June 17, 2019

Dr. Huda Zoghbi, world-renowned neuroscientist and director of the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s Hospital, was recently honored for her groundbreaking contributions in pediatrics, neuroscience and genetic research by the BrightFocus® Foundation and by the American Pediatric Society (APS).

The BrightFocus Foundation presented Zoghbi with the Pioneer in Genetics award at their An Evening of BrightFocus gala in Washington, D.C. that brought together more than 350 guests from the scientific, philanthropic, private and public sectors. The award recognized Zoghbi’s collaborative cross-species genetic studies that could one day lead to actionable therapies for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

BrightFocus funds research activities worldwide aimed at ending Alzheimer’s disease, macular degeneration and glaucoma, and provides resources – including research updates, facts and data, inspiring stories and advice from recognized experts – for those affected by these life-altering diseases.

In an interview with event host, MSNBC anchor Richard Lui, Zoghbi discussed how the research that’s being done on rare diseases could potentially translate to more common illnesses.

“We work on rare diseases and try to find treatments for them, but what I’ve learned is that many of the principles that we apply to the study of rare diseases can be applied to more common disorders using a similar strategy,” she said. “Eventually, we hope that the headway we make on these rare disorders could lead to treatments for millions in the long term.”

At the annual Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) Meeting, Zoghbi was named the 2019 Norman J. Siegel New Member Outstanding Science Award recipient by the American Pediatrics Society (APS), the oldest and most prestigious academic pediatric organization in North America. The award is presented each year to one new APS member for their considerable contribution to the advancement of pediatric science.

The PAS Meeting is the leading event for academic pediatric and child health research, and brings together thousands of pediatricians, researchers, academics and health care providers from around the world, and unites them in the mission to improve the health and well-being of children.

The APS is dedicated to the advancement of child health through the promotion of pediatric research, recognition of achievement and cultivation of excellence through advocacy, scholarship, education and leadership development. Admittance into the APS is via nomination. Members are recognized as academic leaders in pediatrics, and they continue to contribute to the overall progress of child health while inspiring the next generation of child health professionals.

Texas Children’s and academic partner Baylor College of Medicine were proud to have several faculty and staff inducted into the APS this year.

These included:
Dr. Carla Davis, chief of Immunology, Allergy and Rheumatology
Dr. Heidi Schwarzwald, chief medical officer of Pediatrics for Texas Children’s Health Plan
Dr. Jesus Vallejo, medical director of Texas Children’s International Patient Services
Dr. Kristy Murray, vice-chair for Research in the Section of Pediatrics at Baylor

Every day there is a different task and work space, but the quality of Kristi White’s patient care in always the same; extraordinary. As the charge respiratory therapist, White assumes the responsibility of assisting almost everyone whether it is relieving people for breaks, setting up equipment, or attending meetings. Despite the many busy days, she says that being successful is all about remaining confident and encouraging.

“It’s a positive and happy environment here. Even on their worst days, the kids don’t think of the negative things,” White said. Since the children are already so positive, we have to remain that way as well to keep the energy up.”

White is the epitome of positivity as she continues to be dedicated to making sure her patients and co-workers keep a smile on their faces as the head of the Respiratory Department’s Morale Committee. She is also a forward thinker and takes initiative when it comes to advancing a patient’s recovery.

“Kristi steps out of her role as a respiratory therapist all the time,” Respiratory Care Supervisor Lindsey Franks said. “She goes above and beyond for not only the people in our department, but for our patients as well. She is an amazing knowledgeable charge therapist who is always willing to go the extra mile.”

Franks recalled a time when Kristi first started at West Campus and had a patient who was on a home continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask. She was very concerned that the child was outgrowing the mask and knew it was something that needed to be accessed.

“Kristi took time out of her busy day to call the home health company, give them the patient’s name, serial number of mask, and inform them that the patient needs a mask refitting as soon as possible,” Franks said. “She is more than deserving of the Caught You Caring Award because to me, it is all about the little things.”

White’s innate ability to automatically adhere to the needs of patients regardless of what it is makes her stand out from others. She has no problem jumping into a full body Disney character costume to please a patient, or even come in early or stay late just to finish a project for the kids. She says that thinking outside of the box is such a regular action for her that she didn’t expect to be acknowledged for it, especially this time around.

