May 20, 2014

Dr. Huda Zoghbi, founding director of the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute (NRI) at Texas Children’s Hospital, has established a special fund to help young scientists launch their independent research careers.

When Zoghbi started her career 30 years ago, it was easier to pursue bold ideas. “It wasn’t as hard to get funding, and we didn’t feel the same pressures young scientists face today, Zoghbi said. “I had no research experience when I decided to learn genetics, but Dr. Arthur Beaudet took me into his lab anyway. That would be very hard to do today.”

Zoghbi, who also is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and professor of molecular and human genetics, neurology, neuroscience and pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, wants to support the next generation of budding scientists by giving them “room to pursue creative ideas as they’re beginning to launch careers.”

“The transition to independence is the most difficult period in a young scientist’s career,” Zoghbi said. “This kind of funding gives them a measure of freedom and signals our faith in their abilities to carve out their own niche.”

To accomplish this mission, Zoghbi has created a special fund at the NRI, one of the world’s first basic research institutes dedicated to childhood neurological diseases. The fund will provide one year of support to postdoctoral fellows who want to test bold hypotheses that would not be supported by conventional grants. When Zoghbi learned recently that she’d won the 2014 March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology, she decided immediately that she would add the $250,000 prize to the fund.

“This is a very prestigious award, and we are so fortunate that one of our own received this prize for her work to help advance our understanding of birth defects,” said Texas Children’s President and CEO Mark A. Wallace. “But we are even more honored and excited that this prize is being donated by Dr. Zoghbi as a generous gift to the NRI to help young scientists.”

Zoghbi’s gratitude and desire to give back is driven particularly by three individuals who had a profound impact on her career.

Dr. Ralph Feigin recruited me to the pediatric residency program at Baylor College of Medicine and taught me clinical scholarship,” she said. “He also became a second father to me. Dr. Marvin Fishman was such an exemplary clinician that I was inspired to become a pediatric neurologist, where I met the patients who changed the course of my career. When I decided I wanted to pursue basic research, Dr. Beaudet, one of the finest geneticists in the country, took me into his lab and taught me how to be a scientist.”

Zoghbi hopes that with support from this fund, combined with hard work and protected space for intellectual freedom, many young scientists will enjoy similar success.

Click here for more information on the 2014 March of Dimes Award.


The Texas Department of State Health Services announced that Dr. Julie Boom, director of the Immunization Project at Texas Children’s and associate professor at Baylor College of Medicine, has been named Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Childhood Immunization Champion for Texas. This annual award, given by the CDC Foundation and the CDC, honors exemplary childhood immunization advocates across the 50 U.S. states, eight U.S. Territories and Freely Associated States, and the District of Columbia.

Recipients of the Childhood Immunization Champions award are individuals who work tirelessly to improve the health and lives of young children by ensuring that immunization is a priority. Boom was nominated by her peers, and selected as a Champion among health care professionals, community advocates, and other immunization leaders for making a significant contribution to public health in Texas through her work in children’s immunization.

When Boom was a medical resident, she treated a 3-year-old girl who died of meningitis. This experience inspired her to devote her career to promoting immunization through education, research, and the development of improved immunization technology and practices. Boom led the development of an automated software tool that forecasts what vaccines each child will need and when, according to the recommended schedule. To remind parents about the importance of vaccines, she helped create Vaccine-Preventable Disease: The Forgotten Story, a book featuring 20 families affected by vaccine-preventable illnesses.

May 13, 2014


Dr. Maggie McClure is petite but with a large presence. McClure, one of the founders of Magnet and former Chief Nursing Officer at NYU Medical Center, was the guest of honor at one of the first events to kick off Nurses Week 2014. She spoke to a group of nursing leaders giving an inspirational speech about how Magnet was first established. Magnet is a program which recognizes health care organizations for quality patient care, nursing excellence and innovations in professional nursing practice. Texas Children’s is among the less than 10 percent of hospitals nationwide designated as Magnet facilities.

“When you have great nurses, you have great outcomes,” said McClure. “I don’t know an outcome that is not nursing-related.”

