June 20, 2017

As the Department of Surgery continues to expand in the community at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus and Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands, ongoing training is needed to be able to offer high-level surgical procedures.

Otolaryngologists Dr. Deidre Larrier and Dr. Mary Frances Musso have been leading that charge when it comes to training operating room staff in the removal of aerodigestive foreign bodies – obstructions in the esophagus and/or trachea.

Such obstructions can be emergent, and require rapid response using specialized equipment. During a four-year period between 2011 and 2015, there were 556 obstruction cases, 64 of which occurred at West Campus.

“The instruments used in obstruction procedures are very specific and are not used in general surgical procedures,” Larrier said. “Thus the need for supplemental training for our OR support staff.”

Led by Larrier, the training is for OR nurses and scrub technicians. The half-day course includes a lecture, hands-on skills lab, and in-situ simulation.

Musso is taking the Texas Children’s Hospital simulation instructor course this summer, which will allow her to enhance her mentoring skills during these sessions. Larrier is already an instructor and was instrumental in helping establish simulation education at the hospital. She leads the otolaryngology simulation sessions for not only OR staff but also residents, fellows, and mid-level providers. She recently led a training for Advanced Practice Providers on tonsillectomy surgery and the complications that can occur following such procedures.

“Dr. Larrier’s training of OR staff in the removal of aerodigestive foreign bodies and esophageal obstructions was very well received here in the Woodlands,” said Dr. Charles Hughes, a member of the otolaryngology team in The Woodlands. “Both Ramon Enad and Tom Cunningham, our OR staff leads, felt it was extremely beneficial for staff, in that these procedures are high risk and infrequent.”

Musso said, West Campus staff is very appreciative of the training and that it has helped improve their skills using this specialized equipment and treating these patients. “We plan to repeat this training session annually at West Campus to maintain the staff’s skill level.”

Larrier said she will gladly continue such training, something she views as a testament to how much the surgical capability at West Campus and in The Woodlands has grown.

May 30, 2017

As chief of the newly created section of Public Health Pediatrics at Texas Children’s – the nation’s largest and first public health section within a children’s hospital – Dr. Christopher Greeley has devoted much of his resources and time toward developing a one-of-a-kind, community wide program aimed at child abuse prevention.

“As a board certified child abuse physician, I kept seeing children after they were harmed,” said Greeley, who also is a professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine. “It would be a great day if no one were hurt. And the only way for that to happen would be for the health care team to spend more time on prevention.”

Greeley uses this analogy to illustrate his point:

Imagine standing by a river and watching kids floating by. You pluck them out of the river to rescue them. But you need to go upstream to find the break in the fence that is allowing the kids to fall into the water. Going upstream to find and correct the cause of problems is the model of public health.

“We have been spending all of our time scooping kids out of the river, and now we’re developing a program, a strategy to start going upstream,” Greeley said. “We will always take care of these kids, but part of what our team does is focus on socioeconomic factors that place kids and families at risk in the first place.”

Launched in October 2015, the Public Health Pediatrics section has two components – child abuse pediatrics and the Center for the Study of Childhood Adversity and Resilience (CARE). Both components work together to engage the community around perceived risk factors and improve the trajectory for children of abuse and neglect.

The child abuse pediatrics program focuses on four main areas:

  • Excellence in clinical care: About 2,500 suspected victims of abuse and neglect are evaluated annually at Texas Children’s and the Children’s Assessment Center (CAC) in Houston. Care is provided at Texas Children’s Main Campus and planned for the new Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands campus. Consultative services are available at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus. The program provides medical support to CACs in Houston and Brazoria County. Because children in the foster care system are at risk of abuse, Texas Children’s is developing a foster care clinic.
  • Training and education: Baylor and Texas Children’s have three doctors in training in an accredited fellowship in child abuse pediatrics, one of the largest such programs in the country. Besides education for medical students and the greater Houston medical community, a training program is being developed for post-doctoral public health practitioners. An outreach program trains members of the community on signs and symptoms of child abuse.
  • Scholarship and new knowledge: Clinical research varies from early recognition of abuse to improving mental health services for children in foster care.
  • Community presence: The program’s interdisciplinary team of physicians, nurses, social workers and public health practitioners help primary care physicians and nonprofits who care for abused and neglected children and are available to civic groups, church groups and YMCAs.

In conjunction with child abuse pediatrics, the main focus of CARE is community-level research to identify, promote and implement strategies to prevent adverse childhood experiences such as poverty, violence, inequality, homelessness, and lack of mental health, education and nutrition.

For instance, to help relieve parental stress and improve children’s outcomes, the launch of the upWORDS program at Texas Children’s teaches parents how to improve the quantity and quality of language spoken with their children, which has been known to increase brain development and positively impact their child’s future.

