January 23, 2018

Texas Children’s continues to deliver on its mission of providing quality and safe care to our patients. As part of the expansion of the Maternal Fetal Medicine services at the Pavilion for Women, the obstetrics service has partnered with the Texas Children’s Kangaroo Crew to create the Maternal Transport Service.

The Kangaroo Crew transport team has decades of experience in critical care transport. To ensure expertise in high risk obstetrics care, the Kangaroo Crew and the Pavilion for Women labor and delivery (L&D) nursing staff have combined their specialized experience to create a program that supports critically ill obstetrics and gynecology patients. The team consisting of a Kangaroo Crew nurse, L&D nurse, respiratory therapist and EMT can provide specialty care not only to newborns and children, but now to mothers while enroute to the Pavilion for Women.

On December 8, 2017, Texas Children’s had its first maternal fetal transport case where a high-risk pregnant patient was transported to the Pavilion for Women from an outside hospital. The transfer call came in to Texas Children’s Mission Control, the hospital’s state-of-the-art communications hub that houses representatives from the departments of Room Management, Transport Services and Critical Care.

When a transfer call comes into the center, teams across the system work together to assure an efficient transfer occurs that provides the highest quality and safest care possible for high risk maternal patients.

“Whenever safe to do so, transporting a pregnant patient to the appropriate facility before an emergency happens is safest,” said Dr. Karin Fox, medical director of Maternal Transport. ”There is not an incubator yet made that can support an unborn baby and the mother, provided she is stable and a true emergency has not yet occurred.”

Prior to the maternal transport, meticulous collaboration took place before coordinating the patient’s successful transfer to the Pavilion for Women.

“We collaborated with our Maternal-Fetal Medicine and subspecialist teams to determine if this patient would benefit from maternal transport,” said Elizabeth Bolds, assistant clinical director at the Pavilion for Women. ”Intake assessment revealed this would be an ideal candidate for our Maternal Transport program and as such we coordinated the patient’s transfer to the Pavilion for maternal ICU care.”

The Kangaroo Crew staff – Shannon Frost RN, Heidi Allen, RRT, Nathan Martinez, EMT, along with maternal transport nurse, Khanh Nguyen, comprised the pioneering team that transported our first maternal transport.

According to Deb D’Ambrosio, RN, director of Transport Services and Mission Control, and Dr. Jeanine Graf, medical director of the Kangaroo Crew, “we had six successful transports in the first few weeks of starting the program. We anticipated this would be the volume for one month.”

By extending this transfer service beyond the hospital’s pediatric and neonatal populations to our high-risk expecting mothers, the Pavilion for Women continues to bolster its reputation as a primary referral site for patients with high-risk pregnancies.

“When the Pavilion for Women opened five years ago, it was created to care for the most complicated pregnancies and critically ill newborns, as well as serve thousands of normal deliveries each year,” said Cris Daskevich, senior vice president at the Pavilion for Women. “By working with our Kangaroo Crew and Mission Control partners, this transport service allows us to help our partners in the community transport their really sick patients to us where we can improve outcomes for mothers and babies.”

Click here to learn more about high-risk pregnancy care at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women. Click here to learn more about our Kangaroo Crew transport team.

January 17, 2018

Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women has earned the coveted Blue Distinction Center for Maternity Care designation for its expertise in the delivery of safe, efficient, high quality care to women and newborns.

As a leader in obstetrics, gynecology and fetal intervention, the Pavilion for Women specializes in high risk pregnancies and provides a continuum of care to women during every stage of their reproductive lives. To become a nationally designated Maternity Specialty Care Center, Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) evaluated the Pavilion for Women on a variety of quality and patient satisfaction measures.

The BCBS noted the Pavilion for Women’s successful implementation of evidence-based breastfeeding practices to ensure our nurses, obstetricians and pediatricians are well trained to teach mothers how to breastfeed and maintain lactation to give newborns a healthy start.

