February 18, 2019

After coming to Texas Children’s throughout her youth as a patient, recently hired medical assistant Blanca Alonso got something she always wanted – the opportunity to join the organization as an employee at Texas Children’s Specialty Care Sugar Land.

“It’s really incredible working with the kids and patients, and I don’t plan on going anywhere else,” said Alonso, one of more than 40 new members of the Texas Children’s family who attended the first Mark Wallace New Employee Pep Rally of 2019, held February 4 at West Campus.

Fashioned in the same back-to-school theme of the Texas Children’s Hi orientation, the pep rally allows new employees to learn more about the organization and meet executives and other leaders within a festive atmosphere complete with foam fingers, pompoms and lively music. Participants included new and recent hires based at West Campus, as well as those from specialty care clinics in surrounding communities.

“West Campus is flourishing and we’re lucky to have all of you here,” President and CEO Mark Wallace told the new employees, recalling Texas Children’s early days in a single, seven-floor building – well before the opening of Legacy Tower at the Medical Center campus; the suburban hospitals at West and The Woodlands; and the urgent care centers and specialty care clinics that stretch across Harris County and now reach into Austin and Central Texas.

“In 1989, I knew this was our destiny,” Wallace said. “I knew Texas Children’s was going to grow and flourish because that was part of the plan: taking care of more patients and more families. The key to our success has always been the people and the leadership.”

Wallace reminded the new hires that they, too, are leaders in their personal and professional lives, and encouraged them to develop their own leadership definitions. He also introduced himself and shook hands with every new employee at the pep rally, pausing often to pose for photos and snap selfies.

As she enjoyed refreshments and connected with her new colleagues, Shamira Connor reflected on the warm welcome she has received since becoming a medical assistant at the Sugar Land specialty care clinic. “I’ve always wanted to work at Texas Children’s. Now I’m here and I love it,” she said.

February 12, 2019

On February 5, nearly 100 people attended Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus’ remembrance ceremony, honoring 38 children who were taken from this world too soon over the past two years.

The event was coordinated by the West Campus remembrance planning committee that included representatives from Child Life, the Social Work department, Family Support Services, and the Palliative Care team. The decorations consisted of beautiful floral arrangements created by Bubbles & Blooms and lighting, donated by the Lamar University Dance and Theater Department.

The ceremony opened with a welcome from Ivett Shah, Vice President of West Campus. The West Campus Chaplain, Al Cabrera, followed with a beautiful spiritual reflection.

As the program commenced, participants began reading the names of each of the children being honored as a poem entitled Remembering was recited. A translator was also present from interpreter services, to translate the program to Spanish speaking guests.

Following the program, a reception was held with food, a touching photography slideshow of the children accompanied by music, and a keynote speaker who shared his journey as a parent on the road to healing after losing a child.

Chuy’s Tex-Mex restaurant of Katy graciously donated dinner, and Chick fil A Katy Green generously provided drinks and dessert as well. After the closing remarks a balloon release was held. Each attendee wrote a special message on a balloon and sent them up to the heavens with their loved ones.

The families were presented with Forget Me Not seeds and a sapling gift to plant in the memory of their child. There was also a table available to staff and family members with available resources and social work support.

“We have received overwhelming feedback from those who attended, about how impactful and important the event was,” education coordinator, Mandy Owens said. “The West Campus remembrance planning committee would also like to thank our Texas Children’s Hospital volunteers and employees for the immense amount of assistance they provided.”

February 4, 2019

It’s time to lace up your sneakers and hit the pavement! Texas Children’s and the Houston Marathon Foundation Family Fun Run are hosting the West Campus Family Fun Run and The Woodlands Family Fun Run in April and May. Registration is open for both runs and spots are filling up fast. So, sign up today to guarantee a spot for you and your family.

Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus

West Campus will host the seventh annual West Campus Family Fun Run at its campus on Saturday, April 6 with a 9 a.m. start time. The event will include both a 1K and 3K course. Following the run, families can enjoy various activities until noon at the Family Fun Zone.

Registration for the West Campus Family Fun Run will close at 5 p.m. Monday, March 25. Click here to register and learn more about the upcoming event.

Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands

Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands will host its third annual Family Fun Run event on Saturday, May 4. The event will offer a 1-mile course and will begin at 9 a.m. Post-race activities will follow until 11 a.m.

Registration for The Woodlands Family Fun Run will close at 5 p.m. Monday, April 22. Click here to register and learn more about the upcoming event.

Additional information

Participants – including those who need walkers and wheelchairs – are welcome at both Texas Children’s Family Fun Run events. There will not be prizes given to top finishers as all participants will receive an award for taking part in an event designed to educate and encourage Houston-area families to adopt active, healthy lifestyles.

Good luck and happy running!

