October 6, 2015

bench-and-beside-Header2Bench and Bedside is a digest of the previous month’s stories about the clinical and academic activities of our physicians and scientists. We welcome your submissions and feedback.

10615PaintingGroup300September 2

Pulmonary hypertension team hosts the painting party, proceeds benefit PHA

Physicians and staff with Texas Children’s Pulmonary Hypertension Program hosted a tile painting party on August 22 where patients transformed ceramic tiles into colorful pieces of art. The event benefited the Pulmonary Hypertension Association. Read more

September 9

Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus expands urology services

Urology services at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus have been extended to meet the needs of patients in Houston and its surrounding area. Read more

September 9

Dormans sets sights high for future of Orthopedics Department

Chief of Orthopedics Dr. John Dormans joined Texas Children’s three months ago and has already developed a plan to make the Texas Children’s Orthopedics Department one of the top programs in the world. His plan focuses on three main areas – recruitment, operations and facilities, and reputation and expertise. Read more

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Hair receives 2015 Clinical Faculty of the Year Award

Dr. Amy Hair, a neonatologist and director of neonatal nutrition at Texas Children’s, recently received the Baylor College of Medicine’s 2015 Clinical Faculty of the Year Award for demonstrating “exemplary performance of activities that are above and beyond the scope of assigned responsibilities.” Read more

September 9

New program offers emotional healing for parents of special-needs children

Texas Children’s Geneticist Dr. Christian Schaaf and his colleagues developed a support program that helps parents cope with the emotional challenges of caring for children with developmental disabilities by learning to let go of things they cannot control. Read more

September 15

Clinical Research Center/Research Resources Office presents research award to Dr. Wenderfer

The Clinical Research Center/Research Resources Office presented the Clinical Research Award for Third Quarter 2015 to Dr. Scott Wenderfer, Department of Pediatrics-Renal, Baylor College of Medicine. Wenderfer’s research activities focus on Inflammatory Kidney Diseases and Lupus Nephritis. Read more

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Texas Children’s patients, staff create shared memories at Camp Spike N Wave, Camp Periwinkle

Every summer, Texas Children’s staff and their patients make the 90-mile trek to Camp for All, a 100-acre, barrier-free recreational facility where children with complex medical conditions experience the thrill of camping just like other kids their age. More than 185 children with epilepsy attend Camp Spike N Wave and roughly 185 patients from Texas Children’s Cancer Center go to Camp Periwinkle. Read more

September 29

Dormans presides over 50th annual meeting of SRS

Dr. John Dormans, chief of Orthopedics at Texas Children’s Hospital, completed his year as president of the Scoliosis Research Society (SRS) at the 50th anniversary meeting in Minneapolis September 30 to October 3 and presented one of six special lectures titled, “Neural Complications in Spinal Deformity: Detection and Avoidance.” Read more

September 29

Dr. Swathi Bataji joins Pediatric Surgery

Dr. Swathi Balaji has joined the Pediatric Surgery Research Laboratory at Texas Children’s Hospital. Balaji also has been appointed assistant professor in the Department of Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine. Read more

September 29

ICD-10 debut: New coding system launchess at Texas Children’s October 1

On October 1, Texas Children’s and other hospitals around the world switched to the ICD-10 coding system that will allow greater detail and precision in reporting patients’ diagnoses and procedures. For more than a year, Texas Children’s ICD-10 preparedness teams worked diligently to ensure all employees were prepared for the mandatory October 1 conversion. Read more

10615PICS300September 29

Heart Center physicians perform two cases broadcasted to live audience

Heart Center physicians performed two pediatric interventional cardiac care cases for the Pediatric and Adult Interventional Cardiac Symposium. The cases, which were performed at the Main Campus, were transmitted live to the conference in Las Vegas, Nevada via satellite. Read more

September 9, 2015

72915Drdavidroth175Urology services at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus have been extended to meet the needs of patients in Houston and its surrounding area.

Beginning in July, the Texas Children’s Urology Department started holding clinics from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the second Monday of the month and from 8 a.m. to noon on the fourth Saturday of the month. An advanced practice provider, registered nurse, medical assistant and ambulatory service representative help patients with pediatric urological needs. As always, a faculty urologist is available at all times if needed.

