensure our patients and families receive the best possible care.

The award is handed out quarterly and recognizes nurses and other professional staff in the Cancer and Hematology Centers for outstanding performance. Anyone within the Texas Children’s system may nominate a member of the cancer and hematology teams for this award. The team’s clinic leadership will select the winners.

Last quarter’s winners of the Bravo Award were:

Suzy Gaius is a Financial Counselor with the Cancer and Hematology Center at Main Campus. Gaius was honored for spending countless hours explaining insurance plans and options to families and staff. She is always available to help us ensure patients receive ongoing care. Gaius is patient and never rushes families if they have questions or need more information.

Yadhira Huerta is a Social Worker with the Vannie Cook Vannie Cook Children’s Clinic in McAllen. Yadhira is a team player who always finds time to lend a hand and give accurate and compassionate advice. She is caring, respectful, and goes out of her way to find answers for patients’ needs. She is equally passionate about helping care for members of the care team at the Vannie Cook clinic.

Teresa Nafegar is a Medical Assistant in the Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Clinic Main Campus. Teresa is excellent at keeping patients moving through her pod in clinic. She is a great communicator to the medical team promptly updating them on patient needs and offering ways to increase efficiency. Nafegar also is able to find creative ways to communicate with patients with whom she may not share a common language.

July 15, 2019

There are many types of supervisors in various work environments; those who enforce rules, and those like Ashly Swaty, who elevates them. As a Patient Care Manger in the Legacy Tower pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), Swaty makes sure that all the nurses are taken care of and have all materials and any assistance they need.

With the PICU being so unpredictable on a daily basis, in addition to payroll paper work and nursing rounding, she ensures that nurses take lunch breaks on time. Due to the busy and fast-paced environment at times nurses often cannot leave the bedside without someone covering their assignment. Swaty is known for not hesitating to step in and make sure both the patient and nurse are taken care of daily.

“Her heart is to serve our patients, families, and staff. She consistently goes above and beyond to ensure those around her have the best experience possible,” Director of Nursing, Shannon Holland said. “In all my years of leadership, I have rarely met someone with Ashly’s dedication and compassion.”

Holland recalled a time on a busy day when a nurse skipped lunch because she was extremely busy managing her very sick patient.

“Ashly jumped in feet first, took over care, and insisted the nurse take a break,” she added. “She did all of this with a smile and supportive and caring attitude. She is truly a servant leader who is caring, genuine, and the embodiment of Caught You Caring!”

Another part of Ashly’s job is to sit down with patients’ parents to understand the motivation behind certain behavior and how they can move forward with better outcomes.

“I truly love being with the families!” Swaty said. I know these days may be the worst of many in their lives, but it means the world to me knowing I can bring just a little bit of comfort or knowledge, when they’re questioning something.”

The appreciation and compassion she has for her patients and nurses goes hand in hand. Her selfless personality is why she believes there are others that deserve this award as well, nonetheless, she is grateful for the honor and the opportunity to work for such a prestigious organization.

“I was so shocked when I found out. I was mostly surprised because, honestly, there are so many people who do great things here in the PICU, so anybody in this whole place could have won,” Swaty said. “It’s such a great honor to be recognized, and an even greater honor to work for Texas Children’s.”

July 9, 2019

Every team needs someone who wants to do the required tasks that no one else is willing to carryout. Calvin Haskett is that person as the waste removal unit support assistant in the Facilities Operations Department.

When he walks in at six o’clock in the morning before anything, he drinks a cup of coffee to prepare for a day of hard work, as he is known for putting his all in every day. According to Haskett after making sure his areas are clean and all of his supplies are prepped, he makes sure that his coworker is in good shape and prepared for the day as well. His highly considerate personality and drive is why his managers speak so highly of him.

“Calvin is soft spoken and pays attention to every aspect of his job,” Assistant Director of Facility Operations Lisa Green said. “Calvin recently requested off for vacation and when another employee had an emergency and needed the same days off, he later rescheduled his vacation time around his coworker’s time off to make sure the department was not short staffed. That is just one example of his unconditional dedication to our team.”

Haskett has been at Texas Children’s hospital for seven years and his urge to learn more grows every year. His mangers and co-workers have been captivated as he practices Error Prevention in his work even though he has not had the official training that is provided to managers.

His willingness to go above and beyond is shown on a daily basis. With this being his first award on the job, Haskett said he could not believe he was being recognized for his work.