McClure spoke to the heart of nursing and brought laughter to the audience as she shared her experience as a nurse leader in the 70s when there was a shortage of nurses. For McClure, what is now the Magnet program, started out as research to decide what determined nurse retention. McClure’s story is one of collaboration. With the help of three other nurse leaders across the nation, findings were published as a learning experience for all nursing organizations.

Click here to jump to the photo gallery from Nurses Week 2014 below

The speech by McClure was just the beginning of a week of events and activities. Throughout the week, Chief Nursing Office Lori Armstrong made special stops to different units with treats to show her appreciation for all of the hard work by the incredible team of 2,500 nurses. Nurses were treated to a special chair massage, received a blessing of the hands and held a presentation of posters showing the work they’ve done over the last 365 days.

“It’s my goal that by the end of the week, you know how special you are,” Armstrong said, addressing a group of nurses.

Houston Chronicle Salute to Nurses honorees
Among the week’s celebrations included three award ceremonies. The Houston Chronicle Salute to Nurses awarded Janet Treadwell from Texas Children’s Health Plan, as one of the top 10 nurses of 2014. Another 10 nurses were honored in the top 100 including Adrian McKinney, Sandy Heartwell, Cynthia Kennedy, Adrienne Kocher, Patricia Bondurant, Raymund Benigay, Cristina Hernandez, Jennifer Pearson, Jennifer Lusk and Jeremy Thierry.

Texas Children’s Nursing Excellence Award recipients
The second annual Texas Children’s Nursing Excellence Awards Luncheon honored nurses who go above and beyond on a daily basis to make a difference in the lives of our patients. Armstrong opened the awards ceremony which included remarks by President and CEO Mark A. Wallace and Physician-in-Chief Dr. Mark W. Kline as well as closing remarks by Executive Vice President Susan MacDonald.

The honors went to:
Mary Pfeffer – rookie
Danielle Gregory – staff nurse
Brenda Balayut – preceptor
Lauren McCracken – certified nurse
Dr. Nancy Hurst – nurse researcher
Deitra Brown – nurse leader
Julie Kuzin – advanced practice nurse
Forensic Nursing Team – nursing team of the year
Dr. Tony Mott – friend of nursing

The week concluded with a Daisy Award presentation and a statue dedication in front of the Children’s Chapel in West Tower. The Daisy Award for Extraordinary Nurses is awarded each month to nurses based on nominations by patient families or peers. The latest recipient of the Daisy Award is Elise Chabot, 15 West Tower.

Mary Pfeffer, BSN, RN ~ Rookie

Mary Pfeffer is a 2012 Magna cum Laude graduate of the William F. Connell School of Nursing. She is a member of the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing. Mary is a staff nurse on 14WT, our Pulmonary Adolescent unit. Although she is relatively new to the nursing profession, Mary has distinguished herself as a leader. She is well-known for constantly seeking out new information and ways to better equip herself to deliver the highest quality care possible to her patients and their families. For example, when new initiatives are discussed, Mary frequently volunteers to take an active part in the new process. Despite being a new nurse, Mary is committed to the nursing profession – and takes the responsibility of being a nurse very seriously. For example, she was recently the first responder to an auto-pedestrian accident. She immediately jumped out of her car, began CPR and instructed others who arrived on appropriate steps for support. She stayed with the injured man until EMS arrived to assume care. In the words of Mary’s manager, “Mary’s compassionate touch, positive demeanor, and family engagement in care make her a tremendous asset to the patients and families she cares for.”

Brenda Balayut, BSN, RN ~ Preceptor

Brenda attended nursing school in Pampanga, Philippines. She began working at Texas Children’s in 2009 on 14WT, our Pulmonary Adolescent unit. Brenda takes pride in being a life-long learner – she is BSN prepared and is currently working towards obtaining her CPN certification. Brenda has been described as a “natural nurturer to novice nurses.” Her background of having worked as a clinical instructor in the Philippines has contributed to her success as a preceptor. In the words of one of her orientees, “As a graduate nurse, I was thrilled yet nervous to begin my nursing career at Texas Children’s, and Brenda helped me confidently transition into my role as an RN. During my orientation time, Brenda encouraged me as I faced challenges and helped in still qualities in me that I will continue demonstrate throughout my nursing career.”