The Public Health Pediatrics section is also working with nonprofit communities, city and county agencies to develop partnerships and strategies to help families cope with other issues including postpartum depression, violence, and food insecurity or hunger in Houston.

“Improving the circumstances that cause adverse childhood experiences is a long-term complex undertaking that must be adapted to fit each community,” Greeley said. “But the section of Public Health Pediatrics is ready to do whatever it takes to improve the lives of children.”

Texas Children’s Physician-in-Chief Dr. Mark W. Kline who recruited Greeley to head this new section applauds the success and foresees the future growth and far reaching impact of this program.

“As a transformative figure in the Department of Pediatrics, Greeley will inspire a generation of public health-oriented pediatricians-in-training who, in turn, will populate programs across the country,” Kline said. “His program is a prime example of the things that we are doing that other pediatrics departments in the U.S. can replicate.”

April 26, 2017

On April 19, Texas Children’s Green Team hosted the hospital’s annual Earth Day celebration which expanded to three locations this year for employees and staff to join in on the fun.

Besides The Auxiliary Bridge event at Texas Children’s Medical Center Campus, Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus and Texas Children’s Health Plan hosted exciting Earth Day events.

Vendors provided eco-friendly, cost-saving tips including how to become more energy efficient, tips on eating green, and ways to reduce waste and recycle more to promote a cleaner, healthier planet. Earl the Bear greeted guests at West Campus and Captain Clean Up entertained the crowd at Main Campus.

Informative handouts and goodies were distributed to attendees including Earth Day stickers, seeded confetti packets and customized Green Team water bottles made of 100 percent recyclable materials. At Main and West campuses, employees safely disposed of their expired and unused medications as part of Pharmacy’s Medication Disposal and Medication Take Back Program.

The Earth Day celebration also included two tree plantings at West Campus and Texas Children’s The Woodlands Hospital thanks to the generous donations from Trees for Houston.

As the Green Team prepares for next year’s Earth Day celebrations, feel free to drop them a line. If you have any green ideas, suggestions for next year or want to join the team, email teamgreen@texaschildrens.org.

April 18, 2017

We are less than one month away from the 2017 MS150 Bike Ride! This year’s ride is Saturday, April 29 and Sunday, April 30.

The MS150 is an annual event sponsored by the MS Society to benefit those struggling with Multiple Sclerosis. It’s a two-day bike ride from Houston to Austin, with an overnight stay in LaGrange, TX. This is the twelfth year Team Texas Children’s will be participating, and to date we’ve raised more than $2.0M to support the MS Society. This year we have approximately 130 riders registered on our team, and they need your help.

While our riders are important, our volunteers are equally so! Our riders literally could not make it without the tremendous support they receive from our volunteers. This year there are a variety of volunteer opportunities in Houston before the ride, in LaGrange, and in Austin, to name just a few. School-aged children and youth old enough they will not distract you from your volunteer service are welcome. Please note – a special thank you to West Campus staff members who have volunteered to support Ride Start.

You don’t have to volunteer for the entire weekend. You can help with one or more parts of the event. If you’re interested in volunteering, please register using the link below. If multiple members of a family are volunteering, each person will need to register individually. The survey will provide all the information you need, including details about the different dates and times volunteers are needed.

Remember, volunteers work hard – but it’s also a lot of fun.

Registration closes Wednesday, April 19. Online training sessions will be conducted Friday, April 21, and Monday, April 24. You will be sent an email meeting invitation.

To register, visit:

Thank you in advance to everyone who donates their time and efforts to this very worthy cause. Whether you are a rider or a volunteer, you are making a difference.

Please feel free to contact Jeff Reinhart, Team Texas Children’s logistics and volunteer coordinator, at ext. 2-4265 with questions.

April 13, 2017

Texas Children’s employees and Houston-area residents came out in full force to participate in the 5th annual Texas Children’s Hospital and Houston Marathon Foundation Family Fun Run at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus.

On April 8, more than 3,500 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 30 plus attractions.

Sarah Pepper from The Morning Mix and Erin Austin with 100.3 The Bull kept everyone energized in their role as master of ceremonies cheering on the crowd and announcing any and all special guests, including Dr. Scott McKay with Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus Sports Medicine and members of the Katy Youth Choir. Prior to the race, McKay led runners and walkers in some warm-up stretches and exercises and members of the Katy Youth Choir sang the National Anthem.

“The Family Fun Run is a great opportunity to be here in the community to celebrate what we do for families and children,” Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus President Matt Schaefer. “It allows to interact with the community and encourage families to be together and to be healthy, which is what Texas Children’s is all about.”