“I felt shocked and did not know what to say at first,” Haskett said. “I have never gotten an award and it’s something very special that I will always remember. I love working at Texas Children’s; it’s a good company to work for with good, caring people.”

July 1, 2019

As a manager and veteran nurse, Almea Montillo is someone that both patients and employees can count on. Her experience over the past 20 years has allowed her to form relationships with some of the most critically ill patients, and watch their journey to recovery.

“I’ve gotten to be very fortunate to see how my patients that I have sent from the Emergency Center, up here to the floor get better and go home,” Montillo said. “It’s really a great feeling to see how well we’ve taken care of them.”

Montillo began working in the Emergency Center, then became a staff nurse for a few years and later an educator. Now as she manages other nurses, she also makes time to be an active member of the Patient Experience Leader Rounding and Bedside Shift Report teams. She provides valuable feedback and is seen as a leader in the realm of patient experience.

“It’s been an awesome experience working at Texas Children’s,” Montillo said. “I’m very fortunate to be in an institution where you’re supported by leadership, and I feel that we take care of our patients very well.”

She is known for the love and comfort she provides patients, and the guidance and encouragement she gives employees. Between greeting staff, leading huddles, leadership rounding, and administrative tasks, her days can be pretty busy. She is also a Central Line Champion, as she makes sure that the staff carryout cap changes, and central line dressing changes properly.

“Mea personally rounds on each and every patient and family every day. She enjoys developing a relationship with the families and wants them to feel they can come to her for any need,” Assistant Clinical Director of Nursing at West Campus Sondra Morris said. “She ensures they feel comfortable by making sure they are aware of the resources at the campus and in the unit. She is a role model for the staff and a great example of how we should care for our patients and families.”

Montillo says that although the Caught You Caring Award came as a surprise, she was very excited to receive confirmation that the immense amount of effort and heart she puts into her work has not gone unrecognized.

“I was very happy to know that I made a difference with someone. I don’t ever look for any kind of praise, she said. “I feel like it’s my job to know the patients and the families and make sure that they have the best possible experience, because nobody wants to be in the hospital. It’s our job to make it a positive experience no matter what’s going on, and that is my motto and goal every single day.”

Congratulations to Clinical Staff Development Specialist, Lauren Ivanhoe, MSN, RN-BC, CEN, who is the recipient of the this year’s third quarter, Best of the West award.

Ivanhoe is a well-respected healthcare education professional throughout the campus, system, and nationally. She freely lends her educational expertise and leads initiatives anchored in staff development and patient safety.

The Best of the West award recognizes an employee each quarter who has exceled at demonstrating Texas Children’s values – leading tirelessly, living compassionately, amplifying unity and embracing freedom.

“Lauren has gone above and beyond to ensure we are aware and capable of best practices,” her co-workers expressed. “She is one of those people who is always willing to help and support the team.”

Ivanhoe recently worked closely with the West Campus Radiology Team to simulate patient care in the mobile CT scanner. She has spent countless hours coordinating and developing training content that translated into safe practice. Additionally, Ivanhoe has worked extremely hard to develop and train staff in preparation for the Epic Upgrade, Beaker go-live, and Interoperability transition.

She also coordinates Cy-Fair Independent School District student schedules for on-site training, contributing to a pipeline of future health care professionals.

“It goes without saying that Lauren is more than deserving of this award and we are better as a campus and system because of her passion and dedication,” the radiology team collectively mentioned. “We cherish the wealth of knowledge she shares and absolutely admire her uplifting and encouraging attitude.”

June 25, 2019

We’ve all heard the saying, “Hard work pays off.”

That old adage certainly rings true for nine Texas Children’s nurses who recently graduated last month with their Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), the highest level of clinical training for nursing practice.

“It was a pleasant surprise to find out that so many of us had applied and been accepted into this program,” said Texas Children’s Pediatrics Assistant Director Joy Harrison. “We were able to complete group projects and preceptorships together and we finished the program together. We encouraged and supported each other throughout this journey. We truly demonstrated the spirit of “no man left behind.”

On May 22, Harrison and eight other graduates received their DNP degrees from the University of Texas Health Science Center’s Cizik School of Nursing including: Mary Jo Andre, Chief Nursing Officer; Jackie Ward, Associate Chief Nursing Officer; Tarra Christopher, Director of Nursing, Emergency Center; Kimberly Clark, Patient Care Manager – Cancer Center; Sara Dean, Nurse Practitioner – Pavilion for Women; Shannon Holland, Director of Nursing – Critical Care; Vanessa Kastner, Nurse Practitioner – NICU and Jennifer Sanders, Assistant Vice President, Nursing.

