August 20, 2019

Back-to-school is a time full of anticipation as students get ready to learn new things and make new friends. However, it can also be a time of stress and anxiety for families who can’t afford back-to-school supplies.

To help ensure Houston-area students have the materials they need to start the year successfully, advanced practice providers (APPs) in the Department of Surgery APP Community Outreach Committee collected more than 50 backpacks filled with school supplies from across the three Texas Children’s Hospital campuses. The backpacks were donated at YMCA of Greater Houston locations and The Woodlands Family YMCA at Branch Crossing as part of YMCA Operation Backpack.

This was the fourth year APPs participated in the backpack drive, one of two major charitable initiatives held by the committee each year in which APPs from all Texas Children’s Hospital locations join forces for a common cause – to give back to the community. The other larger annual initiative is a food collection drive in January that benefits Houston Food Bank and Montgomery County Food Bank.

“Each campus participates in numerous events throughout the year, but we wanted to find a couple of opportunities to give back during the year when everyone can be involved,” said Jackie Broda, PA-C in Pediatric Urology and Clinical Lead of the Community Outreach Committee. “Going back to school is obviously a big thing for all our patients. So the backpack drive allows us to help kids get started back to school on the right foot.”

Supplies for each donation included:

  • 1 new backpack
  • 1 package of pens
  • 1 package of #2 pencils
  • 1 pencil sharpener
  • 1 eraser
  • 1 24-pack of crayons or 8-pack of markers or colored pencils
  • 1 package ruled loose leaf 8.5 x 11 paper (wide ruled)
  • 1 12” ruler
  • 1 pair of child safety scissors
  • 2 pocket folders
  • 2 spiral notebooks (100 sheets each)
  • 1 glue bottle or glue stick
  • 1 composition notebook

The backpack drive and food drive are just a part of the busy annual calendar of charitable initiatives and community events that APPs take part in every year at each Texas Children’s Hospital campus. Committee members take an active role in organizing and also volunteer at these events, which include the annual Family Fun Runs, Camp For All 2 U, Teddy Bear Clinics and many, many more – and all in addition to the amazing care and support they provide for patients and families every day.

“It’s a source of pride that everyone comes together for these incredible causes, but it’s awe-inspiring how much everyone is willing to give back on top of all the amazing work they do helping our patients,” Broda said.

Department of Surgery APP Community Outreach Committee 2019 Backpack Drive

Clinical Lead: Jackie Guarino Broda, PA-C

Texas Children’s Hospital – Texas Medical Center campus
Lead: Marielle Faraone, PA-C
Co-project Leaders: Marielle Faraone, PA-C and Madison Fitzgerald, PA-C
Donated: 14 backpacks

Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus
Lead and Project Leader: Anna Shafer, PA-C
Donated: 12 backpacks

Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands
Lead: Stephanie McGee, PA-C
Co-project Leaders: Alaina Dozar, NP and Jill Goeltz, PA-C
Donated: 28 backpacks

June 24, 2019

After nearly 30 years at Texas Children’s, Xavier George is just as devoted to patient care as he was when he first stepped foot in the hospital. As a patient care assistant (PCA) George is the first person to see the patients in the post anesthesia care unit (PACU) at the Medical Center Campus. The majority of his time at Texas Children’s he has been the comforting part of the patient’s experience, easing any apprehensions they may have before procedures.

“It’s so fantastic to work for Texas Children’s,” George said. “All of my hard worker and the reasons that I continue to come to work, day after day and year after year, is for the children.”

George’s compassion and experience with the children helps decrease anxiety of the parents and guardians as well.

“We have been coming here for two years now and every time we come, Xavier is kind, compassionate, friendly, and upbeat,” the parent of a patient said. “I cannot say enough nice things about him, he’s so great!”

George has the ability to work in many roles in PACU. He is able to work the waiting room and pre-op and PACU secretary. His flexibility makes it so much easier for everyone on the department to do their job.

“Xavier demonstrates teamwork and compassion towards coworker’s on a daily basis,” Perioperative Nursing Manager Beth Jones said. “He works well with the pre-op team to ensure positive experience for our patients. He steps in wherever he is needed to ensure a positive work environment. He will do all of this with a positive attitude. It is great having him on my team.”

May 28, 2019

Whether it is ensuring that families are well informed and comfortable, or walking into a room with enthusiasm willing to help her co-workers when necessary, at the crack of dawn in the Surgery Department at The Woodlands campus, patients and employees count on Jennifer Grubbs to make their day.