The Pavilion for Women excelled in maternity quality measures including the rate of episiotomies performed and the administration of antenatal steroids, which are medications given to pregnant patients who are at risk for delivering their babies too early. The hospital has consistently exceeded the national target rate of 90 percent or above for antenatal steroid administration.

The Pavilion for Women received exceptional marks in patient satisfaction. The hospital’s improvement efforts are directly related to the feedback received through the patient satisfaction survey. In September 2017, the Pavilion for Women achieved a patient satisfaction score of 92 percent and a 93 percent score for both pain management and care instructions that are given to patients before their hospital discharge and at the end of their clinic visit.

“We are grateful to our team’s collaboration in helping us achieve this designation,” said Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women Senior Vice President Cris Daskevich. “By reaching this milestone, we ensure that we continue to meet the standard of care and excellence that our patient families have come to expect.”

Click here for more information about the Blue Designation Center for Maternity Care designation.

November 14, 2017

Texas Children’s has touched clinical social worker Melanie Pearson on many levels. The organization has given her the job of her dreams. More importantly, the organization and its staff saved the lives of her two sons.

Shortly after delivering her oldest son at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, he was diagnosed with a heart condition. “How fortunate we were to be at one of the greatest teaching hospitals in the country,” Pearson said.

Pearson’s second son came only 14 and a half months later, a month before he was due. Shortly after birth, he was taken to the NICU and cared for by the hospital’s neonatology team. Pearson was only able to hold her newborn son for a few minutes before they had to be separated.

“Only a mother can understand that pain,” she said. “I would not have made it through without my amazing OBGYN and her team. She was the calm in the storm keeping my husband and I updated every step of the way and taking the time to listen and calm our fears.”

Both of Pearson’s sons are doing well today because of the care they received at Texas Children’s. As a result of that care, Pearson said she’s been searching for a way to give back and found it when she learned about the Chevron Houston Marathon’s Run for a Reason charity program.

Texas Children’s Hospital is an official charity for the Houston Marathon and Armaco Half Marathon, taking place on Sunday, January 14, 2018. The Run for a Reason program is a way for runners to run the race of their choice with a guaranteed entry – on behalf of a charity.

“Running for Texas Children’s Hospital is not just about the race, it’s a promise to our patients,” said Eric Blackwell, manager of special event for Texas Children’s. “By signing up to run and fundraise on behalf of Texas Children’s Hospital, your donations will directly impact the lives of countless children. Your race will become the race for our patients who are too sick – sometimes too sick even to play outside. Your support will allow us to expand our care to even more children who need our help.”

Pearson signed up to run the half marathon and said becoming a charity runner was the least she could do to in her effort to repay Texas Children’s for what the hospital has done for her and her family.

“I see it as a small way I can give back to a place that has given me and my family so much,” she said. “I am dedicating this race to the three most important men in my life. My husband and two sons. They are my rock and I wouldn’t be who I am today without them.”

To join Pearson and the Texas Children’s Running Team, click here. To help Pearson and others on the team meet their fundraising goal, click here. And, to volunteer to cheer these awesome runners on the day of the race, Sunday, January 14, click here.

Cheerleaders will be set up between miles 5 and 6, and a Texas Children’s Hospital tent will be stationed in the Bed Bath & Beyond parking lot at 3102 Kirby Drive between Richmond Avenue and West Alabama Street. Cheering begins at 7 a.m. until all runners pass the Texas Children’s tent. Snacks, sign-making materials and T-shirts will be provided to all individuals who sign up to volunteer.

October 17, 2017

Kristen Marie Hersey, RN, Women’s Services, passed away on July 30, 2017 at the age of 33.

