January 14, 2019

On January 10, leaders with Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women cut the ribbon on the facility’s new four-bed OB-GYN intensive care unit.

Located in the Labor and Delivery Unit on the ninth floor, the ICU offers a specialized, private space for high-risk expectant and postpartum mothers with conditions such as:

  • Sepsis
  • Peripartum bleeding
  • Hypertensive disorders
  • Placenta accreta
  • Maternal heart disease
  • Diabetes and other endocrine disorders
  • Cancer
  • Organ transplant

“This beautiful space gives our highly trained clinicians the perfect place to carry out specialized services we’ve offered to our high-risk patients since opening in 2012,” said Lynda Tyer-Viola, vice president of nursing. “Having comprehensive family centered perinatal services in such a setting will help us continue to make a dramatic difference in the lives of expectant mothers with critical complications of pregnancy.”

The Pavilion for Women is home to one of the nation’s few ICUs dedicated solely to obstetric critical care, and the only four-bed maternal ICU in the nation staffed 24/7 by a pulmonary critical care and maternal fetal care team embedded in a hospital’s labor and delivery unit.

The unit’s new space will offer critically ill obstetric patients the latest life-saving equipment and fetal monitoring systems and a dedicated ICU team including 24/7 critical care physicians, maternal-fetal medicine specialists, and an ICU-trained and ACLS (advanced cardiovascular life support)-certified nursing staff.

The ICU team collaborates closely with Baylor College of Medicine subspecialties including cardiology, hematology and nephrology, among others. The unit and team is also one of the most experienced in the nation in the care of post fetal surgery mothers. Uniquely, expectant mothers with a history of cancer or a new gynecologic cancer diagnosis, will also benefit from the expert care and the most advanced treatment therapies available through our renowned colleagues in gynecologic oncology.

“While life threatening illness or medical conditions add to the complexity of any pregnancy, we are fortunate to have a multidisciplinary clinical team and resources that address the needs of both mother and fetus during this very crucial period,” said Dr. David Muigai, medical director of the maternal ICU. “We feel a deep sense of privilege and pride to be able to further contribute to the overall Texas Children’s mission by offering the highest quality and most comprehensive medical services available to expectant mothers and their babies.”

Dr. Manisha Gandhi, chief of maternal-fetal medicine, agreed and said at the ribbon cutting that she was extremely excited about the continued collaboration between disciplines that the new ICU will enable and encourage.

“The need for higher level, specialized care for women has grown exponentially,” Gandhi said. “Having a dedicated space for maternal ICU services will put us in a good place to better serve these patients during this critical time.”

OB-GYN-in-chief Dr. Michael Belfort said the new ICU is an extremely important tool that will help the specially trained clinicians in the unit take care of the sickest of the sick.

“Unfortunately, maternal mortality is increasing in the United States and Texas,” Belfort said. “With this unit, we are better able to care for those who need us the most.”

For more information about the Pavilion’s maternal ICU, the development of which was led by Liz Bolds, assistant clinical director of high-risk nursing, click here.

December 11, 2018

Dr. Carla Ortique, an OB/GYN with Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, was recently named physician of the year by the Houston Medical Forum, a component society of the National Medical Association.

The forum was established in 1926 to address the needs of physicians of African descent and their patients. Today, the Houston Medical Forum is the National Medical Association’s largest local affiliate. Its members represent a myriad of specialties and engage in a variety of activities that advance the art and practice of medicine as well as promote education and wellness in the community, eliminate health disparities and sustain physician viability.

“I feel incredibly blessed and honored to be recognized by this organization,” Ortique said.

Ortique earned a B.S. in bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1982 and her medical degree from the University of Illinois College of Medicine in 1986. Ortique completed an internship and residency in family medicine at the University of Illinois.

A strong interest in providing comprehensive care for women, coupled with the personal experience of having a sister diagnosed with breast cancer, resulted in Ortique undertaking a second residency program. She completed her training in obstetrics and gynecology at St. Paul Ramsey Medical Center in St. Paul, Minn., in 1995.

Ortique has been in the active practice of obstetrics and gynecology in Texas since August 1995. Board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology since 1997, she incorporates her family medicine training as well as training in complementary and alternative therapies to provide comprehensive care to female patients. Her areas of special interest include spirituality and medicine, general obstetrics, minimally invasive surgical procedures including hysteroscopy and laparoscopy, preventative health care and patient safety, guidance for perimenopausal and menopausal patients. Ortique also is interested in health equity and elimination of racial and ethnic health care disparities and elimination of preventable maternal deaths.