Grubbs started her journey here at Texas Children’s in 2015, in the Emergency Center at Texas Children’s West Campus, and then moved to The Woodlands just in time for the hospital’s opening as a Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) charge nurse. She later moved into her current role as the Patient and Family Liaison nurse that requires her to be knowledgeable, compassionate, and have the ability to communicate effectively. Grubbs exemplifies these characteristics daily which is why she was nominated by for the Caught You Caring (CYC) award by her leaders.

“She is so straight forward and concise when giving parents information about the surgery process, while also maintaining a profound sense of compassion and courtesy for their child,” Nursing Manager of Perioperative Services, Betty Smith said. “Her passion for her job is palpable and I have no doubt she will continue to provide amazing, well-rounded care to patients and families in day surgery.”

Grubbs’ flexibility to charge in the PACU, work in pre-op, or even work in the PACU as a nurse when needed on top of her duties as Patient and Family Liaison., shows her commitment to the department as well as our patients. She also serves as the chair of her unit’s Patient Experience committee.

“I really enjoy the patient experience role that I have,” Grubbs said. “I love working at Texas Children’s as a whole. There are so many opportunities for growth and the support by management here is immeasurable. Everyone is open to communication, there’s honest feedback, and it feels like a family, especially working in a community setting.”

Smith recalled a time when a PACU patient had a prescription for a medication that their local pharmacy could not fill, and Jennifer took the initiative to call several locations in the area repeatedly until she was able to find a pharmacy that carried the prescription. Something that may seem small to one person ultimately removed an immense amount of stress off of the patient’s parent. This particular occurrence is an example of her willingness to go above and beyond.

“However she can assist patients, she does,” Smith said. “Often as I prepare patients for surgery I hear her clarifying any misconceptions, addressing any fears, and comforting them every step of the way. That amongst many other things is why she is so deserving of this award.”

Grubbs’ sense of urgency that she has gained in the emergency room, combined with her compassion and patience from her PACU experience, allows her to be able to communicate with all family’s that walk in to any surgery situation.

“I am honored to be recognized for what I do every day,” Grubbs said. “It’s what I love to do, just connect with families and try to ease any anxieties they may have, and make a positive impact with every encounter I can have.”

The latest in cutting-edge research from across Texas Children’s Department of Surgery was recently on display at the 10th annual Edmond T. Gonzales, Jr. Surgical Research Day. The event is an important forum for surgical faculty, post-graduate trainees, nursing personnel and operating room staff to showcase their academic efforts in an encouraging environment.

More than 120 abstracts covering a broad spectrum of research topics, from basic science to clinical and outcomes research, were submitted for consideration. Of those, 14 were chosen for oral presentation.

The day kicked off with a keynote address from Dr. Adil Haider, Dean of Aga Khan University Medical College in Karachi, Pakistan and formerly of Johns Hopkins University and the Boston-based Center for Surgery and Public Health, a joint initiative between Harvard University and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He is regarded as one of the foremost experts on healthcare inequities in the United States, with projects focused on describing and mitigating unequal outcomes based on gender, race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, age and socioeconomic status. Dr. Haider spoke to the audience about his groundbreaking work in trauma disparities research, a field that he has helped establish by uncovering racial disparities after traumatic injury.

2019 Awards

Dr. Emily Steen was awarded the 2019 Samuel Stal Research Award. Over the past two years, Dr. Steen has been conducting basic science research in the Laboratory for Regenerative Tissue Repair under Dr. Sundeep Keswani, surgical director of basic science research at Texas Children’s Hospital. Dr. Steen’s work has focused on pediatric and fetal surgery, wound healing and fibrosis.

Texas Children’s Chief of Plastic Surgery Dr. Edward Buchanan received the 2019 Research Mentor Award. He was nominated by Dr. Kelly Schultz, a recent Baylor College of Medicine graduate.

“In addition to showing unparalleled commitment to his patients, Dr. Buchanan has been a strong mentor, sponsor and role model in clinical research throughout the entirety of my and many other students’ and residents’ medical careers,” said Schultz. “I’m grateful for the many hours Dr. Buchanan spent discussing research projects and imparting knowledge that would eventually pay off in the research I accomplished during medical school.”