Lauren McCracken, BSN, RN, CCRN ~ Certified

Lauren began working as a staff nurse in our PICU in 2005. She is certified by the American Association of Critical Care Nurses. She has been a member of the American Association of Critical Care Nurses since 2005. Lauren became a part of the PICU Transport Team in 2010. As part of the team, she transports patients from 23 weeks gestation to adults from outlying hospitals to our Intensive Care Units. In the words of Dr. Graff, “Lauren embodies the best professional values of a staff nurse. The rigorous, highly pressured transport environment requires calm, deliberate critical thinking, immediate problem solving and a willingness to ‘go the extra mile.’ Lauren excels as a transport provider in all these aspects.”

Nancy Hurst PhD, RN, IBCLC ~ Nurse Researcher

Nancy began her career at Texas Children’s at 1984 as a lactation consultant. She currently serves as the director of Women’s Support Services – she has been in that role since 2010. Nancy is well known for having a longstanding program of research in lactation and breastfeeding the preterm neonate. She is currently the Principal Investigator on a study entitled, ‘Effects of freezing and thawing cycles and storage on the quality of human milk.” Dr. Steven Abrams noted that, “with Nancy’s effort Texas Children’s Hospital is recognized throughout the country and even in other countries as a leader in using human milk to help infants thrive and survive preterm birth or other critical illnesses.”

Forensic Nursing ~ Nursing Team

The forensic team is comprised of nurses that primarily work in the emergency center conducting medical forensic exams for sexual assault cases. At the heart of the forensic nursing team is an undeniable drive to provide quality healthcare to victims of child abuse. Each member of the team reports that their motivation to work in this highly specific and somewhat challenging role is to provide remarkable, compassionate, specialized care for patients and families enduring the unimaginable trauma of sexual abuse. In the words of social work colleague John Bickel, “Having worked with this team for several years, I am constantly amazed by their thoughtfulness, caring and authenticity with these children. We can’t ‘fix’ these children, but we can give them a new and happier ‘normal.’”

Dr. Tony Mott ~ Friend of Nursing

Dr. Tony Mott is a cardiologist and Medical Director of 15WT. Dr. Mott is well regarded for his collaborative leadership style and support of nursing. He takes an active part in the hiring of new nurses on 15WT – by sitting in on interviews or sending a personally emailing the candidate a welcome note of support and partnership. During daily unit rounds he takes the time to assess the nursing workload and advocates alongside nurse leaders to meet bedside nurse, patient and family needs. Dr. Mott always includes nurses in patient care discussions and consistently communicates to nurses how valuable their insight is. One of Dr. Mott’s supporters commented, “Dr. Mott has brought an era of hope and respect that has been pivotal in changing our culture and clinical knowledge on 15WT. He is not only academically brilliant; he is compassionate, understanding, and genuine. His admiration and respect for our profession leaves me speechless.”

Danielle Gregory, BSN, RN, CNRN ~ Staff Nurse

Danielle is a 2011 graduate of the UT Health Science Center at Houston School of Nursing, where she was on the Dean’s List and also the recipient of the Ann Poage Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement and Leadership. She is a certified neuroscience nurse and member of the Society of Pediatric Nurses. She is a staff nurse on 10WT – where she has taken on several projects and roles. For example, she is a member of the epilepsy monitoring unit (EMU) core team, a member of the unit quality practice committee (UQPC) and also serves as a preceptor for new nurses. Danielle has been described as someone that, “embodies perfection as a nurse and colleague. She is a loving, caring individual who is committed to her patients and peers. Her passion is evident in each of the tasks she performs and each of the lives she touches.”

