December 16, 2014


Representatives from seven Houston area Chuy’s Mexican Food restaurants presented on December 9 a Vecta Distraction Station to Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus. The machine, which helps promote a calming and relaxing environment for patients, was purchased with $7,000 raised at participating restaurants.

The Vecta Distraction Station aids in normalizing the hospital setting and turns an unfamiliar environment into a friendly and inviting space. The machine moves from room to room and transforms the space with a bubble column, projector and fiber optics. Child life specialists use the machine as a distraction tool during procedures, to normalize the hospital setting and to build rapport with patients during hospital visits.

“We are so appreciative of the continued support from our local Chuy’s restaurants,” said Katy Williford, child life specialist at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus. “This donation will impact many patients and families who walk through our doors and will make their stay a little bit brighter.”

December 9, 2014


Texas Children’s announced on December 4 our plan to build an eight-bed special isolation unit at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus. This unit will be designed for children with highly contagious infectious diseases, such as pandemic influenza, enterovirus D68, Ebola, and many others. Additionally, we announced the state’s designation of our organization as a pediatric Ebola treatment center.

About the isolation unit

This new isolation unit at Texas Children’s will be similar to the four other biocontainment units in the country. Such units are equipped and staffed to care for patients with contagious infectious diseases.

“We will build a state-of-the-art isolation unit designed and staffed to provide the highest quality care and treatment for infants and children with serious or life-threatening infectious diseases of public health significance, always with the greatest possible margin of safety,” said Texas Children’s Physician-in-Chief Dr. Mark W. Kline. “We believe this will be an indispensable resource to our local community, Texas and the nation.”

This new 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 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. It will be staffed by an elite team of experienced critical care and infectious disease 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. The staff will maintain their certification through participation in ongoing educational activities.

Kline said Texas Children’s is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to design, build, equip and staff the unit, which is expected to be operational within nine months and cost approximately $16 million to build.

“I could not be more impressed with Texas Children’s desire to run towards issues of critical importance to the health and well-being of the children of Texas and our nation,” said Dr. Brett Giroir, director of the Texas Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response and chief executive officer of the Texas A&M Health Science Center.

Caring for potential Ebola patients

Since the summer, Texas Children’s has been implementing a detailed plan to identify, isolate and treat suspected cases of Ebola, if necessary. As a result, following a visit from the CDC, the State of Texas designated Texas Children’s as a pediatric Ebola treatment center.

As part of the hospital’s preparation, specific protocols were developed outlining steps staff would take if and when a patient with Ebola symptoms arrived at a Texas Children’s facility. Additionally, in order to decrease the risk of exposure and provide the complex care required, the hospital identified specific areas and units responsible for caring for any patient with Ebola. The health care workers in those areas have received intense, ongoing training and simulation to help them prepare.

“This unit is part of the hospital’s long-term vision to care for children with the most serious and complex medical conditions,” said Michelle Riley-Brown, president of Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus. “Our leadership’s decision to build this new isolation unit at West Campus speaks volumes about our staff and employees’ skill, expertise and experience here. Our agility and responsiveness were tested just a few months ago when we had a patient with suspected Ebola under investigation. Our handling of that case demonstrated our competency here at West Campus, and it boosted the entire organization’s confidence in the readiness across the system.”

West Campus staff and employess helped lead the way for the organization to refine our protocols for care, and now Texas Children’s will lead the way for centers across the country. If you have questions about the unit or an interest in being trained to be part of the care team that will staff this unit, please contact your leader for more information.

Return to Ebola Response site.

December 2, 2014


Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus has been recognized as a top children’s hospital by the Leapfrog Group for the second consecutive year.

The Leapfrog Group is an organization that provides the only national, public comparison of hospitals across safety, quality and efficiency dimensions.

Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus is among an elite group of only nine children’s hospitals selected out of more than 1,400 rural, urban and children’s hospitals surveyed, and the only children’s hospital in Houston to be recognized with this prestigious distinction.

“We are honored to again be recognized as a top performing children’s hospital,” said Michelle Riley-Brown, president of Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus. “Our physicians, nurses and employees continuously strive to provide high quality care for our patients and families while keeping their safety our top priority.”

This year’s list of recognized hospitals includes 60 Top Rural Hospitals, 25 Top Urban Hospitals and nine Top Children’s Hospitals. To be selected as a Top Hospital, organizations must meet or exceed Leapfrog criteria in three critical areas of hospital care: how patients fare, resource use and management structures in place to prevent errors.

The Leapfrog Group was founded to work for improvements in health care safety, quality and affordability. The annual survey is the only voluntary effort of its kind. The Top Hospitals will be honored at Leapfrog’s Annual Meeting on December 2 in Arlington, Virginia, which gathers key decision-makers from Leapfrog’s network of purchaser members, industry partners, health care stakeholders and national collaborators.

For more information, or to see a complete list of The Leapfrog Group’s 2014 Top Hospitals, visit

November 25, 2014


Last week, Jim McIngvale, better known as Mattress Mack, spoke at the West Campus Patient Experience Leadership Meeting.

The fast-talking owner of the Gallery Furniture retail chain shared his best practices in customer service that he’s developed over the past 33 years. His catchphrase, “The customer is the business, and the business is the customer” resonated with the group of more than 30 employees who strive to make the patient experience a positive one on a daily basis.

McIngvale added that in order to convey passion to your customers, you have to be passionate about the job you are doing. This is a quality Mattress Mack said is very evident at Texas Children’s Hospital.