Additionally, Dr. Yangyang Yu from Pediatric Surgery received the award for Best Poster, titled “Cost-Effectiveness Analysis of the Surgical Management of Infants Under 1 Year of Age with Feeding Difficulties.” And Dr. Candace Style won the award for Best Oral Presentation, titled “Citrulline Effectively Reduces the Rate and Severity of Necrotizing Enterocolitis Compared to Hydrogen Sulfide in the Premature Piglet Model.”

The event’s grand finale was the announcement of the 2019 Clayton Awards. This grant program, funded by the Department of Surgery, allows surgery researchers to generate the preliminary data necessary for National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant applications and other extramural funding. The recipients were:

Dr. Yi-Chun Liu, Otolaryngology
Evaluation of the benefit of bone conduction hearing device in children with unilateral congenital aural atresia

Michelle Roy, PA-C, Plastic Surgery
Cleft care instructional videos and their efficacy in postoperative outcomes

Dr. Guillermo Aldave, Neurosurgery
Pilot study of oncolytic adenovirus DNX-2401 for recurrent pediatric high grade tumors

Dr. Sarah Woodfield, Surgery
Profiling and modeling extracranial malignant rhabdoid tumors

May 14, 2019

The stars were out and all-smiles at the Smile Train 20th Anniversary Gala on May 2 in New York City.

The event, sponsored in part by Texas Children’s Hospital, honored the memory of Smile Train founder Charles B. Wang and served as the launch for a year of celebrations of impact across the globe. It featured a performance by Alexa Ray Joel and appearances by many special guests, including NBA legend, former Houston Rocket and Smile Train partner, Dikembe Mutumbo.

Smile Train also recognized three exceptional honorees for their support of the organization and its mission. These were Graham Elliot, the award-winning chef, restaurateur and television personality; Paula Shugart, President of The Miss Universe Organization; and the Chairman of Smile Train’s Medical Advisory Board, Texas Children’s Surgeon-in-Chief Dr. Larry Hollier.

“I would like to thank Charles Wang for the confidence he placed in me by naming me chair of the Medical Advisory Board,” Hollier said in his remarks. “It has been one of the biggest honors of my professional life.”

Smile Train is an international children’s charity and the largest surgical non-governmental organization in the world. Through its sustainable model, Smile Train empowers local medical professionals with training, funding and resources to provide free cleft lip and palate surgery and comprehensive care to children around the world.

A cleft occurs when certain body parts and structures do not fuse together during fetal development. Clefts can involve the lip and/or the roof of the mouth, which is made up of both hard and soft palate. If left untreated, the conditions can cause children to have difficulty eating, breathing, hearing and speaking. Many children with clefts live in isolation, and too many will never receive the reconstructive surgery they need.

Smile Train supervises the quality and safety of surgery on approximately 130,000 children every year and has provided surgery for approximately 1.6 million children in 85 countries over the past 20 years.

Cleft lip and palate care at Texas Children’s

Cleft repair surgery is safe, and the transformation is immediate. Texas Children’s Hospital specializes in the comprehensive care of patients born with these conditions at our Cleft Lip and Palate Clinic. Our multidisciplinary team has over 40 years of experience treating these particular issues, and each patient’s care is tailored to their specific needs.

The team consists of:

  • Pediatrician
  • Plastic surgeon
  • Pediatric dentist
  • Craniofacial orthodontist
  • Otolaryngologist or ear, nose and throat specialist (ENT)
  • Speech pathologist
  • Audiologist
  • Craniofacial nurse
  • Genetic counselor
  • Social worker
  • Nutritionist

Hear more about Texas Children’s world-class cleft lip and palate care from Chief of Plastic Surgery Dr. Edward Buchanan in this month’s featured “Medically Speaking” episode on Connect.

This month’s episode of Medically Speaking features Texas Children’s Chief of Plastic Surgery Dr. Edward Buchanan speaking about Texas Children’s multidisciplinary approach to cleft lip and palate care. In his talk, Buchanan outlines the spectrum of cleft lip and palate presentations, from minor abnormalities to more severe structural issues. He also gives an overview of the steps along the patient’s and family’s therapy and treatment pathway, including:

  • Prenatal counseling and diagnosis
  • Best feeding practices
  • Primary repairs and secondary procedures
  • Final surgeries when the patient is 16 years or older

“Cleft lip and palate care at Texas Children’s is not fragmented,” says Buchanan. “This kind of care can’t be done effectively in a silo by just one person; it takes a team. Our experts follow the child through their entire care journey to make sure we’re optimizing outcomes and that we’re not missing any opportunities.”