Deitra Brown, MHA, RN, CCRN ~ Nurse Leader

Deitra has served as the nurse manager of the CVICU since 2010. She is certified critical care nurse and a member of the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN). Last fall she was elected as the AACN Houston Gulf Coast Chapter Secretary – elect. Deitra serves as the director of Camp Pump it Up, and collaborates with staff from various departments to coordinate a safe and fun weekend camp for cardiac patients and their siblings. Deitra makes every effort to “lead by example” in how she interacts with other departments, patients and families, staff and physicians. In the words of Dr. Tume, “She has shown that in times of stress in the unit one is able to encourage constructive attitude and enable others to overcome system’s challenges. She is well liked and respected by our nursing and physician team.”

Julie Kuzin ~ Advanced Practice

Julie is a pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP) with the Cardiology service. Julie’s colleagues describe her as being “relentless about professional advancement, scholarly endeavors and involvement in professional organizations.” She is well-known for her integrity, ethical behavior, extraordinary teaching skills and her ability to maintain focus on ‘priority number one’ – providing outstanding patient and family centered care. Julie is an active member of the Houston chapter of the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners – and serves as their legislative chair. Julie’s newest venture includes a recent appointment as recurrent faculty at Texas Tech School of Nursing where she is developing the curriculum for the new acute care PNP program.

Janet Treadwell, RN, director of care coordination at Texas Children’s Health Plan.
Nominated by fellow nurses Gail Bean, RN; Marie Jackson, RN; and Colleen Carpenter, RN, BSN

Believe it or not, Janet Treadwell’s introduction to nursing came while she was clowning around.

“My father was a member of one of the Shiners Clown Patrol Units and they regularly entertained in their clown suits while children and their parents were waiting,” Treadwell said. “When I was in fifth grade, my mother made me a clown costume so I could go with my father and entertain.

“I could see the kids smile and see them become engaged, not so scared as they were, and I decided then I wanted to be a nurse. Later, in high school, I traded my clown suit for a Candy Striper uniform and after I graduated, attended DePaul Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, earning my associate degree in nursing in 1975. My family has always been compassionate toward others, and I was fortunate to have this role model of doing unto others,” she said, and although her responsibilities as director of care coordination focus on the basics and building relationships, she continues to see the value of doing unto others.

A believer in lifelong learning, Treadwell, originally a diploma grad, has returned to the classroom numerous times. After earning a BSN, she went on to complete a master’s degree in community health nursing from Southern Illinois University. Then, changing from an acute care focus to a career using her nursing skills in the area of managed care, she pursued a PhD in business. These degrees were all accomplished while working full time, raising a family and being active in community activities.

In the midst of obtaining the degrees, Treadwell has achieved certification in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ), as an Accredited Case Manager (ACM), Certified Care Manager (CCM), Certified Managed Healthcare Nurse (CMCN) and Lean Six Sigma Greenbelt (LSSGB).

She is now completing her doctorate in nursing practice. Her research area – intercollaborative nursing – connects the dots between relationships, education, outreach and support for chronic disease and the Affordable Care Act.

But her academic accomplishments are only one facet of this multifaceted, multitasking nursing professional.

As one nominator described her:
“Janet Treadwell has a passion for nursing, believing it is a profession where a person should never become bored. Janet’s strengths are in the areas of development – of both people and programs.”

In another nomination:
“Janet is innovative, collaborative and in the forefront of adopting new approaches to the health plan. She is a leader in care management and ahead of most areas of the country in implementing programs to positively impact the lives of those patients served by our health plan.”

Another colleague said:
“Janet is exceptional in her work. Janet influences all people she touches to excel beyond their potential and she is one of the most caring and compassionate people I know.”

In her experience, the greatest challenge in nursing today is the high level of change.

“Because change comes so rapidly and so often, collaboration and being flexible (nurses historically have been the most flexible) is essential,” she said. “I’ll also say the people going into nursing are great multitaskers and are at their best, connecting patients with facilities with entities in the community. Of course, juggling those things is always a challenge, so in addition to our clinical knowledge, there’s that psycho-social knowledge we also must apply.”

Treadwell remembered a time, earlier in her career, when she was working on a geriatric medical unit in a small hospital.

