July 31, 2020 | (40) Comments

This weekend marks an exciting milestone for Texas Children’s—tomorrow, August 1, we will celebrate the 25th anniversary of Texas Children’s Pediatrics! What a special and momentous occasion for our organization!

I knew we were onto something incredible when we first came up with the idea of Texas Children’s Pediatrics, but as I reflect on the past few decades, I am more confident than ever that establishing this network of primary care pediatric practices is one of Texas Children’s greatest accomplishments. In the early and mid-1990’s, health care was changing, and as a young pediatric hospital, we knew we needed to change too in order to keep up with our growing community. Here we are—25 years later—and I’m still amazed at how far we’ve come.

Today, Texas Children’s Pediatrics is the largest pediatric primary care network in the nation with more than 250 board-certified pediatricians and 60 practice locations—four of those locations added in the first half of 2020 alone.

This network has helped us take better care of the children we serve and create long-term relationships with our patient families, while retaining many of the gifted physicians trained at Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine. Most recently, the remarkable leadership of Texas Children’s Pediatrics has helped us in our venture north of Houston to the state capital of Texas. What began as a journey into various neighborhoods of Houston has led to an expedition into communities across the state of Texas. Over the years, we’ve seen how profoundly this network has impacted the children in Houston, so there was no question what we should do when it came to expanding our care into Austin.

During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic we are currently facing, Texas Children’s Pediatrics has been quick and efficient in ensuring we provide the same quality of care, whether it be in person or through virtual visits. Each practice has worked effectively to overcome obstacles and keep physicians, employees, patients and families safe and comfortable.

As you all know, Texas Children’s was founded with the mission to care for all children, and through the Community Cares Program, we found an additional way to embrace this value. At the Community Cares Program practices, the teams assist families with added health care services such as meeting with social workers, nutrition education, assistance with insurance program applications, and more. Needless to say, Texas Children’s Pediatric practices are so much more than a doctor’s office.

As we celebrate 25 years of astounding success for Texas Children’s Pediatrics, I want to thank two of the best leaders that I have had the honor of working with—Kay Tittle, President of Texas Children’s Pediatrics, and Dr. Stanley Spinner, Vice President of Texas Children’s Pediatrics. Kay and Stan truly are two superheroes in the world of pediatrics. They have been nothing short of phenomenal, working together every day to help children and their families receive the care they need, when and where they need it. On top of caring for our patients, they have both been instrumental in our growth and are without a doubt, the reason why we’re here celebrating 25 years today.

Please join me in congratulating all of the physicians, staff and employees at Texas Children’s Pediatrics for 25 years of excellence. I hope each team member knows what a difference you make for these families—many of which would not have access to care if it wasn’t for you.

I am deeply grateful for everyone’s dedication and commitment through the years, and I am beyond proud of what we have accomplished together.

However, there’s one thing I know for sure—we are not done yet. Here’s to the next 25 years of caring for generations of families in our great state of Texas! Congratulations, Texas Children’s Pediatrics!

June 19, 2020 | (16) Comments

It was on June 19, 1865 that enslaved African-Americans in Texas gained their freedom. Freedom—what a powerful word—freedom.

Juneteenth is typically a day of celebration with loved ones, get togethers and parades. But this year looks a little different. Between the uncertainty that COVID-19 has created in our daily lives, to the state of grief and unrest that we are experiencing in our strive for justice, I encourage you all to take a moment to pause today and reflect on the freedoms we are blessed to experience—and the freedoms that we need to continue to fight for.

While the Black Lives Matter movement began in 2013, the constant struggle for equality and justice has been something that so many in our community have had to confront every day. This struggle has rightfully demanded front-page news coverage in recent weeks and months, but the need for it is not new. As Will Smith said during an interview in 2016, “Racism isn’t getting worse; it’s getting filmed.”

As I’ve said before, it is difficult to admit that racism is still prevalent in our society, but no matter how hard it is to admit, we must acknowledge this if any change is to be done during our lifetime—and it must be done. The Black Lives Matter movement is here to stay.

Racism and discrimination of any kind must end—in our workplace and in our society. This is a cultural issue and we must take action to affect change. We must be honest with ourselves and with each other to acknowledge where we are and the work we have to do. And then, we must do the work.

When I began as President and CEO at Texas Children’s in 1989, we did not have one African American on our Board of Trustees. Today, our Board is a diverse delegation of gender, race and religion—but we must continue to make progress year after year.

Texas Children’s has an important role to play and we are committed to doing our part. Not just today, not just this month, but for the long term. We have launched initiatives to address issues of racism and diversity, but I want to re-emphasize that this is not a program or a project, this isn’t a matter of creating a department to put gold stars on our letterhead and then move on to the next topic. This work needs to be addressed by each of us every day. It is our collective responsibility to be the change we want to see. We are not perfect but our culture is based on equality, inclusivity, love and compassion, and if we believe in this work, we will continue to improve.

These are difficult things to talk about, but we must talk about them anyways. It is the only way we can move forward. So in honor of Juneteenth, I encourage each of you to pause, reflect on what freedom means to you and the great progress we have made, and recognize how much more work we have to do. I asked you a couple of weeks ago what you have done today to help. Today I ask you, what will you do tomorrow?

