May 14, 2019


It’s hard to contain the celebration of nursing to just one week at Texas Children’s. Every day there are inspirational stories that demonstrate how our nurses go above and beyond to advance patient care and enhance patient experience and outcomes.

Their endless compassion, comfort and support can be seen and felt across the organization. A nurse clutching the hands of a parent who just received tough news about their child. A nurse giving up family time during holidays and weekends to spend time with families in the hospital. A nurse calming a mother’s fear as she prepares to give birth to her first child. Our nurses leave a lasting impression on every patient they encounter, and they are at the core of the experience patients and families have while in our care.

Each year, as we salute nurses across the country from May 6 to 12, Texas Children’s celebrates our amazing team of more than 3,500 nurses. The theme for Nurses Week this year was 4 Million Reasons to Celebrate – and at Texas Children’s – there are many reasons to celebrate our nurses.

This video spotlights our nurses’ many successes, accomplishments and the daily contributions they make to our patients and families at Texas Children’s.

Nurses Week activities

Texas Children’s Nursing Retention Council organized several fun activities throughout the week that included cookie deliveries to the units, blessing of hands and photo opportunities with our therapy dogs, Pinto and Bailey. Chair massages and other activities during Nurses Week centered on health and wellness to remind our nurses how important it is to take care of themselves so they can provide the best and safest care to their patients.

On May 8, Texas Children’s leadership hosted the Nursing Excellence Awards honoring seven recipients for their commitment to improving nursing care and patient outcomes.

The award honorees included:

Staff Nurse of the year: Anita Hadley
Preceptor of the year: Sherri Forschler
Rookie of the year: Jennifer Nguyen
Leader of the year: Sondra Morris
APRN of the year: Gina Santucci
Advanced degree of the year: Sharon Staton
Friend of Nursing: Dr. Matt Musick

Sandra Diaz and Erika Ramirez received the 2019 David and Polly Roth Nursing Education Scholarship Fund. This education fund will provide tuition assistance for Texas Children’s employees who have worked in the organization for at least three years and are interested in pursuing a professional nursing degree.

Faith Williams, Melissa Yu, and Lisa Carr received the Molly Mae LeBlanc Nursing Education Scholarship. The scholarship was named in memory of Molly Mae, daughter of Texas Children’s employees Jill and Andy LeBlanc, who passed away at Texas Children’s on May 6, 2017. The purpose of the scholarship is to perpetuate Molly Mae’s memory and recognize nursing staff members for going above and beyond their required job duties to enhance the quality of life for Texas Children’s patients and their families.

Priscila Reid, a nurse practitioner at Texas Children’s Heart Center, was among the top 15 award recipients from the Houston Chronicle Salute to Nurses, and 22 Texas Children’s nurses were recognized as being among the top 150 in the Greater Houston area:

Sheena Antimo
Nakeisha Archer
Angela Baldonado
Megan Beach
Janet DeJean
Nicole Dumas
Corey Gates
Jason Giangrosso
Nicole Harris
Josh Hearne
Lastenia Holton
Barbara Levy
Paul Longoria
Mona Lisa Macapagal
Tammy Myers
Virginia Plumlee
Priscila Reid
Esmeralda Reyna
Lisa Rohaly
Melissa Silvera
Kenya Starks
Elizabeth Watson

Congratulations to our nurses!

To learn more about Nursing at Texas Children’s, click here to view By the Numbers.

Texas Children’s Hospital has been recognized by Forbes as one of America’s best employers. Forbes recently released its annual America’s Best Large Employers list and ranked Texas Children’s No. 276 among the best 500 large companies in the nation. Texas Children’s was one of 25 health care organizations on the list, and one of only three in Texas and Houston.

Forbes partnered with market research company Statista to measure the leading employers around the country and the world by asking those in the best position: the workers. Statista surveyed 50,000 Americans working for businesses with at least 1,000 employees. All the surveys were anonymous, allowing participants to share their opinions openly. The respondents were asked to rate, on a scale of zero to 10, how likely they’d be to recommend their employer to others. Statista then asked respondents to nominate organizations in industries outside their own. The final list ranks the 500 large employers that received the most recommendations.

As you’ll recall, Forbes worked with Statista just last year on its first-ever ranking of America’s best employers for women. Texas Children’s was ranked No. 11 among the best 300 companies in the nation – and the best in Houston.

“Creating a culture not only of excellence but of collaboration and camaraderie has been a mission of ours, and I am so proud of what we have accomplished as One Amazing Team and of what we have built together at Texas Children’s Hospital,” said President and CEO Mark Wallace.