December 4, 2018

Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus has received the prestigious Leapfrog 2018 Top Children’s Hospital award by The Leapfrog Group for the fifth year in a row. The award recognizes achievements in patient safety and quality and is widely acknowledged as one of the most competitive and exclusive honors an American hospital can receive.

“We are honored to receive the Leapfrog 2018 Top Children’s Hospital award again this year,” vice president of Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, Ivett Shah said. “This award recognizes our team of physicians, nurses and employees who work tirelessly to provide the highest-quality of care, in the safest environment, for our patients. We are proud to have our work recognized by the Leapfrog Group and we will continue to provide exemplary care for our community.”

Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus received a Top Children’s Hospital distinction and was recognized nationally alongside 35 Top General Hospitals, 17 Top Rural Hospitals, 53 Top Teaching Hospitals and only 13 other Top Children’s Hospitals.

“Being acknowledged as a Top Hospital is an incredible feat achieved by less than six percent of eligible hospitals nationwide,” president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group, Leah Binder said. “With this honor, Texas Children’s Hospital has established its commitment to safer and higher quality care. Providing this level of care to patients in Houston requires motivation and drive from every team member. I congratulate the board, staff and clinicians, whose efforts made this honor possible.”

The Leapfrog Group is an organization that provides the only national, public comparison of hospitals across safety, quality and efficiency dimensions. Performance across many areas of hospital care is considered in establishing the qualifications for the award, including infection rates, maternity care, and the hospital’s capacity to prevent medication errors.

To see the full list of institutions honored as 2018 Top Hospitals, visit www.leapfroggroup.org/tophospitals.

November 19, 2018

After the grand opening over two months ago, Texas Children’s 12th urgent care clinic, the second of which is located near a Texas Children’s Emergency Center has exceeded expectations.

“We are thrilled with the strong start our West Campus Urgent Care has had so far,” Director of Business Operations for the Urgent Care, Roula Smith said. “It definitely reaffirms that this was the right decision for our patients, as we provide the right care, at the right place, at the right time, at the right cost.”

On September 11, located next to the Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus Emergency Center, the clinic opened to help manage the Emergency Center’s low-acuity patient population and to serve patients and families in the West Houston area.

From opening through the end of October, the clinic has seen nearly 3,000 patients. Approximately one third of the patients are Texas Children’s Health Plan (TCHP) members. This helps TCHP members have access to the same high quality care but in a more cost effective environment. More than half of the patients seen at Texas Children’s Urgent Care West Campus have been self-select patients, who are not presenting via the Emergency Center but arrive to the clinic voluntarily.

This collaboration with the Emergency Center offers a quicker and less expensive option for low-acuity patients. The number of patients that leave the Emergency Center without being seen has been reduced by 80 percent during operating hours.

“In addition to being a win for our patients, it is a win for the Texas Children’s system as a whole,” Smith said. “We know that our colleagues in the Emergency Center are able to take care of higher acuity patients and our TCHP members are receiving care in the right environment for their needs.”

Prior to the clinic opening, the “Save My Spot” feature launched which allows patient families to reserve a time slot at the clinic from the comfort of their own home. This feature is live and wait times are also posted on the website so families know how long it will be before they are seen. Nearly 200 families have used this feature so far and the average cycle time for clinic visits is approximately an hour.

“Urgent care has been the perfect addition to the West Campus,” Assistant Vice President at West Campus Sara Montenegro said. “We have the full spectrum of care available – primary care, specialty care, urgent care, emergent care, surgery, and inpatient care, available in close proximity to each other now, and we are seeing very strong patient arrivals in our Urgent Care & Emergency Center, with this new addition. We knew this was a need in the community, and it is exceeding expectations!”

For more information about Texas Children’s Urgent Care and its locations, click here.

November 6, 2018

This year, fall festivals and Halloween events across the Texas Children’s system were bigger, better and spookier than ever.

The festivities began on October 24 with West Campus’ annual Fall Festival. In the first floor lobby, patients and their families were welcomed by enthusiastic Child Life specialists, along with volunteers who led various games and arts and craft activities.

Watch the video and view the photo gallery below to get a glimpse of the fun everyone had at these unforgettable events.

“We really loved seeing how much all of the patients enjoyed the event,” Child Life Specialist Jessica Felder said. “It was very evident that the volunteers enjoyed seeing the excitement on the children’s faces. It was really a rewarding feeling knowing that we planned an event that touched the hearts of so many individuals.”

Several businesses and community groups including Chick-fil-A, Wood Group, Gymboree, Gym Station, and the Katy Police and Fire Department, participated by setting up games such as bowling, bean bag throwing and guess the fall spice, as well as a museum-style display of Making a Mark artwork.

On October 31, hundreds of tiny witches, ghouls, fairies, super heroes, princesses and more turned out for a fiendishly good time along the Auxiliary and Miracle Bridges for the 2018 Halloween Celebration at Texas Children’s main campus.

