December 15, 2018

Have you heard? It’s Mary Poppins Week at Texas Children’s!

As a nod to our new partnership with Disney, our Child Life Department is celebrating the release of Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns with a whole week of fun activities for our patients at the Medical Center Campus, West Campus and The Woodlands.

As you know, earlier this year we launched a special partnership with The Walt Disney Company to provide our patients and families with moments of joy, empowerment and emotional comfort. As the very first hospital to partner with Disney on this effort, we are leading the way and co-creating an enchanted experience for children’s hospitals around the world.

The Disney Team of Heroes is embracing our culture and values, they’re listening to our insights about the unique nuances of the hospital environment, and they’re integrating our feedback into their designs. Next spring, we will begin to see their concepts come to life at Texas Children’s through reimagined spaces, personalized moments and engaging experiences. The team is also being thoughtful about how we can include an element of employee engagement to help ensure each of us has the opportunity to create magical moments with our patients and families.

This is incredibly exciting. Or more appropriately … it’s supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

In the spirit of the holidays, I couldn’t help but have a little fun with the Mary Poppins excitement myself. So I thought I’d share with you a few life lessons we can all learn from the original Mary Poppins movie released more than 50 years ago.

  1. “Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” We’ve all been there … something difficult needs to be done or said, and we wrestle with just how to approach it. When dealing with people – whether at work or home – it’s always best done with kindness. Be true to yourself about your intent and certain that it’s for the greater good, and then be considerate with your words and actions.
  2. “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.” In pretty much any job, there are days that are more challenging than others. This is especially true in a dynamic health care system like Texas Children’s. But what I know for certain is that when you sincerely enjoy your work, and even have a little fun with it sometimes, you bring a completely different attitude to daily challenges.
  3. “The more you laugh, the more you fill with glee.” I don’t know about you, but laughter makes me feel great. There are even times when laughing at myself is good. Maybe not literally, but figuratively laughing at yourself is a way of remembering that sometimes we make mistakes. So what do you do? Take a breath. Assess how or what you can improve: “What can I learn from this? How can I be better next time?” And then make a commitment to do just that.
  4. “Never judge things by their appearance.” This goes for people and situations. Sometimes we can be so focused on what we see on the surface or what we think we already know that we miss an opportunity to experience what’s beyond that. Be thoughtful about the situations or people you encounter. There’s often more to the story, and taking the time to dig a little deeper could help you discover a truly delightful ending.
  5. “Anything can happen if you let it.” This is probably my favorite of all the quotes from the Mary Poppins stage production, because it speaks to my belief that we should dwell in possibility. It’s especially important for us here at Texas Children’s, because we’re a source of hope for families all over the world. So dream audaciously, pursue the impossible. Having an unrelenting belief that “anything can happen if you let it” is the spark that made every miracle a reality.

Have a wonderful and joyful holiday season Texas Children’s, and let’s make 2019 magical!

Photos from our Spoonful of Sugar event

2k18-0598-AK4_1677 Tasty Tuesday-Spoon Full Of Sugar-Mary Poppins themed party 2k18-0598-AK4_1745 Tasty Tuesday-Spoon Full Of Sugar-Mary Poppins themed party 2k18-0598-AK4_1765 Tasty Tuesday-Spoon Full Of Sugar-Mary Poppins themed party

2k18-0598-AK4_1738 Tasty Tuesday-Spoon Full Of Sugar-Mary Poppins themed party 2k18-0598-AK4_1594 Tasty Tuesday-Spoon Full Of Sugar-Mary Poppins themed party 2k18-0598-AK4_1727 Tasty Tuesday-Spoon Full Of Sugar-Mary Poppins themed party

December 12, 2018

Last year, Dignity Health and Catholic Health Initiatives announced plans to merge their operations, and a few months ago, Baylor Scott & White Health announced its intent to merge with Memorial Hermann Health System.

These mergers will consolidate four sizeable systems into behemoth operations, and that seems to be a trend. In the last 18 months alone, there have been 197 health care merger and acquisition transactions announced. So it stands to reason that faculty and employees here might wonder, “Is Texas Children’s considering merging with another health system?”