Learn more about Texas Children’s expertise in our Cleft Lip and Palate Clinic and about the full suite of services provided by the Division of Plastic Surgery.

About Medically Speaking

Medically Speaking, a video series from Texas Children’s Service Line Marketing, features some of the brightest minds from several Texas Children’s specialty and subspecialty areas. The series is meant to be a helpful educational resource for parents and a convenient way for physicians and other caregivers to stay up-to-date on the latest in pediatric medicine. Viewers can watch talks on a variety of interesting topics, including advancements in surgery, breakthroughs in research, new clinical trials, and novel and back-practice treatments for specific conditions.

Don’t miss future Medically Speaking episodes featured here on Connect, or view additional episodes now.

This presentation is not intended to present medical advice or individual treatment recommendations, and does not supplant the practitioner’s independent clinical judgment. Practitioners are advised to consider the management of each patient in view of the clinical information. All content is shared for informational purposes only, and reflects the thoughts and opinions of the original author. No physician-patient relationship is being created by the use of this presentation. The presentation sets out recommendations based upon similar circumstances and is provided as an educational tool. The presenters are not attorneys, and to the extent this presentation provides commentary on current laws and regulations affecting health care activities, it is not intended as legal advice.

April 29, 2019

On April 26, superheroes of all sizes assembled on The Auxiliary Bridge to celebrate National Pediatric Transplant Week, observed each year during the last full week of National Donate Life Month in April.

The event, hosted by Texas Children’s Transplant Services, marked the end of a week that focuses on the powerful message of ending the pediatric transplant waiting list. There were plenty of fun activities for children, including karaoke, hula-hooping, coloring and crafts, a photo wall, and a visit from Elsa, one of Texas Children’s three therapy dogs. There were also educational materials available on organ donation and transplantation.

The event also honored real-life superheroes – the donor families whose children have saved and healed lives through organ, eye and tissue donation.

The gift of an organ transplant comes to one family as another family is enduring the most difficult time of their lives. The team in Transplant Services works hand in hand with Texas Children’s Spiritual Care Department during these times to provide donor families with compassionate support, to honor the choice to donate an organ, and to honor the legacy of the patient.

There are several ways we recognize the legacies of these children and their families, including:

  • The observance of moments of honor, small ceremonies during which the gift of the organ donation is acknowledged and celebrated through readings and a blessing or prayer
  • Flag ceremonies, at which a Donate Life Flag is displayed and family, Texas Children’s staff and chaplains, and our LifeGift partners gather to tell stories about the patient, let the family touch the flag, share a group reading, and then the flag is then passed around the unit to be signed with messages of support and recognition from Transplant Services staff
  • National Donor Sabbath, an annual three-day observance where members of local faith communities participate in services and programs to honor donor families and to educate the public about the need for lifesaving transplants

In addition to these heartfelt moments of acknowledgement and remembrance, Texas Children’s Hospital has begun a new tradition to honor our donor families.

As the sun went down on April 22, Lester and Sue Smith Legacy Tower was illuminated in green and white. The tower was lit each evening for the rest of the week, both in commemoration of National Donate Life Month and Pediatric Transplant Week, and also as a tribute to our donor families. Going forward, the lighting of the tower will serve as yet another way Texas Children’s acknowledges them.

“Nothing we do would be possible without our donor families, and we wanted to find another way to honor them,” said Dr. John Goss, medical director of Transplant Services. “Now when people see Lester and Sue Smith Legacy Tower lit in green and white, they will know there’s a hero here at Texas Children’s who has just given the gift of life.”

About Transplant Services at Texas Children’s

Transplant Services at Texas Children’s was the nation’s largest pediatric transplant program in 2018, performing a remarkable 107 solid organ transplants including the highest volumes of pediatric liver, lung and kidney transplants.

Transplant Services provides a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to care through all aspects of the transplant process, from initial referral to hospitalization and outpatient management. Our team of experts includes physicians and surgical advanced practice providers, transplant coordinators, pediatric ventricular assist device coordinators, perfusionists, child life specialists, dieticians, social workers, financial counselors, pharmacists, inpatient and outpatient nursing and support staff, Perioperative Services, physical and occupational therapists, Radiology, Pathology, our LifeGift partners, and many others.

Our depth of skill and service enables us to offer world-class care for patients, from newborns to young adults, in need of heart, kidney, liver and lung transplants. That expertise has allowed us to successfully treat some cases that other national and international programs might consider untreatable.

Learn more about Transplant Services at Texas Children’s Hospital.