Kristen was a member of the inpatient Women’s Services Labor & Delivery Team. Kristen dedicated her life to helping others and was always willing to help even when exhausted. Kristen loved her job! She considered being a nurse more of a calling than a job. Kristen cherished being able to help others bring life into the world and had a pure joy for every baby born. Kristen cared for so many people and made friends wherever she went. Kristen loved her children more than anything, and taught them to pray and thank God for all of our gifts and made sure they knew how much they are loved. Kristen was a friend to all, her loving personality, giving spirit, listening ear, and that smile that could light up the unit will be greatly missed by her team and fellow employees.

Kristen is survived by her loving husband, Shawn; children, Isla and Rowan; mother, Lisa; father, James; stepfather, Mark; Mother- and Father-in-law, Tammie and Gary; sisters, Trina Ouztz (husband, Matt) and Alli Combs (husband Drew); Sister-in-law, Kati; nieces and nephews, Emma, Liam, Eli, Lily Anne, William, Grady, Layton, Allison, Austin, Abigail; and many other loving family and friends.

October 10, 2017

Texas Children’s collaborative work to develop a novel device to anchor the chorio-amniotic membranes during fetal surgery was recently funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute Of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Partnering with Baylor College of Medicine, the Department of Bioengineering at Texas A&M University, and local life sciences commercialization firm Fannin Innovation Studio, the $225,000 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant will be used to advance the development of a device that can be introduced into the uterine cavity under ultrasound guidance to anchor the chorio-amniotic membranes, thereby reducing the risk for premature rupture of membranes (PROM) during fetal surgery.

Preterm PROM is the most frequent complication associated with fetal surgery and can increase the risk of premature delivery that could potentially add the insult or prematurity to the fetal anomaly that leads to the need for fetal surgery.

Through the Texas A&M undergraduate and graduate design program, a group of Texas A&M engineering students collaborated with Dr. Jimmy Espinoza and OB/Gyn-in-Chief Dr. Michael A. Belfort, obstetricians and gynecologists, and fetal surgeons at Texas Children’s and Baylor, to create the device in 2016. Espinoza and Belfort challenged the students to develop innovative tools that could be percutaneously introduced into the uterus during fetal surgery to anchor the chorio-amniotic membranes in order to reduce the risk of preterm PROM.

Fetal surgery is a relatively new discipline that aims to reduce the risk for fetal death in conditions such as twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, severe fetal anemia, congenital diaphragmatic hernia or fetal hydrops, or reduce the long term complications and improve the quality of life in conditions such as spina bifida. Texas Children’s and Baylor are at the forefront on fetal surgery in the U.S. and have innovated techniques to make fetal surgery safer for the mothers and their unborn children.

After extensively collaborating with Texas Children’s surgeons to understand the challenges of anchoring the chorio-amniotic membranes during fetal surgery and the need for refinement, the collaborative team developed a device that can be percutaneously introduced into the uterine cavity under ultrasound guidance in order to anchor the chorio-amniotic membranes to reduce the risk for preterm PROM. This new innovation in fetal surgery could potentially be used in all fetal surgeries because of its percutaneous approach and should reduce the risk for the most common complication associated with fetal surgery, namely pre-term PROM.

“The development of new devices and new approaches in fetal surgery is very important to make fetal interventions safer not only for the fetus but also for the mother,” said Espinoza, co-director of the Fetal Center at Texas Children’s. “The decision to proceed to fetal surgery is very altruistic for the mothers because they will be exposed to risks associated with surgery for the benefit of their unborn child. Thus, we have the obligation to minimize those risks. This award recognizes the academic partnerships that are necessary to advance the frontiers of fetal surgery.”

The team’s invention has won the top prize at Texas A&M University’s 2016 annual Engineering Design Showcase. The project was judged against over 700 students on more than 150 other projects.

October 3, 2017

Texas Children’s President and CEO Mark Wallace and his wife, Shannon, recently donated a very special gift to the Texas Children’s Pawsitive Play Program in memory of their beloved black Labrador, Cadence. The Wallaces have generously pledged an initial $80,000 contribution to the program to enable Texas Children’s to hire another animal-assisted therapy coordinator and therapy dog team to provide therapeutic interventions for patients and families in the Legacy Tower.

