July 28, 2015

72915sportsteams640Once a week, Christie Hollins, an administrative assistant in the Department of Pathology, meets three of her coworkers at Palace Lanes for a fun night of bowling and comradery.

“We’ve been bowling together for five years and it’s great,” Hollins said of her team, Scared SpitLess. “We’ve grown as bowlers and as friends, and we thank Texas Children’s for making this happen.”

Like several other Texas Children’s employees, Hollins and her bowling team take advantage of the Total Rewards Program’s Team Sport Subsidy, which provides financial support for the registration fees of league team activities.

The organization will pay up to $600 per team per fiscal year as long as at least half of the team’s roster is comprised of Texas Children’s employees.

“Texas Children’s recognizes that fitness is important to the physical and mental health of its employees,” Benefits Specialist Kelly Mueller said. “Therefore, we encourage participation in organized, league athletic events such as softball, basketball, bowling, golf, etc.”

Racheal Proctor-Ezimako, a supervisor with Diagnostic Imaging, said she and her bowling team have used the sports subsidy for six years and that it allows them to offset the cost of a hobby they participate in once a week year round.

“I think it’s an amazing give back to our employees,” she said. “We get to bond outside work and that, to me, is very special.”

Hollins agreed and said with the assistance of the subsidy, each of her team members is able to just have fun bowling.

“As long as the subsidy is offered, I will continue to apply,” she said.

72915sportsteamssinside640Mueller said Texas Children’s is happy to provide the subsidy as well as the myriad of other benefits offered to employees, including health, dental, retirement and pension.

“Texas Children’s offers a well-rounded benefits program that spans from health to financial to overall wellbeing,” she said. “We want our employees to be healthy and happy.”

Here are the sports subsidy basics and how to apply:

  1. A written application must be submitted to Human Resources at least one month prior to the due date of the registration fee. The application must include a copy of the Texas Children’s registration form and a list of all team participants, including non-Texas Children’s players.
  2. All team participants must sign and return the appropriate waiver form with the written application.
  3. Texas Children’s financial support is provided for team registration only and does not cover fees or payment for coaches, uniforms, refreshments, etc.
  4. The maximum annual registration payment is $600 per fiscal year per team. Payment will be issued directly to the sponsoring organization. Requests will be granted based on budgetary constraints.
  5. The roster of any team sponsored by Texas Children’s must consist of at least 50 percent active employees of Texas Children’s.
  6. Participation on an athletic team is voluntary, and is not related in any way to an employee’s job duties or employment status at Texas Children’s.
  7. Each individual team member agrees to hold Texas Children’s, its officers, trustees, employees and agents harmless from any claims for damages resulting in participation in this program.
  8. To apply for a sport subsidy, click here. To get more information about overall benefits at Texas Children’s click here.
July 14, 2015

71515PFWmassages640As a neonatal nurse at Texas Children’s Newborn Center, Brittany Gonzalez spends most of her day on her feet doing what she loves – taking care of sick infants in the neonatal intensive care unit.

“At the end of my 13-hour shift, my feet are tired,” Gonzalez said. “When I get massages, it soothes my sore muscles and helps me relax. Even if it’s just for a few minutes, the effects are long lasting.”

Like Gonzalez, Texas Children’s and Baylor College of Medicine employees are taking advantage of massage therapy at the Bella Luna Boutique on the third floor of Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women. While these services cost a fee and require an appointment, the feeling of complete relaxation keeps employees coming back.

“I can clear my mind, listen to relaxing music and mentally drift away,” said Vickie Broussard, an employee development coordinator in the Facilities Operations Department. “The more I do it, the better I feel, and the longer the good feeling lasts with repeated sessions.”

Massage therapy helps Derek Blaylock unwind from the stressful challenges of balancing responsibilities at home with his job duties as a Texas Children’s patient and family advocate.