October 28, 2014


Anesthesia Tech Kelly Urquico recently received the Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus “Best of the West” employee recognition award.

The award is given out quarterly to employees who go above and beyond their normal job responsibilities.

Urquico joined Texas Children’s in February 2011 just as the organization was preparing to open the West Campus. He has been instrumental in the success of West Campus’ surgical services and is described by his colleagues as being diligent, willing to take on additional tasks without being asked, and helpful to all of his co-workers, including those outside his department.

“Kelly is passionate about his job, assists in training other employees, and consistently acts as a resource for the Perioperative Services Team,” said Michelle-Riley Brown, president of Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus. “He takes great pride in his work and always has a great attitude.”

July 22, 2014


Each year, around 5,000 children are admitted to the Texas Children’s Hospital Pediatric Intensive Care Units. These are the patients who require the highest level of medical care. Until just a few months ago, a portion of our admissions were children who were transferred from West Campus because of their need for a higher level of care which was not yet available in the community hospital.

In March, partially funded by a generous $1million donation from the Lauren and Lara Camillo Family Trusts, West Campus opened an eight-bed PICU to meet the evolving needs of patients in the community. The family, who’s known in West Houston for their thriving business in homebuilding, Legend Homes, made the donation to create the much-needed intensive care unit which will help care for the growing number of cases being seen at West Campus. This was the second $1million donation from the family, who also donated to the construction of West Campus, said they are giving back to the community that has helped them thrive. Only a few months after opening, Chief of Critical Care Dr. Lara Shekerdemian said it is meeting a great need that has been present for a long time. Already, there has been a steady increase of patients using the West Campus PICU with an average daily census of anywhere between five and seven and an 80 percent occupancy just a few months into opening.

“We’re delivering the right care in the right location for all of our patients who require critical care,” said Shekerdemian.

The unit is staffed by intensive care physicians and advanced practice providers who are all on Faculty at Baylor College of Medicine, Section of Critical Care. All of our caregivers, including our nurses, have experience and training at main campus PICU. Some of the West Campus PICU nurses transitioned from Main Campus and others were recruited from other intensive care units. The new positions were met with enthusiasm and there was no lack of interested individuals who were excited about working in this new setting. Shekerdemian stresses the care at West Campus is equivalent to the main campus intensive care with the same guidelines and protocols, and a highly trained team of providers. The addition of the unit will impact the ability of the West Campus facility to perform more complex surgical procedures, and to admit more patients from the Emergency Center. The unit is not only helping the great need in West Houston, it ensures that we have more space to care for the sickest children across the City.

“We have had to turn down patients at Main Campus needing our critical care services as recently as last winter before the opening of the West Campus PICU,” said Shekerdemian. “This is something that we are very uncomfortable with; we feel a moral discomfort at having to deny admission to any child that’s critically ill.”

Dr. Moushumi Sur, medical director of the West Campus PICU, said this is a situation we hope to ease this winter, with a proposed plan to increase staffing and beds.

“The number of transfers from the Emergency Center at West Campus and from other hospitals in the area to the Main Campus ICU has decreased since we opened the new PICU,” said Sur. “We’ve made an impact in terms of taking care of patients at the same level in a community setting. This is exactly what we hoped.”

Dr. Shekerdemian said while the transfers have decreased, the Main Campus PICU has not seen a major decrease in patient volumes. In fact, she said a proportion of the patients in need of intensive care at West Campus are new to the Texas Children’s Hospital system. As for the build out of the unit at West, Dr. Sur said it’s a breath of fresh air.

“There is more natural light in the unit which helps overall morale not only for our staff but for the patients and their families,” said Sur. “The visibility is also improved and enhanced. The ability for the nurses to have their eyes on their patients even when they’re outside the room is extremely important.”

With an already busy West Campus PICU, the critical care team is planning for the future. Sur is on a committee for The Woodlands Campus to plan an intensive care unit, making sure the facility is built to support the opening of a PICU within the first few months of the campus’ opening.

July 8, 2014


The West Campus Sports Medicine program sponsored its first symposium June 26 to educate athletic trainers, coaches, physical therapists and school nurses on common sports-related healthcare issues in pediatric and adolescent athletes.

In a filled-to-capacity seminar, the Sports Medicine clinical care team spoke on topics that ranged from common injuries and rehabilitation to concussions and nutrition.

“The seminar was an excellent opportunity for participants to gather information on how to keep their athletes healthy and to let them know that our Sports Medicine program can provide help when needed,” said Dr. Megan May, a Texas Children’s orthopedic surgeon and one of the organizers of the symposium.

Attendees were asked to complete surveys at the end of the seminar. Overall, the enormous feedback was very positive with one participant commenting, “This was a top rated first class seminar from start to finish. I was very impressed with the dedication and expertise of all the speakers. Way to go TCH.”

Texas Children’s Sports Medicine program uses an interdisciplinary team approach to diagnose and treat young athletes while placing an emphasis on wellness and injury prevention. It’s the only sports medicine program in the Houston area that focuses exclusively on the unique needs of child athletes.

If you haven’t checked out the Sports Medicine Clinic at West Campus in Katy, you’ll be impressed. Our facility houses a 3,000-square-foot gym, two radiology exam rooms, three casting rooms and 16 exam rooms, and offers advanced technologies, including robotic dynamomentry for isokinetic testing, motion recording and analysis to enhance rehabilitation.

Click here to learn more about Texas Children’s Sports Medicine Clinic.