“We would like to expand this project if it proves to meet the needs of our patients,” said Dr. David Roth, chief of urology. “Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for children to get the urologic care they need by offering alternatives to the traditional Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. hours.”

West Campus President Chanda Cashen Chacón said she appreciates Roth’s initiative and support of the expansion.

“This is a great option for our patients and their families,” she said.

Roth is chief of urology at Texas Children’s. His team members offer the most advanced surgical care for routine urological needs as well as genitourinary problems related to congenital birth defects, kidney stones, undescended testes, inguinal hernias and a range of other medical conditions.

They have special expertise in minimally invasive, laparoscopic surgical techniques, including extremely delicate procedures in newborns and infants, anorectal malformations, urological conditions caused by neurological problems, such as spina bifida, and management of stone disease.

September 2, 2015

9315SIUinside640Texas Children’s veteran nurse Sondra Morris recently was chosen to lead the Special Response Team’s nursing unit.

Nurses will make up a significant portion of the specially-trained portion of the team, which will be called to action if the soon-to-be-complete Special Isolation Unit at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus is activated. The eight-bed unit is designed for children with highly contagious infectious diseases. Similar to the four other biocontainment units in the country, the one at Texas Children’s will be one of the only in the United States designated just for children.

“Sondra is the best person for this job for many reasons, one of the main ones being she has led nursing teams in the Intensive Care Unit and the Emergency Center,” said Shannon McCord, director of patient services at West Campus. “She has skill and expertise in working with the unexpected.”

Morris joined Texas Children’s 20 years ago as a graduate nurse in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). During her time with the PICU, Morris worked as a transport nurse and later became a nurse manger.

As the Kangaroo Crew was becoming its own department, Morris transitioned to the nurse manager for that team. She spent five years there and completed her Master’s of Science in Nursing Management before moving to the Emergency Center as the assistant clinical director.

Last year when Morris learned about the creation of the Special Isolation Unit, she said she applied for the nursing leader position because she thought “it would be a unique, challenging and innovative unit that would be full of new opportunities, one of which would be building a unique nursing team that will take care of highly infectious patients, such as those with Ebola, MERS or other highly infectious pathogens.”

To date, at least 40 nurses across the Texas Children’s system have volunteered to be part of the nursing unit on the Special Response Team. The unit will work with a group of physicians, medical technologists and environmental service technicians if the Special Isolation Unit is activated.

There will be three to six nurses assigned to a patient based on the acuity of the case. Some nurses will be by the bedside while others will be observing, documenting and helping other team members donn and doff personal protective equipment.

Recruitment of all positions is ongoing. To learn more about joining the Special Response Team, click here.

“I already am impressed by the team’s dedication and passion for learning and for their willingness to care for this vulnerable patient population,” Morris said. “While I hope to rarely activate the SIU team, I am confident these patients will be in the best place to receive the best care possible.”

The decision to build a special isolation unit came last year after an unprecedented Ebola outbreak, resulting in the realization that we must be prepared to handle emerging infections as an institution. This new unit, which is scheduled to open in October, will incorporate all of the latest scientific and technological approaches to biocontainment, including negative air pressure, laminar air flow, high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration, separate ventilation, anterooms, biosafety cabinets, a point-of-care laboratory, special security access, autoclaves and incinerators. There will be two levels of protection from airborne particles, as well as a comprehensive waste management plan, among other safety features.

It will be fully equipped to care for any infant or child with a serious communicable disease, with all of the measures available to assure safety of the health care team, other patients and their families. A point-of-care biosafety level 3 laboratory will enable the care team to monitor the progress of patients and perform rapid detection methods to identify unusual pathogens. Housed at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, the unit is anticipated to have capacity for eight patients, all in private rooms.

This specialized unit will be led by Dr. Gordon Schutze, who will serve as medical director, as well as Dr. Judith Campbell and Dr. Amy Arrington, who will be the unit’s associate medical directors. The Special Response Team will staff the unit and will be trained in infection control, hospital epidemiology and management of infectious diseases in the critical care setting. The staff will maintain their certification through participation in ongoing educational activities.

When the Special Isolation Unit isn’t activated, it will be used as a new acute care unit for West Campus. Morris is assistant clinical director of 5 West when the Special Isolation Unit isn’t being used.

