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.

March 8, 2016

We did it!

Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women recently received the Baby Friendly Hospital (BFH) designation – an impressive milestone that demonstrates the value of teamwork and our nurses’ commitment to educating and supporting new mothers on the benefits of breastfeeding.

Launched by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund in 1991, the BFH Initiative encourages and recognizes hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for infant feeding and mother/baby bonding. Baby Friendly USA awards the designation to birthing hospitals that successfully implement the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.

“While achieving the baby friendly hospital designation was a lengthy four-phase process,” said Women’s Support Services Director Nancy Hurst, “this designation means that we are providing the highest level of care related to breastfeeding education, instruction and support for our patients.”

To meet the rigorous criteria for the BFH designation, the Pavilion for Women implemented numerous breastfeeding practices to ensure our nurses, obstetricians, and pediatricians are well trained to teach mothers how to breastfeed and maintain lactation, even when separated from their infants, which can occur when babies are confined in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for long-term care. Implementing these evidence-based practices required tremendous teamwork between and among departments and staff.

“We collaborated with leaders and staff from all areas of the Pavilion for Women including OB and Maternal Fetal Medicine clinics, labor and delivery, mother-baby units, perioperative services and women’s specialty unit,” Hurst said. “We also educated environmental services, volunteer services and other ancillary areas on what BHF is and what it means for our patients.”

Several evidence-based breastfeeding practices initiated at the Pavilion for Women include:

  • Helping mothers breastfeed within one hour of birth
  • Teaching mothers to respond to their infant’s early feeding cues rather than schedule feedings
  • Encouraging “rooming in” so mothers and infants can stay together 24 hours a day
  • Implementing immediate skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby following delivery
  • Standardizing prenatal education to educate women about the benefits of breastfeeding
  • Providing 20 hours of didactic and skills-based education and instruction to all nursing staff caring for mothers and babies at the Pavilion for Women
  • Feeding infants only breast milk and providing mothers with resources for lactation support prior to leaving the hospital
  • Promoting Breastfeeding Champions Program to inspire nurses to become role models for other nurses by reminding them why it is important to encourage women to breastfeed

“New mothers often times do not succeed in breastfeeding because there are no systems in place to support them,” said Prenatal Education Program Manager Anne Wright. “Since 88 percent of the mothers who deliver at the Pavilion for Women want to breastfeed, it’s important that we implement and sustain practices that ensure their success.”

After giving birth to two sets of twins at the Pavilion for Women, Elizabeth Shackouls recalls how incredibly supportive the nursing staff was in helping her overcome certain breastfeeding challenges after both pregnancies.

“The nurses helped me figure out latch issues and when I became discouraged, they assured me things would be easier with time and supported me through every feeding,” Shackouls said. “Even long after I was discharged, I continued to seek the nursing team’s advice on various issues and always felt like they were there for me no matter what. The renowned nursing staff and the exceptional care they provide patients are instrumental in setting Texas Children’s apart from other hospitals.”

Nurse Girija Babu, who is also a breastfeeding champion in her group, described the journey toward BFH designation as an “incredible” experience.

“By achieving this milestone, we’re ensuring our nursing mothers receive the support they need during and after their hospital stay,” Babu said. “We  are also grateful to our OB providers and anesthesia team for their continuous support in making sure newborns are placed skin to skin on the mother’s chest soon after birth.”

For more information about Baby Friendly USA, click here.

February 23, 2016

22416simulationinside640The neonatal team at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women is always prepared for special deliveries – taking care of newborns is what they’re trained to do. But earlier this month, the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) received a special delivery that wasn’t quite what you’d expect.

Texas Children’s Simulation Center hosted an open house to introduce Tory, a high-fidelity infant mannequin, and the newest addition to the first-ever Neonatal Comprehensive In Situ Simulation Program launched at the Pavilion for Women’s Newborn Center. The simulation equipment and supplies were purchased with a generous $200,000 grant from the M.D. Anderson Foundation, which will also support an in situ simulation program for the Emergency Center and Critical Care, as well as one for the NICU in West Tower once a dedicated space for simulation has been identified.

“We’re grateful to our Newborn Center leadership for dedicating a simulation room at the Pavilion,” said Dr. Jennifer Arnold, medical director of the Simulation Center. “Now, our NICU providers can train in their actual practice environments during regular workdays to enhance individual and team performance – particularly in high-risk situations – and improve patient outcomes and safety.”

The in situ simulation program focuses on improving crisis resource management skills, one of which is role clarity. During a code, the potential for confusion and chaos can easily set in as responders attempt to care for a patient in a high-risk medical emergency. Clinicians responding to a code may not always be sure of their roles or the roles of their team members when they arrive, and that’s when in situ simulation training becomes crucial to patient safety and care.

“First, we conducted tests to determine the necessary roles in a crisis, whether it’s a resuscitation or a code,” said Dr. Mona Khattab, one of the in situ simulation program directors for the NICU. “By having the necessary personnel at the code, we alleviate staff overcrowding and ensure optimal efficiency and clear communication are achieved while delivering lifesaving treatment to our NICU patients.”

Inside the simulation room, colored labels – red, yellow and green – are affixed to the floor that encircle the bedside. These labels identify the specific roles of each of the code response participants and directs them to their position on the floor during a medical emergency.

  • The red team consisting of clinicians and nurses stand in the innermost circle closest to the bedside where they provide direct patient care.
  • The yellow team is positioned behind the red team. They support patient care providers by documenting the code, handing over equipment, managing the ventilator and medication and blood prep drawers, and providing mentorship and consultations to the team leader as needed.
  • The green team stands in the back of the room near the code cart and provides overall code and room support to ensure everything is running seamlessly.

“When a text message page is sent, the unit reports to the simulation room as if it were an actual page in the unit to respond to a code,” said Kellie Kainer, assistant director of Nursing for the NICU at the Pavilion for Women. “We give them a brief history of the patient and alert them to the code.”

The in situ simulations will occur every Thursday and last 10 minutes followed by 20 minutes of debriefing. The NICU teams alternate every week and are selected based on their current assignment and the flow of the unit on that particular day.

“We’re focusing on one specific patient case so that everyone gets exposure to that case,” said Dr. Leigh Ann Cates, a neonatal nurse practitioner and a program director for the in situ simulation program. “As our program expands, we hope it will become a model for in situ simulations in other units of the hospital.”

In preparation for this training, all clinicians within the Newborn Center complete an online pre-simulation course through Healthstream. The Simulation Center developed a series of powerpoint presentations covering crisis resource management skills, an orientation to simulation, and what to expect during simulation such as a confidential and psychologically safe learning environment.