April 3, 2018

Barbara Elias, the ventricular assist device (VAD) coordinator for Texas Children’s Heart Center, was recently honored with the Daisy Award, a national award that recognizes clinical nurses for the extraordinary work they do for patients and families each and every day.

Elias was recommended for the award by the mother of a patient who said that for the past 16 months Elias has gone above and beyond for her and her daughter, showing them both “the utmost care and compassion.”

“No matter what time of the day or night, she is always just a phone call away,” the mother said. “Even after the numerous times we woke her in the middle of the night, Barb jumped into action and showed as much care for my daughter as I do as her parent.”

The mother said Elias always maintained a professional demeanor while giving her daughter and family emotional support.

“She is a great asset to the heart failure program,” she said. “I hope one day she will receive as many blessings as she has bestowed upon the countless patients and families she has touched through her kindness.”

Elias has been Texas Children’s since 2015, starting out in the adult VAD program before moving to pediatrics. In her job as the VAD coordinator Elias is the liaison and general resource for all VAD patients, families and caregivers, conducting a variety of tasks including obtaining insurance and prior authorization for all VAD implants, conducting preoperative assessments and evaluations, intraoperative pump preparation, postoperative rounds, assistance with daily interdisciplinary rounds, pump assessment, wound care and management, collaboration with teams for procedures on VAD- supported patients, daily management of all device patients including family updates, monitoring of anticoagulation and patient transport.

Elias also handles teaching patients and family members device therapy at discharge, and VAD education and training to various other audiences such as paramedics and school personnel. She also coordinates outpatient therapy in areas sometimes not associated with Texas Children’s when patients live in alternate locations and participates in VAD patient research.

“Barb is excellent at what she does and always puts our patients and families as ease,” said Congenital Heart Surgeon Dr. Iki Adachi. “She is a perfect fit for the Daisy Award.”

To learn more about the Daisy Award and/or to nominate someone for the recognition, click here.

February 27, 2018

Cardiologists with Texas Children’s Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program recently received The American Board of Internal Medicine’s (ABIM) new Adult Congenital Heart Disease certification. The ABIM certification is designed to recognize the qualifications of physicians who are specialists in the care of a wide range of adult patients with congenital heart disease.

Program Director Dr. Wayne Franklin, Associate Program Director Dr. Peter Ermis and Cardiac Rhythm Specialist Dr. Wilson Lam earned the certification after passing the exam, available only to qualified ABIM and/or American Board of Pediatrics diplomates who have completed required training in cardiovascular disease or pediatric cardiology.

“We are excited about all three of our ACHD cardiologists becoming certified,” said Sarah McMaster, director of ambulatory services and clinical business operations for the Heart Center’s Cardiology Department. “It is in alignment with our perspective that Texas Children’s is the best place for patients with congenital heart disease, even adults, to receive care.”

Texas Children’s Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program earned Comprehensive Care Center accreditation from the Adult Congenital Heart Association this past fall. Texas Children’s Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program is the first in Texas to receive this esteemed designation. Our program also now has the most ACHD board-certified cardiologists than any institution in Texas.

Click here to read more about our Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program and the providers who received the ABIM certification.

February 14, 2018

Two-month-old Finley Sloan got a special visit from her interventional cardiologist Dr. Aimee Liou last week when she walked into her room on the 15th floor of the Heart Center carrying a tiny red knit hat.

Liou, a self-taught knitter, made the hat herself in honor of National Heart Awareness Month and chose to give it to Finley, who has been a patient at Texas Children’s since she was born. The hat fit the little girl’s head perfectly.

“I am thrilled to be able to serve patients in this capacity,” Liou said. “To be able to show them kindness, compassion and warmth on top of giving them the best possible clinical care is really special.”

In addition to Liou, several other Texas Children’s staff and friends of the Heart Center crafted hats for patients in recognition of Heart Month, a time focused on heart health and the seriousness of cardiovascular disease, which claims the life of one person every 38 seconds in America.

Congenital heart defects are the most common form of cardiovascular disease in children and are the top congenital abnormality. Affecting one out of every 1,000 newborns, more than 35,000 babies in the United States are born with congenital heart defects each year.

To shine a light on these statistics and the work done at Texas Children’s to prevent and treat heart disease, almost 50 hats in various shades of red and pink have been handed out this month to patients of all ages at the Heart Center. Pediatric Cardiologist Dr. Judith Becker made close to 30 of the hats.

A long-time knitter and crocheter, Becker stopped her craft in the early 2000s because of carpal tunnel syndrome. She had corrective surgery in 2010 but was not motivated to pick up her needles again until this year when she learned about the effort to knit hats for patients at the Heart Center to highlight Heart Month.

“It was a great reason to get started again, and I had a great time,” Becker said. “It’s always nice to be able to do something extra for our patients.”

The patients who received the hats were extremely appreciative of the generous gesture. Finley and 8-year-old Stephanie Villafuerte, were all smiles after donning their new festive attire, and may others expressed their gratitude.

Both Liou and Becker said they hope the knitting circle continues to generate hats for patients treated at the Heart Center.

“I would like to see this continue,” Liou said. “It’s a great way to demonstrate our family-centered care.”

Interested in knitting a hat? Contact Laura Higgins at ext. 6-1981 or llhiggin@texaschildrens.org.

For more information on our Heart Center, click here.

February 6, 2018

Just in time for Heart Awareness Month, Texas Children’s Hospital’s No. 1-ranked Heart Center by U.S. News & World Report launched its very own Facebook page!

