September 19, 2017

Since the topping out celebration of Texas Children’s Legacy Tower nearly seven month ago, significant construction milestones have been reached inside the tower’s 400-foot-tall structure at Texas Children’s Medical Center campus.

Carefully designed to promote the safest possible environment to care for our most critically ill patients and their families, construction is underway on the patient care rooms in the cardiovascular intensive care unit (CVICU), pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) and the progressive care unit (PCU). Last year, a series of patient care simulations were conducted to identify and eliminate any latent safety defects in the final design of the critical care tower before actual construction began.

Based on helpful feedback from our providers and patient families, the size of the critical care rooms inside the Legacy Tower will be between 350 to 450 square feet – three times the size of the hospital’s current ICU rooms. The rooms will feature a dedicated family space, a bathroom and shower, and care teams will have enhanced visibility and monitoring between patient rooms and into the patient rooms from the nurses’ work stations. The ICU rooms also will be equipped with state-of-the-art technology including a boom that will provide gas, power and data from the ceiling.

“Booms allow us to position the patient almost anywhere in the 360-degree circle,” said Chief of Critical Care Medicine Dr. Lara Shekerdemian. “This means that we can use some very state-of-the-art equipment for mounting all of the pumps, monitors and ventilators at the patient’s bedside while keeping the equipment off the floor.”

The Legacy Tower’s high intensity operating rooms and intraoperative state-of-the-art MRI suite also will provide dedicated subspecialty care for surgical patients.

“Our pediatric surgical patients are different than other ICU patients,” said Texas Children’s Chief of Plastic Surgery Dr. Larry Hollier. “For the first time, we’re going to have them in a setting where the care is designed specifically for that surgical patient, and that’s going to be located one floor above the operating rooms. The new tower will help us increase our OR capacity so we are not turning patients away from receiving critical care.”

The Legacy Tower will open in two phases. The first phase will occur in May 2018 when the PICU, PCU, operating rooms and Radiology open. A few months later, the Heart Center will move into the new tower in August 2018.

The 25-floor Legacy Tower will house 126 beds for pediatric and cardiovascular intensive care, six new operating rooms (ORs) with the latest technology to complement the hospital’s existing 19 ORs, and will be the new home of Texas Children’s Heart Center, including the outpatient clinic, four cardiovascular ORs and four catheterization labs. This vertical expansion will help reinvest in the programs needed to provide the highest level of care to our most critically ill patients.

“I don’t know of any other children’s hospital in the country that has the type of experience that Texas Children’s has in bringing all of these elements together,” Hollier said. “With larger, more functional spaces, we will be able to provide patients and families with the best possible environment to receive care.”

September 12, 2017

Leticia Sowell, Patient Care Assistant, Cardiology Inpatient Unit, passed away on August 12, 2017 at the age of 41.

Leticia loved caring for patients on the West Tower 15 Cardiology Inpatient Unit for nine years.

Leticia leaves behind four children: Caylin, Mya, Warren and Niecy to cherish her memory.

August 15, 2017

The Cardiology Patient Care Unit (CPCU) on 15 West Tower recently achieved a remarkable milestone – they reached 365 days and counting with zero central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI).

Since their last CLABSI on July 14, 2016, the CPCU team has worked diligently to follow the CLABSI and hygiene bundles to provide high quality care to the numerous patients they see daily with central line catheters.

Last fall, nurses collaborated with their infection control partners in education and vascular access to implement a massive educational initiative that trained more than 2,000 nurses across the organization on several key skills in central line care. By providing central line care support and education, the CPCU has been able to address concerns early before they potentially manifest into a bloodstream infection.

Congratulations to the CPCU team for their continued commitment to helping Texas Children’s cultivate an environment for safe patient care. The unit celebrated this huge accomplishment with a breakfast.

August 1, 2017

Texas Children’s Heart Center has partnered with Project ADAM® to help prevent the deaths of children and adolescents due to sudden cardiac arrest.

Started in Wisconsin in 1999 by a family whose son died from the condition, Project ADAM® helps schools nationwide implement programs to make automated external defibrillators (AEDs) readily available by preparing schools for a cardiac emergency through emergency response plans, staff CPR and AED training, student CPR education and sudden cardiac arrest awareness education.

Melody Stephens brought the program to Houston and reached out to Texas Children’s for help after her 18-year-old son, Cody, fell asleep in a recliner at home and never woke up. Doctors determined the teenager, who had recently been awarded an athletic scholarship to play college football, died from sudden cardiac arrest.

“My primary goal is to help schools to be prepared to respond appropriately to a cardiac emergency so that the victim has the best chance of survival,” Stephens said. “Texas Children’s has embraced the concept and has done everything they can to make schools safer for children with heart conditions.”

