June 10, 2014


U.S.News and World Report released its 2014-2015 Best Children’s Hospitals list today, and Texas Children’s Hospital maintained the no. 4 spot among the 183 children’s hospitals surveyed by the publication. Also, Texas Children’s once again is listed on the Honor Roll, which recognizes hospitals with top 10 rankings in at least three specialties.

“We are thrilled that U.S.News continually recognizes our hospital as one of the best children’s hospitals in the country,” said Texas Children’s President and CEO Mark A. Wallace. “These results are a testament to our organization’s focus on quality and safety and the dedication of our staff and employees, and it’s just another indication of what we all have known for some time: that we are doing tremendous work here at Texas Children’s.”

U.S.News annually ranks the top 50 pediatric centers in 10 specialty areas. In the 2014-15 rankings, U.S.News surveyed 183 pediatric centers to obtain clinical data in 10 specialties. Eighty-nine hospitals ranked in at least one specialty, and 10 hospitals were named to the Honor Roll below:

Ranking Hospital Points Specialties in top 10
1 Boston Children’s Hospital 20 10
1 Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia 20 10
3 Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center 15 9
4 Texas Children’s Hospital, Houston 14 9
5 Children’s Hospital Los Angeles 8 6
6 Children’s Hospital Colorado, Aurora 7 5
7 Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, Ohio 6 6
8 Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago 6 4
9 Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC 5 5
10 Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, Baltimore 4 3

The 10 children’s hospitals on the 2014-15 Honor Roll ranked at or near the top in three or more specialties. The order is by total points. If a hospital ranked among the highest 5 percent in a specialty, it received 2 points, and if a hospital ranked in the next 5 percent, it received 1 point. Boston Children’s Hospital and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia again tied for the top spot. Texas Children’s is separated from the no. 3 position by a single point. This year’s ranking demonstrates some significant gains among several Texas Children’s services. Here are a few highlights:

  • 7 services improved in the rankings
  • 9 services scored in the top 10 (compared to 6 in 2013)
  • 6 services were ranked among the top 5 (compared to 3 in 2013)

“Texas Children’s results on this year’s survey reflect the diligent efforts of the steering committee we formed last year to focus on the U.S.News survey,” Wallace said. “The process of compiling and refining our data is an ongoing challenge, which will continue to improve under the excellent leadership of Angelo Giardino, Tom Luerssen, Mary Jo Andre, Terri Brown and Colleen Jones.”

Texas Children’s made these notable gains amid several changes to this year’s survey. This year, the weight of the reputational score decreased from 25 percent to 16.7 percent, and the best practices and infection prevention rate both increased in weight, from 4.2 percent to 8.3 percent. Also, two additional outcomes were scored in neonatology, and one additional outcome was scored in orthopedics and gastroenterology/GI surgery. Five-sixths of each hospital’s score relied on patient outcomes and the care-related resources each hospital makes available. The remaining one-sixth of the score is derived from a survey of 450 pediatric specialists and subspecialists in each specialty over three years. The physicians were asked where they would send the sickest children in their specialty, setting aside location and expense.

Texas Children’s, working closely with academic partner Baylor College of Medicine, continues to pioneer advancements in pediatric healthcare and earns the U.S.News honor roll distinction by being ranked among America’s best in:

  • #4 Cancer
  • #2 Cardiology & heart surgery
  • #5 Gastroenterology (digestive disorders)
  • #6 Neurology & neurosurgery
  • #2 Neonatology
  • #4 Nephrology (kidney disorders)
  • #4 Pulmonology
  • #7 Urology
  • #8 Diabetes & endocrinology
  • #34 Orthopedics

“Our high rankings demonstrate the commitment we have to achieving quality outcomes, tracking those outcomes and using them to markedly improve the care we deliver,” said Texas Children’s Surgeon-in-Chief Dr. Charles D. Fraser Jr.

This year’s methodology reflects a number of improvements that better differentiate hospitals based on outcomes, best practices and infection prevention. Texas Children’s Physician-in-Chief Dr. Mark W. Kline said the results are a reflection of the work of a gifted, dedicated staff.

“Texas Children’s has more pediatricians and pediatric subspecialists than any other hospital in the world,” Kline said. “But more importantly, we have many of the world’s most talented and dedicated physicians, educators, scientists, nurses and other health professionals, and working together, our team is driving innovation and advancement in pediatric health care. I’m proud of their commitment.”

The 2014-15 edition of Best Children’s Hospitals is available online at www.usnews.com/childrenshospitals.


Dr. Daniel Penny, chief of Cardiology at Texas Children’s Hospital and section head and professor of Pediatrics-Cardiology at Baylor College of Medicine, was recently presented the 2014 University College Cork (UCC) Medical School Medal. The award ceremony took place at Penny’s alma mater in Ireland on May 28.

The award, established in 2001, was created to honor those who have made exceptional contributions to medicine and society. Penny was chosen as this year’s recipient based on his sustained and excellent track record in pediatrics and pediatric cardiology; in leadership and expertise at an international level in academic medicine; in his support and inspiration for generations of medical students and trainees; and his work in establishing links between UCC and Texas Children’s.

“I am truly honored to receive this year’s UCC Medical School Medal,” said Penny. “It is a privilege to have the opportunity to have worked, and continue to work, in hospitals throughout my career which are leading the way in improving the health and well-being of children and families across the globe.”