“I actually laughed and I said, who nominated me for this?” White said amusingly. “I didn’t believe it, because in my mind I just do regular things that a pediatric respiratory therapist would do. However, that is the nature of this department, there is always a surprise and I am very appreciative of this particular one. The possibilities, opportunities, and experiences are endless here at Texas Children’s.”

June 10, 2019

Many people hope to be able to work in their preferred career upon graduation, while others may just want to work at their desired workplace with the goal of moving towards that career. Juan Flores, Radiology Generalist at The Woodlands Campus, as successfully done both very early in his career and can add a system-wide award to that list.

“This is amazing! I just graduated a little over a year ago, so working here is kind of like a dream come true,” Flores said. “I never thought I’d work at Texas Children’s until maybe later on, until I have more experience, but I took a chance so I’m happy about that.”

Flores is known to be very quick to volunteer outside of his role as a radiographer. He is on the Radiology Events and Activities Committee, he has played a role in several simulations inside and outside of Radiology, he is a part of the Customer Obsession Task Force, and helps with The Teddy Bear Clinic.

When his youthful presence is removed, Flores can be mistaken for a Texas Children’s veteran even though his has only been here a year, as his work constantly exemplifies our mission.

“In such a short time, Juan has been a fantastic addition to our team! He takes his role as a radiographer seriously and puts forth 110 percent every day,” Assistant Director of Radiology Traci Foster said. “Regardless of the day he’s having, Juan is always positive and has a great sense of humor.”

Foster recalled a time when a 4-year-old in the orthopedic clinic had a fractured arm and needed an x-ray. She says that the child was extremely anxious due to a recent, difficult, experience at an outside urgent care.

“Juan worked with the mother of the patient to identify a comfort position for the child. He was extremely patient and allowed them time to warm up to the environment by showing them the big camera and allowing the patient to touch and explore the room and equipment prior to positioning him for the x-ray,” Foster said. “The child was very receptive to his gentle approach and was able to complete the x-ray while smiling and saying ‘cheese.’ The mother was so appreciative of Juan and so are we. The entire department thanks Juan for going above and beyond to create a great patient experience for all of our patient families.”

At times after a hard day of work, when an emergency occurs there aren’t many people who will volunteer for additional duties. Flores’ hard work, determination, and persistence are all of the reasons why he is one of this year’s Caught You Caring Award recipients.

“I was so surprised when I found out that I won this award. “The fact that I’ve only been here a short while, and I work with so many other amazing people, this was really unexpected,” Flores said. “I love it here. It’s a tough job, but it’s extremely rewarding, and I hope to continue here for years to come.”

June 3, 2019

Whenever anyone asks about Shamika Jenkins, the first observation made is about her infectious smile and enthusiastic personality.

Customer service isn’t just a specific portion of an employee’s job description, it affects a patient’s entire experience. As a clerical secretary, Jenkins comes in contact with just about every patient that checks in during her early morning shift. In the Pavilion for Women Surgery department the patient’s experience begins with her warm welcomes and persistence.

“Although it can be pretty busy, I love meeting all different kind of people,” Jenkins said. “There are times when some people may be in a bad mood, a wonderful mood, some may be lost, and others are as upbeat and cheery as I am. Regardless, it gives me joy to encounter all moods because no matter what, I’m here to make their day.”

The waiting area can be the most quiet and uneventful time during a patient’s hospital visit. Either following check in, during an appointment, or after surgery as a patient recovers, patients and their families can potentially spend hours sitting in the lobby. Jenkins has transformed her role into not just checking patients in for their appointments, but makes them feel comfortable as well.

“Shamika is always the pretty, smiling face and helpful person in the waiting room,” Nursing Manager of Pavilion for Women Perioperative Services, Aleli Cabali said. “Shamika goes above and beyond to make sure that families in the waiting room are updated while patients are in the operating room.”

Jenkins’ diligence and consistence in making sure all surgery patients are called and scheduled for their appointments helps both patients and her co-workers, and is what allows the department to continuously provide high quality care.

“I remember a time when several people from the department had to go on vacation, and Shamika called patients ahead of time and scheduled their appointment to make it easier on the rest of the team,” Cabali said. “This was a big help to the unit and is why she deserves this award.”

Jenkins says despite the constant verbal recognition that she receives, she was not expecting to get a hospital-wide award.