Three years ago, their journey began when they enrolled in the DNP program, a clinical doctoral program that provides advanced education in several key areas that impact patient care and outcomes including evidence-based practice, quality improvement and systems leadership. Since Texas Children’s already provided a strong foundation in these areas, the program built on the great work our nurses do every day.

“The program challenged me to be a bigger system thinker,” said Critical Care Nursing Director Shannon Holland. “Besides focusing on my area of responsibility, the program challenged me to think about what impact I can make on our patient population across the system. The program also encouraged us to get involved with advocacy and legislation in our professional organizations and offered ways we can partner with our colleagues to give nursing, our patients and their families a bigger voice in health care.”

Like the DNP program, Texas Children’s Hospital invests heavily in our nurses through various professional advancement and education opportunities. Besides benefitting from the hospital’s tuition reimbursement program, our nurses were able to complete their DNP thanks to the support and encouragement from the organization, their leaders, families and friends, and from each other.

“It is a privilege to work in an organization that values people,” said Emergency Center Nursing Director Tarra Christopher. “Partnering together and enduring the challenges, assignments, along with balancing work, school and home, created a bond with our group that is incredibly special. We are family more than ever before. I couldn’t be more proud of them or more humbled and honored to stand beside them.”

As a Magnet-designated organization committed to nursing excellence, cultivating a highly educated team of nurses has always been a huge priority. Chief Nursing Officer Mary Jo Andre, who began her career at Texas Children’s as a staff nurse in the Emergency Center 34 years ago, says no matter where a nurse is in his or her career, it is never too late to return to school to expand one’s knowledge and skills.

“At Texas Children’s, it is important that we continue to invest in higher education for our nurses at all levels because evidence shows that advanced education leads to better patient outcomes,” Andre said. “We are the ones who will lead health care transformation in the future. With more nurses obtaining their DNPs and other certifications, we can enhance patient care, provide more evidence-based practice, and become like we’ve always said we wanted to be – the number one destination for nurses everywhere.”

While this academic journey towards obtaining a DNP degree was both challenging and rewarding, these new graduates have already inspired other nurses at Texas Children’s to enroll in the program, which speaks volumes about our organization’s culture for learning and the incredible support system here.

“I am so grateful that we have inspired other nurses at Texas Children’s to get their DNPs,” said Associate Chief Nursing Officer Jackie Ward. “I want them to know they have nine other nurses who embarked on this same journey, and all of us will be here to support each of our nurses every step of the way.”

Q&A: Nurses reflect on DNP journey

Click the names below to learn more about our nurses’ DNP journey, the lessons they learned along the way, and how the support from Texas Children’s made it possible for them to reach this milestone.

Mary Jo Andre
Jackie Ward
Joy Harrison
Tarra Christopher
Kimberly Clark
Sara Dean
Shannon Holland
Vanessa Kastner
Jennifer Sanders

June 24, 2019

After nearly 30 years at Texas Children’s, Xavier George is just as devoted to patient care as he was when he first stepped foot in the hospital. As a patient care assistant (PCA) George is the first person to see the patients in the post anesthesia care unit (PACU) at the Medical Center Campus. The majority of his time at Texas Children’s he has been the comforting part of the patient’s experience, easing any apprehensions they may have before procedures.

“It’s so fantastic to work for Texas Children’s,” George said. “All of my hard worker and the reasons that I continue to come to work, day after day and year after year, is for the children.”

George’s compassion and experience with the children helps decrease anxiety of the parents and guardians as well.

“We have been coming here for two years now and every time we come, Xavier is kind, compassionate, friendly, and upbeat,” the parent of a patient said. “I cannot say enough nice things about him, he’s so great!”

George has the ability to work in many roles in PACU. He is able to work the waiting room and pre-op and PACU secretary. His flexibility makes it so much easier for everyone on the department to do their job.

“Xavier demonstrates teamwork and compassion towards coworker’s on a daily basis,” Perioperative Nursing Manager Beth Jones said. “He works well with the pre-op team to ensure positive experience for our patients. He steps in wherever he is needed to ensure a positive work environment. He will do all of this with a positive attitude. It is great having him on my team.”