Two area schools – Bonnie Holland Elementary in the Katy Independent School District and Crosby Kindergarten in the Crosby Independent School District – have been named Heart Safe Schools through Texas Children’s Hospital’s partnership with Project ADAM®. Five more campuses are awaiting the receipt of the designation and four other schools are in the process of becoming Heart Safe.

In order to become a Heart Safe School, teachers learn about the risks of sudden cardiac arrest as well as CPR training. Texas Children’s physicians and Heart Center team members helped provide the school with the training.

“Texas Children’s Hospital believes prevention is just as important as treatment,” said Texas Children’s Pediatric Cardiologist Dr. Santiago Valdes, who serves as medical director of the local Project ADAM® initiative. “We are more than happy to lend our expertise to these schools while they check items off of the required checklist needed to become a Heart Safe School.”

For more information about Project ADAM® click here. To read a Texas Children’s blog post by Stephens about her and her son’s experience with sudden cardiac arrest, click here.

June 28, 2017

Texas Children’s leaders and members of the Heart Center team gathered early Tuesday to celebrate U.S. News & World Report’s recent announcement that Texas Children’s is now ranked No. 1 in cardiology and heart surgery. Ranked second in the nation for the past two years, Texas Children’s Heart Center has surpassed Boston Children’s Heart Center, which had held the top ranking for the past 19 years.

“This ranking is a culmination of the many years our Heart Center team has dedicated to providing high-quality care to our patients,” said Chief of Cardiology Dr. Daniel J. Penny to a packed conference room at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women. “By being ranked No. 1 means we have an even greater role in shaping the field of pediatric cardiology and heart surgery.”

Surgeon-in-Chief and Chief of Congenital Heart Surgery Dr. Charles D. Fraser Jr. agreed and said the ranking is an incredible legacy that began long ago with Drs. Denton Cooley and Dan McNamara, both of whom were pioneers in their field and among the first to demonstrate that small children could safely undergo heart surgery.

“Every single one of you is responsible for this,” Fraser said to the crowd, which included Heart Center leaders Chief of Cardiovascular Anesthesia Dr. Emad Mossad, Chief of Critical Care Dr. Lara Shekerdemian and Anesthesiologist-In-Chief Dr. Dean Andropoulos. “There is no greater or lesser here.”

In addition to the entire Heart Center team, Fraser thanked Texas Children’s President and CEO Mark A. Wallace for “standing by us every single step of the way.”

Fraser said he remembers meeting with Wallace and the late Dr. Ralph D. Feigin when he first was being recruited to Texas Children’s Hospital back in 1994. The trio discussed creating a true Heart Center where each and every patient would be surrounded by medical professionals of the highest quality.

That goal has been achieved and so much more with the Heart Center’s surgical team performing more than 1,000 open-heart surgeries annually and 25 heart transplants in 2016, the most of any pediatric program in the nation.

The Heart Center’s cardiologists annually perform roughly 1,200 cardiac catheterizations, a less invasive treatment made possible by the threading of a long, flexible tube from a blood vessel in the leg to the heart. Most such cases would have required open-heart surgery 20 years ago.

The cardiology team also performs about 250 catheter-enabled ablation treatments in children with irregular heartbeats, a treatment that cauterizes the abnormal pathway to correct the problems. Such patients previously required lifelong medication.

Fraser and Penny said the Heart Center will continue to grow and that they are excited about its next step, which will be to move into Legacy Tower once it’s complete. The 19-floor vertical expansion will house new operating rooms, a new Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, neuro ICU rooms, surgical ICU rooms, a progressive care unit and eight floors dedicated to just the Heart Center.

“This No. 1 ranking will give us a greater role shaping the field, making the things that are impossible now possible in 2027,” Penny said. ”Although we’re No. 1 this year, we need to be better next year and the year after and the year after that.”

Read Mark Wallace’s blog, On The Mark, to learn more about the Heart Center’s No. 1 ranking.

June 6, 2017

Navada Jackson with the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit, is the latest Texas Children’s Super Star employee. “As a unit clerical assistant in the cardiovascular intensive care unit, my motivation for going above and beyond is inspired by the people – from the patients, to doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, patient care assistants and other unit clerical assistants.” Read more of her interview below and find out how you can nominate a Super Star

Your name, title and department. How long have you worked here?
Navada Jackson, Unit Clerical Assistant, Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit; 24 years

What month are you Super Star for?
January 2017

Tell us how you found out you won a super star award.
I was asked by my manger to report for work early to discuss changes in shift reports. As I arrived in the break room, directing my attention to my manger, she announces my name indicating I was super star. I was totally surprise; with two cakes and punch to share with other co-workers and leaders. It was amazing.