November 19, 2018

The neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women celebrated babies this past week in recognition of Prematurity Awareness Month. Infants on the unit received superhero capes, created by FirstMemories Texas, an all-volunteer organization dedicated to teaching families whose infants are in the NICU and CVICU at Texas Children’s Hospital how to celebrate, honor and tell their children’s stories through photography and album making.

One family got three capes – one for each of their triplet sons, Barrett, Calvin and Jacob. The brothers were born on November 1 at 34 weeks gestation and have been in the NICU ever since. All three babies are healthy but need some extra attention and care before going home.

Dara Miller, the boys’ mother, said the care she and her boys have received at the Pavilion for Women has been incredible and that everyone they have encountered has been professional, compassionate and kind.

“We have had complete confidence in everyone who has taken care of us,” Miller said. “Everyone has always kept us informed and made us feel like we are in the best possible hands.”

The day her boys received their black and yellow batman capes was icing on the cake and ended up sparking a milestone moment. Until that day, she had never held her boys together, only separately. Joined by her husband, Mason, and 2-year-old daughter, June, Miller held her babies donned in capes big enough to cover almost their entire body and grinned widely.

“In that moment, we all came together as a family,” she said. “Until then, something felt incomplete.”

Kellie Kainer, assistant clinical director of nursing for the NICU, said comments like Miller’s and special events like the one with the capes bring smiles to her and her staff as well. Knowing that patients and their families are comfortable with the care they receive is huge.

“Everyone in the NICU has a passion for what they do,” she said. “We truly love caring for some of Texas Children’s most fragile patients.”

Texas Children’s Hospital, together with Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, house the nation’s largest level IV NICU, the highest level of care available for premature and critically-ill newborns. Babies born prematurely require round-the-clock care and often need access to highly specialized services to have the most optimal outcomes. Complications from premature birth (before 37 weeks gestation) are the #1 cause of death of babies in the United States and 1 in 10 babies in the U.S. are born too soon.

November 13, 2018

On November 8, Texas Children’s friends and supporters attended The Forum Luncheon highlighting the amazing work of Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women. Held at The Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston, the program shined a bright light on the many successes the Pavilion for Women has had since opening its doors in 2012.

In just six short years, more than 37,000 babies have been delivered at the hospital, including 1,200 sets of multiples, one of which was a set of sextuplets. Almost 8,000 babies have been treated in the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and many lives have been saved or greatly altered by the talented clinical staff that works tirelessly to improve the lives of women and children.

“I can’t imagine Texas Children’s without the Pavilion for Women and am thrilled we had the vision, aspiration and courage to build it,” said President and CEO Mark Wallace during his opening remarks at the forum. “In just five years, we translated our vision for this new paradigm of care into a reality that has helped countless mothers and their children.”

Hired to lead Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women shortly after it opened, Dr. Michael Belfort, fetal surgeon and Ob-Gyn-in-chief, headlined the forum’s program taking the almost 400 people in the audience on a journey through the organization’s wide variety of services offered to women and children.

Some of those services areas include:

  • Pediatric and adolescent gynecology
  • Fertility
  • High-risk pregnancy
  • Fetal surgery and prenatal care
  • Global women’s health
  • Menopause and urogynecology
  • Mental health

“I was drawn to Texas Children’s from the very beginning because of the vision they had for women and children,” Belfort said. “We have come a long way in a short time, and while I’m proud of our accomplishments, I don’t think we should ever stop trying to be even better.”

The forum’s program ended with an emotional story told by Emma Tramuto, who at 17 weeks pregnant was told her baby, Ella Rose, was diagnosed with gastroschisis, which is failure of the abdomen to close completely, resulting in the baby having her intestines outside of her body.

Emma and her husband James visited many physicians and surgeons, and were told multiple times their only choice was to terminate the pregnancy – that is until they came to Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women where a team of clinicians cared for Emma and Ella Rose, who is now a vibrant 6-year-old little girl.

“Miracles happen every day at Texas Children’s Hospital and perhaps the biggest miracles are the ones for the tiniest patients,” Emma said. “Our daughter is one of these incredible miracles. Had it not been for Texas Children’s Hospital Ella Rose would not be here today. The doctors and nurses who cared for Ella gave her a chance at life she would not have had one otherwise.”

