December 4, 2018

Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus has received the prestigious Leapfrog 2018 Top Children’s Hospital award by The Leapfrog Group for the fifth year in a row. The award recognizes achievements in patient safety and quality and is widely acknowledged as one of the most competitive and exclusive honors an American hospital can receive.

“We are honored to receive the Leapfrog 2018 Top Children’s Hospital award again this year,” vice president of Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, Ivett Shah said. “This award recognizes our team of physicians, nurses and employees who work tirelessly to provide the highest-quality of care, in the safest environment, for our patients. We are proud to have our work recognized by the Leapfrog Group and we will continue to provide exemplary care for our community.”

Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus received a Top Children’s Hospital distinction and was recognized nationally alongside 35 Top General Hospitals, 17 Top Rural Hospitals, 53 Top Teaching Hospitals and only 13 other Top Children’s Hospitals.

“Being acknowledged as a Top Hospital is an incredible feat achieved by less than six percent of eligible hospitals nationwide,” president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group, Leah Binder said. “With this honor, Texas Children’s Hospital has established its commitment to safer and higher quality care. Providing this level of care to patients in Houston requires motivation and drive from every team member. I congratulate the board, staff and clinicians, whose efforts made this honor possible.”

The Leapfrog Group is an organization that provides the only national, public comparison of hospitals across safety, quality and efficiency dimensions. Performance across many areas of hospital care is considered in establishing the qualifications for the award, including infection rates, maternity care, and the hospital’s capacity to prevent medication errors.

To see the full list of institutions honored as 2018 Top Hospitals, visit

November 16, 2018

Your name, title and department. How long have you worked here?
Jackie Pacheco, Health Coach in the Employee Health and Well-Being Department. I have worked at Texas Children’s for almost three years.

Tell us how you found out you won a super star award.
We were in our monthly HR Staff Meeting and during the thank you and congratulations section, my assistant director announced to the team that I had won the Super Star Award for the month of September. It was a complete surprise and I was overwhelmed with the warmth and amazing response from my colleagues.

What does it mean to be recognized for the hard work you do? How has the organization helped you achieve your personal and professional goals?
It means a lot to be recognized for all of the hard work that you put in. I work with an amazing team, and our work always impacts the people who work here at Texas Children’s with all of our health and well-being initiatives. I work with incredible people who support and encourage me every day and care for me both professionally and personally.

I recently became a certified wellness and health coach and have grown in my department because of this. I received encouragement from my leaders, and just knowing they are behind me and want to see me succeed, pushes me to do my best every day.

What do you think makes someone at Texas Children’s a super star?
A super star is someone who embraces the core values and finds a way to incorporate them into everything they do. They show up every day with a positive attitude and are enthusiastic about their work. We must always remember that we never know who we are going to make an impression on, so might as well always strive to make it positive.

What is your motivation for going above and beyond every day at work?
Knowing that I can make an impact on any single employee within the organization, keeps me going. Working on the Well-Being team, my job is to take care of the health and well-being of employees throughout our organization. If I can help our workforce develop healthy habits and empower them to achieve their well-being goals, I will not only help that individual but also develop a culture of health for the organization.

What is the best thing about working at Texas Children’s?
The best thing about working at Texas Children’s is the people. You will always see smiling faces in the hallways, and people are always willing to help. Our workforce’s enthusiasm and pride to work here is always eminent.

What does it mean to you that everyone at Texas Children’s is considered a leader? What is your leadership definition?
It is great to know that everyone who works at Texas Children’s is considered a leader. My definition of leadership is: A leader must enjoy what they are doing and maintain an enthusiastic, positive and optimistic attitude. Listen if they want to be heard and always remember that the most powerful tool that you possess is your own personal example.

Anything else you want to share?
I would like to say a special thank you to Julia Gaffney for taking the time to nominate me. I would also like to thank all of the Wellness Ambassadors who help promote wellness throughout the organization; without them my job wouldn’t be possible.

November 13, 2018

On November 10, Texas Children’s Chief of Pediatric Cardiology Dr. Daniel Penny was named the American Heart Association’s (AHA) 2018 Helen B. Taussig Memorial Lecturer. The prestigious honor was awarded at the AHA’s Scientific Sessions in Chicago, Illinois, following Penny’s presentation “Working Together towards New Levels of Excellence in the Care of Children with Heart Disease.”

“I am truly grateful to receive this distinguished award from the AHA,” said Penny. “As a pediatric cardiologist, I believe it is my responsibility to carry on the incredible legacy of innovators such as Dr. Taussig, and it is a privilege to do so at Texas Children’s. Every day, my goal is to enhance the level of cardiology care we provide to our patients.”