The haunted hullabaloo was a party of monstrous proportions, as dozens of amazing Texas Children’s employees from across all departments, service lines and divisions lined the walkways to make Halloween special for our patients and their families. They went all out with unbelievable costumes, decorations and booths with fun activities, such as pumpkin painting and dinosaur dancing, and plenty of games, prizes and candy.

Attendance at the second Fall Festival at our campus in The Woodlands surpassed the previous two years. Texas Children’s newest campus brought together over 400 patients, family members and people from the community, as well as representatives from several corporate sponsors, including Clariant Oil Services, Microsoft The Woodlands, Junior League The Woodlands, The Woodlands Fire Department, Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. Insurance, PurePoint Financial, Soccer Shots, and Aon, as well as characters from “Performing with a Purpose.”

Kids and their families had plenty of activities to keep them entertained, like bowling, beanbag tosses, arts and crafts, music, and various foods and candy. Spirit of Halloween costume store was also present to provide costumes to kids who didn’t have one. The Fall Festival committee presented a plaque to the vendors, thanking them for being a part of the festival. The event ended with employees from Language Services and Guest Services winning a very competitive employee costume contest.

Other entities across the system also had their own celebrations. In conjunction with the One Step Closer Foundation and Texas Children’s Social Work Department, Texas Children’s Complex Care Clinic hosted the first annual Complex Care Costume Party. This event was created to provide the clinic’s medically complex patients an opportunity to celebrate the fall season in a festive and familiar environment. Patients and their siblings played games, participated in art projects and danced to a DJ!

Also, the babies in the level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at The Woodlands campus got a surprise Halloween visit from “Batman”, while dressed up in costumes, some of which were made by Texas Children’s Child Life team for its tiniest patients. Families had the opportunity to have their photos taken with their child and Batman (a longtime Texas Children’s Hospital volunteer) at the bedside by FirstMemories Texas, who made the special visit possible. FirstMemories Texas is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to teaching families whose infants are in the NICU and CVICU at Texas Children’s Hospital how to celebrate, honor and tell their children’s stories through photography and album making.

“We really love giving patients and their families a fun event to participate in every year. Having these special fall events provides the medical staff an opportunity to interact with children strictly for joy and entertainment,” Child Life Specialist Hannah Early said. “This is just as enjoyable for the staff as it is for the families that participate. Getting the chance to watch our patients just be kids is so wonderful.”

October 29, 2018

Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus recently received their largest book donation to date. The Cypress area of the Goddard Schools donated 15,000 books to the hospital library.

The Goddard Schools are a well-known early childhood education institutional system that uses the most current, academically endorsed teaching methods to ensure that the students enjoy learning while simultaneously receiving the skills they need for long-term success in school and in life.

“I work in the Child Life Department and we want to be able to use any resources and tools that can bring relaxation, or just a sense of normalcy to patients and families when they are in the hospital,” Library Coordinator, Brian Ballard said. “The Goddard Schools are preparing children all the time with knowledge, so they understand that something as small as donating these books can relieve stress, and be a useful distraction for patients while they are in the hospital or just visiting a doctor’s office.”

Since the donation is such a large amount, the books will be dispersed throughout the organization. The Medical Center Campus, West Campus, and the Woodlands Campus all have libraries that offers books, board games, puzzles and movies for patients and their families to enjoy. The library also houses medical and parenting resources, paperback fiction, magazines, foreign language books, computers and a fax machine.

The hospital libraries are monumental to our Child Life Department. Texas Children’s has enjoyed a long-standing relationship with the Houston Pi Beta Phi alumnae organization and shares a mutual commitment to literacy and education. The first Pi Beta Phi Patient/Family Library opened in 1984 at Texas Children’s Hospital, and in 2011, the Pi Beta Phi Patient/Family Library opened at the West Campus.

The library has also expanded to include Book Nooks, to provide books for patients and families in waiting rooms across the Texas Children’s Hospital system.

The importance of the library, for Ballard, goes back to his childhood as he remembers what it is like to be in and out of a children’s hospital.

“I don’t remember it feeling like I was in the hospital, I remember the activity rooms and the things that were going on in the hospital,” Ballard said. “So hopefully the library or these Book Nooks are going to be instilled in these patients as well, and they remember Texas Children’s Hospital as a positive experience, and the library as a large part of providing that to them and their families.”

Currently, there are more than 150 Pi Beta Phi Book Nooks located at Texas Children’s medical center campus, the West Campus, Texas Children’s Health Centers, Texas Children’s Urgent Care facilities, the Centers for Children and Women and in all the Texas Children’s Pediatrics practices throughout the Houston area.

Click here to learn more about Texas Children’s Hospital’s library. To donate, contact Brian Ballard at bsballar@texaschildrens.org.