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.”

October 10, 2017

Three years ago, Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus opened an eight-bed Pediatric Intensive Care Unit thanks to a generous $1 million donation by the Lauren and Lara Camillo family. On October 9, the last chunk of a $50 million capital improvement effort expanded the unit to 22 beds, providing Texas Children’s West Campus and the entire Texas Children’s system with an opportunity to serve more patients and families that need our care.

“This is a huge milestone for West Campus,” said Executive Vice President Michelle Riley-Brown at a ribbon cutting event and celebration. “Our staff has worked tirelessly on this project and the reward of being able to offer more to our patients and families is well worth it.”

Initially, 16 of the beds will be used for intensive care and six will be for acute care. Two of the intensive care beds have negative pressure capability and can be used for isolation. All of the beds provide more privacy for our patients and families, as well as better visibility and workflow for our nurses and other medical staff.

Located on the fourth floor of the hospital and painted in calming pastels, the unit expansion includes two large nursing stations, an advanced practice provider workspace, a simulation room, nutrition room, lactation room, call room and conference space.

The patient rooms are spacious and have a private bathroom and seating/sleep area for family. The rooms are lined with windows that face outside, letting in sunlight and allowing for great views of the hospital grounds and surrounding community. And, sliding doors permit visibility and quickly allow the care team access to the patient to address any emergency.

Equipment in the rooms and on the floor is robust and includes two blood gas machines for respiratory therapy and additional nurse station monitors. In the future, some of the rooms will be able to offer patients who need dialysis the capability of doing so from the comfort of their beds.

“When West Campus first opened, we thought we would be a stopover for patients waiting to be transferred to Main Campus, but that’s not the case, especially now with our expanded capacity,” said PICU Medical Director Dr. Matthew Pesek. “We have the ability to treat just about any patient who comes our way, no matter how complex.”

Karen Sripan, assistant clinical director of the PICU, agreed and said the planning and design of the PICU expansion began in March 2016 and was comprehensive with the goal of having an environment that allows the PICU staff to do more for their patients.

“We were very thoughtful in our design and engaged staff throughout the entire process,” Sripan said. “We also were mindful of ensuring room design consistency with the Woodlands PICU so that the layout of the rooms are familiar to staff and providers working at both campuses.”

October 3, 2017

More than 50 children got to put their fishing skills to test at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus during Way Fish Day.

Sponsored by Way Companies, a local energy management solutions business, and organized by Child Life, the event featured a makeshift pond full of fish ready to be caught by eager, excited children with fishing poles.

Over the span of two hours, 62 patients at West Campus each caught a fish, releasing them back into the “pond” shortly afterward.

For some it was another chance to do something they love. For others, it was a shot at trying something new.

August 15, 2017

The National Ebola Training and Education Center (NETEC) recently partnered with Texas Children’s to host a groundbreaking Pediatric Simulation Conference.

Held on August 10 and 11 at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, the conference was the first pediatric simulation course of its kind for the NETEC, which is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR).

The NETEC is comprised of faculty and staff from Emory University, the University of Nebraska Medical Center/Nebraska Medicine and the New York Health and Hospitals Corporation, Bellevue Hospital Center. All three of these health care institutions have safely and successfully treated patients with Ebola and have worked diligently to share their knowledge with other health care facilities and public health jurisdictions.

These adult institutions receive funding to train all of the CDC-funded U.S. Ebola treatment and assessment centers in hospital preparedness. They have hosted successful training and simulation courses but none have been pediatrics based. The NETEC chose to come to Texas Children’s to host its premiere Pediatric Simulation Course because of the knowledge and expertise the health system has honed during the past few years since the most recent Ebola outbreak in 2014.

Less than a year after the outbreak, Texas Children’s built and opened the unique Texas Children’s Special Isolation Unit (SIU) so that the health system would be prepared to handle emerging infections as an institution. As a result, the state and the CDC designated Texas Children’s Hospital as one of several pediatric Ebola treatment centers countrywide.

Texas Children’s SIU is the only one of its kind in Texas and the southwest region, and is among the few in the United States designated just for children. Located on the fifth floor of West Campus, the eight-bed unit is fully equipped to care for any infant or child with a serious communicable disease and has all of the measures available to assure safety of the health care team, other patients and their families.

Children coming to the SIU will receive top notch care from a team of highly-trained staff, led by Dr. Amy Arrington, medical director and nursing leader, Sondra Morris.

“This was a great opportunity to show off our unit, our amazing team and our intuition,” Arrington said. “I am quite proud of how hard the SIU team has worked to make sure everyone at the conference had the best possible experience, and I know they all left here knowing Texas Children’s Hospital is more than prepared for any serious communicable disease in the pediatric population.”

Approximately 35 people from around the nation attended the pediatric simulation conference, which consisted of both lectures and clinical simulations, led by 10 NETEC faculty and 10 SIU course directors. Examples of topics covered included: donning and doffing, nursing care considerations in a pediatric biocontainment unit, ethical concerns, and immersive pediatric simulations held is the SIU.

Barb Craft, a clinical service line director with Kapi’olani Medical Center for Women & Children in Honolulu, attended the conference and said it and Texas Children’s SIU were amazing.

“Your SIU is so well thought out and a model for any isolation unit, be it adult or Pediatric,” Craft said. “I would highly recommend this course and would like more of Dr. Arrington and her staff’s experience shared in future offerings.”

