October 12, 2018

During a recent conversation with my colleagues about how well Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women is doing at caring for women, mothers and babies, we wagered how many little ones would be delivered at the hospital in fiscal year 2018.

My educated guess was 6,250. And wouldn’t you know it? That is exactly how many precious babies our expert clinical staff brought into the world between October 2017 and September 2018. This number has grown consistently every year since we opened the Pavilion for Women in March 2012, proving that our decision to provide women, mothers and babies with a full continuum of high-quality, expert health care was the right move.

Nearly seven years ago, the opening of the Pavilion was one of the most surreal moments in my years at Texas Children’s. That day was an incredible culmination of events that started in 2005, believe it or not, over a casual cup of coffee with David Fine, then-President and CEO of St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital.

As David and I were talking, he suggested that St. Luke’s was ready to shift away from women’s services. With the same assurance I had when I guessed the number of babies delivered at the Pavilion for Women this year, I immediately and literally raised my hand and said, “I want in. We’ll take it.”

I knew that no organization in the U.S. had conjoined a leading children’s hospital with a women’s hospital providing ob/gyn, maternal fetal medicine and other women’s services. This was a really big, novel idea that, honestly, a lot of people hesitated to embrace. But fortunately, Texas Children’s Board, leaders, staff and employees are not like most people. So this seemingly impossible idea quickly became a reality that our Board and leadership were passionately pursuing.

Within a couple years of that fateful cup of coffee with David, we were starting construction – Texas Children’s Hospital was building Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women. And our mission became that much bigger.

As we continue on this incredible journey and trajectory, I am confident it will keep getting better and better. In fact, I’d bet on it!

Maxim 10: The best companies in the world are those that have outstanding frontline leadership.

When you’re blessed to lead an organization as successful as Texas Children’s has been, people often want to know the secret. They ask all the time, “How does Texas Children’s continue to do so well?” And the funny part is, it’s no secret at all. In fact, the reason for our success can be found right out front – or more specifically, on the frontline.

It’s good to have a visionary CEO and a strong leadership team. But if a company doesn’t have great frontline leaders, quite simply, that company is not going to be successful. Our frontline is the face of Texas Children’s – they are invaluable to our organization. They are the ones interacting with our patients, families, medical staff and the general public, often making the first and most lasting impression on everyone who comes into contact with Texas Children’s.

Martin Wortley in the Customer Care Contact Center (CCC) is an incredible example of an employee who keeps his focus on ensuring patients’ and families’ experiences with us are exceptional. Perhaps he draws from his own experience – he first came to Texas Children’s for treatment of kidney stones when he was 10 years old. Years later, he returned to Texas Children’s, working in several frontline roles that gave him the opportunity to interact with patients and families and understand their needs. These roles also helped him learn about various parts of the organization, making him a great resource to team members and patient families as they navigate our system.

Martin is now an Assistant Director in the CCC, and his primary focus is the same – making sure our frontline staff keeps families first. This is critical because, as a call center, the CCC is often the first interaction a parent has with Texas Children’s. Martin nurtures the relationships with his staff and providers, and he goes above and beyond to set an example for providing exceptional customer service to our patients and families. He consistently shows initiative and has a thoughtful approach to problem solving and communicating, which goes a long way to make sure families get access to the care their children need in the timeliest manner. Martin’s leadership and success is directly reflected in the warm, positive – and efficient – experiences families have with our CCC staff.

I am extremely proud to have frontline leaders like Martin on our one amazing team. Therein lies the “secret” to our success. We have a lot of awesome things going on at Texas Children’s – opening of the new Legacy Tower, expansion into Austin, Aa2 bond rating for 22 years straight, ranked among the top children’s hospitals in the U.S., no. 11 on Forbes list of best employers for women … and the list goes on and on. How do we achieve success after success? The answer is right out front.

I’d like to hear from you … is there a great frontline leader in your area? How do they inspire you and your team to be one amazing team?

Take the leadership challenge, and score a spot at a Houston Texans event!

Over the past few weeks, Mark Wallace’s blog has been highlighting employees who demonstrate his Maxims of Leadership. Each blog post poses a leadership question that Texas Children’s employees may respond to in the comments section until October 19. 

Afterward, the Corporate Communications team will randomly select 75 people from the comments to attend a private event with the Houston Texans, including a behind-the-scenes tour of NRG Stadium, an autograph session with two Houston Texans football players and photos with the Texans cheerleaders.

Maxim no. 9: Leadership development is hiring the best, developing them and retaining them.

Last week, I celebrated 29 amazing years at Texas Children’s, and when I look at how much we have grown as an organization both in size and scope it takes my breath away.

The growth of our workforce has also been simply incredible. When I first came to Texas Children’s in 1989, we had about 1,400 employees. Today we are 14,000+ strong. We have grown so much, but more important than just growing is having employees who grow and develop with the organization, and it doesn’t just happen by accident. At Texas Children’s, we invest purposefully and unceasingly to ensure that each of you have the growth opportunities you want so that you can enjoy long, rewarding and fulfilling careers here.

