July 19, 2016

72016fetalconference640The International Fetal Medicine and Surgery Society (IFMSS) led by co-presidents Doctors Oluyinka and Olutoyin Olutoye, will convene for its annual meeting in Kasane, Botswana from August 2 to 7, 2016. This is the second time the meeting has been held on the African continent in the society’s 35-year history.

The IFMSS is an international gathering of fetal medicine practitioners from all over the world,” said Dr. Oluyinka Olutoye, co-director of Texas Children’s Fetal Center. “The annual meeting is the forum where innovations in fetal therapy are discussed even prior to general dissemination.”

Topics that will be discussed at the meeting include updates on the management of fetuses with spina bifida, innovative therapies for congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH), advances in the management of complex twin problems, as well as topics on ethics, anesthesia, genetics, cardiology, diagnostics, neonatal care and long-term outcomes amongst others.

Anesthesiologist-in-Chief Dr. Dean Andropoulos is one of the invited keynote speakers. The other keynote speaker is the Executive Director of the BIPAI Center of Excellence in Botswana, Prof. Gabriel Anabwani. Other Texas Children’s physician attendees include Dr. Darrell Cass, co-director of the Fetal Center, who will present the hospital’s experience with the management of CDH, Texas Children’s neurosurgeon Dr. William Whitehead who will deliver a presentation on the fetal management of spina bifida and Texas Children’s maternal-fetal medicine specialist Dr. Alireza Shamshirsaz who will present on fetal intervention for non-immune hydrops.

Other meeting attendees include Drs. Karolina Adam and Joanie Hare of Houston Perinatal Associates, and research fellows Drs. Stephanie Cruz and Patricio Lau who will also present at the meeting and are two of the seven recipients of the young investigator travel award. Kristen Kaiser, PhD, of Texas Children’s Pediatric Surgery Division together with Adam Gibson and Taylor Napier Earle of Texas Children’s Global Health have graciously provided administrative and logistical support for this international meeting.

In addition to the IFMSS meeting in Kasane, Botswana, a pre-meeting symposium will be held in conjunction with the Botswana Pediatric Association and the University of Botswana in the capital city, Gaborone, Botswana from July 31 to August 1. This symposium, also involving international speakers, will address issues in prenatal diagnosis, pediatric anesthesiology, obstetrics, pediatric surgery, cardiology and critical care, and is targeted at Botswana physicians not involved in fetal therapy.

“Serving as co-presidents of an international society is an honor and privilege,” said Dr. Olutoyin Olutoye, director of the Fetal Anesthesia Service at Texas Children’s. “It acknowledges our participation in the society’s activities over the years, reflects our contributions to the field, and places Texas Children’s and Baylor College of Medicine amongst elite institutions whose faculty have led such a prestigious organization.”

The logo for the 35th IFMSS meeting was designed by Beth Sumner of Texas Children’s Department of Surgery, with inspiration from the co-presidents. The elephant acknowledges the region of Botswana where the meeting will be held, which is home to the largest concentration of elephants in the world. The fetus encased in the elephant trunk acknowledges the care of the fetus that is the focus of the meeting.

July 6, 2016

7616zikaclinic640Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women recently opened a Zika clinic to ensure women, mothers and babies continue to receive the highest quality health care during every important stage of their lives.

Located on the third floor of the Pavilion for Women in the Baylor Ob/Gyn clinic, the Zika clinic focuses on women who have traveled to Zika-affected countries, have shown symptoms of the Zika virus or have partners who have traveled to Zika-affected countries and/or have shown symptoms of the Zika virus.

Zika is transmitted primarily through mosquito bites. In recent months, the virus has heightened concern among pregnant women since the virus may increase the risk of microcephaly, a rare neurological birth defect that causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads.

“It’s very important that we have a Zika clinic here at the Pavilion for Women,” said Dr. Kjersti Aagaard, a Maternal-Fetal Medicine physician and vice chair for Research in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Texas Children’s and Baylor College of Medicine. “In an emerging disease, where new evidence arises daily, having a dedicated group of providers who can keep up with large amounts of crucial information, understand what testing to perform, and discern clinically important information and how to readily apply it are critically important.”

In addition to blood, urine and amniotic fluid tests and counseling, the clinic offers a targeted diagnostic ultrasound that can be performed as early as 15 weeks into pregnancy to determine if there are any concerning developmental signs for Zika infection in a fetus. Physicians and staff at the clinic are thoroughly prepared to safely and confidently treat any patient who exhibits symptoms of the Zika virus.

