July 2, 2016 | (3) Comments

Like most of you, I look forward to the holidays and all the traditions – and good food – that go along with most of them. In fact, some of my fondest memories from childhood specifically revolve around July 4th – or Independence Day – and the grand, all-day festivities my family and I enjoyed with our church congregation. I feel blessed to have such amazing memories.

While I most certainly will think of those wonderful summer celebrations from time to time this weekend, I cannot help but linger a bit on the origin of this holiday and what it really means to us.

As we all learn in grade school history, Independence Day honors the birth of our great country. In June 1776, representatives of America’s 13 colonies contemplated a resolution to declare independence from Great Britain. On July 2, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and the Declaration of Independence was drafted by Thomas Jefferson.

Nearly 90 changes were made to the draft before the Continental Congress adopted the final version on July 4, 1776. This extraordinary document has continued to serve and guide us for 240 years. What an incredible, enduring legacy.

As we celebrate Independence Day, remembering that feels so empowering. The spirit of those who birthed this fledgling country and established its foundation demonstrates the power of a great vision and the strength of people bound to fulfill a common dream. Our country’s founding reminds us that being American is such an honor, as well as a responsibility to carry that pioneering spirit forward.

The story of Texas Children’s founding is similarly inspiring. We, too, had forefathers with a great vision and pioneering spirit. Driven by the same type of ambitions that spurred our country’s leaders nearly 200 years prior, our founders helped establish the little hospital that would become one of the best in the world, renowned for advancing care and leading medical breakthroughs.

Today, we are so fortunate to be the beneficiaries of both legacies – that of our country’s founders as well as Texas Children’s founders. From them, we inherited the freedom to aspire, create, build and achieve. It is an honor for the nearly 14,000 of us to stand on those two legacies, bound by Texas Children’s mission of creating a healthier future for children and women all over the world.

Good food on the 4th is most certainly something I relish, but what I cherish and embrace today and everyday is the freedom to make a difference that will endure for generations.

Happy, blessed Independence Day to all!

August 17, 2015 | (17) Comments

“The best companies in the world are those that have outstanding frontline leadership.”

That’s no. 10 of my Maxims of Leadership, and it is evidenced every single day at Texas Children’s. Our organization, which is innovating and growing at such an amazing pace, is propelled by our people. Our incredible staff and employees are why we are one of the best organizations in the world. Recently, when I had an opportunity to visit with our Emergency Center preceptors, I enjoyed being reminded yet again just how true Maxim no. 10 is.

By definition, a preceptor is a teacher responsible for upholding a certain law or tradition – a precept. Our preceptors throughout the organization are the nurses who train new nurses to care for our patients, upholding our high standard of care. Just in the EC, our preceptors have trained 47 nurses and eight emergency medical technicians (EMTs) since October 1 – 13,900 hours spent training and teaching in less than a year. Across the organization, we’ve had about 1,100 clinical orientees since October 1 who’ve received more than 280,000 hours of training. As you can see, our preceptors are making an awesome contribution.

Our preceptors in units throughout Texas Children’s impart wisdom and practices that can’t be found in textbooks or taught in a classroom. They nurture our culture and create a sense of warmth, security and family for nurses who are just starting out and getting a foothold in their careers. This instills confidence and inspires excellence, helping ensure that our new nurses transition more seamlessly into our organization.

Essentially, like all good teachers, preceptors give their “students” a model to which to aspire. And the really great teachers know something else that’s just as important – they know when and how to give their students the space to grow and demonstrate just how much and how well they’ve learned. Actually, I like the way Carrie Stocker puts it. Carrie is a nurse who joined us a few months ago and recently completed orientation with three awesome preceptors. She explains it like this:

Preceptors must master the art of dancing. My preceptors knew when to lead and when to follow. The best dance partners know each other and each other’s movements really well so they can make adjustments in the moment. My preceptors’ constant adjustment from leading to following ensured for my maximum growth. By providing a gradual release of responsibility, my preceptors first took the lead and then smoothly and confidently allowed me to take the reins. They had equipped me quickly with the skills I needed to be able to dance with the stars here at TCH!  

Well said Carrie. There is absolutely an art to leading and following and knowing when to do which.

The time that our preceptors spend teaching and molding new nurses fortifies the organization in immeasurable, yet very tangible ways. And quite honestly, that’s true of every single person here – clinical and non-clinical – who takes the time to help teach a colleague a new skill or a better or more efficient practice. As Texas Children’s continues to grow at such a staggering rate, we rely on everyone’s willingness to do that. And I get it – some days, that’s hard. Our patient volume is growing, we have more patients with higher acuity, and we feel that across the organization. Daily, we balance that with training and teaching all the new Texas Children’s staff and employees we are aggressively onboarding to help us care for all of those precious patients. All told, our workforce of 10,000 will grow to 15,000 in three years – yes, 50 percent.