Penny’s receipt of this historic award forges yet another link between Texas Children’s Hospital and the remarkable legacy of Dr. Helen B. Taussig, the pioneering pediatric cardiologist. Taussig was best known for her work with children born with serious heart defects – most notably blue baby syndrome – as well as for her co-development of the Blalock-Thomas-Taussig shunt, the first surgical procedure for children with pulmonary stenosis.

The list of past Taussig lecture awardees features the names of some of the most renowned innovators in the field of pediatric heart disease, including Dr. Dan G. McNamara – Texas Children’s first director of cardiology. McNamara, who was a student of Taussig’s while at Johns Hopkins Hospital, was responsible for the design and integration of Texas Children’s first cardiac catheterization lab, which significantly advanced the diagnosis of heart ailments in children.

“Dr. Penny exemplifies the best of pediatric cardiology,” said Physician-in-Chief Dr. Mark W. Kline. “Drs. Taussig and McNamara would be proud of the work he and his team are doing to further advance the specialty.”

Penny, originally from Cork Ireland, completed his medical degree at University College Cork, The National University of Ireland. Before coming to Texas Children’s in 2010, he trained and practiced at some of the world’s top pediatric institutions, including the famed Great Ormond Street Hospital in London and The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. Today, he serves as co-director of Texas Children’s Heart Center®, ranked the No. 1 pediatric heart center in the nation for the past two years by U.S. News & World Report.

“This well-deserved honor is another shining example of Dr. Penny’s dedication to our patients and their families,” said President and CEO Mark Wallace. “He is a visionary leader in his field, and continues to guide our team as they pave the way in the treatment of children with congenital heart disease.”

Texas Children’s Heart Center provides the highest-quality cardiac care possible, combining cutting-edge technology with a compassionate, family-centered approach. Now located at its new home in Lester and Sue Smith Legacy Tower, the Heart Center occupies eight floors and features four cardiac catheterization labs including integrated MRI scanner, four cardiovascular operating rooms, three cardiovascular ICU floors with 48 private rooms, two cardiac acute care floors with 42 private patient rooms, and dedicated space for families.

Learn more about the Heart Center.

November 12, 2018

The Houston Business Journal celebrated its 2018 CFO of the Year awards at an event November 8 and profiled all of the finalists – including Texas Children’s Chief Financial Officer Weldon Gage – in the November 9 weekly edition. Click here to read the Houston Business Journal interview with Gage.

October 29, 2018

Some of the brightest minds in neuroscience recently converged on the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute (NRI) at Texas Children’s Hospital for its fourth biennial symposium and workshop, in partnership with Baylor College of Medicine.

The special two-day event brought together nearly 300 physicians, scientists, patients, patient advocacy groups, pharmaceutical industry experts and leaders from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and the National Institute for Mental Health, to address key issues in the field of neuropsychiatry, an intersectional branch of medicine that deals with mental illnesses caused by organic disorders of the nervous system.

Neuropsychiatric disorders are a leading cause of disability and take a tremendous toll on society. In the United States alone, one out of five adults lives with mental illness. The spectrum of mental illnesses is vast, ranging from the extremely rare to more well-known conditions such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, ADHD, addiction and sleep disorders. Symptoms and their severity can vary widely from patient to patient, which makes them difficult to physiologically measure. For these reasons, neuropsychiatric disorders are some of the least understood – and some of the most difficult to treat.

“These disorders are a major health issue all over the world, however, therapeutic interventions remain limited,” said NRI/Baylor investigator and child neurologist Dr. Hsiao-Tuan Chao. “There is a growing need to understand the organic factors behind mental illness to facilitate a better understanding of the brain, as well as to develop more effective treatment strategies.”

The symposium opened with a welcome address from Dr. Huda Zoghbi, director of the NRI, and this year’s co-organizer, Dr. Steven Hyman, director of the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. The pair stressed the importance of identifying new research paths in order to develop targeted therapies that could not only help treat neuropsychiatric symptoms, but could also help mitigate or eliminate side effects and toxicities that far too many patients experience.

Over the course of the first day, presentations from leading experts addressed hot topics in neuropsychiatry. These included a discussion on how genetic mutations contribute to neuropsychiatric disorders; the involvement of neuronal networks in neuropsychiatric phenotypes; the impact of immune cells on these disorders; and a look into how adaptive deep brain stimulation could potentially help specific conditions. Each session gave way to a 20-minute moderated panel discussion on the topic at hand. This feature of the symposium is unique in that it leads to immediate discussion and active participation among the many different types of stakeholders present.

