August 20, 2019

Walking the halls of Texas Children’s you may see someone in a red vest offering assistance or providing some type of support. Those are our volunteers, who have played an important role in the organization’s success since day one.

This summer The Woodlands Campus adopted the junior volunteer program to offer opportunities to teenagers and provide more support for patient care.

The volunteer program began when Texas Children’s opened its doors in 1954. Over the years the program has expanded to over 800 diverse active Auxiliary members who support patients, families and hospital staff.

“The role of the volunteer has really changed over the decades,” Assistant Vice President, Clinical Support and Research Administration, Paige Schulz said. “One of the things that’s really significantly changed is originally it was only women that volunteered at Texas Children’s. And then that was from the ‘50s really until the ‘80s, and then men started volunteering a lot more with our organization.”

Click below to view a video about the system-wide junior volunteer program.

In 2017, West Campus began their junior volunteer program based off of several requests from the Katy community. As the campus grew over the years, so did the need for a program.

“The juniors make a big difference in the patient’s experience in the hospital,” West Campus Senior Volunteer Coordinator Nora Lopez said. “When the patient comes in and they go to visit the doctor, they are scared. So if they play with someone before they are seen by the doctor, or nurse, or prior to any procedure or surgery, the patient is most likely in a better mood. So it’s a win, win situation and it makes a big difference in the hospital.”

The Woodlands Volunteer Services Department selected 12 high school students with an interest in working in the healthcare field to engage in tasks that enhances patient experience, whether it is providing games for them to play, snacks like popcorn and tea, or just having someone to talk to their age.

“The best part is their energy. They bring an enormous amount of energy to the hospital and their energy is contagious and it’s been so wonderful to have that contagious positive energy around the hospital,” The Woodlands Senior Volunteer Coordinator Zett Small said. “We are grateful to have the best, brightest, and most talented kids volunteering with us.”

Anvi Sana is a 16-year-old aspiring pediatrician who has always dreamed of working at Texas Children’s. The summer junior volunteer opportunity at The Woodlands combined her love for kids and thirst for the knowledge of health care. Sana expressed how much of a learning experience volunteering was and why it is beneficial for someone her age.

“I think as a teenager it teaches you a lot about the different kinds of people that you’re going to run into in a hospital,” Sana said. “I think doing a program like this as a teenager kind of opens up your eyes to the number of different people that you’re going to see or come across when you’re working in a hospital.

Being a volunteer at Texas Children’s is not just a job it is an experience for all ages, and backgrounds with endless possibilities.

“What I like to say about the volunteers are that they are the heart and soul of this organization,” Schulz said. “I’m excited about just the opportunity for us to expand beyond what maybe is a traditional volunteer assignment.”

Click here for information about the volunteer program.

August 13, 2019

This year the tremendously anticipated Camp For All 2U event debuted at Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands. For the first time patients and their families were able to experience summer camp in all hospitals this summer.

Camp For All 2U is a unique, barrier-free camp that brings the same eventful camping experience to patients and their siblings. Many patients may have missed out on those valuable experiences because they are in the hospital.

“We were thrilled to bring Camp For All 2U here for our patients and families in this community,” Cynda Parrish. “The main goal is to bring fun and normalization to our patients and families here. To have the opportunity to engage in camp-like activities instead of just sitting around at home or in their hospital rooms is exciting.”

For a week in June and July the program transformed areas of hospitals into camp spaces providing patients, who may not get the experience of camp outside of the hospital, the opportunity to enjoy a variety of games and activities.

Canoeing and the pie throwing events are a favorite at the Medical Center Campus every year, and West Campus introduced a robotics activity that engaged patients in a whole new way. The Woodlands campus provided activities including a mad science experiment, canoeing, arts and crafts and a hospital favorite, horses!

The horses were brought to The Woodlands hospital by a local organization called Inspiration Ranch which provides therapy horses with a similar purpose as our therapy dogs. Patients were invited to pet and paint on the horses, and ultimately enjoy a moment that maybe rare for most of them.

Inspiration Ranch is a Premiere Accredited Center through the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International, which breaks down barriers and celebrates the inclusion of individuals with physical, emotional, and social disabilities. They offer exceptional equine-assisted therapy and activities in a loving Christian environment, providing hope and improving the lives of those with physical, mental, and emotional challenges through Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies.

“It’s a little different from therapy dogs when it comes to training because we have to put children on the horse, but the overall goal is the same, the therapeutic value.” President and CEO of Inspiration Ranch, MG Tindall said. “We know for a fact that being next to a horse is calming, they are non-judgmental, and they provided happiness along with and experience some children may not have had before. We appreciate Texas Children’s for allowing us to provide this for the patients.”

View photos from Camp For All 2U below.

Texas Children’s has been adapting camp activities for patients and their siblings in a hospital setting since 2016. Camp For All 2U West Campus was an expansion of the Medical Center Campus event and generously funded by community partner Wood.

“Camp For All 2U is just one of the many opportunities that we have available for patients and their families to enjoy this summer in the hospital,” Child Life Coordinator Mary Reddick said. “The Camp For All 2U staff makes it very easy to engage patients through a series of games and activities that they just love!”