May 13, 2019

Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers recently honored four 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:

Ashley Bernal, a social worker at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, was recognized for her tireless work with our hematology and oncology patients in the Katy area. She goes above and beyond to stay late if a situation needs her assistance, adapts her role to the needs of families, and can handle the most difficult of social situations with compassion.

Janet DeJean, a clinical specialist at Texas Children’s Hospital Main Campus, is a long-time leader and is involved in almost every aspect of care we provide. She trains nursing staff throughout the Medical Center Campus and is crucial in the implementation of new clinical workflows. She also is a dedicated volunteer for our patients at Camp Periwinkle.

Robin Haidacher, a leukemia nurse coordinator at Texas Children’s Hospital Main Campus, is dedicated to improving the quality of care for her patients. She plans ahead, is accessible to families both at home and in the clinic, and she has been instrumental in training newer nurse coordinators.

Juan Salinas, a bone marrow transplant patient care assistant, is an 18-year veteran on the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit assisting with monitoring patient needs. His knowledge and experience have allowed him to identify potential deterioration in patients that led to early attention to their needs. He watches out for his co-workers and frequently picks up extra shifts when the unit needs help.

“We can’t be one of the top pediatric cancer and hematology centers in the country without the efforts of many people across a wide variety of disciplines,” said Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers Clinical Director Dr. Timothy Porea. “Thank you all for the hard work you put in each and every day.”

The photos above picture from left to right: Ashley Bernal, Robin Haidacher, Janet DeJean, and Juan Salinas. You can click the image to enlarge it.

May 6, 2019

Texas Children’s celebrated Laboratory Professionals Week April 21-27 with a variety of activities and events. Many were honored for their tenure in the department and others for their dedication to the mission of the profession.

“Laboratory Professionals Week provides the profession with a unique opportunity to increase public understanding of and appreciation for clinical laboratory personnel,” said Texas Children’s Director of Pathology Ann O’Connell. “The clinical laboratorian is a key member of our health care team, playing an increasingly vital role in the diagnosis and prevention of disease.”

The Texas Children’s Department of Pathology hosted two lectures and an awards ceremony during Laboratory Professionals Week. The first lecture honored Texas Children’s former Division Chief of Clinical Pathology and current Director of Pathology Informatics Gregory Buffone, Ph.D.

Buffone, who will soon retire after 40 years with Texas Children’s, has served in many roles in the Department of Pathology, always as a passionate advocate for patient safety and quality in laboratory medicine. In addition to a dedicated laboratory professional, Buffone also is an avid photographer. As a tribute to Buffone and his contributions to the Department of Pathology, several of his images are on permanent display in the Pathology Gresik Conference Room in the basement of the West Tower Building.

Pathologist-in-Chief Dr. James Versalovic celebrated his 10th anniversary as head of the Department of Pathology at Texas Children’s. Versalovic has been with Texas Children’s for nearly 18 years and has made significant strides in the Department of Pathology, growing the department’s faculty and clinical staff two fold. He spearheaded the creation of the Genomic Medicine and Transfusion Safety divisions and invested time and effort in growing the Texas Children’s Microbiome Center. Versalovic also led a multitude of critical initiatives across the organization. He was instrumental in the creation of the innovative partnership with Quest Diagnostics and most recently has worked on the adoption and implementation of Epic Beaker.

“Please join me in congratulating Jim on this milestone, and for his superb leadership and the incredible achievements he has accomplished during his tenure,” Texas Children’s President and CEO Mark Wallace said. “We look forward to celebrating many more years of success with him!”

The annual Virginia Deeken Memorial Lecture presented by Aaron West Assistant Director also included two types of awards. The GJ Buffone Pathology Improvement Award recipients Dr. James Dunn, Clarah Mutandiro, Amber Ashgar, Marcus Mpwo, Awilda Rivera and Rina Riordan won the award for their Improved Turnaround Time for Urine Culture Reporting initiative. The Individual Excellence Award recipients were Purnima Rania and Renee Webb. The award honors employees who consistently going above and beyond expectations of job performance.

“Thank you for all of your hard work and contributions toward the care and diagnosis of our so many complex patients,” said Executive Vice President Mark Mullarkey. “Your work is endless, 24/7/365 and it directly impacts the care delivered to our patients we serve.”

April 23, 2019

Know a team member who exemplifies our mission and core values? Help us recognize and reward your colleague as a Super Star! To nominate, click read more.

April 22, 2019

The Purple Songs Can Fly documentary, “Journey to Hope,” was recognized with the Platinum Remi Award at the 2019 WorldFest-Houston.

“My father must have orchestrated this from heaven along with all the other angels watching over Mia, Layla, Dominic, Emily, Stephen and Christian,” said Anita Kruse, founder and executive director of Purple Songs Can Fly. “Thank you. Your love is eternal and shows us that hope is always here. This one’s for you.”