August 27, 2018

Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women and two of its surgeons recently received superior patient care designations from the Surgical Review Corporation, which develops and administers best-in-class accreditation programs for surgeons, hospitals and freestanding outpatient facilities throughout the world.

After a rigorous review process, the SRC accredited the Pavilion for Women as a Center of Excellence for Minimally Invasive Gynecology and two of its surgeons – Dr. David Zepeda and Dr. Xiaoming Guan – as Surgeons of Excellence in Minimally Invasive Gynecology.

The Pavilion for Women is now one of three hospitals in Houston and one of five in Texas with the Center of Excellence designation.

“Earning this accreditation signifies our ability to consistently deliver the safest, high-quality care to our patients,” said Nakeisha Archer, director of perioperative services for the Pavilion for Women. “Our program fosters quality improvement in surgery, and commitment to this process has focused our team on exceeding clinical benchmarks and guidelines. Most importantly, our commitment to excellence will improve the health and well-being of our patients. We are so proud to be leaders in quality care for women.”

Minimally invasive gynecologic surgery includes hysteroscopic, laparoscopic and/or vaginal procedures such as hysterectomies, fibroid removals and myomectomy excisions. Surgeons at the Pavilion for Women did almost 500 minimally invasive surgeries in 2017 and are on track to do more this year.

Karen Rosser recently had a minimally invasive procedure done with Zepeda and said her experience with the surgeon and the Pavilion for Women was incredible.

“I felt comfortable every step of the way,” said Rosser, who suffered chronic pain for years due to adenomyosis. “I never flinched at moving forward with surgery and am confident I received the best care.”

Zepeda said he is proud of the designations and believes they distinguish the Pavilion for Women as a leader in minimally invasive surgery.

“SRC’s accreditation program recognizes surgeons and facilities that demonstrate an unparalleled commitment and ability to consistently deliver safe, effective, evidence-based care,” he said. “This has always been our focus at the Pavilion for Women and always will be.”

Guan agreed and said he hopes patients looking for quality care can now be even more assured that the Pavilion for Women is the place to be knowing we have met rigorous standards for delivering high-quality perioperative and long-term follow-up care.

More about the surgeons

Dr. David Zepeda was born and raised in Houston and attended The University of Texas at Austin. Zepeda received his medical degree at the University of Texas at San Antonio Health Science Center in 1974. He completed obstetrics and gynecology residency at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston in 1978. Zepeda maintains an academic appointment as clinical associate professor at Baylor College of Medicine, where he is involved in residency and medical student education. He’s recognized in the Texas Medical Center for his expertise in gynecologic surgery, including pelvic reconstruction, DaVinci Robotic Surgery and advanced laparoscopic and hysteroscopic procedures. He is board-certified by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and has voluntarily recertified numerous times. He has been awarded the Distinguished Surgeon of the Year in Houston and has been voted among the Best Doctors of America. In addition to teaching, Zepeda has been involved with National Scientific Meetings in Ob/Gyn and has published on laparoscopic surgery. He is actively involved in continuing medical education through the medical center and national meetings in the specialty as well as numerous professional societies.

Dr. Xiaoming Guan
Dr. Xiaoming Guan is the Section Chief and Fellowship Director of Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery at Texas Children’s and is an associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Guan earned his medical degree at Fujian Medical College, Fuzhou in Fujian, China. He completed his Obstetrics and Gynecology residency at St. Joseph’s Hospital, a Mount Sinai School of Medicine affiliated hospital, in Paterson, NJ, followed by a fellowship in Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Dr. Guan brings extensive experience in treating complex and challenging cases of endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and pelvic masses. He is a leader in minimally invasive gynecologic surgery and a pioneer in the use of state-of-the-art robotic single-site technology and traditional single site and transvaginal Natural Orifice Endoscopy Surgery (NOTES) for advanced pelvic surgery. He also applies single-site or NOTES surgical technique in treatments of cervical incompetence with abdominal cerclage, urinary incontinence with sling, and pelvic organ prolapse with sacrocolpopexy. He serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Minimally Invasive Gynecology and he is the author of numerous more than 40 publications.

More about SRC
Established in 2003, SRC is an internationally recognized patient safety organization dedicated to recognizing and refining surgical care. SRC is the leading administrator of quality improvement and accreditation programs for surgeons and hospitals worldwide. SRC’s proven methodology, known as the “Cycle of Excellence,” results in quantifiable and unparalleled improvement in the outcomes, patient safety and costs across surgical specialties. To measure improvement and develop best practices, SRC offers a multispecialty outcomes database that is the world’s largest repository of clinical patient data for minimally invasive gynecologic and bariatric surgery.