After returning for the fourth consecutive year, an expanding to The Woodlands Campus this year, Child Life Specialist Sarah Herbek said that she is excited to see the program grow across the system and more patients are able to experience this amazing event.

“It feels great to know that Camp is reaching our Katy and Woodlands communities. Camp For All 2 U teaches kids what they can do, not what they can’t do,” Herbek said. “I love that Texas Children’s Hospital recognizes the importance of allowing kids to be kids and as we continue to grow as an institution, we still make it a priority to provide these types of programs for our patients and families.”

Although there is a pre-registration process, patients are more than welcome to join in on the fun if they happen to come across the camp activities at all campuses.

“Camp for All 2U brought tons of laughing and dancing from patients, smiles and excitement from employees, and tears from parents,” Parrish said. “We absolutely look forward to making this an annual event and provide more new and exciting things for the Woodlands community.”

For more information about Camp For All, visit

August 6, 2019

Texas Children’s is very fortunate to partner with many community organizations and companies to help us provide high quality patient and family experiences. Members Choice Credit Union, a full-service financial institution serving the greater Houston area, recently formed a partnership with our West Campus location.

Located directly across the interstate, Members Choice had an urge to work with the hospital to better serve the Katy community. After developing a relationship with West Campus leadership and the Child Life Department, they began hosting small events at the hospital.

“I reached out and made it clear that my team would be so eager to do something here because of how close we are and how passionate our staff is about children struggling with illnesses,” Members Choice Vice President of Strategic Initiative & Programs Joye Jackson said. “We constantly look for ways to help and volunteer in the community and Texas Children’s was one of the best choices that we could start with.”

Earlier this year, Jackson and her team inquired about how they could be more involved with the hospital and later agreed to sponsor West Campus’ Summer Family Fun Days series of events. Their financial and volunteer services allowed the campus to successfully produce three days in June and July, of fun activities for inpatients, outpatients and their families.

On June 19, the events began with games and face painting in the lobby, then a magic comedy show was held in the conference rooms. The second event on July 10, Members Choice team member provided stations for patients and their families to create slime just before Mad Science Houston presented a science demonstration with a hands on experiment. The final day of the series was held on July 31, as Tom’s Fun Band entertained children of all ages with an interactive music show and family board games.

“The primary goal of this summer series is to provide summer destination activities for our patients and families while strengthening community relations,” Child Life Activity Coordinator Mary Reddick said. “We are so thankful to Members Choice for their dedication to our patients and their families.”

“It has really been phenomenal. We love coming here, every time we come, it’s more than what we expected. Sometimes we wonder how many children we’re going to have, but once we’re here, they just come out from everywhere,” Community Relations Representative Vanessa Wheeless said. “It just does so much for us to put a smile on a child’s face and kind of take their mind off what is going on with them.”

Members Choice’s mission is people-helping-people by providing sound financial solutions and resources, as well as sharing their passion for supporting the community. Their goal this year as an organization was to be more active in the community and to offer more opportunities.

“It’s one thing to say you want to do for the community, but it’s another thing to actually do it and see the reactions,” Jackson said. “We want to be known as an organization that truly does give back. For Texas Children’s to open the doors and welcome and allow us to be hands on with our support, we really thank you for the opportunity. We’re grateful that Members Choice is able to provide this assistance, and we want to challenge other businesses and organizations to do the same.”

July 9, 2019

Texas Children’s West Campus Urgent Care opened its doors in September 2018 and has served many patients since. Located next to Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, the West Campus Urgent Care opened to help manage the Emergency Center to serve patients and families in the west Houston area. Learn more by visiting our 2018 virtual Annual Report.

July 1, 2019

As a manager and veteran nurse, Almea Montillo is someone that both patients and employees can count on. Her experience over the past 20 years has allowed her to form relationships with some of the most critically ill patients, and watch their journey to recovery.

“I’ve gotten to be very fortunate to see how my patients that I have sent from the Emergency Center, up here to the floor get better and go home,” Montillo said. “It’s really a great feeling to see how well we’ve taken care of them.”

Montillo began working in the Emergency Center, then became a staff nurse for a few years and later an educator. Now as she manages other nurses, she also makes time to be an active member of the Patient Experience Leader Rounding and Bedside Shift Report teams. She provides valuable feedback and is seen as a leader in the realm of patient experience.

“It’s been an awesome experience working at Texas Children’s,” Montillo said. “I’m very fortunate to be in an institution where you’re supported by leadership, and I feel that we take care of our patients very well.”

She is known for the love and comfort she provides patients, and the guidance and encouragement she gives employees. Between greeting staff, leading huddles, leadership rounding, and administrative tasks, her days can be pretty busy. She is also a Central Line Champion, as she makes sure that the staff carryout cap changes, and central line dressing changes properly.

“Mea personally rounds on each and every patient and family every day. She enjoys developing a relationship with the families and wants them to feel they can come to her for any need,” Assistant Clinical Director of Nursing at West Campus Sondra Morris said. “She ensures they feel comfortable by making sure they are aware of the resources at the campus and in the unit. She is a role model for the staff and a great example of how we should care for our patients and families.”