The firm and resolute response to that is, “No.” Texas Children’s has no plans to merge with another system. Here’s why:

We care about our people. Remaining committed to Texas Children’s mission is just as important for our staff and employees as it is for our patients and their families. One of the most significant impacts, when systems merge, is the dilution of culture, and we will not sacrifice our culture or the people who have nurtured it. Texas Children’s is who we are because of who you are. We take immense pride in the culture of excellence and passion for patient care that we all share. It is the hallmark that distinguishes us. I simply cannot imagine Texas Children’s with a leadership team operating the organization for our people from a remote location in another state. Our leadership team is here, engaging and working with you to make decisions that directly impact you and our patients and families. That is our vision for our future.

We’re growing the right way. When you see nearly 200 health care mergers and acquisitions in less than two years, it’s hard to ignore. Some health care systems are growing tremendously. Some need financial stability, and others are simply expanding market share. That’s why growth continues to be important to Texas Children’s. We know market share matters. Size matters. But the way Texas Children’s grows matters to us most. We’re growing aggressively, but we’re thoughtful about our expansion – it is always aligned with our mission to advance patient care, education and research for children and women.

We’re staying focused. Texas Children’s Hospital was founded to care for children. And when we expanded our scope to include women’s services, this was a natural evolution that allowed us to create even healthier futures for children by first taking care of women who would someday become mothers. We now care for women at every stage of life and for children before they are even born. At nearly 65, Texas Children’s is the youngest of the nation’s top children’s hospitals, yet we are leading advancements in medicine for children and women around the world. We have built Texas Children’s as a system intently and passionately focused every single day on advancing and advocating for the health and well-being of children and women. We will not veer from that. Our ability to provide this focused continuum of care is in the best interest of families who seek our expertise and consistently experience exceptional outcomes because of it.

We’ve never been better. Texas Children’s just closed a phenomenal fiscal year … again. We opened the Lester and Sue Smith Legacy Tower, expanded our business to Austin, we’re financially strong, and we’re ranked among the top four children’s hospitals in the U.S. These are just a few highlights of an impressive year, and this year is like so many others we experience at Texas Children’s, time and again. Our capacity to invest in state-of-the-art facilities and continue to expand so that we can provide care in the right place at the right time for our patients speaks to our strategic vision and sturdiness, our ability to respond to the ever-increasing demand for our services and to the exceptional care we provide.

When we say we are one amazing team, we mean that. We have one mission here, one focus and, as a single, cohesive team, we are all moving toward a single destiny for Texas Children’s. Together, we are defining our tomorrow and pouring our passion, best ideas and energy into a promising, sustainable future for us and our patients for decades to come.

December 4, 2018

When I came to Texas Children’s Hospital 29 years ago, our mission was and always has been to ensure every child in our community and beyond has easy access to health care.

Last week, a study from Georgetown University Health Policy Institute challenged that. The study found that for the first time in nearly a decade, the number of uninsured children in the United States is increasing. Even more concerning, Texas now leads the nation with the largest percentage of children without medical health coverage. This is an unacceptable and alarming trend, and I know we are better than this study would have us believe.

We are the state that took the first man to the moon, the state leading our country into energy independence, the community that rallied its resources and demonstrated to the world what courage and humanity mean after Hurricane Harvey. We are home to an impressive number of Nobel laureates. Yet, we struggle with insuring all children with health coverage. We can and must do better.

In a state with so many resources, a strong economy and so many health coverage options available, families should not be uninsured. Children should not have to rely on a patchwork of emergency services to bridge them from one illness or injury to the next. Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provide essential health care to children of working families. And I’m proud that at Texas Children’s, we were so committed to increasing access and coverage for children that we created Texas Children’s Health Plan more than 20 years ago.

That commitment is even stronger today. We now cover more than 440,000 children across Texas enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP. We created the nation’s largest pediatric primary care network, and we partner with local organizations at outreach events to increase the number of children and pregnant women with health care coverage.

We also dedicate time and resources to lobby legislators in Austin and Washington and advocate on behalf of our patients and families. This isn’t politics – our aim is to keep CHIP and Medicaid funded for our families. The recent election demonstrated that health care matters to a lot of people. We must find ways to ease or eliminate existing political and administrative barriers for families to get proper health care coverage.

While the Georgetown study heightens awareness about this disturbing trend, I am encouraged because I know Texas Children’s is working every day to make it better. This study just proves there’s still work to do, and children and families need Texas Children’s – all of us – continuing the fight for them. So keep paying attention. Keep voting. Keep talking about this. Together, we can help children’s health care in Texas and the rest of the country get back on track.