January 26, 2016 | (7) Comments

I love that we at Texas Children’s are not afraid to speak up when change needs to happen. Many of you email me your ideas about how we can improve patient care, operate more efficiently and ensure our patients and their families have the best possible experience while they are here.

I received one such email from Becky White, one of our phenomenal nurses in the NICU. She wrote me in response to one of my blog posts, “In their shoes.” The post was about customer service and what all of us can do every day to ensure patients and their families have an exceptional experience at Texas Children’s each time they walk through our doors. Becky shared her experiences with me as a parent of a Texas Children’s patient and as a NICU nurse.

I was incredibly touched by her email and, subsequently, invited her to my office to hear more about her story, her perceptions and her ideas on how we can make Texas Children’s even better from both a quality of care and quality of service perspective. Becky and her nursing manager, Rebecca Schiff, a mother of twins who had spent some time in our NICU, both had me sitting on the edge of my seat, eager to hear more about their personal and professional experiences and their insights.

Before leaving my office, Becky told me how surprised she was that I took the time to respond to her email. She didn’t think CEOs did that sort of thing, but as you all know, I try to respond to every email I receive. And when Becky asked to shadow me for one day so she could see firsthand what our administrative leadership team does behind the scenes, I graciously accepted and invited her to attend a day of leadership forum meetings.

Surrounded by leaders from different areas of the organization – like Marketing/PR, Human Resources, Finance, Governance, and Quality and Patient Safety – Becky was thoroughly impressed by how hard everyone works, the meticulous collaboration and communication involved and the diverse skill sets our leaders bring to the table to help each of us advance our mission. She said she realized how much our leadership team is working on behalf of our frontline staff to meet their needs so they can fulfill the health care needs of our patients. Essentially, Becky got a glimpse of Texas Children’s that our nurses and many of our frontline staff don’t normally see.

Click here to read Becky’s blog post on Voice of Nursing about her experience.

A month or so later, I had the opportunity to experience Becky’s world in the NICU. Despite the sound of sporadic, beeping alarms, the NICU environment was quiet and serene, almost like a chapel at times. As I walked through the unit, one thing captured my attention: no matter where I turned, our nurses were working seamlessly as a team, making certain our tiniest, most fragile patients were taken care of. Everyone was respectful of his or her colleagues, and everyone was very sensitive to the families’ needs.

During my visit, I met with our NICU leadership team, and I appreciated their openness and candor as they shared their areas of concern and the collaborative improvements they’ve made to significantly reduce our CLABSI rates in the NICU, among other things. Seeing how hard they work and how they’re giving everything they’ve got to care for these sick babies and their families was inspiring.

There was a wonderful mutual respect and appreciation between Becky and me. She looked at the administrative side of things, and she said “Wow. Everybody is giving it their best to make Texas Children’s an exceptional place for patients and their families to receive the best quality of care and service.” Then I immersed myself in her world, and I felt that same appreciation and admiration.

My experience with Becky was just another reminder that, whether we work at the bedside or behind the scenes, everyone matters, and everyone’s perspective has value. Everyone’s work is essential at Texas Children’s, and when we all share the same intense passion for the mission, we drive it forward.


January 17, 2016 | (6) Comments

“Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace.”

These are the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and of all of the quotes for which he is best known, I am most inspired by this one because of my personal beliefs about service. Dr. King was an extraordinary example of servant leadership. His work was steeped in his desire for unity, he was inclusive and was a careful listener of those he led and of those who opposed him as well. And he took thoughtful, transformational actions that changed hearts and people.

Most importantly, Dr. King was driven by his desire to improve the lives of others. He was without a doubt one of our nation’s most gifted leaders, and he spent most of his life serving a mission to create a better quality of life, a better world for others. He led with that vision, and he served with a heart full of grace.

I draw inspiration and guidance from the servant leader Dr. King was. I have always approached my responsibilities as Texas Children’s President and CEO with a focus on service. I am here to serve a mission. I am here to serve the children and women we care for and their families. I am here to serve all of the employees and all of the medical staff, our volunteers and our Board of Trustees. I am here to serve the entire constituency of Texas Children’s.

Every day that I walk through the doors of Texas Children’s Hospital, I am thinking about what I can do to support everyone in our organization to make sure that we’re moving ever closer towards becoming an even better, greater Texas Children’s.

By the same token, I appreciate that same spirit of service in all of you. Much like Dr. King believed anyone can serve, you know one of my maxims is that everyone is a leader. Beyond that, I believe that everyone can be a servant leader. And to me, possessing a spirit of servant leadership means having a sense of ownership and responsibility for our organization, the families we care for and the people we work with. When you feel that sense of ownership, you think differently, your work is elevated, and you are more deeply vested in serving our mission.

Dr. King’s vision was propelled by people who not only shared it, but invested themselves in it wholly. They took personal ownership of it. They walked with him, prayed with him, and they channeled his inspiration into personal actions that served a common aspiration for unity and equality, and subsequently, together they advanced a nationwide movement.

As you reflect today, take a moment to think about that. Our service to Texas Children’s is our most valuable asset. Indeed, leadership can inspire hope, but service is ultimately what fulfills it.

January 8, 2016 | (11) Comments

Often, when you hear someone say, “It’s a new day,” that means one of two things: There’s a change coming … a shift in the way things are being done. Or, more often, here at Texas Children’s we say it to mean let’s start anew tomorrow – tomorrow is a new day and another chance to offer encouragement, support or forgiveness. It’s an opportunity to learn, self-correct or right your course, or to innovate and advance an idea that could change or save a life.

So when I usher in a new year, I think of it in terms of days and opportunities – 365 opportunities to do something awesome. And I have a feeling that many of you are very much that same way, because that’s the only way we could possibly do the phenomenal things we do, year after year … day in and day out. It’s you, our people.

When I look forward to all that we aim to accomplish in 2016, I do so with confidence because I know we have the most incredible people of any organization. We are driven by our spirit, our enthusiasm and our constant belief that every day we come to work is a new day, a new opportunity, to make a difference.

To celebrate you and that spirit, I asked my team to create this video that showcases Texas Children’s people. Take a look:

You’ve heard me share my personal definition of leadership many times: Leadership = Vision + Structure + People, with people being by far the most important element in the equation. Well it’s true, and when I look back at all we accomplished last year, I am in awe of what you do and how you dedicate yourselves to fulfilling our mission in so many small and big ways.

So every day that you arrive, walk through the door with renewed anticipation of doing something great. Expect to do something that contributes to our powerful, unfolding story, because everyone here does. Move intentionally through each day, seeking the potential to change and improve something or someone — because here, that’s possible every day. At Texas Children’s, every day is a new day to be a part of something amazing.

Happy New Year to all!