April 10, 2018

Texas Children’s employees and Houston-area residents came out in full force to participate in the sixth annual Texas Children’s Hospital and Houston Marathon Foundation Family Fun Run at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus.

On April 7, more than thousands of people of all abilities participated in the non-competitive 1K and 3K courses. Following the race, participants enjoyed the H-E-B sponsored Family Fun Zone, which was packed with snacks, entertainment and 40-plus attractions.

Houston Marathon Announcer Mark Purnell kept everyone energized in his role as master of ceremonies cheering on the crowd and announcing any and all special guests, including Dr. Daren Molina with Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus Sports Medicine and members of the Texas Children’s Ukulele Choir. Prior to the race, Molina led runners and walkers in some warm-up stretches and exercises and members of the Ukulele Choir sang the National Anthem.

“Everyone had a great time at West Campus’ sixth annual Family Fun Run,” said Matt Timmons, director of business operations and support services at West Campus. “All morning, families had fun with each other and got some exercise.”

Sara Montenegro, assistant vice president at West Campus, said participants also learned about and connected with local vendors and resources.

“We really see this Family Fun Run as a way to bring our community together,” Montenegro said. “We want to be a valued partner and resource for this community and our annual Family Fun Run is just a fun way to bring our community together and highlight the importance of adopting active, healthy lifestyles.”

Get a first-hand look at the fun by:
Viewing a photo gallery of the event below.
Taking a look at our Facebook photo album from Saturday.
Don’t forget about the second annual Family Fun Run event at Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands. It will be on Saturday, May 5 and will offer a 1-mile course. Post-race activities will follow. Click here to register and learn more about the upcoming event.

March 20, 2018

Don’t miss out on the fun at the sixth annual Texas Children’s Hospital and Houston Marathon Foundation Family Fun Run at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus. Registration for the event ends at 5 p.m. Monday, March 26, so hurry and sign up if you haven’t already.

West Campus will host the fun run at its campus on Saturday, April 7 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.

Participants – including those who need walkers and wheelchairs – are welcome. 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.

Click here to register and learn more about the upcoming event.

Texas Children’s and the Houston Marathon Foundation also are hosting a Family Fun Run in The Woodlands at Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands. For more information or to register for that event, click here.

Good luck and happy running!

February 6, 2018

The Mark A. Wallace New Employee Pep Rally was held at West Campus last week complete with giant foam fingers, pompoms, dance music, and of course, our President and CEO, Mark Wallace. The gathering gave nearly 100 new and recent hires a cheerful and uniquely spirited welcome to the Texas Children’s family.

The pep rally, modeled after the redesigned Texas Children’s Hi orientation that sends new employees back to school to learn about the organization and its special culture, is an opportunity for new employees to become better acquainted with the organization as a whole and meet executives and other leaders within a friendly and festive atmosphere.

The high-energy pep rally format replaces the more traditional new employee reception that Wallace has hosted for decades. All new employees invited to attend were part of the Texas Children’s Hi Class of 2017 with their mascot the “Armadillo.”

“You don’t work for me; I work for each and every one of you,” said Wallace, who personally introduced himself to every new employee attending the pep rally, trading jokes and posing for photos and selfies – complete with duck-faces.

Recalling the days when Texas Children’s consisted of just one, seven-story building with fewer than 300 registered nurses, Wallace discussed the growth the organization has experienced since he arrived in 1989 and the plans to expand even further by moving into Austin and opening the Legacy Tower in the Texas Medical Center. Having so many great employees dedicated to the Texas Children’s mission plays a key role in driving that progress, he said.

“This is not just a job. You can build a career here,” Wallace said. “Thank you for choosing us and allowing us to choose you for this partnership. You’re going to enjoy working at Texas Children’s Hospital.”

Jordan Nedbalek, an orthopedic technician at Specialty Care Bellaire, attended the West Campus pep rally with colleagues and radiology specialists Anjail Abdullah and Amanda Schell. All three said they especially enjoyed the themed decorations and the lighthearted, warm mood set by Wallace and the other leaders and staff volunteers at the event.

“At every point you’re always made to feel welcome,” Nedbalek said.

Many new hires at the pep rally agreed and said their Texas Children’s careers are already off to a good start. Few expected to ever meet Wallace or leaders like Executive Vice President Michelle Riley-Brown, given the size of the organization, and they appreciated their chance to make a more personal connection.