“It brings me to a place that’s relaxing and healing all at the same time,” Blaylock said. “It also helps me become more aware of my own body which can lead me to improved posture and the desire to exercise more and ultimately work and stress less.”

As a board-certified massage therapist at Texas Children’s, Candace Heredia says massage therapy is not a luxury, but something our bodies need regularly to improve emotional, mental and physical well-being.

When we’re stressed, our bodies release a stress hormone called cortisol. Regular massages reduce production of this stress hormone and increase production of dopamine and serotonin – the hormones that make us feel good, resulting in an endless list of soothing health benefits.

“A single massage session can increase energy levels, improve blood circulation and enhance mental and physical performance,” Heredia said. “Other health benefits include reducing lower back pain and fluid retention during pregnancy, strengthening the immune system and improving rehabilitation after injury.”

Since taking advantage of massage therapy at the Pavilion for Women, Texas Children’s Cardiology Chief Dr. Daniel Penny notices immediate relief from his chronic back pain.

“I’ve had a number of major back operations over the past few years,” Penny said. “There is nothing better to ease my back spasms than scheduling a massage appointment with Candace.”

Aside from these services, Heredia maintains a pretty busy schedule. She also performs massage therapy for Texas Children’s inpatients and outpatients after receiving written consent from their physician, provides massages during employee wellness events, and teaches infant massage classes to ease colic in newborns and promote parental bonding.

“It’s very rewarding to see employees, patients and their families benefit from massage therapy,” Heredia said. “It’s all about improving their quality of life and helping them achieve a healthier lifestyle.”

Need a relaxing massage? For more information about the Pavilion for Women’s Massage Services, click here. A half-hour massage is $45 and one hour is $75. Chair massages also are available for $1 per minute up to 15 minutes.

To schedule an appointment with Candace Heredia, call Ext. 6-2556 and to sign up for the next infant massage class, click here.

June 23, 2015

62415newshuttles640Everybody likes getting a new vehicle. The whole experience – from the new-car smell and shiny gadgets to the sleek paint job and smooth ride – is exciting.

On Monday, June 29, the entire Texas Children’s family will get to have such an experience when six of our 12 new shuttles are rolled out sporting colorful designs and several innovative features.

“We are very excited about this new capability for Texas Children’s,” said Director of Supply Chain Rick McFee. “We think you will be too.”

The first thing people will notice about the new shuttles is the outside of them, McFee said. All 12 will be bright, bold colors and graphics with designs of clouds, fish, flowers or blades of grass.

“The wraps share the excitement we all have to work for Texas Children’s Hospital,” McFee said. “They also share a bit of the spirit we have when it comes to healing sick children and taking care of women.”

A not-so-obvious feature the buses will have is an environmentally-friendly fueling system. Instead of using diesel, all 12 shuttles will be fueled by propane. Switching to this much cleaner-burning gas will reduce our carbon footprint by 70 percent and make Texas Children’s Hospital the first hospital in the Medical Center to offer completely green-friendly shuttle service.

Some of the features inside the shuttles include:

  • A comprehensive security system that will keep employees safe and will record how many people get on and off the shuttle.
  • On-board video capabilities will give Texas Children’s another avenue to share important information.
  • A voice announcement system will keep riders up to date about where the shuttle is and where it’s headed.
  • USB charging ports will be available at each seat for riders who need to charge their phone or other electronic devices.

All buses will be equipped with GPS technology, allowing riders to connect to an Internet link that will tell them where a bus is, when it’s going to arrive and how long it will be until the next stop.

McFee said the GPS technology will give Texas Children’s management the opportunity to monitor the shuttles’ movements and to adjust accordingly based on ridership activity. As for now, however, all routes will stay the same.

The remaining six larger shuttles in the fleet will be on the road in late summer.

“Welcome aboard!” McFee said. “We are glad to have you on our new shuttles.”

June 9, 2015


Fetal Center nurse Laura Mollett finally is getting the smile of her dreams, thanks to Texas Children’s discounted orthodontia services for employees.