Penny was born in Cork, Ireland, where he completed his medical degree at University College Cork, The National University of Ireland. He trained and practiced at top pediatric institutions, such as The Great Ormond Street Hospital in London and The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, where he served as chief of Cardiology before joining Texas Children’s. Penny also is a founding director of the Australia and New Zealand Children’s Heart Research Centre, a collaborative network for multicenter research across Australia and New Zealand. His research bridges cardiac physiology and clinical studies of congenital heart disease. In 2010 he was awarded his involvement in developing a Cardiovascular Institute in Hue City, Central Vietnam, for which he received the “For People’s Health” Award from the Vietnamese government.

June 3, 2014


The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) is known around the world as perhaps the most prestigious medical publication. The peer-reviewed medical journal publishes research, editorials, review articles and case reports and is a window into the world of medicine. So when the work of three Texas Children’s advanced practice nurses was selected to be published in the journal, they were thrilled about their findings being shared with medical professionals around the world.

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Amy McCay, director of Advanced Practice Providers Elizabeth “Charley” Elliott, and Nurse Scientist Marlene Walden produced an instructional video on Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter PICC placement in neonates with information on what the complications can be. “Being recognized as a nurse published in a medical journal elevates the science of nursing,” Elliot said. “The selection involves a rigorous process that evaluates manuscripts for scientific accuracy and importance.”

The three learned so much from their investigation that they wanted to share their findings in a publication that would be seen around the globe. They submitted an instructional video on PICC placement in the neonatal patient population and a written overview of the process. The nurses hoped that sharing the knowledge they gained would help other nurses learn the best method for this procedure and how to avoid complications.

“The video is innovative and offers clinicians an opportunity to see into the procedure,” Elliott said. “It brings the process together for those who need visuals and brings the work to a whole new level.”

The journal receives more than 5,000 submissions a year and only about five percent are actually selected and published. All submissions are reviewed by panels of experts that review the current literature and determine if what is being submitted is relevant to current practice and represents evidence.

For the nurses, the process of submission started in 2011 when they began to determine the patients who would be involved in the video, the information that would be presented and how to best present this procedure.

Once submitted, a panel of experts reviews for content, relevance, and best evidence available before they will consent to publish in the journal. Most of the articles published are submitted by physicians and researchers, so the nurses were honored to be selected.

As Elliot puts it, “To have a nurse published in a medical journal is big and validating.”


Watch the newest “Super Star” video featuring Felicia Cruise in Ambulatory Services. “I have an attitude to pursue great customer service,” Felicia said. “I seek to treat people the way I want to be treated.”

Check out her video, and find out how you can nominate a Super Star to be featured in the “Super Star” section on Connect.


The Clinical Research Center presented the Clinical Research Award for First Quarter 2014 to Catherine Loffredo, research nurse, Department of Molecular and Human Genetics-Clinical Program.

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.

Ms. Loffredo’s research activities in the CRC focus on genetic syndromes.

May 27, 2014


The Center for Children and Women has been honored by The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) as the first obstetrics practice in Texas to receive the Patient-Centered Specialty Practice Recognition (PCSP). Practices that become recognized under Patient-Centered Specialty Practice Recognition have demonstrated commitment to patient-centered care and clinical quality through: streamlined referral processes and care coordination with referring clinicians, timely patient and caregiver-focused care management and continuous clinical quality improvement.

“We are proud to be the first obstetrics practice in Texas to receive the PCSP recognition,” said Dr. Lisa Hollier, medical director of obstetrics and gynecology at Texas Children’s Health Plan – The Center for Children and Women. “Our care teams work hard to provide the best, comprehensive care for our patients and to empower our patients to become healthier,” she concluded.

Earning NCQA PCSP Recognition shows consumers, private payers and government agencies that the practice has undergone a rigorous review of its capabilities and is committed to sharing information and coordinating care. Recognition also signals to primary care practices that the specialty practice is ready to be an effective partner in caring for patients.

“The Center for Children and Women is honored that our operations and healthcare team meets and exceeds the qualities worthy of the Patient-Centered Specialty Recognition,” stated Tangula Taylor, director of operations at Texas Children’s Health Plan – The Center for Children and Women. “We continue to pursue excellence as we strive to find new and innovative methods to deliver outstanding care to our patients.”

NCQA is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving health care quality. NCQA accredits and certifies a wide range of health care organizations. It also recognizes clinicians and practices in key areas of performances. NCQA is committed to providing health care quality information for consumers, purchasers, health care providers and researchers.


Dr. Huda Zoghbi, professor of neuroscience, pediatrics, molecular and human genetics and neurology at Baylor College of Medicine and founding director of the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s Hospital, was the recipient of an honorary Doctor of Medical Sciences degree at Yale University’s 2014 commencement ceremony this week. She was one of 12 individuals who was awarded an honorary degree for achieving distinction in her field.

Zoghbi, who also is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, is best known for her pioneering work on Rett syndrome, a genetic neurological disease that affects young girls (males with the condition usually die in infancy). Girls born with the disease develop normally for one or two years, but then begin to show progressive loss of motor skills, speech and other cognitive abilities.

“As a pediatric neurologist, your compassion for your patients led you to the laboratory and a career as a neuroscientist and geneticist, seeking answers to the mysteries of neurological disease,” said Yale University president Peter Salovey as Zoghbi received her degree. “You have discovered the cause of Rett syndrome, a rare and severe form of autism, and of a neurologic disorder that results in degeneration of the cerebellum. Your work has helped explain brain development and function and offers hope of finding cures for debilitating conditions. You are a role model for conducting translational research – always looking for ways to apply science to understanding disease. You are a leader in the scientific community, and we are pleased to name you Doctor of Medical Sciences.”