“I always had the sense that people were not merely ‘diagnoses,’ but people with families and a past and such rich stories to tell. It was during that time I mastered the skill of considering people within the whole context of who they are,” she said, “and there was more time to listen. Through it all, those patients could tell you were treating them with caring, compassion and respect, as well as doing what you needed to do in giving them treatment.”

Nurses Week Gallery


National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week was celebrated the fourth week in April. Leaders, staff members, pathologists and laboratory staff members commemorated this time with many notable events.

Every year, the Department of Pathology honors and remembers Virginia Deeken, a respected educator for the Texas Children’s Hospital Laboratory from 1972 to 1993, with the Virginia Deeken Memorial Lecture. This year, Dr. Adekunle Adesina, medical director, Texas Children’s Molecular and Neuropathology Laboratories and Global Pathology, presented “Global Pathology Outreach – All the Sides of the Coin.”

The department recognized both a team and individual who made extraordinary contributions to patient care through their laboratory service.

The presentation of the GJ Buffone Pathology Improvement Award was made to Betty Sapinsky, Maureen Quinn, Christina Moreno, Tyler Giess, Mindy Dement and Shari Lim who worked together to create the protocol for management of massive transfusion cases with the Pavilion for Women patients. They collaborated with physicians and caregivers to create a standardized and streamlined process to support the fastest service. The system has reduced nursing staff’s efforts in providing the required information and samples needed for laboratory testing. This revised protocol reduced turnaround times for results and seamlessly tracked transfused blood products.

For the Individual Excellence award, we honor a pair of individual leaders involved in information mining and presentations/graphics services, respectively. Michael Dowlin, Pathology’s senior programmer analyst, quietly creates and advances the data mining and analytical tools we demand for quality assurance, dashboard metrics and information archiving and retrieval. Karen Prince, Pathology’s graphics and image specialist, has incredible talents in design and presentation that illustrate the department’s staff, faculty, accomplishments and communications both professionally and artistically.

Medical laboratory testing plays a crucial role in the detection, diagnosis and treatment of disease in patients. An estimated 60 percent to 70 percent of all decisions regarding a patient’s diagnosis and treatment, hospital admission and discharge are based on laboratory test results.

Drs. Greg Buffone (left), Rocky Hui, and Jun Teruya (right), present the GJ Buffone Pathology Improvement Award to the Pavilion for Women Massive Transfusion Protocol team: Betty Sapinsky, Mindy Dement, Maureen Quinn, Shari Lim, Christina Moreno (not pictured) and Tyler Giess (not pictured).

Individual Excellence Award recipients are Michael Dowlin (left) and Karen Prince.

May 6, 2014


At Texas Children’s, we see firsthand all the good that Physician-in-Chief Dr. Mark W. Kline does for our hospital every day. Now, the extraordinary work that he does all around the world is being recognized, as he was presented with the 2014 Programme for Global Paediatric Research (PGPR) Award for Outstanding Contributions to Global Child Health. Dr. Kline accepted the award in Vancouver, CA on May 3, as part of the 2014 PGPR Symposium session Global Child Health in Rich and Poor Countries: Lessons Learned from Indigenous Health Research and Practise.

The PGPR, a component of the SickKids Centre for Global Child Health in Toronto, works with researchers, societies, NGOs and governments throughout the world to address global health issues affecting infants and children. Its mission is to inform, educate, and facilitate international research cooperation and collaboration, and to advocate for research to improve the health of all children.

“Dr. Kline’s work is a wonderful example of effectively implementing health care solutions to help some of the most vulnerable children in the world, while building local capacity and ensuring sustainability,” said Dr. Alvin Zipursky, chair and scientific director of PGPR, SickKids Centre for Global Child Health.

The PGPR has presented this award annually since 2009 to a global researcher and thought leader in the pediatric field. The award is designed to honor and profile outstanding research achievements in global child health; especially work that has been conducted in developing regions.

“Dr. Kline is a globally respected leader in pediatric HIV/AIDS and deserving of this recognition for his outstanding research achievements in the field, especially in reaching populations in greatest need in the developing world,” said Dr. Zulfiqar Bhutta, the inaugural award recipient and co-director of the SickKids Centre for Global Child Health.