The Zika clinic is a direct outcome of a recently created task force that convened earlier this year. Under the guidance of Texas Children’s Ob/Gyn-in-Chief Dr. Michael Belfort and Maternal Fetal Medicine Division Director Dr. Gary Dildy, a task force of physicians and researchers from Baylor and Texas Children’s have developed management and research strategies based on important screening criteria outlined by the Centers for Disease Control for pregnant women who may have been exposed to the Zika virus. This task force has been led by Aagaard alongside Drs. Carey Eppes and Martha Rac.

The Zika clinic sees patients on Friday mornings from 8 a.m. to noon. The clinic is staffed by one registered nurse, one medical assistant and the physician team includes Drs. Eppes, Aagaard, Rac and Magda Sanz Cortes.

The clinic will initially see patients who are internally referred by either Baylor Ob/Gyn, Partners in Ob/Gyn Care or The Women’s Specialists providers. Patient referrals to the Zika clinic from outside physicians will be accepted and expanded this summer once internal patient volume demands are addressed.

Recent Connect articles related to Zika:
Senator Cornyn visits Texas Children’s to attend roundtable on Zika virus
Zika virus cases surface in Texas, travelers to epidemic regions most at risk

June 28, 2016

62916DrSchutt640Hearing the words, “you’re pregnant” can be an exciting, life-changing moment. But for many couples struggling with infertility, the journey to parenthood can be filled with frustration, stress, and at times, hopelessness.

Dr. Amy Schutt, a reproductive endocrinologist and surgeon who recently joined the Family Fertility Center at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, knows these struggles since she faced infertility challenges of her own.

“While in medical school, I was learning how to be a physician, but at the same time – unknown to most family, friends and colleagues – I was also learning how to be a patient,” Schutt said.

After a miscarriage, two surgeries, countless ultrasounds and unsuccessful infertility treatments, Schutt and her husband ultimately conceived their now 7-year-old daughter through in vitro fertilization (IVF).

“My daughter was born in my fourth year of medical school and she is a living, breathing testament to the medical and scientific advances that made her possible,” Schutt said. “What I didn’t know then, but know now, is that facing infertility taught me lessons about caring for women in ways that the classroom could never teach me.”

With her uniquely compassionate approach to care that comes from her own experience as an infertility patient, Schutt combines her clinical knowledge, surgical skills and research to advance the understanding of infertility and subsequently develop innovative treatment approaches to improve successful pregnancy outcomes.

While specializing in the care and treatment of reproductive and hormonal disorders like polycystic ovary syndrome, Schutt has extensive training in groundbreaking surgical techniques to treat the most challenging reproductive and endocrinology cases, including rare congenital anomalies of the reproductive tract. She finds it highly rewarding to provide continuity of care for her patients, helping women achieve conception after successful surgical treatment.

Schutt’s contributions to research has helped advance the treatment and understanding of reproductive and endocrinology disorders, including the influence of maternal health factors such as diet and obesity on a woman’s fertility and the long-term health of her baby. Currently, Schutt is collaborating with colleagues to examine the effects of protein restriction on egg quality before pregnancy to see whether a diet rich in protein optimizes egg health and development. In a separate study, Schutt is also looking at the effects of obesity on female fertility by studying the granulosa cells collected during IVF. These cells feed signals to the egg during the maturation process.

Prior to joining the Family Fertility Center, Schutt received her medical degree from Texas Tech University School of Medicine followed by an OB/GYN residency at the University of Virginia Health System. She recently completed a three-year fellowship in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Baylor College of Medicine.

“We are excited to have Dr. Schutt join our team,” said Dr. William Gibbons, director of the Family Fertility Center and chief of reproductive endocrinology services at Texas Children’s. “She brings compassion, ability, enthusiasm and a diverse skill set to our Family Fertility Center family. I can’t wait to watch where she takes us.”

For Schutt, there’s one thing that fuels her passion more than anything – helping her patients achieve their dreams.

“I look forward to calling my patients with positive pregnancy tests, to celebrating pregnancy ultrasounds and to receiving birth announcements,” Schutt said. “My personal and educational experiences have taken me full circle and I look forward to being part of this incredible team at the Family Fertility Center.”

Click here to watch a video tour of the Family Fertility Center. If you have questions, want to schedule an appointment with the Family Fertility Center team of Drs. William Gibbons, Amy Schutt, Terri Woodard and Paul Zarutskie, or learn more about the benefits available to full-time Texas Children’s employees, call Ext. 6-7500.