“When I met Mr. Wallace it was like I’d known him for years,” said Ina Gill, an ambulatory service representative who handles scheduling for the Sleep Center at West Campus. “The pep rally experience is fun. We know all this is for us, which makes a difference. I’m loving it at Texas Children’s and learning a lot. It already feels like family and I’m here to stay.”

January 9, 2018

When Autum Garcia was just 13 years old, she went to her pediatrician for a back-to-school checkup and left with something way more serious than a Band-Aid from a routine immunization – a recommendation from her doctor to visit the emergency room due to extremely high blood pressure.

Shortly after being seen by staff at Texas Children’s Emergency Center in the Medical Center, Garcia was diagnosed with coarctation of the aorta, a narrowing of the major artery that carries blood to the body, causing high blood pressure and minimal blood flow to the legs.

“It was a shock to say the least,” Garcia said. “I had no idea anything was wrong.”

Soon after her diagnosis, Garcia underwent a procedure with former Texas Children’s cardiologist Dr. Frank Ing to receive a stent implantation, which ended up solving the teenager’s blood pressure issues and increased blood flow throughout her body. The only follow-up care Garcia needed was routine echocardiograms, a procedure that paved the teenager’s way to a future career at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus.

“I really wanted to work at Texas Children’s,” Garcia said. “This place saved my life; it was the least I could do to say thank you.”

With the encouragement of Ing and Texas Children’s Cardiologist Dr. Wilson Lam, Garcia entered the Diagnostic Cardiovascular sonography program at Alvin Community College and within two years earned an Associate’s Degree of Applied Science. She also passed her registry exam and is now a Registered Congenital Cardiac Sonographer.

As part of the sonography program, Garcia did a rotation at Texas Children’s with the very people who had administered her echocardiograms. She also was involved in two case studies following her procedure. Shortly thereafter, Garcia got a job as an echo technologist at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus.

Now, and for the past year, Garcia has been administering echocardiograms to people like herself, offering those who are nervous, scared, or apprehensive about the procedure, or their condition in general, comfort and reassurance by telling them and their families her story.

“As soon as I mention that I’ve been through the same thing and made it out just fine, they are immediately relieved,” Garcia said. “It really helps them to have someone to talk to who has been through the same thing.”

Dr. Wilson Lam said he remembers Garcia well and is happy to know that he was able to have such a positive impact on her and her career path.

“It’s great that she is able to give back in such a personal way,” he said. “I have no doubt that patients will benefit from her care.”

December 12, 2017

For the fourth year, Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus has been named one of the 10 top children’s hospitals in the nation by The Leapfrog Group, an independent hospital watchdog organization. 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 again be recognized as a top performing children’s hospital by The Leapfrog Group,” said Michelle Riley-Brown president of Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus and executive vice president of Texas Children’s Hospital. “Our entire team of physicians, nurses and employees strive to provide a safe environment where we can deliver the highest quality care possible for our patients and their families. We applaud our team for their tireless work and the incredible care they provide for the children in our community every day.”

In the survey, Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus received a Top Children’s Hospital distinction and was recognized nationally alongside 45 Top General Hospitals, 18 Top Rural Hospitals, 36 Top Teaching Hospitals and only nine other Top Children’s Hospitals.

“We are proud to recognize Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus as a 2017 Leapfrog Top Hospital,” said Leah Binder, president and Chief Executive Officer of Leapfrog. “This demonstrates extraordinary dedication to patients and the local community. The entire staff and board deserve praise for putting quality first and achieving results.”

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 2017 Top Hospitals, visit www.leapfroggroup.org/tophospitals.

December 5, 2017

It’s beginning to look a lot like the holidays at Texas Children’s. The annual tree lighting ceremonies kicked off the season of joy with Santa and Mrs. Claus spreading holiday cheer to patients and their families.

On November 30, Senior Vice President Tabitha Rice and Nancy Baycroft, president of The Auxiliary to Texas Children’s Hospital, kicked off the tree lighting event on The Auxiliary Bridge. Within seconds, the bright lights magically turned on and Santa’s HO HO HO could be heard as he walked down the hallway bearing gifts. Every child received a stuffed holiday bear. Santa also visited patients who were not able to leave their rooms. St. John’s School Choir sang holiday carols to more than 50 patients and their families.