June 8, 2020 | (47) Comments

Black Lives Matter and Texas Children’s will continue to lead and support initiatives for racial equality throughout our organization. Given where our country stands, and what I know many of you are thinking and feeling, I want you to know where I stand as your President and CEO and how deeply this issue resonates with Shannon and me.

Racial, religious, and gender equality have been an important focus of mine throughout my 42 year career. Over the past three decades that I have had the privilege to lead Texas Children’s, I have worked tirelessly with our Board, our leaders, and each of you to make equality, diversity, and inclusiveness a part of our foundation. I can’t say that we have always gotten it right—and I can’t guarantee that we always will moving forward—but what I can promise is that you have my word that we will continue to try harder and to be better at every opportunity.

As I watch our community and our nation in a state of grief and unrest, it is clear that today, we are not where we need to be, and there is still so much work to do. I speak and act for all of us at Texas Children’s, and we will not stop fighting for change. Barack Obama said, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” But none of us can do this alone, so I ask you today to please join me.

We all have a role to play, and each of us can do something—on your team, in your family, or in your community. Whether you choose to march in a peaceful demonstration, commit your time, energy, and resources to an organization that fights for equality, or lobby to elect officials that are willing to fight against systemic racism and oppression – your contribution matters. But change will be a process and is not something that can be achieved overnight, but we will keep working, talking, listening, and doing. There is no silver bullet, but we will continue to do what is right, not what is easy to achieve the change that our African-American communities so rightfully deserve.

In the coming weeks and months, Texas Children’s will build upon the current diversity initiatives we have in place and will launch additional programs to support you. Our Human Resources team and Department of Psychology will share resources and information to help comfort you during these trying times. I have had so many important conversations with you over this past week, and the one thing that I have heard time and again, through your pain, confusion, and heartache, is that you need to be heard. I know speaking up can be hard, especially when we are all trying to grasp for the right words and the right sentiments to convey how we feel – but we will find a meaningful way to ensure your voice and opinions are heard. Speaking up and speaking out will help us get through this—and it will make us stronger when we reach the other side.

This week, Houston will be in the spotlight as family members, our community and national leaders come together to pay our respects to George Floyd. In his memory, I invite our Texas Children’s family to join in a moment of silence on Tuesday, June 9th, at 11:00 am. Not only to remember Mr. Floyd, his unjust death, and the countless other lives lost but to reflect on how we can move forward and how we can heal.

Shannon and I will be participating in a peaceful protest tomorrow, June 9, at 2:30 pm on the lawn of the Commons (6550 Bertner Avenue) for Scientists and Health Professionals for Black Lives. We will be wearing our masks and staying safe, but if your schedule and time permits, we welcome you to join us and urge you to wear your masks too.

Tonight we will light up our Miracle Bridge in black and yellow and will keep it lit until Juneteenth (June 19) at midnight. This is another small way for us to show our support for the Black Lives Matter movement, but we are just beginning. I am working with administrative and medical staff leaders throughout the organization on upcoming programs and plans that will help spark conversation and meaningful change. The dialogue and our work is just beginning, and you will continue to hear from me with regular updates on our progress.

I am prayerful about all that is taking place, not just for my family, but for all of the people that are being impacted, for each of you, and for our beloved organization.

Please stay safe and be good to each other.

June 1, 2020 | (29) Comments

In 1954, Texas Children’s was founded to serve all children – regardless of their race, religion, creed or ability to pay. Jim Abercrombie and Leopold Meyer set this clear intention as the guiding principle of Texas Children’s, and we have lived by those principles each and every day. At our core, we are an inclusive organization that prides ourselves on welcoming everyone – patients, families, providers and staff. We recognize our diversity and that our melting pot of cultures, religions, races and genders woven together is what creates our One Amazing Team.

The news of George Floyd’s death and the protests that ensued caused me to reflect on so many rights that I deeply value. The same rights and principles that we are blessed to live by at Texas Children’s. I acknowledge that as a white man, it is difficult for me to truly understand the pain and fear that our communities of color are experiencing – however, I still feel the pain and believe I, and each of you, have a role in ending this injustice.

It is not easy to admit that in 2020 racism is still prevalent, but it is the truth and we must all be courageous in confronting this reality. What we are seeing today is not a mere response to the tragic and wrongful deaths we have read about in the news, but it is a reaction to the lack of equality and justice that has been prevalent in American society for hundreds of years. I wholeheartedly believe that a threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

This is a turning point for our country and we must each do our part to keep us on the right track. It is our responsibility to speak up, teach our children right from wrong, lean in and have the difficult conversations, call our representatives in Congress, and LEAD. Just as Martin Luther King, Jr. did during the Civil Rights Movement, we must let our voices be heard, but we must do so without violence. The spirit of people is a sensitive part of human nature that we must nurture and not trample on.

We live in the greatest country in the world, and I choose to believe that we can rise above and create the world that we want our children to live in. I recognize that this is not an easy task but I challenge you all to take the example you are setting at Texas Children’s and spread it throughout your communities. Texas Children’s is an incredibly special place to work and it is because of the pride and respect we have in believing that our differences unite us and make us stronger. The same is true for our country. No matter your race or ethnicity, we must all work together to peacefully call out injustice and end bigotry and racism. What are you doing to help somebody today?