June 1, 2016

6116TCHAPPConference640Texas Children’s Hospital recently hosted the third annual Texas Children’s Hospital Advanced Practice Provider (TCHAPP) Conference at the Pavilion for Women Conference Center. The event was well attended with more than 130 registrants. Many of Texas Children’s own advanced practice providers as well as nurse practitioners and physician assistants from across the nation attended this three-day event.

The conference provided attendees with a broad view of pediatric care from a subspecialty and acute care perspective, and opportunities to connect with experts and colleagues. A panel of guest speakers delivered presentations on evidence-based and innovative approaches to the diagnosis and treatment of various pediatric medical and surgical conditions. The event also provided attendees the opportunity to learn more about pharmacology and improve skills such as suturing and lumbar punctures.

The committee would like to thank the speakers and attendees who helped make this year a success. Click here to view the names of the presenters and specific topics discussed at the conference.

Planning is currently underway for the fourth TCHAPP conference to be held in 2017.

May 3, 2016

When was the last time you helped patients navigate our hallways? Did you look them in the eye when you talked to them? Did you greet them with a smile and a friendly handshake?

Patient and family experience at Texas Children’s is more than the medical care we provide at the bedside. It’s a reflection of how we treat our patients and their families from the moment they call us to schedule an appointment to the moment they leave our care.

Recently, Texas Children’s employees and staff at the Pavilion for Women got a chance to put themselves in the shoes of their patients by walking into the Galleries of Parallel Truths. Two rooms, named Gallery A and Gallery B, were decked out with posters, statistics and compelling stories, one showing the positives and one the negatives of patient experience at Texas Children’s.

“The galleries were organized by our nursing leadership in collaboration with Ambulatory Services,” said Kim Holt, assistant director of nursing at Texas Children’s Cancer Center The Woodlands campus and the project’s team leader. “We felt it was necessary to re-engage our staff around the importance of consistently creating a positive patient experience, which will help to improve our Press Ganey patient satisfaction scores at Texas Children’s.”

When staff entered Gallery A, the atmosphere was cold and uninviting. The walls were plastered with shocking statistics and disturbing complaints from patient families and employees who had left the organization.

“It looked like we were walking into a dungeon of the unknown,” Felicia Cruise said. ”There was trash everywhere and employee badges were scattered on the floor. It was dark and a place that I didn’t want to be in.”

“The phone was ringing constantly,” Delores Metoyer recalled. “I wanted to say, “Somebody get the phone! Get the phone!”

Next door in Gallery B, the atmosphere was bright and inviting. A red carpet was rolled out onto the floor symbolizing superior customer service we deliver to our patients and their families. The walls were decorated with pictures of happy employees and volumes of awards, recognitions and stories showcasing outstanding employee achievements in patient care and patient experience.

“The purpose of the galleries was for employees to remember the impact and the experience they felt going through the negative and the positive room,” said Oluwakemi Orogbemi, one of the nurses who helped organize the event. “Employee engagement is very important to positive patient experience. We want our employees to know their happiness, their positive experience here at Texas Children’s will translate into a positive experience for our patients and their families.”

The employee feedback gathered from these sessions will be sent to the Patient Experience Committee where staff will collaborate on strategies to resolve the issues raised by employees and patient families.

The Galleries of Parallel Truths started in January 2016 and has been presented to employees at the Pavilion for Women, West Campus, and several of the health centers in the community.

To find out when the next Galleries of Parallel Truths will be presented, contact Kim Holt at Ext. 8-9265 or kpholt@texaschildrens.org.

Patient Experience Week

Employees, patients and their families will also get a chance this week to learn more about Texas Children’s efforts to make the patient and family experience here the best it can be. Events will be held at Main and West campuses. Click here for a schedule of events.

March 30, 2016


Don’t forget to sign up to participate in the 2016 March for Babies walk on Sunday, April 24, at 9 a.m. at the University of Houston. Whether you join a Texas Children’s team or start your own team, the five-mile walk promises to be a fun day out with people who share our passion for improving the health of babies.

Last year, Texas Children’s March for Babies team was no. 9 among corporate teams for the walk, collectively raising more than $64,000. This year, as a Signature sponsor, Texas Children’s goal is to raise $120,000 that will support the March of Dimes.

“If each hospital department/unit raises an average of about $1,500, with 35 participating teams, we will reach our goal,” said Judy Swanson, vice president of Texas Children’s Newborn Center. “Texas Children’s is off to a great start with a $75,000 contribution from the system to date.”