“Shannon and I are both animal lovers through and through, and we could not think of a better way to honor Cadence than by donating to the Pawsitive Play Program in her memory,” Wallace said. “We were very attached to Cadence, who brought us so much joy before she passed away. We saw what a positive impact Elsa has made on our patients and their families, and we know the addition of a new therapy dog will allow even more of our patients, employees and staff to benefit from this program in the Legacy Tower.”

Since joining Texas Children’s one year ago, Elsa, Texas Children’s first therapy dog, has provided targeted therapeutic interventions to patients and their families in numerous patient care settings at the Texas Children’s medical center campus. The hospital’s second therapy dog will be specifically trained to care for patients and families in the critical care environment.

“The Pawsitive Play program has made an incredible difference in the healing process for our patients and their families,” said Texas Children’s Assistant Vice President Sarah Maytum. “And the impact extends to our employees and physicians as well. Elsa brightens everyone’s day. I often see her in the hallway, surrounded by a crowd of employees who have stopped to greet Elsa as she is on her way to see patients.”

Texas Children’s will again collaborate with Canine Assistants, a non-profit organization in Atlanta, Georgia, that has matched more than 1,500 therapy dogs, including individual and hospital placements. The organization will conduct a site visit to learn more about the critical care areas of the Legacy Tower before selecting the ideal therapy dog for that environment.

Many of the clinical areas that are moving into Legacy Tower have had great success with the Pawsitive Play Program already. Elsa visits the intensive care and progressive care units on a regular basis. While some patients will not be able to receive a visit from the new service dog because of their clinical conditions, the families, visitors and staff throughout Legacy Tower will be able to experience the comfort of our newest therapy dog.

The Wallaces’ contribution will support Texas Children’s second therapy dog and its handler over the 8-year service life of the dog. Texas Children’s plans to have this new furry companion on staff in early 2018. This will allow sufficient time to get the newest furry member of the team oriented and ready for the opening of Legacy Tower.

“Legacy Tower is so distinctive and innovative,” Wallace said. “It is being equipped with the most advanced technology and much larger, family-centered critical care spaces. It will complement the hospital’s existing ORs and radiology services, and will be home to Texas Children’s No. 1 ranked Heart Center. With so much to look forward to, Shannon and I thought it would be great to bring a special new therapy dog to the patients we will care for in our new critical care tower. We are so fortunate to be able to do something like this, and we both can’t wait to welcome our new friend.”

August 22, 2017

On August 5, more than 450 patients and families traveled from all over the country for the 2017 Texas Children’s Newborn Center family reunion. The reunion celebrated former patients who graduated from the Newborn Center in 2016 after spending 10 days or more in our neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

The reunion was held at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women where parents shared stories of hope and triumph with other NICU families and reconnected with the nurses and doctors who delivered life-saving care to their critically ill babies.

“The NICU reunion is one of the most special times of the year for us,” said Texas Children’s Chief of Neonatology Dr. Gauthum Suresh. “The families were so grateful to be able to come back and share the great progress their babies have made. It gave them the opportunity to visit with the employees, physicians and other families that they spent so much time with while being cared for in our NICU.”

Highlights from the reunion included remarks from Suresh, Newborn Center Vice President Judy Swanson, Newborn Center Family Advisory Committee (NFAC) members Desiree Bradley-Collins and Katy Haynes, and blessings from Texas Children’s chaplain Naguib Kedeas.

The NICU reunion also offered children’s entertainment including a DJ, games, photo booth, face painting, crafts, airbrush tattoos, appearances from Minnie Mouse, SpongeBob Square Pants and Pikachu, and guests enjoyed a good old-fashioned Texas barbecue.

The Newborn Center team thanked everyone who helped organize this successful event including Texas Children’s NFAC Committee and Bad Pants, an organization that has raised more than $1 million to support the Newborn Center through the annual Bad Pants Open golf tournament.