August 10, 2015

bench-and-beside-Header1Bench and Bedside is a digest of the previous month’s stories about the clinical and academic activities of our physicians and scientists. We welcome your subsmissions and feedback.

July 7

Texas Children’s Hospital launches pediatric Thyroid Tumor Program

Texas Children’s Hospital recently formed a new pediatric Thyroid Tumor Program dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of children and young adults with thyroid tumors, cancer and diseases. Read more


Radiology expansion promotes environment of collaboration

New and improved office space for the Department of Pediatric Radiology brings together all radiologists in one large reading room and houses the department’s offices in one centralized location. The expansion also provides space for daily morning huddles. These changes help ensure the hospital’s imaging services are available for patients in a timely manner. Read more

July 14

Dr. Susan Blaney elected chair of CPRIT Advisory Committee on childhood cancers

Dr. Susan Blaney, deputy director of Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers, was recently elected to serve as chair of the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) Advisory Committee on Childhood Cancers (ACCC). Blaney, who has been a member of the committee for three years, will serve a two-year term. Read more

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Health Center staff prepares for transition to community hospital setting

With the opening of the outpatient and subspecialty building at Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands just 15 months away, steps are being taken to ensure the transition for staff, patients and their families is seamless. One such step was taken June 25 and 26 when staff and leaders at the Woodlands Health Center and staff and leaders at the West Campus Outpatient and Subspecialty Building met and discussed what it’s like to go from working at a small community health center to a community hospital. Read more

81015HeartFailure300July 14

Texas Children’s opens first-of-its-kind pediatric Heart Failure Intensive Care Unit

Texas Children’s Heart Center and the section of Critical Care Medicine cut the ribbon July 6 on a new, first-of-its-kind pediatric Heart Failure Intensive Care Unit. This highly-specialized 12-bed unit focuses on the treatment of children with heart failure, as well as those requiring intensive care before and after heart transplant. Read more

July 14

Young investigator given research boost from national grant

Dr. Rikhia Chakraborty is a young scientist with a distinct goal – to find the causes that potentially lead to Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH), a rare cancer mainly affecting pediatric patients, and determine the best way to prevent and treat the disease. Chakraborty’s research was recently recognized by Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation with a Young Investigator Grant worth $100,000. Read more

81015Mata300July 14

Hour-long documentary on Mata conjoined twins to air on Discovery Life Channel

An hour-long documentary on the formerly conjoined Mata twins aired on the Discovery Life Channel on July 16 . The program spotlighted Texas Children’s Hospital’s efforts leading up to and after the historic surgery that separated Knatalye Hope and Adeline Faith Mata. Read more

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Department of Surgery makes great strides 2010-2015

During his annual state of the department meeting, Surgeon-in-Chief Dr. Charles D. Fraser Jr. highlighted the impressive efforts within the Department of Surgery. Read more



July 20

A new community hospital partnership allows patients to deliver at CHI St. Luke’s Health – The Vintage Hospital

Pregnant members of Texas Children’s Health Plan – The Center for Children and Women Greenspoint location recently received some big news. They can now deliver their babies at CHI St. Luke’s Health – The Vintage Hospital located in Northwest Houston. Read more

81015HH300July 21

Texas Children’s conference empowers HH patients, families

On July 11, Texas Children’s Hospital and Hope for Hypothalamic Hamartomas hosted an educational conference to empower patients and their families affected by a rare and often devastating brain condition. Hypothalamic Hamartoma (HH) is a noncancerous tumor of the hypothalamus that causes uncontrollable seizures, early puberty, hormonal imbalances and cognitive and behavioral problems. Read more

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World renowned epileptologist, colleagues visit Texas Children’s Hospital

World renowned epileptologist Dr. Helen Cross and two of her colleagues visited Texas Children’s July 9 and July 10 to get more information on the Medtronic Visualase system, which uses real-time MRI-guided thermal imaging and laser technology to destroy lesions in the brain that cause epilepsy and uncontrollable seizures. Read more

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Leaders prepare for opening of special isolation unit

Clinicians recently participated in a detailed simulation to prepare for the soon-to-be-open special isolation unit. The state-of-the-art facility will open its doors in October and a Special Response Team will stand ready to receive children suspected of having a highly contagious disease. Read more