At the March for Babies walk, there will be family teams, company teams and people walking with friends. To donate or sign up for a Texas Children’s team, type TCH in the team search bar and select your team.

If you want to build your own team, please identify a spirited organizer in your department to be a team captain for Texas Children’s. Once identified, please send their contact information to Sharla Weindorff. Contact Sharla at Ext. 4-2011 if you have further questions.


  • Friday, April 8 – Walker registration due is $25 and includes a Team TCH shirt and a BBQ ticket at the walk
  • Friday, April 22 – All walker donation forms due. Each walker’s fundraising goal is $100 to earn the March of Dimes 2016 T-shirt
  • Sunday, April 24 – March of Dimes Walk, University of Houston

To learn more about March for Babies, click here.

Helpful tips to prepare for the walk

Before lacing up your shoes, Texas Children’s Employee Health and Wellness offer tips to help you prepare and become more comfortable with what to expect during the five-mile walk.

  • Fuel up before the walk. It is important to give your body ample time to breakdown the needed nutrients and allow your stomach to settle before your race. So eat something, such as multigrain bread, fruits or vegetables, about three hours beforehand.
  • Make sure to stretch before the walk. Stretching with help lengthen your muscles, give you a longer stride and prevent any injuries.
  • Always warm up by starting off your walk with a slower pace for about 5 minutes. After you feel like your muscles are warm, pick up the pace. Challenge yourself and walk at different intervals, fast for 3 minutes, slower pace for 3 minutes.
  • Dress for 15 to 20 degrees warmer. It is also important to not overdress. Check out the weather forecast and dress for 15 to 20 degrees warmer as this is how much your body will warm up once you start running. If it is going to be cold, bring expendable clothing that you are okay with not getting back, and shed these after you warm up.
  • Find your pace. Pay attention to your heart rate and breathing. Remember, this walk is for you, so don’t worry about others around you or their race times. Instead, focus on breathing and walk at a pace where your heart rate is elevated. However don’t overdo it, you should be able to walk and carry a conversation at the same time.
  • Use good walking posture. Make sure to stand up straight, head up, abdomen flat, shoes pointing straight ahead, and use an arm swing.
  • Stay hydrated during the walk. Keeping your body hydrated is essential is key to success. Be sure to carry water. As the temperatures rise make sure that you maintain your hydration. In very hot weather, add in a sports drink to help replenish your electrolytes.

Here are 7 tips on how to pick out the perfect walking shoes.

  1. A walker’s foot hits heel first and then rolls gradually from heel-to-toe. So, you will need a flexible sole and more bend in the toe than a runner. You should be able to twist and bend the toe area.
  2. Look for a shoe that is light weight and breathable. The last thing you want is a heavy walking shoe.
  3. Make sure the shoe that fits properly. Be sure your foot has enough room in the toe box. There should be a thumbnails width (or about a half inch) between your toes and the end of the shoe. The shoe should be wide enough in the toe that your toes can move freely. Your heel should not slip, and the shoe should not pinch or bind, especially across the arch or ball of your foot.
  4. Try on new shoes at the end of the day or after your walk when your feet may be slightly swollen. Also be sure to wear the same socks you will be wearing during your walks. This can make a huge difference in how the shoe fits. Try on both shoes. Your feet may not be the same size (really!).
  5. Walk around for a few minutes on a hard surface. It is worth the effort to find the right shoe for you and it is worth spending a few extra dollars.
  6. Wear your shoes in the house for a few days to try them out. Don’t venture outdoors until you are sure the shoes are going to work for you. (If the shoes are not going to work out you will want to exchange them before scuffing them up outside.)
  7. Keep track of how many miles you have put on your shoes, and replace them every 300 to 600 miles (480 to 970 km). (If you are wearing very light weight shoes, are overweight, or you are hard on your shoes stay toward the low end on mileage.) To extend the life of your shoes be sure to only wear them only for your walks. Also rotating two pair of shoes will give them time to “bounce back” between walks.
March 15, 2016


Did you know approximately 16 babies are born every day at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women? With each birth, every mother has memories of those first precious moments together. We want to hear about yours.

We will feature a new story each Friday on Texas Children’s Facebook page. If interested in submitting your own, please email PFWmarketing@texaschildrens.org and include the following:

  • A few photos of your first moments together (preferably candid)
  • A short description of the memories you have from those first moments

All submissions will be reviewed but not all guaranteed. This campaign is limited to only Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women patients. If your submission is chosen, someone from our Marketing team will reach out via email.