Santa Claus also spread holiday cheer to more than 145 guests at the inaugural Tree Lighting event at Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Charles Hankins delivered the welcome speech and Vice President Trent Johnson thanked the event sponsors, Newfield Exploration and The Woodlands Art Council, and wished everyone good cheer. Children took photos with Santa and participated in fun activities including making holiday ornaments and picture frames.

Approximately 8,000 people attended the 10th annual Tree-Lighting Celebration in the courtyard at LaCenterra at Cinco Ranch on November 18. Three-year-old Paris Ndu, a patient at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, had the honors of lighting the 30-foot Christmas tree to kick off the holiday season.

With the holiday season upon us, there’s plenty of cheer left for patients, families and employees. Be sure to check out one of these holiday gatherings on your clinic floors and get in the holiday spirit.

  • Thursday, December 7 – Gingerbread house making (10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in The Zone)
  • Thursday, December 7 – Storybook Theater with Elsa (3 p.m., The Woodlands campus lobby)
  • Monday, December 11 – Junior League Big Santa Event (1 p.m. in The Zone)
  • Friday, December 15 – Bennett’s Bears visit fifth-floor inpatient (The Woodlands)
  • Tuesday, December 19 – Santa visits patients (1 p.m., West Campus)
  • Thursday, December 21 – Holiday Piano & Violin Duo (11:30 a.m. The Woodlands campus lobby)
  • Friday, December 22 – Bennett’s Bears visit clinic floors (10 a.m., West Campus)
November 14, 2017

For more than a decade, the Purple Songs Can Fly recording studio at Main Campus has offered a place for cancer patients and patients with blood disorders to express how they feel about their disease and the treatments they are undergoing to battle it. Siblings of such patients also are able to use the studio.

Thousands of songs have been written and produced in the colorful space sandwiched between clinic rooms on the 14th floor of the Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers. Now, a similar space is available to cancer and hematology patients cared for at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus.

“Today, we’ve cut the ribbon on our second Purple Songs Can Fly recording studio,” said Purple Songs Can Fly Founder and Executive Director Anita Kruse. “We’ve had a studio at Main Campus since 2006 and now we’ve opened one at West Campus.”

Thanks to support from the Texas Commission on the Arts and the Children’s Fund, Kruse has been coming out to West Campus for two years with a portable recording studio, working with patients at their bedside, in clinic rooms or conference rooms to write and produce nearly 100 songs.

“This pilot project proved that a permanent recording studio would be a viable investment at West Campus, Kruse said. “The children were really excited about writing songs here. I feel that the studio and the songs that will be written at West Campus will bring a lot of joy to the families and the children who are here undergoing treatment.”

West Campus Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers Nurse Manager Judy Holloway said the transformation and the impact that Purple Songs Can Fly has on patients, families and staff is remarkable.

“We see miracles happen in the Cancer and Hematology Centers here at West Campus and this studio is a miracle in itself,” Holloway said. “A lot of our children are very sick. Having this available to them here at West Campus is a true blessing.”

Annalisa Cuano, a singer, songwriter and highly trained sound engineer, will manage the recording studio at West Campus. She has been working with Purple Songs Can Fly for two years at Main Campus and has recently spent a lot of her time at West Campus getting the studio ready for its official opening.

“The goal is to get these children out of their heads and able to share who they are and what they are going through in the purple space,” Cuano said. “It’s really incredible to watch. There’s some kind of self-fulfillment or self-validation when you give them their CD.”

Kruse said she is grateful to everyone at Texas Children’s who has helped make the West Campus studio become a reality and is thankful for the funds she received to build and staff the studio. Texas Children’s West Campus Child Life Department supported the build out of the space to prepare it for construction and grants from the Children’s Fund provided funding for the construction of the studio, paid for all of the equipment inside the studio and helped staff the studio for a year.

Carol Herron, coordinator of the Periwinkle Arts In Medicine Program, said she looks forward to hearing the music and seeing the smiles on the faces of the composers at the West Campus Purple Songs Can Fly studio.

“What you do makes a difference in the day of a child undergoing treatment of a serious disease,” Herron said to those involved in Purple Songs Can Fly. “Thank you for the gift you give to these families.”