July 18, 2017

Three years ago, Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus opened an eight-bed Pediatric Intensive Care Unit thanks to a generous $1 million donation by the Lauren and Lara Camillo family. This fall, the last chunk of a $50 million capital improvement effort will expand the unit to 22 beds.

Construction on the project hit a midway point this summer and is expected to be complete in October, providing Texas Children’s West Campus and the entire Texas Children’s system with an opportunity to serve more patients and families that need our care.

Initially, 16 of the beds will be used for intensive care and six will be for acute care. Two of the intensive care beds will have negative pressure and can be used for isolation. All of the beds provide more privacy for our patients and families, as well as better visibility and workflow for our nurses and other medical staff.

Located on the fourth floor of the hospital and painted in calming pastels, the unit expansion includes two large nursing stations advanced practice provider workspace, a simulation room, nutrition room, lactation room, call room and conference space.

The patient rooms are spacious and have a private bathroom and seating/sleep area for family. The rooms are lined with windows that face outside, letting in sunlight and allowing for great views of the hospital grounds and surrounding community. The rooms also include several windows that face nursing stations and adjoining rooms, giving medical staff ample visibility at all times.

Equipment in the rooms and on the floor is robust and includes two blood gas machines for respiratory therapy and additional nurse station monitors. In the future, some of the rooms will be able to offer patients who need dialysis the capability of doing so from the comfort of their beds.

Also in the future, six of the rooms will have the ability to be converted into Neonatal Intensive Care Unit rooms. As a result, the unit will incorporate NICU design features such as a family transition room, lactation room and separate entrances to the NICU section of the unit.

“The design of this unit is extremely family friendly,” said Erica Ventura, one of three patient care managers in the PICU. “From the patient rooms to the nursing stations, everything is being constructed with the patient and the medical staff in mind.”

Karen Sripan, assistant clinical director of the PICU, agreed and said the planning and design of the PICU expansion has been going on since March 2016 and was comprehensive.

“We were very thoughtful in our design and engaged staff throughout the entire process,” Sripan said. “We also were mindful of ensuring room design consistency with the Woodlands PICU so that the layout of the rooms are familiar to staff and providers working at both campuses.

PICU Medical Director Dr. Matthew Pesek said he is very excited about the expansion and working in a space that is so geared toward patients, families and medical staff.

“Our staff will have a lot more mobility due to the large size of the patient rooms and families will have a lot more privacy,” Pesek said. “These two things alone will go a long way.”

The PICU expansion is the last project funded by a $50 million capital improvement effort that aimed at growing West Campus’ capacity and capability. To date the following projects have been completed:

  • Additional office and administrative support space for dedicated physicians and providers
  • An 18-bed expansion of the hospital’s acute care capacity, including a special isolation unit designed for children with highly contagious infectious diseases
  • Conversion of offices within ambulatory clinics into additional exam rooms to increase outpatient subspecialty access
  • A dedicated suite for Interventional Radiology service
  • A new 14 exam room clinic for Neurology, Renal & Dermatology

“Since the hospital opened in 2010, West Campus has continued to grow along with its surrounding communities,” said West Campus Assistant Vice President Sara Montenegro. “Texas Children’s is committed to continuing this growth and support of our patients and families in West Houston.”

July 11, 2017

For two weeks in June, Camp For All 2U brought the joy of summer camp to patients at Texas Children’s Hospital’s Main and West Campuses.

The program transforms areas of the hospital into camp, providing patients who may not get the experience of camp outside of the hospital the opportunity to enjoy a variety of games and activities. With a different theme each day, camp activities include archery, a petting zoo, arts and crafts and much more.

“We are so excited to have Camp For All 2U here at Main Campus for the second time,” said Child Life Specialist Sarah Herbek, who collaborated with Camp For All to bring the experience to Texas Children’s. “For many of these patients, this is the only opportunity they will have to experience camp this summer due to their current medical condition.”

Camp For All Program Supervisor Allen McBride said he was thrilled to be back at Main Campus and, with the generous support of the Wood Group, to be able to expand the program to West Campus.

“We are grateful to be able to give these patients the chance to temporarily forget what they are going through and just enjoy being a kid,” McBride said.

And, enjoy they did. Many of the patients didn’t want to leave camp and signed up to attend for multiple days.

View photos from Camp For All 2 U below.

Child Life Specialist Riley Hammond was key to getting the camp at West Campus and said “It is huge for staff and parents to see these kids having so much fun. In terms of normalization in the child life world, camp has tremendous positive impact on patients and families.”

It wasn’t just the children who were having fun. Camp counselors, volunteers and hospital staff were overcome with smiles, laughter and child-like joy as well. Some even went so far as to let the camp goers throw a pie in their face just for laughs.

Andrew Stewart, CEO of the Wood Group, was one of those volunteers and said he and his executive team wanted to participate in something extraordinary that would support the amazing work that’s already being done at Texas Children’s.

“We’ve had a wonderful time,” he said. “And, I think the children have as well.”

For more information about Camp For All, visit www.campforall.org.

Texas Children’s Hospital’s Kidney Stone Clinic has expanded to Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus.

In addition to once monthly clinics at Main Campus in the Medical Center, patients can now access multi-disciplinary stone treatment at West Campus on the first Wednesday of each month.

During each visit, patients and families will meet with a urologist, a nephrologist, and a dietitian to better understand what’s causing the stones and how to manage or prevent them.

To make an appointment, simply place a referral order in Epic or contact Central Scheduling at ext. 2-2778.