Get a first-hand look at the fun by:

  • Flipping through a photo gallery of the event below.
  • Ordering your race-day photos from Spring Action. You can search by your bib number or last name to find your photos (if any exist). There also are hundreds of unidentified photos to sort through in the Lost & Found section. You can also browse the entire event, if desired.
  • Taking a look at our Facebook photo album from Saturday.

Don’t forget about the inaugural Family Fun Run event at Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands. It will be on Saturday, April 29. It will offer a 1-mile course and will be in celebration of the April 11 grand opening of the new hospital. Post-race activities will follow until 11 a.m.

April 11, 2017

Almost a year after the launch of a program geared toward improving a baby’s language skills, parents are singing its praises, saying upWORDS has helped their children as well as themselves.

“It definitely met my expectations and beyond,” said Fylasan Hanible, whose son, Donnell David Price IV was 7 months old when he and his mother went through the program. “I didn’t know that I could increase it (language) as much as I have.”

Alexandrina Gonzalez agreed and said her 22-month-old daughter’s language skills have improved greatly as a result of upWORDS and that the program is something every parent can benefit from.

“upWORDS taught me about things I didn’t realize could help,” Gonzalez said. “As a result, everyone in my family has benefited.”

Click here to view photos from the first upWORDS class.

Developed in association with the LENA Research Foundation, the upWORDS program at Texas Children’s Hospital was launched last summer as a pilot program at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus. Since then, 20 families have completed the four-month course and another 38 are currently enrolled in classes starting this month and in June and September at West Campus and the Cy-Fair Health Center.

Available in both English and Spanish, the upWORDS program includes group classes where parents learn to use the LENA System™ to monitor their home language environment and are taught simple techniques to increase interactive talk with their child.

To measure a participant’s home language environment, the LENA System™ uses a small recorder that fits inside a vest worn by the child. The recorder measures the amount of words a family speaks to their child and how much their child responds in return. The recording is then translated into data that the parents can use to gauge how much they are talking to their child and identify opportunities to increase the level of spoken interaction they have with their baby.

At Texas Children’s, parents receive individual coaching in addition to the group classes to discuss their data results, gain the best results possible and to work through any additional obstacles that could potentially hinder their child’s development.

Dr. Christopher Greeley, chief of the Section of Public Health Pediatrics at Texas Children’s, said the initial response to the program has been impressive and shows an appetite for a program like upWORDS, which focuses on a child’s early language development.

“We conventionally think of worrying about language skills and children at 2 and 3 years of age, when they’re starting to read and learning their A,B,Cs,” Greeley said. “But the data are clear that babies, even young babies, are mindful of language and mindful of verbal and non-verbal communication even in the first few months of life.”

By the age of 3, 80 percent of a child’s brain development is complete. These first few years of a child’s life are therefore critical and provide the greatest opportunity to influence their success later in life.

Research shows that many children are exposed to nearly 30 million fewer words than their peers by the time they reach 3 years old. The upWORDS program helps parents of infants and toddlers (0 to 6 months for the pilot program) close the “talk gap” by teaching them how to talk and interact more with their babies to increase brain development and positively impact their child’s future.

To learn more about, or register for, the upWORDS program at Texas Children’s, click here.


On Wednesday, April 19, Texas Children’s Green Team will host our annual Earth Day celebration. But it will be slightly different than last year. We will have four locations for employees to join in on the fun.

  • Texas Children’s Medical Center Campus (The Auxiliary Bridge) – 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Texas Children’s West Campus – 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Texas Children’s Health Plan (large conference room in basement of Chase building) – 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands – Tree planting event only

Dozens of vendors will be available to provide eco-friendly, cost-saving tips to employees including how to become more energy efficient, tips on eating green, as well as ways to reduce waste and recycle more to promote a cleaner, healthier planet. Earl the Bear will be greeting guests at West Campus and Captain Clean Up will be at the Main Campus event.

The Green Team will be handing out customized Green Team water bottles and seeded confetti packets at the Green Team tables – so be sure to get there early since supplies are limited. Also, there will be a trivia game to test your knowledge on tips to go green for a chance to win prizes and several informational handouts will be distributed to employees.

Safe disposal of expired medications
Pharmacy will be hosting the Medication Disposal and Medication Take Back Program at Main Campus and West Campus only. Please bring expired or unused medications for proper disposal at the event.

Tree planting events
10 a.m. – Vice President Matt Schaefer and other leaders will be present for the tree planting at West Campus.

There will be a tree planting event at The Woodlands. The time and location have yet to be determined.

Stay tuned to Connect for more details about Texas Children’s Earth Day celebrations. Also, if you’d like to reach out to the Green Team with your green ideas, email teamgreen@texaschildrens.org.