“To be honest I didn’t see this coming,” she said. “I just come into work, do my job, and always remember to be myself; that is probably what excites me the most about being recognized. When working at Texas Children’s you have to be ready to put your ‘A game’ on every day. We have people come from everywhere so we need to make sure we maintain that great customer service consistently, and I am more than happy to be that example.”

The Houston Business Journal recently named several Texas Children’s physicians 2019 Health Care Heroes, honoring them for going above and beyond in serving the healthcare industry. The physicians were honored at a May 23 ceremony and are listed below:

Outstanding Health Care Practitioner: Dr. Ricardo Flores, hematology/oncology; Dr. Joohi Jimenez-Shahed, neurology; Dr. Julie Kaplow, pediatrics and psychology; and Dr. Michele York, neurology.

Outstanding Physician: Dr. Daniel DeSalvo, pediatrics, diabetes and endocrinology; Dr. Lisa Hollier, obstetrics and gynecology; Dr. Peter Hotez, pediatrics and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine; Dr. Rayne Rouce, pediatrics and hematology/oncology.

Rising Star: Dr. Hsiao-Tuan Chao, neurology; and Dr. Arindam Sarkar, resident physician in family and community medicine.

The Clinical Research Center/Research Resources Office presented the Clinical Research Award for second Quarter 2019 to Dr. Patricia Baxter, Department of Pediatrics-Hematology/Oncology, 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.

Dr. Baxter’s research in the CRC is focused on evaluating novel therapeutic agents for recurrent pediatric cancers, with a special interest in brain tumors. She is a member of the Cancer and Hematology Centers Neuro-oncology and Developmental Therapeutics Teams and is an active participant in the Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium (PBTC), Collaborative Network for Neuro-Oncology Clinical Trials (CONNECT) and Pacific Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Consortium (PNOC). Dr. Baxter credits the CRC nurses and staff, as well as the research nurses in the Cancer Center for playing a critical role in moving this research forward and their compassionate care of the patients and family.

May 28, 2019

Whether it is ensuring that families are well informed and comfortable, or walking into a room with enthusiasm willing to help her co-workers when necessary, at the crack of dawn in the Surgery Department at The Woodlands campus, patients and employees count on Jennifer Grubbs to make their day.

Grubbs started her journey here at Texas Children’s in 2015, in the Emergency Center at Texas Children’s West Campus, and then moved to The Woodlands just in time for the hospital’s opening as a Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) charge nurse. She later moved into her current role as the Patient and Family Liaison nurse that requires her to be knowledgeable, compassionate, and have the ability to communicate effectively. Grubbs exemplifies these characteristics daily which is why she was nominated by for the Caught You Caring (CYC) award by her leaders.

“She is so straight forward and concise when giving parents information about the surgery process, while also maintaining a profound sense of compassion and courtesy for their child,” Nursing Manager of Perioperative Services, Betty Smith said. “Her passion for her job is palpable and I have no doubt she will continue to provide amazing, well-rounded care to patients and families in day surgery.”

Grubbs’ flexibility to charge in the PACU, work in pre-op, or even work in the PACU as a nurse when needed on top of her duties as Patient and Family Liaison., shows her commitment to the department as well as our patients. She also serves as the chair of her unit’s Patient Experience committee.

“I really enjoy the patient experience role that I have,” Grubbs said. “I love working at Texas Children’s as a whole. There are so many opportunities for growth and the support by management here is immeasurable. Everyone is open to communication, there’s honest feedback, and it feels like a family, especially working in a community setting.”

Smith recalled a time when a PACU patient had a prescription for a medication that their local pharmacy could not fill, and Jennifer took the initiative to call several locations in the area repeatedly until she was able to find a pharmacy that carried the prescription. Something that may seem small to one person ultimately removed an immense amount of stress off of the patient’s parent. This particular occurrence is an example of her willingness to go above and beyond.

“However she can assist patients, she does,” Smith said. “Often as I prepare patients for surgery I hear her clarifying any misconceptions, addressing any fears, and comforting them every step of the way. That amongst many other things is why she is so deserving of this award.”

Grubbs’ sense of urgency that she has gained in the emergency room, combined with her compassion and patience from her PACU experience, allows her to be able to communicate with all family’s that walk in to any surgery situation.

“I am honored to be recognized for what I do every day,” Grubbs said. “It’s what I love to do, just connect with families and try to ease any anxieties they may have, and make a positive impact with every encounter I can have.”