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

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

September 10, 2018

On September 11, Texas Children’s opened its 12th urgent care clinic, the second of which is located near a Texas Children’s Emergency Center.

The recently opened urgent care is located next to the Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus Emergency Center to help manage the Emergency Center’s low-acuity patient population and to serve patients and families in the West Houston area. The care team includes front office staff, nurses and clinical support staff, and board certified pediatricians and pediatric-focused advanced practice providers.

At 4,250 square feet, the clinic has 11 exam rooms, an X-ray room, and a spacious waiting area covered in murals, providing a relaxing, child-friendly atmosphere.

“A strong collaboration between this Urgent Care and the Emergency Center is going to be critical,” said Sara Montenegro, assistant vice President at West Campus. “It has been great so far as we have simulated ahead of time and practiced best and worst case scenarios to make sure we are as prepared as possible.”

This collaboration with the Emergency Center offers a quicker and less expensive option for low-acuity patients. To be seen at the clinic, patients can go directly there or be transferred from the Emergency Center after being assessed. If they are transferred, patients and their family members will be escorted to the clinic’s location.

“We are very excited to be out here at West Campus,” said Gary Macleod, the clinic’s director of clinical operations. “Hospital-based urgent cares are always really exciting for us. The ability to work hand-in-hand with the hospital makes us more effective.”

The West Campus Urgent Care is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week. The “Save My Spot” feature, which allows patient families to reserve a time slot at the clinic from the comfort of their own home, is live and wait times are also posted on the website so families know how long it will be before they are seen. Electronic check in is also available to expedite the registration process and potentially aid in lowering wait times.

“Our mantra is to ensure that patients are getting the right care, at the right place at the right time, and with us specifically, at the right cost,” said Roula Zoghbi Smith, director of Business Operations for the Urgent Care. “The urgent care is typically a more cost effective option for families, than seeking care in the Emergency Center, which is always appreciated.”

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

Texas Children’s Cancer Center showed their “Going Gold” spirit last week in honor of National Childhood Cancer Awareness month.

Patients, families and Texas Children’s Cancer Center employees wore everything gold, the official symbolic color for childhood cancer awareness, and participated in Going Gold parades, ribbon tying events and other festivities at Texas Children’s Hospital in the Medical Center, Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands and Vannie Cook Children’s Cancer and Hematology Clinic in McAllen, Texas.

View a photo gallery from the events below.

Dressed in bright gold shirts and donned with gold stars, hats, necklaces, bracelets and other festive gear, participants marched for the worthy cause. Vendors from organizations such as the Periwinkle Foundation were present at all three events offering additional support to patients and families. And, employees with the Cancer Center spoke about how important the celebration is to them, patients, families and anyone and everyone interested in beating this disease.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to have everyone here,” Dr. Susan Blaney, director of Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers, said to a packed room on the fourth floor of the Pavilion for Women before the parade at Texas Children’s Medical Center campus. “As you know, there have been significant advancements in oncology, making what was once a fatal diagnosis survivable here in the United States. However, there is still much more work that needs to be done, which is why we are here today.”

Dr. Ricardo Flores, clinical director of the Cancer and Hematology Centers at Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands, agreed and pointed out that every hour a child is diagnosed with cancer.

“We have made great enhancements, but still need a cure,” he said.

Dr. Deborah Shardy, associate clinical director of the Cancer and Hematology Centers at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, said those we honor and remember this month are the very people who inspire us to continue to look for a cure.

“Texas Children’s Cancer Center was inspired to “Go Gold” several years ago by a young patient, Faris D. Virani, who was perplexed as to why he didn’t see as much gold in September as he saw other colors in months representing other diseases,” she said. “Motivated by Faris’ concern, each year the Cancer Center has increased their level of “gold-ness.”

Faris’ mother, Asha Virani, said she knows her son, who lost his battle with Ewing’s sarcoma, is smiling because of all of the gold that is being shown around Texas Children’s in September.

By the end of this year, it is estimated that over 15,700 children nationwide will be diagnosed with a form of pediatric cancer. Please help spread the message that Texas Children’s Cancer Center is leading the battle against pediatric cancer. To learn more about Texas Children’s Cancer Center, please visit

September 4, 2018

Dr. Michael Blaine Zelisko and Brian M. Davis recently received the Best of the West award. Dr. Zelisko is recognized for his work as Clinical Director of Anesthesia and Assistant Professor of Anesthesia, and Davis for his work as Technical Supervisor of the Blood Bank.

The award recognizes employees each quarter who have exceled at demonstrating Texas Children’s values – leading tirelessly, living compassionately, amplifying unity and embracing freedom. Zelisko and Davis both exemplify the many qualities of Best of the West; they constantly find opportunities to demonstrate the values of the organization.

Some of Zelisko’s colleagues and patient families have said the following about him:

  • “He has done a great job taking over as clinical lead for the campus.”
  • “He is a clinical superstar with strong skills in the regional anesthesia program at West Campus.”
  • “He is engaging and thoughtful with significant system growth in radiology surgery.”
  • “He leads his staff with integrity and empathy, making every effort to make each day a smooth operation.”
  • “He gives his all to his work, his patients, and his staff.”
  • “He is always open to new ideas and supports changes that improve our system.”
  • “He is an exceptional provider and is often requested by families.”

Some of Davis’ colleagues and patient families have said the following about him:

  • “Brian has improved workflow for the staff and easily accessible guides to accomplish their jobs.
  • “Brian created a Massive Transfusion Protocol (MTP) lab testing form and MTP guides for staff, and trained the staff of the new protocol.”
  • “Brian monitors Blood Bank activity closely and responds to issues by reaching out to stakeholders to both understand the issue and then to develop a resolution to the issue.”
  • “He is very responsive not only to Pathology staff but also to the nursing staff and their leaders.”
  • “Brian is very dedicated and provides the best quality services.”
  • “His attention to detail and passion for his work is evident in the processes that he has developed and the effectiveness of the Blood Bank processes.”

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