81015Ethanbell300July 21

End-of-treatment bell brings hope for cancer patients

Patients at the Texas Children Cancer and Hematology Centers now can ring a bell in both the inpatient and outpatient units at the end of their treatment. Listen to a song Purple Songs Can Fly artist and cancer survivor Christian Spear wrote and dedicated to patients entering a new phase of their lives with the ringing of the end-of-treatment bell. Read more

July 21

ICD-10: Let’s reach 100 percent educational compliance by September 1

On October 1, Texas Children’s and other hospitals around the nation will convert to the federally-mandated ICD-10 coding system to better report patients’ diagnoses and inpatient procedures. To ensure we are ready systemwide for this transition, employees must complete their required online education and training by September 1. You can access your assigned e-learning module here. Read more

July 28

Texas Children’s Auxiliary awards given to Gargollo and Rosenfeld

The Texas Children’s Hospital Auxiliary awarded urologist Dr. Patricio Gargollo the Denton A. Cooley Fellowship in Surgical Innovation Award and orthopedic surgeon Dr. Scott Rosenfeld the Outcomes Fellowship Award for 2015. Each award totals $75,000. This is the fourth year the Department of Surgery has received funding from the Texas Children’s Auxiliary. Read more

July 28

NRI study: Insufficient energy production by mitochondria can lead to neural degeneration

In a fascinating study recently published in PLOS Biology, Dr. Hugo Bellen, Manish Jaiswal and their colleagues at the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s found that insufficient energy production by the mitochondria can cause photoreceptor neurons in the retina to degenerate. Read more

July 28

Fraser celebrates 20 years with Texas Children’s Hospital Heart Center

Thanks to the vision of legendary heart surgeon Dr. Denton H. Cooley and the leadership of Texas Children’s Hospital Surgeon-in-Chief Dr. Charles D. Fraser Jr ., the Texas Children’s Hospital Heart Center is one of the most active pediatric heart programs in the United States, setting a record with 32 heart transplants in 2014 and consistently treating the most complex heart issues every day. Read more

81015cancer300July 28

Texas Children’s expands crucial care to cancer and hematology patients in developing countries

Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Center physicians are crossing the globe to provide care for children suffering from cancer and blood disorders. Watch a video to see how the care they provide continues to reach new populations. Read more

July 28

Zarutskie’s arrival, expertise complements patient care at Family Fertility Center

Dr. Paul Zarutskie recently joined the Family Fertility Center at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women. With more than 30 years in the field of reproductive medicine, Zarutskie combines his expertise and compassionate approach to patient care to help infertile couples achieve their dream of starting a family. Read more

August 14

Transplant Services team to host pediatric transplant symposium

Texas Children’s Hospital Transplant Services team is hosting the 2015 Pediatric Transplant Symposium at Texas Children’s Hospital. Learn how to register for this conference. Read more

August 4, 2015

Making a trip to the hospital can be stressful for both our patients and their families. Most often, they come to us because something is wrong and they want to figure out how to get well. Whatever we can do to make that experience a good one, the better off everyone will be. That’s why the staff at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus strives to make its facility a fun, caring environment.

One program at West Campus that brings smiles to a lot of faces is called That’s How We Roll. Created in honor of the hospital’s first leaders, Michelle Riley-Brown and Dr. Charles Hankins, the program offers rides on colorful toy cars and wagons to incoming patients. Volunteers working the entrances to the hospital manage the program and help the children get into the cars and wagons safely.

“We love it, the patients love it and so do their parents,” Guest Services Representative Karen Collins said. “It’s a win-win for everybody.”

Julia Tucci, who brings her 2-year-old son Andrew to West Campus three times a week for occupational and speech therapy, said the service is comforting.

“It makes for a nice transition to our therapy sessions,” she said. “It eases the process.”

Sheri Pivonka agreed and said her 5-year-old daughter, Faith, looks forward to riding the wagon to her weekly therapy session.

“She loves riding the wagon,” Pivonka said. “She’s always looking for it when we come in.”

The idea for the That’s How We Roll program was sparked late last year when Riley-Brown, former West Campus president, and Hankins, former West Campus medical officer, announced they were leaving to lead Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands.