Packed with information about the Heart Center’s roots, expertise and exciting future in providing top notch care, the page will provide an avenue for Heart Center medical staff and leaders to share information with various audiences, including former, current and future patients and families. The page also will allow members to provide feedback about their experiences at the Heart Center and ask questions about our level of care.

“We are excited about having a new way to reach people who want to know more about who we are and how we do things at the Texas Children’s Heart Center,” said Dr. Wayne Franklin, a cardiologist with Texas Children’s Heart Center and director of Texas Children’s Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program. “It’s also a great opportunity to help more children and families who are dealing heart problems and are looking for information.”

With more than half a century of experience in caring for children’s hearts, Texas Children’s Heart Center combines cutting-edge technology with compassion and a family-centered approach to pediatric cardiac care.

The Heart Center has a team of world-renowned leaders in pediatric cardiology, congenital heart surgery, cardiovascular anesthesiology, and cardiac critical care, performing more than 1,000 surgical procedures, 1,200 cardiac catheterizations, and having more than 26,000 patient encounters annually.

Texas Children’s is ranked No. 1 nationally in cardiology and heart surgery by U.S. News and World Report, and is also one of only four pediatric hospital’s with heart programs that are named as a Pediatric Heart Failure Institute in Texas by The Healthcare Accreditation Colloquium. The Adult Congenital Heart Disease (ACHD) Program is also just one of 13 programs in the country to be a Comprehensive Care Center for ACHD.

Later this year, the center will move into Legacy Tower, allowing clinical staff and leaders to serve even more children with critical heart conditions from the Houston community, across Texas and throughout the nation. The 19-floor vertical expansion will house eight floors dedicated just to the Heart Center, including four new cardiac operating rooms, four cardiac catheterization labs, 48 cardiovascular intensive care unit beds, and a cardiac acute care floor.

All of this and more can be found on the Heart Center’s new Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/texaschildrensheartcenter.

“We encourage you to like the page on Facebook and share with your family and friends,” Franklin said.

January 9, 2018

When Autum Garcia was just 13 years old, she went to her pediatrician for a back-to-school checkup and left with something way more serious than a Band-Aid from a routine immunization – a recommendation from her doctor to visit the emergency room due to extremely high blood pressure.

Shortly after being seen by staff at Texas Children’s Emergency Center in the Medical Center, Garcia was diagnosed with coarctation of the aorta, a narrowing of the major artery that carries blood to the body, causing high blood pressure and minimal blood flow to the legs.

“It was a shock to say the least,” Garcia said. “I had no idea anything was wrong.”

Soon after her diagnosis, Garcia underwent a procedure with former Texas Children’s cardiologist Dr. Frank Ing to receive a stent implantation, which ended up solving the teenager’s blood pressure issues and increased blood flow throughout her body. The only follow-up care Garcia needed was routine echocardiograms, a procedure that paved the teenager’s way to a future career at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus.

“I really wanted to work at Texas Children’s,” Garcia said. “This place saved my life; it was the least I could do to say thank you.”

With the encouragement of Ing and Texas Children’s Cardiologist Dr. Wilson Lam, Garcia entered the Diagnostic Cardiovascular sonography program at Alvin Community College and within two years earned an Associate’s Degree of Applied Science. She also passed her registry exam and is now a Registered Congenital Cardiac Sonographer.

As part of the sonography program, Garcia did a rotation at Texas Children’s with the very people who had administered her echocardiograms. She also was involved in two case studies following her procedure. Shortly thereafter, Garcia got a job as an echo technologist at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus.

Now, and for the past year, Garcia has been administering echocardiograms to people like herself, offering those who are nervous, scared, or apprehensive about the procedure, or their condition in general, comfort and reassurance by telling them and their families her story.

“As soon as I mention that I’ve been through the same thing and made it out just fine, they are immediately relieved,” Garcia said. “It really helps them to have someone to talk to who has been through the same thing.”

Dr. Wilson Lam said he remembers Garcia well and is happy to know that he was able to have such a positive impact on her and her career path.

“It’s great that she is able to give back in such a personal way,” he said. “I have no doubt that patients will benefit from her care.”

September 26, 2017

Texas Children’s Hospital is proud to announce its Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program recently earned Comprehensive Care Center accreditation from the Adult Congenital Heart Association (ACHA). Texas Children’s Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program is the first in Texas to receive this esteemed designation.

“We are honored to earn ACHA accreditation for the comprehensive care we provide to our patients each day,” said Dr. Wayne J. Franklin, director of Texas Children’s Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program. “As one of the largest programs in the nation, we are proud this designation will heighten the standard of care for the more than 1 million adults in our country who are living with a congenital heart defect.”

Texas Children’s Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program received accreditation by meeting ACHA’s criteria – which includes medical and surgical services and personnel requirements – and going through a rigorous accreditation process, both of which were developed over a number of years through a collaboration with doctors, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses and adult congenital heart disease patients.

“This accreditation further validates the coordinated surgical and medical care we deliver,” said Dr. Charles D. Fraser Jr., surgeon-in-chief and chief of congenital heart surgery at Texas Children’s. “Our dedication to tracking patient outcomes allows us to continually improve quality of care and optimum results for our patients.”

Patients of Texas Children’s Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program receive seamless continuation of care from birth through adulthood. As a pediatric patient transitions to their adult years, the multidisciplinary team of experienced congenital heart disease specialists advises them on health and lifestyle choices for their adult needs, including physical challenges, exercise options and family planning.

For more information about ACHA click here. To learn more about Texas Children’s Heart Center, ranked No. 1 nationally in cardiology and heart surgery by U.S. News & World Report, please click here.

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.”