Mollett, a nurse in the Fetal Center, had braces when she was young but they weren’t maintained properly and her teeth shifted. As an adult, she often thought about getting her teeth corrected but knew she didn’t have the time to make the regular appointments.

That changed when she learned Texas Children’s offers discounted orthodontia services in house to its employees. Mollett said she saw a flier about the services at a bridge event and called immediately. She got an appointment shortly afterward and is well on her way to having straight teeth again.

“It’s a wonderful program,” Mollett said. “In addition to the cost savings, it’s convenient. They get you in and out really fast because they know how important it is to get you back to work.”

Beginning in January, Texas Children’s began offering traditional braces and Invisalign at a discounted price to all employees, regardless of whether they are enrolled in the organization’s dental coverage. The services cannot be claimed under the dental plan or any other insurance plan, however eligible out-of-pocket expenses can be reimbursed through the Healthcare FSA.

Total out-of-pocket costs for these discounted services are:

  • Traditional braces: $3,000
  • Invisalign: $3,500

Dr. John Wirthlin, a craniofacial orthodontist on Texas Children’s cleft lip and palate team, leads the orthodontia program and said an added bonus to the discount is the convenience on-site orthodontia services offers to the patient.

“You would have to take a half a day off a month if you received services off campus,” Wirthlin said. “If you get your services here, all you have to do is walk over to the Clinical Care Center.”

The Orthodontic Clinic is located on the eighth floor of the Clinical Care Center.

For more information on this program, please call Ext. 2-3920 or email orthodonticptline@texaschildrens.org.

June 2, 2015


EAP---INFO4---300One of the hardest times in Wanda Davis’ life came more than a decade ago when she learned her mother had been diagnosed with a terminal illness.

From that moment until her mother’s death 10 years later, Davis, a human resources manager at West Campus, became her mother’s primary care giver. During that time, Davis took her mother to hundreds of doctor appointments, she spent hours coordinating her mother’s medical care, and she tried to come to terms with the fact that her mother, who was suffering from kidney disease, could pass at any time.

All of this took a toll on Davis, who said she began to lose focus at work and struggled to get things done.

“I felt like I was spinning,” she said. “I wasn’t myself.”

Davis’ leader at the time noticed she was going through a tough time and suggested she reach out to the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which offers confidential, professional services to assist employees in solving personal difficulties affecting their personal lives and work.

Davis took her leader’s advice and started weekly counseling sessions that ended up helping her more than she could have ever imagined. After her mother passed in 2009, Davis completed a grief support program offered by EAP.

“I don’t know where I would be today without EAP,” Davis said. “I learned so much from them and still use the techniques they taught me.”

Davis is one of many Texas Children’s employees EAP helps each year. A recent impact study measuring the department’s outcomes shows EAP has a significant impact on workplace performance. Based on four years of self-reported data collected from employees who have used EAP counseling services, the study found:

  • Absenteeism is down by 53 percent
  • Presenteeism is up by 25 percent
  • Life satisfaction is up by 19 percent
  • Work distress is down by 5 percent

“It is clear from the data that the EAP continually provides services that have a positive impact on worker productivity,” said EAP Program Manager Brent LoCaste-Wilken. “Of particular note is the significant influence on absenteeism.”

The 53 percent improvement is 7 percent higher than 20 other EAP providers in medium to large companies. In addition, it translates into an annual savings of more than 18,000 hours and almost $616,000.

Work presenteeism measures whether an employee is working at his or her optimum. Recent research indicates that losses due to poor presenteeism rival that of medical claims. The impact study shows that the EAP improved people’s concentration and productivity by 25 percent.

Life satisfaction is a general measurement of an employee’s general sense of wellbeing. EAP participants reported that they were significantly more satisfied with their life after coming to the EAP than prior to receiving EAP services. This measurement helps to enhance employee appreciation for Texas Children’s and is speculated to positively affect employee longevity and loyalty.