Following a day of stellar research presentations, the investigators split into three working groups that focused on Molecular Bases of Disease and Human studies, Circuits and Neuromodulation, and Young Investigators. The groups discussed not only everything they had heard over the course of the day, but also their vision for the next 20 years in neuropsychiatry, including the obstacles that currently exist and what is needed to overcome them.

The next morning, key points that had emerged from these discussions were shared with the audience. The working groups identified increased access to resources and funding as a major need. But unanimously, all of the young investigators noted the critical importance of building interdisciplinary, multi-institutional collaborations, with a focus on team science and data sharing.

“Building bridges between various disciplines aids in the identification of important areas of neuropsychiatry that require further investigation and therapeutic development,” said Chao. “Neuropsychiatry itself is an interdisciplinary field, and unraveling the causes for these conditions will require continued interdisciplinary collaborations to accelerate the pace of discovery.”

The proceedings will be published as a white paper in Science Translational Medicine, a leading weekly online journal and one of the event sponsors.

October 23, 2018

Your name, title and department. How long have you worked here?
Lesly Reyes, Guest Services Representative, Guest Services Department. I’ve been part of Texas Children’s Hospital for four years.

Tell us how you found out you won a super star award.
I was completely caught off guard. My manager called me into her office for what I thought was the usual daily/weekly update. Before arriving to her office, she had me pick up some copies in the conference room and said one of the copies was for me to keep. It was actually a note congratulating me for the Super Star Recognition.

What does it mean to be recognized for the hard work you do? How has the organization helped you achieve your personal and professional goals?
I am absolutely humbled by this recognition. This organization has rewarded me with the opportunity of professional and personal growth and support. Texas Children’s has literally helped and watched me grow. I started my journey here as a 15-year-old junior volunteer and now I’m 22 years old working to accomplish my educational and professional goals. The achievement of those goals would not be possible without the endless opportunities this hospital has offered me. This award is just a reminder that the only three hours of sleep I get and continuous hard work are definitely worth it. And the best part is that this is just the beginning.

What do you think makes someone at Texas Children’s a super star?
Commitment, Dedication, and Service. Someone who’s devoted and passionate about what they do. Someone who is constantly striving not just for their success, but for the success of those surrounding them – patients, families, and co-workers.

What is your motivation for going above and beyond every day at work?
I love my job. The act of service itself is rewarding on its own. My motivation for going above and beyond is rooted on moments when a brief encounter can have such a positive impact in someone’s life. I want to continue working hard so that I can proudly wear scrubs and a Texas Children’s Hospital t-shirt and finally say I have accomplished my dream to work with one of the best teams that strives to help and save children’s lives.

What is the best thing about working at Texas Children’s?
The best thing about working at Texas Children’s Hospital is the experience and knowledge I gain every day from patients, co-workers, and leaders. You learn something new every day. Honestly, the atmosphere, the smiles, and the children make it hard not to love this place. Also, the fact that we can implement the Texas Children’s core Values into our daily lives is rewarding enough.

What does it mean to you that everyone at Texas Children’s is considered a leader? What is your leadership definition?
I was glancing over Texas Children’s Blogs and my eye caught a phrase that our leader strongly advocates and it has always reminisced in my mind. “Leadership always influences or determines outcomes – not some of the time, but all of the time.” – Mark Wallace. It’s an excellent daily reminder that everything we do can get us a step closer to our goals. Leadership is measured not only on your accomplishments, but rather in your influence leading others to their own success.

Anything else you want to share?
I want to thank everyone for their endless support and encouragement to help reach my educational goals.

October 15, 2018

The Clinical Research Center/Research Resources Office presented the Clinical Research Award for Third Quarter 2018 to Ananth Iyer, Project Manager, Quality Assurance/Quality Control, Department of Pediatrics – Research Resources Office.

This 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.

“I joined the Research Resources Office (RRO) in 2014 as a Senior Research Coordinator and am currently in a Quality Assurance (QA) role,” said Iyer. “I take pride in providing support for good quality and compliance in the clinical trials that we undertake. I’m highly motivated by the care and options that clinical research studies provide to patients and never forget that their safety and protection is our top priority. I enjoy the teamwork with which clinical care and research come together in the RRO and I deeply appreciate the RRO for providing me (a lifelong student) with this opportunity.”