Kline was chosen as this year’s recipient based on his hugely important contribution to changing the global child health landscape through capacity-building, leadership training and program implementation focused on revolutionizing the care of children in developing countries with HIV/AIDS.

“To be chosen by my peers, many of whom I admire greatly, is a great honor,” said Kline. “The work is far from done, but I find it both gratifying and comforting that so many outstanding health care providers are united together in this mission to improve global health and am grateful to the PGPR for this award.”

Kline’s career achievements and global efforts speak for themselves. Specifically, a long-time researcher in pediatric HIV/AIDS, Kline has been the recipient and principal investigator for more than $50 million in research grants from the U.S. National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He has authored more than 250 scientific articles and textbook chapters and has presented over 350 national and international lectures on subjects related to infectious diseases of children and global child health. He directs international research for the NIH-funded BCM Center for AIDS Research and is principal investigator for BCM’s NIH-funded Child Health Research Center and AIDS International Training and Research Program. Kline is also the founder and President of the BCM International Pediatric AIDS Initiative (BIPAI) at Texas Children’s Hospital, an ambitious program that encompasses HIV/AIDS care and treatment and health professional education and training programs across sub-Saharan Africa, Libya and Romania. BIPAI provides HIV/AIDS treatment to more children than any other organization worldwide.

Sandi Sands received the award from Carol Santalucia and Jason Wolf of the Beryle Institute.

Sandi Sands, senior family advocate, Family Advocacy and Spiritual Care, received the Ruth Ravich award for her leadership and mentoring capabilities locally, regionally and nationally regarding advocacy. Sandi’s philosophy regarding advocacy has always been about placing an attitude of teamwork into the fabric of everything she does for the patient. She has never been about boasting about what she does simply because her area of strength is in taking care of others, especially individuals desiring to embark upon a career in advocacy and become caregivers that ultimately impact care teams! Sandi is a behind the scenes whirlwind who gets it done!

Ruth Ravich was the founder and first president of the former Society for Healthcare Consumer Advocacy (SCHA). Ms. Ravich organized the Patient Representative Department at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, was the author of numerous healthcare consumer articles, and lectured on patient advocacy both in the United States and abroad.

In 1991, the SHCA Board of Directors established the Ruth Ravich Founders’ Award, sponsored by rL Solutions, to recognize an individual whose work supported the vision of the Society – to bring the patients’ needs to the center of healthcare. The first award was presented in 1991 to Ruth Ravich, the Society’s first president, and for whom the award is named.

Sands received this award while at the Beryle Institute Patient Experience Conference (as SCHA no longer exists) for her willingness to step in and serve in the patient advocacy community of the Beryl Institute.



April 29, 2014


After announcing the new quarterly, “Best of the West” recognition program, West Campus leaders received numerous nominations for worthy employees. The “Best of the West” program was designed specifically to recognize and honor those individuals at West Campus who excel in exhibiting the characteristics outlined in the Texas Children’s Hospital Guiding Principles.

Ruth Avila, a patient interpreter liaison, has been selected as the first ever “Best of the West” recipient. Ruth joined Texas Children’s in 2003, and she has been a part of the West Campus team since its inception. Ruth’s nomination describes her work as a volunteer co-facilitator for a support group of Spanish speaking families whose children are being cared for in the Hematology & Oncology Center at West Campus. She is described as always having a positive attitude that is contagious to those around her. Her nomination also describes her empathy and cultural sensitivity for our patients and their families. Below are some words shared about Ruth:

“Ruth is the perfect person to obtain the first “Best of the West” award as she is one of the first employees at West Campus and is known for her compassion and professional approach. She transferred to West Campus from the Main Campus and continues to maintain excellent relationships with Language Services at Main Campus which supports seamless care for our patients. Last year, Ruth completed oral and written examinations and achieved certification as a national medical interpreter, ahead of many of her peers. Ruth is an expert in all aspects of her profession including interpreting, translation of written documents, telephonic and video procedures. Ruth often tells me she loves her job and it certainly shows!”

Congratulations to Ruth. Take time to nominate the next Best of the West employee(This link will only open internally)