Work distress measures an employee’s feelings of distress about being at work. Although the impact study did not show a huge change, it does indicate that the EAP is making somewhat of an impact in this area.

“We are very pleased with the results of the study,” LoCaste-Wilken said. “We feel it shows our services are valued by our employees and are valuable to the organization as a whole.”

On average, EAP staff spends almost two hours with almost 1,000 clients each year. The EAP helps with problems such as:

  • Family/relationship issues
  • Workplace concerns
  • Alcohol and drug problems
  • Personal and emotional difficulties
  • Health and behavioral issues
  • Critical incident stress
  • Legal and financial referrals

Let the EAP help you carry out Texas Children’s values of embracing freedom, living compassionately, amplifying unity and leading tirelessly. Contact the EAP via Connect or call (832) 824-3327 for more information.

April 28, 2015


Infographic3-300x494We care for our patients and their families by doing all we can to make their experience here as best it can be. For most of our patient families, that experience begins with something that should be relatively simple – convenient parking.

However, patient families and visitors often are unable to find parking in our garages, partly because our employees are occupying spaces that have been designated for them. There also are a number of employees who use the valet services intended for our patient families.

Using the limited parking reserved for our patient families is counter to the experience we strive to provide them. It also disregards Texas Children’s Parking Policy, which states that employees “may not pull a coin to park or use valet parking services in Texas Children’s Hospital garages 12, 16 or 21 when acting in their capacity as an employee. By doing so, an employee may be subject to disciplinary action.”

Security will be conducting random monitoring to identify employees who are parking in these garages. When a violating employee is identified, Security will send a letter to the employee and his or her director to take corrective action.

Remember, employees can park for free in Garage 19 on Greenbriar Drive. They also can use dependable, comfortable transit to and from that garage to the Main Campus facilities. We are introducing new shuttles with more amenities this spring.

Having a dedicated employee parking garage and transit system provides you with a convenient alternative to the limited parking on the Main Campus, which is the only option for our patient families and visitors. So please, help us create a better experience for them by parking in the designated employee garage so that finding parking is the least of our patient families’ concerns when they are here. It’s a simple step that could have a lasting impact on a family’s experience with us.

March 17, 2015


Click on the graphic for a larger view.

Did you know that Texas Children’s is contributing to your retirement right now?

Unlike many other organizations, Texas Children’s offers employees both a fully funded Cash Balance Pension Plan and a 403 (b) plan with match dollars. The organization recently posted its 2014 deposit into the Cash Balance Pension Plan, which Texas Children’s pays the full cost of and you are automatically enrolled in on April 1 or October 1 once you reach 21 years old and have worked 1,000 hours or more during the 12 consecutive months after your initial date of hire.

To see how much your Cash Balance Pension Plan has grown, log in to Mercer’s website at www.ibenefitcenter.com. The website has useful tools that allow you to view your balance, estimate your future pension balance and verify/update your beneficiary information.

To learn more about the Cash Balance Pension Plan, click here to view the summary plan description or call the Texas Children’s Hospital Pension Plan Support Team at 800-752-8230 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

In addition to the Cash Balance Pension Plan, Texas Children’s offers a 403 (b) plan. If you are not already enrolled in the plan, you should consider doing so. You don’t want to miss out on Texas Children’s 50 percent match of the first 6 percent of your pre-tax per paycheck contribution. You can enroll anytime by contacting Fidelity at 800-343-0860 or online at www.fidelity.com/atwork.

It is never too early to start saving for retirement. The Texas Children’s benefits team encourages you to take advantage of all the retirement benefits our organization offers.

“Investing in our people with competitive retirement and other benefits helps Texas Children’s attract, support and retain top talent like you,” said Jim Cuva, assistant director of Human Resources. “That’s why we are committed to your financial well-being.”