Purple Songs Can Fly, the first recording studio created on a pediatric cancer floor, was founded in 2006 at Texas Children’s Hospital. Thirteen years and thousands of songs later, six childhood cancer patients, Mia, Layla, Dominic, Emily, Stephen and Christian, come together as survivors to share “Journey to Hope,” an original musical featuring their own songs. Written and recorded in the Purple Songs Can Fly studio during their individual cancer journeys, these songs were created as a way to express the myriad of emotions and feelings a pediatric cancer diagnosis may bring.

“We were thrilled to be included in this year’s line up at WorldFest-Houston, alongside many other wonderful, independent films,” Kruse said. “It was a great stage for our story to be told, truly shining a light on pediatric cancer.”

Now in its 52nd year, WorldFest, the Houston International Film Festival, showcased more than 60 new independent feature films and more than 100 award-winning shorts from around the globe. The WorldFest mission is to recognize and honor outstanding creative achievement in film and video, while educating and introducing excellence in cinematic arts for the promotion of cultural tourism in Houston. Founded in 1961 as an international film society, it evolved into a competitive international film festival in 1968, and became the third such festival in North America, following San Francisco and New York.

“We’re so proud of Anita and the incredible patients who created such a beautiful film,” said Carol Herron, coordinator of the Periwinkle Arts In Medicine Program at Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers. “Purple Songs Can Fly has provided hundreds of patients and siblings the gift of sharing their journey through song, and we are so grateful for the opportunity to share this special piece with our community.”

To view the trailer, visit “Journey to Hope.” For more information about Purple Songs Can Fly, visit and for more information about 2019 WorldFest-Houston, visit

Bert Gumeringer, vice president of Facilities Operations and Support Services at Texas Children’s, received the 2019 Executive of the Year Award from the Texas Association of Healthcare Facilities Management (TAHFM).

This prestigious award recognizes an active TAHFM member who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and achievements in the field. Gumeringer received the award at the annual TAHFM Interlink Conference in April, where he was recognized for his leadership as past president and for his many contributions to the growth of the organization, which is now the largest community of health care facilities management professionals in Texas.

“I am so grateful to receive this incredible honor,” Gumeringer said. “I’ve done a lot for the TAHFM organization over the years, and I’ve always done it out of my spirit of volunteerism and education. I’m honored to receive this award, and I look forward to working with our members to continue to build on the great work that we started.”

At Texas Children’s Hospital, Gumeringer’s leadership has been instrumental in helping the organization cultivate and sustain an environment that is safe, clean and customer-focused that fully supports the hospital’s mission.

As vice president of Facilities Operations and Support Services, Gumeringer oversees a team of more than 1,000 who handle the daily operations and maintenance of all of Texas Children’s owned and leased buildings, which equates to 12.2 million square feet of space spanning over 125 locations across Greater Houston and Austin.

Gumeringer credits his team for helping to lead the organization through several transformations including the successful implementation of Mission Control, which has helped reduce transportation times, improve the patient acceptance process and optimize system communications. By successfully bringing the hospital’s operations into a unified state-of-the-art command center, Texas Children’s received the coveted 2017 Excellence in Healthcare Facility Management Award from the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE).

Gumeringer and his team have also been involved in other system wide initiatives including implementing new traffic flow processes for valet parking so families can get to their appointments on time; revamping shipping and receiving processes to ensure timely delivery of supplies; and leveraging vendor relationships to maximize the full value of every contract, while reducing operational costs and growing our hospital’s savings year-over-year.

Gumeringer says one thing he is most proud of is working with Texas Children’s Physician-in-Chief Dr. Mark W. Kline and the Baylor Pediatric AIDS Initiative (BIPAI) to develop training programs for facilities and IT professionals at the Centers of Excellence (COE’s) in Africa and Romania. BIPAI has developed a network of clinics that treat patients with pediatric AIDS and other diseases. Collaborating with the International Facility Management Association (IFMA), Gumeringer and his team were able to provide training in facility maintenance, financial management, project management and emergency management on site in Africa. Through this program five trainees have now been certified by IFMA as Facility Management Professionals overseeing facilities and IT operations at their respective COE’s.

Beyond his leadership responsibilities at Texas Children’s, Gumeringer also devotes much of his time serving the community. He currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Rise School of Houston, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to ensuring students with and without disabilities have access to a first-class education.

“Texas Children’s has had a long partnership with the Rise School that helps children discover their potential for achieving great things in life,” Gumeringer said. “My son, who has developmental disabilities, has had a profound influence on what I think and believe as a leader. Some of my best leadership lessons I have learned from him.”