Montillo says that although the Caught You Caring Award came as a surprise, she was very excited to receive confirmation that the immense amount of effort and heart she puts into her work has not gone unrecognized.

“I was very happy to know that I made a difference with someone. I don’t ever look for any kind of praise, she said. “I feel like it’s my job to know the patients and the families and make sure that they have the best possible experience, because nobody wants to be in the hospital. It’s our job to make it a positive experience no matter what’s going on, and that is my motto and goal every single day.”

Congratulations to Clinical Staff Development Specialist, Lauren Ivanhoe, MSN, RN-BC, CEN, who is the recipient of the this year’s third quarter, Best of the West award.

Ivanhoe is a well-respected healthcare education professional throughout the campus, system, and nationally. She freely lends her educational expertise and leads initiatives anchored in staff development and patient safety.

The Best of the West award recognizes an employee each quarter who has exceled at demonstrating Texas Children’s values – leading tirelessly, living compassionately, amplifying unity and embracing freedom.

“Lauren has gone above and beyond to ensure we are aware and capable of best practices,” her co-workers expressed. “She is one of those people who is always willing to help and support the team.”

Ivanhoe recently worked closely with the West Campus Radiology Team to simulate patient care in the mobile CT scanner. She has spent countless hours coordinating and developing training content that translated into safe practice. Additionally, Ivanhoe has worked extremely hard to develop and train staff in preparation for the Epic Upgrade, Beaker go-live, and Interoperability transition.

She also coordinates Cy-Fair Independent School District student schedules for on-site training, contributing to a pipeline of future health care professionals.

“It goes without saying that Lauren is more than deserving of this award and we are better as a campus and system because of her passion and dedication,” the radiology team collectively mentioned. “We cherish the wealth of knowledge she shares and absolutely admire her uplifting and encouraging attitude.”

April 9, 2019

It’s time to take the Compassion Challenge this year! During Patient Experience Week, beginning on Monday, April 22, Texas Children’s will launch the Compassion Challenge to engage staff and providers around the hospital’s core values.

During Patient Experience Week, staff and providers across the organization will complete a challenge that focuses on the concepts of compassion, communication and connectedness. Examples of challenges include: greeting 10 people during the first two hours of your shift and holding open the door/elevator for a patient or visitor.

“Every one of us is empowered to demonstrate compassion – a simple, yet transformative, expression we can offer to others and to ourselves.” Director of Patient and Family Services, Katie Kalenda-Daggett said. “To understand the emotional state of another person and have the desire to reduce her/his suffering not only enriches the experience of that colleague, patient, or family but also the experience we create for ourselves each day.”

Staff and providers will register online to participate in the Compassion Challenge. Daily reminders and encouragement will be sent during Patient Experience Week to those that are registered. Those who complete each challenge during Patient Experience Week will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win 2 tickets aboard a lunch cruise on The Boardwalk FantaSea, a luxury yacht located in Kemah, Texas. Click here to register online to participate in the Compassion Challenge.

The theme for Patient Experience Week is “Get on Board with Patient Experience,” as we set sail for exotic ports of call to celebrate patients. This year’s theme emphasizes the importance of teamwork as we ask all employees to get aboard the Texas Children’s ship, The Bounty of Patient Experience, and continue to serve as anchors to patients and ensuring their experience is smooth sailing.

From April 22 to April 26, the Patient Experience team will kick off an exciting week filled with nautical-themed activities and interactive events at Texas Children’s Hospital Medical Center Campus, Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus and Texas Children’s Hospital Woodlands Campus.

Amongst the events planned we will have Caught You Caring Awards ceremonies at all three campuses to recognize our 2019 recipients who have gone above and beyond to show compassion to our patients, families and co-workers.

In addition, there will also be patient events at each campus where various departments will have tables with fun activities for patients and families including music, a photo booth, and a host of games.

Patient Experience Week 2019 – Get on Board with Patient Experience

Monday, April 22
Compassion Challenge begins system-wide

Caught You Caring Ceremony – Medical Center Campus
Join us during Patient Experience Week as we celebrate employees and staff who have gone above and beyond to provide compassion to our patients, families and co-workers.
Where: Feigin Tower, first floor, FC-01A
When: 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Tuesday, April 23
Caught You Caring Ceremony – West Campus
Join us during Patient Experience Week as we celebrate employees and staff who have gone above and beyond to provide compassion to our patients, families and co-workers.
Where: West Campus Conference Center, first floor
When: 9:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.

West Campus Patient event
Where: West Campus, first floor
When: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Wednesday, April 24
Medical Center Campus Patient event
Where: The Auxiliary Bridge
When: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Friday, April 26
Compassion Challenge ends

Caught You Caring Ceremony – The Woodlands Campus
Join us during Patient Experience Week as we celebrate employees and staff who have gone above and beyond to provide compassion to our patients, families and co-workers.
Where: Woodlands Conference Center, second floor
When: 9:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.

The Woodlands Campus Bridge event
Where: The Woodlands, first floor
When: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.