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?
To be acknowledged for my commitment to Texas Children’s Hospital feels really good. It has been an honor to be part of a team that has been ranked #2 in Children Cardiology and Heart Surgery.

What do you think makes someone at Texas Children’s a super star?
One who possesses hard work, commitment, caring, flexibility, and passion – all attributes that resemble super star status.

What is your motivation for going above and beyond every day at work?
As a unit clerical assistant in the cardiovascular intensive care unit, my motivation for going above and beyond is inspired by the people – from the patients, to doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, patient care assistants and other unit clerical assistants. Being able to help my co-workers and the patients have inspired me to do my very best.

What is the best thing about working at Texas Children’s?
In my 24 years of service, I have experienced the growth of this organization and to narrow my perspective on the many wonderful things about being employed at Texas Children’s is impossible. I have had a supportive leadership. I value the organization’s mission and the willingness to promote teamwork in a professional, respectful, fun but healthy environment.

What does it mean to you that everyone at Texas Children’s is considered a leader? What is your leadership definition?
Regardless of a personal title, everyone part of the health care team has the opportunity to leverage leader development. Having been a tenured employee at Texas Children’s, witnessing CVICU expanding in 2001 and the transition of now two floors, the sometimes fast-past environment has allowed people to fulfill a leader role given that everyone plays a vital role in the patient care. We all have pulled together to address life-threatening situations. To define leadership, would be one who effectively develops others, one who dismisses the “i” motto, helps others achieve their goals and has a positive influence on anyone in various roles.

Anything else you want to share?
The recognition of my hard work has been more than words can describe. My goal always will be my best to make it possible for others to succeed. Texas Children’s is an awesome place to work and I look forward to the future.

March 14, 2017

Texas Children’s recently celebrated the opening of the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) E Pod, a newly designated 9-bed infant acute cardiac care unit at West Tower. Since opening on February 22, NICU E Pod has helped to significantly reduce the occurrence of cardiac case cancellations.

“Over the last six months, we were seeing an alarming increase in the cancellation of surgical cases and cath procedures due to a lack of inpatient bed capacity,” said Matt Timmons, director of Cardiology at Texas Children’s Heart Center. “During the last 18 days since the unit opened, we have had no cardiac case cancellations, which is a huge step forward in improving the care and experience we deliver to our patients and families.”

To create additional Heart Center capacity, Texas Children’s physician and nursing leadership teams from the Heart Center, Critical Care and Newborn Center – and many other subspecialties and support services across the organization – collaborated to expedite the successful opening of the new unit.

“We were fortunate to have the NICU E Pod available,” said NICU Nursing Director Heather Cherry. “After meeting with several subspecialty leadership teams, we collectively decided to open the NICU E Pod to provide additional bed capacity for our acute cardiac care patients. This collaborative decision allowed us to support an additional nine patients needing our care.”

Recently, acute care nursing partnered with the Heart Center to successfully add capacity for cardiac patients in the four-bed cohort on 10 West Tower. While this has been extremely helpful, the need for additional capacity still existed. The NICU E Pod provides an extension to 15 West Tower for acute cardiac care patients under 12 months of age. While the cardiology team oversees the treatment of these acute care patients, the NICU E Pod is staffed by the Newborn Center nursing team.

For patient families like Randal and Sabrina Pemberton from Lubbock, Texas, the opening of the unit could not have come at a better time. Since the first day the NICU E Pod opened, they have been with their daughter Aaliyah, who at just 8 days old, had surgery to repair an aorta and two holes in her heart.

“We’ve had a wonderful team of doctors who are taking great care of our daughter and the nurses have been fabulous as well,” Sabrina Pemberton said. “Overall, given our circumstances, it’s been a great experience at Texas Children’s Hospital. We couldn’t have asked for anything more.”

Besides collaboration from clinical staff, reaching this milestone so quickly – in a matter of one week – would not have been possible without the help from Texas Children’s support services which included Information Services, Facilities, Epic, Biomed, Supply Chain, Pharmacy and Environmental Services.

“This unit was a great example of collaboration by multiple subspecialties and departments, and shows how we are all “One Texas Children’s Hospital,” said Chief of Cardiology Dr. Daniel J. Penny. “The ability to open this unit so quickly and safely exemplifies our commitment to our patients and their families.”

With Texas Children’s anticipated growth, the Pediatric Tower – which is slated to open in August 2018 – will house 126 beds for pediatric and cardiovascular intensive care patients, which will provide additional bed capacity and even more opportunities to serve our patients and their families in the future.

“The Pediatric Tower is the long-term solution for our Heart Center’s rapid growth,” Timmons said. “The NICU E Pod and the 10 West Tower cardiac cohort are successfully bridging the gap until we move into the new tower.”