May 1, 2018

Hope Elizabeth Richards, one of the formerly conjoined twin girls separated at Texas Children’s earlier this year, was discharged April 25 after spending 482 days in the hospital. Hope joined her sister, Anna Grace, who was discharged on March 2.

The Richards family is looking forward to returning to their North Texas home soon. They are grateful for all of the support and prayers they received throughout their daughters’ journey.

“This is the moment it all feels real,” said Jill Richards. “We are so excited for Hope to join Anna and her brothers at home. Our family is eternally thankful for the doctors, nurses, child life specialists, physical therapists and many others at Texas Children’s who took incredible care of our precious girls.”

On January 13, Anna and Hope were successfully separated by a multidisciplinary team of nearly 75 surgeons, anesthesiologists, cardiologists and nurses from eight specialties performed the seven-hour procedure. In preparation for separation, on November 6, 2017, Anna and Hope underwent surgery to place tissue expanders in order to allow their skin to grow and stretch.

The girls were born on December 29, 2016 at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, weighing a combined 9 lbs. 12 oz. Delivered via Cesarean-section at 35 weeks and five days gestation, Anna and Hope were conjoined at their chest and abdomen, through the length of their torso and shared the chest wall, pericardial sac (the lining of the heart), diaphragm and liver. In addition, they had a large blood vessel connecting their hearts. They were welcomed by their parents, Jill and Michael, and older brothers Collin and Seth.

The Richards family, learned Jill was carrying conjoined twins during a routine ultrasound. The family was then referred to Texas Children’s Fetal Center, where they underwent extensive prenatal imaging, multidisciplinary consultation and development of plans to achieve a safe delivery and postnatal care. They temporarily relocated to Houston in order to deliver at Texas Children’s and to be close to the girls during their hospital stay. For the past year, Anna and Hope have been cared for by a team of specialists in the level IV and level II neonatal intensive care units (NICU).

April 17, 2018

For many patients and their families, trying to find parking in the garages at Texas Children’s Medical Center Campus can be challenging at times. But Texas Children’s employees and staff are finding creative solutions every day to address the concerns and needs of our patients and their families.

Coupled with the hospital’s on-going efforts to provide patients, families and visitors priority access to proximal parking to help get them to their clinical appointments on time, new enhancements to our parking garages are making it easier for patient families to find available spaces quickly while saving time.

To optimize the patient parking experience and meet the current parking demand, construction on the Parking Guidance System (PGS) in Garage 21 (Pavilion for Women/Legacy Tower) is almost complete. This project involved the installation of light sensors over parking spaces to help visitors identify whether a space is occupied (red) or available (green).

“The lights are clearly visible from several hundred feet away and electronic signage helps drivers identify the number of spaces available in various directions,” said Texas Children’s Facilities Project Manager Ted Gillis. “Since its installation, the Parking Guidance System in Garage 21 has improved the flow of traffic, and is making it easier for hospital visitors to find a spot in the garage more quickly.”

The installation of the red and green light sensors is currently in progress in Garage 16 (Wallace Tower). The PGS installation in Garage 12 (West Tower) will begin after the project is completed at Wallace Tower.

Texas Children’s continually receives feedback from patient families – and employees and staff – about impactful changes that can be implemented across the organization to promote a positive patient experience.

“By ensuring patients and families are considered first through both organization practices like the recent parking guidance enhancements and through decisions we each make as individuals, we personalize and improve what might otherwise be a stressful event for a family,” said Katie Kalenda Daggett, director of Patient and Family Services.

Additional enhancements to Garage 21

In preparation for the opening of Legacy Tower on May 22, Garage 21 under the Pavilion for Women and Legacy Tower is undergoing additional enhancements to create garage elevator lobbies for Legacy Tower, improve traffic flow and wayfinding, and increase public parking capacity.

Traffic flows have been re-configured to direct pediatric patients to Legacy Tower and women’s services patients to the Pavilion for Women. Below is a list of the designated parking areas in Garage 21.

  • Level B1 – Executives and Pavilion for Women physician leaders; valet, Wells Fargo Bank reserved spaces
  • Level B2 – Patient and visitor parking; Legacy Tower physician leaders, Wells Fargo Bank reserved spaces
  • Level B3 – Patient and visitor parking
  • Level B4 – Patient and visitor parking overflow, physicians and contract parking