Back in 1994, when Andrea Crayton – or Dré as many of us know her – walked in as a new employee for her first day of work at the McDonald’s restaurant at our Medical Center Campus – it was the start of an amazing professional and personal journey. Dré started at McDonald’s but soon after joined Texas Children’s, working for several years in Environmental Services and Valet Services. She left for a bit to earn her Associates Degree in Respiratory Care and returned to Texas Children’s as a respiratory therapist. As a member of Texas Children’s Kangaroo Crew, she spent several more years helping safely transport some of our most critical patients.

Throughout the years, Dré has continued her education, taking advantage of Texas Children’s tuition reimbursement program. Last December, she took the most exciting walk of her journey yet – a walk across the stage to receive her Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Care, graduating summa cum laude! I’m so proud of Dré and all that she has accomplished, but her journey isn’t over yet. Now Dré is pursuing a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in healthcare, while working as a respiratory clinical coordinator at The Woodlands Campus, where she’s closer to home.

Every step of the way, Dré says she’s had two things in her favor – aspiration and inspiration. Her amazing spirit drove her to keep learning, and she says she’s grateful for the mentoring and advice from dynamic leaders like Jennifer Bee, Michelle Riley-Brown, Dr. Jeanine Graf, Gail Parazynski, Garry Sitler and Ketrese White. More importantly, whenever and wherever she looked to challenge herself, develop new skills, or advance within Texas Children’s, there was an opportunity available and tools to support her.

Dré’s story is similar to so many of you here – I know many of you who have dedicated your careers in a single department while others have pursued new opportunities across the organization as you’ve gone through different stages of your lives and careers. I’m so proud that Texas Children’s is a place where all employees can grow and learn both personally and professionally. Texas Children’s is a place where there are no limits, and you can achieve anything you set your mind to.

I truly believe our commitment to your professional growth and development is our greatest investment – because when you are happy and thriving, the possibilities for our collective success are endless!

I’d like to hear from you … have you had an interesting career journey at Texas Children’s? If so, briefly share your story. 

Take the leadership challenge, and score a spot at a Houston Texans event!

Over the past few weeks, Mark Wallace’s blog has been highlighting employees who demonstrate his Maxims of Leadership. Each blog post poses a leadership question that Texas Children’s employees may respond to in the comments section until October 19. 

Afterward, the Corporate Communications team will randomly select 75 people from the comments to attend a private event with the Houston Texans, including a behind-the-scenes tour of NRG Stadium, an autograph session with two Houston Texans football players and photos with the Texans cheerleaders.

October 2, 2018

Maxim No. 8: “Skate to where the puck is going to be, not where the puck is.”

Maxim No. 8 came to me by way of Wayne Gretzky, one of the greatest hockey players of all time. When asked by a reporter how he managed to stay at the top of his game, he answered, “I think it’s because I skate to where the puck is going to be, and everyone else skates to where the puck is.”

When you apply Wayne’s perspective to the world of health care, it essentially translates to market differentiation – distinguishing a product or service from others to attract or create a new target market.

Historically, we at Texas Children’s have been very good at market differentiation or skating to where the puck is going to be. We are an organization that is constantly looking at what’s around the corner, forecasting what families will need, and proactively creating solutions before a challenge even fully materializes. It is this type of thinking that led to the Pavilion for Women, Texas Children’s Pediatrics, Texas Children’s Health Plan, the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute, and our hospital campuses in Katy and The Woodlands.

Sure, there were naysayers and critics who said these things wouldn’t work and that we should just focus on being a children’s hospital, but we were impervious and pushed forward with our plans, confident they were what our patients and families needed. Time and again, our instincts have been proven to be right.

So many of you are making bold, proactive moves throughout the organization, and I want to highlight Kabby Thompson, Director of Managed Care, is a great example. She and her team negotiate contracts on behalf of Texas Children’s Hospital, Texas Children’s Pediatrics, Texas Children’s Urgent Care and Texas Children’s Physician Service Organization with insurance companies, providing in-network access for our patients.

Kabby’s job is critical to making care accessible and affordable for patients and their families. Her team and the work they do is also extremely important to the vitality and sustainability of our entire organization, especially in this dynamic climate of transformation in the insurance industry.

Kabby joined Texas Children’s three years ago after working for several large insurance companies. She’s perfect for this role because she is a strategic, forward-thinker who is constantly looking five to 10 years ahead to the future of health care reimbursement, rather than simply focusing on how we are paid today.

She assesses and plans ahead based on long-range health care reimbursement risks and does not allow day-to-day fluctuations to distract her focus on high-impact areas. Kabby also works to build business partnerships with health plans that can collaborate with us in ways that benefit Texas Children’s and our patients.

It’s inspiring to watch Kabby navigate this ever-changing world of managed care with such focus, agility, and compassion. She never loses sight of the fact that our patients and families are what is most important and that they count on the stability that Texas Children’s provides. With people like Kabby on our team, we will continue to always be ahead of the game.

I’d like to hear from you … how do you skate to where the puck is going to be to stay ahead in your role at Texas Children’s?

Take the leadership challenge, and score a spot at a Houston Texans event!

Over the past few weeks, Mark Wallace’s blog has been highlighting employees who demonstrate his Maxims of Leadership. Each blog post poses a leadership question that Texas Children’s employees may respond to in the comments section until October 19. 

Afterward, the Corporate Communications team will randomly select 75 people from the comments to attend a private event with the Houston Texans, including a behind-the-scenes tour of NRG Stadium, an autograph session with two Houston Texans football players and photos with the Texans cheerleaders.