“We wanted to honor the time and effort Michelle and Dr. Hankins spent opening the campus and running it for the first four years,” said Bobbie Jehle, project manager for West Campus and The Woodlands. “So, we started thinking of things we could do around the phrase ‘That’s how we roll’ since that was a common quote from Michelle to the West Campus leadership team.”

After several brainstorming sessions, Jehle said leadership decided to focus the project on patient experience and the idea for the That’s How We Roll program was born. West Campus leaders donated money to purchase the cars and wagons as a gift to Riley-Brown and Hankins. Since then, the program has taken off and happily escorts patients to their appointments every day.

“We use it twice a week and enjoy it each and every time,” said Lajuan Rose, the mother of 1-year-old Demari. “It makes our experience here a little bit easier.”

July 21, 2015

72215WCSIU640Two nurses and a doctor donned personal protective equipment before entering the hospital room to check on the young patient who was exhibiting signs of a highly infectious disease.

While the physician patiently talked with the child’s worried mother, the nurses checked the patient’s vitals and drew a blood sample to be tested for diseases such as Ebola, Lassa and Marburg fevers.

A lab technician dressed in personal protective equipment gathered the blood sample and took it to a nearby lab that would produce results within hours.

Meanwhile, the doctor and nurses worked with a team of medical professionals watching and advising from an adjacent room equipped with an observation window to keep the patient stabilized.

Fortunately, this was not a real scene at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus but a detailed simulation that recently occurred in the soon-to-be-finished special isolation unit.

In October, the state-of-the-art facility will open its doors and a Special Response Team will stand ready to receive children suspected of having a highly contagious disease.

“Having a special isolation unit at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus will allow our system to offer our exemplary medical care to a very vulnerable population,” said West Campus President Chanda Cashen Chacón. “We have made tremendous progress since announcing the project in December and are still working full speed ahead.”

Construction on the eight-bed unit is near completion with operational planning, team training and final construction progressing rapidly. The project is like no other at Texas Children’s since the special isolation unit will incorporate all of the latest scientific and technological approaches to biocontainment, including negative air pressure, laminar air flow, high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration, separate ventilation, anterooms, biosafety cabinets, a specialized laboratory, special security access and autoclaves.

When complete, the unit will be fully equipped to care for any infant or child with a serious communicable disease, with all of the measures available to assure safety of the health care team, other patients and their families. The specialized biosafety level 3 laboratory will enable the care team to monitor the progress of patients and perform rapid detection methods to identify unusual pathogens.

Dr. Gordon Schutze will serve as medical director of the special isolation unit and Drs. Judith Campbell and Amy Arrington will be the unit’s associate medical directors. An elite volunteer-based team of experienced nurses and physicians – all of whom will have successfully completed an intensive advanced certification course and practicum in infection control, hospital epidemiology and management of infectious diseases in the critical care setting – will staff the unit.

Many members of the Special Response Team have been chosen, however recruitment for physicians, nurses, laboratory technicians and environmental services personnel is ongoing. To learn more about joining the Special Response Team, click here.

“The team that staffs this unit is key to making it successful,” Campbell said. “Many of our talented staff have stepped up to the plate to participate in this noble endeavor and we need more to raise their hands to volunteer.”

Another aspect of the unit that has recently ramped up is training and education. Led by Arrington, the training and education program for the special isolation unit is robust and has already included two almost full-day simulations. The first of which was a mid-construction simulation to assess any environmental issues important to the performance, health, comfort and safety of both our patients and our medical staff. The second simulation focused on clinical scenarios involving a patient suspected of having a highly contagious disease.

“The more we train the better off we will be in the event of an infected patient,” Arrington said. “It’s an ongoing process.”

May 19, 2015


Amonica Robinson recently received the Best of the West award for her work as a patient access representative in the Emergency Center at West Campus.

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

Robinson joined Texas Children’s in 2000 and will soon be celebrating her 15th year with the hospital. Most recently, she has provided exceptional customer service to our patients and families at West Campus. She also has been an integral part of the hospital’s Emergency Center admission team.
Some of her colleagues and patient families have said the following about Robinson:

  • “Amonica was so caring.”
  • “It was so nice to have someone who truly felt concerned about my child.”
  • “She reacts to the needs of the patients, doing her best to provide excellent customer service while they are waiting for care in the EC.”

Please join West Campus in congratulating and thanking Robinson for showing us what it takes to be the best of the west.