But the way I see it, this growth in volume and workforce is an amazing opportunity to serve our mission. The reason we are blessed with all of you – staff and employees who are hands down the very best at what you do – is because we are meant to use every person and every gift we have to fulfill our mission. We are meant to mold others and to advance care. We are meant to heal children and women for years to come. That’s why it’s so very important to share our gifts and inspire our people. It’s what we’ve always done, and it’s why we’re one of the best organizations in the world.

July 3, 2015 | (11) Comments

Anyone who sits with me long enough is bound to hear a story or two about my upbringing in the church. Some of my best memories as a child are of times spent there with my family. One of my absolute favorite memories is of our church’s Fourth of July picnic at Odom Lake.

It was one of the grandest events of the year for our church, and all the families would come. In total, about 400 or 500 of us turned out. The ladies all brought coleslaw, potato salad and other side dishes, and the church provided the fried chicken or barbecue. And every single family had their White Mountain ice cream maker in tow. I remember how my brother Greg and I would take turns making the ice cream – he’d sit on top while I cranked, and then we’d switch. We always made either vanilla, banana or peach ice cream.

I loved how generations of families were there – grandparents, parents and all the kids. We’d play softball, volleyball and horseshoes, and it was just a really good time. One of the parts that amazed me most was what happened after dinner. As the sun set, Brother Hugh Bumpas, our pastor, would wade into the water, as the entire congregation gathered along the banks of Odom Lake.

Brother Bumpas would give a sermon, always acknowledging our courageous military men and women, and we’d sing patriotic songs before he began the baptisms. He would baptize about 25 or 30 people every year, right there in the lake on the Fourth of July, and I always thought that was pretty awesome.

Then once it was dark, the fireworks show started. Everybody settled down on their blankets with their families, and we’d watch the fireworks light up the sky and crackle down over the lake. The show went on for about an hour, and it was the best ever. Celebrating the Fourth of July is one of my best childhood memories. The fireworks, the families, the friends … the freedom to fellowship just as we pleased. It’s something I think about every year as we acknowledge our country’s Independence Day.

My family joined hundreds of other Baptist families by that lake to celebrate in a way that was special to us. And all over the nation, every year, other families celebrate this same holiday in countless ways that are meaningful to them. That’s one of the strengths of our great nation. We were founded on principles of freedom. The freedom to dream and to pursue what’s important to each one of us. And our country became great because we grew into a place where dreams could be fulfilled in a way that they could not be elsewhere. Our founding fathers pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor in support of these freedoms.

Texas Children’s Hospital began in much the same way. Our founding fathers, Jim Abercrombie and Leopold L. Meyer, committed a generous amount of their fortunes to found Texas Children’s in 1954 with the conviction that every sick or hurt child could come here for care, regardless of race, religion or ability to pay. More than 60 years ago, they had the vision and embraced the freedom to create a place where healing was not limited, where all would be welcome. And to this day, we are still deeply rooted in this belief.

Every day, we advance that legacy by pledging our sacred honor to care for all the children, women and families who come to us for help and healing. So when I think about the Fourth of July, my mind immediately goes to the food, fun and fellowship we enjoyed by that lake so many years ago. But what settles in my heart today is a deep appreciation for the freedom we all enjoy to strive for whatever we define as the American dream.

Happy Fourth of July and God bless.

June 26, 2015 | (2) Comments

What a great time I had visiting with the West Campus staff and employees at the One Mission, One Culture, One Amazing Team event recently. We had two sessions on Monday, and I enjoyed the wonderful energy all the West Campus folks brought with them that morning.

Check out this short video of some of the fun we had that day.

I visit our West Campus as often as I can because it is always a treat. I love being on the beautiful campus and thinking about what a great part of the Texas Children’s story the West Campus is.

The West Campus leadership team shows team spirit.
The West Campus leadership team shows team spirit.

We opened our doors for outpatient care there in December of 2010, and inpatient care opened in spring 2011. Almost immediately, the West Campus became one of the fastest-growing entities of the Texas Children’s system. Now, to keep up with the increasing demand for the exceptional services at the West Campus, we’re in the midst of a $50 million capital improvement project focused on expanding inpatient and ambulatory capacity and hospital infrastructure.

Of course, the success at the West Campus is due in no small part to the people who work there. Within a relatively short time, the campus embraced and nurtured the Texas Children’s culture of excellence. So it’s always such a good feeling to be there. And I can really say that about all of our Texas Children’s locations, because I know that same amazing Texas Children’s culture and team spirit run deeply throughout every part of Texas Children’s, at every single location. That’s why I’m so excited to get out to each of our facilities starting next month.

Beginning July 6, I’m taking One Mission, One Culture, One Amazing Team on the road. I’m starting with our facilities in North Houston, and I’m making my way around to all of our Texas Children’s Pediatrics practices, Texas Children’s Health Centers, The Center for Children and Women locations and Texas Children’s Urgent Care sites.

I’ll continue the tour throughout the summer and fall until I’ve visited every location. I’m bringing copies of the Magic Book of Maxims – an illustrated children’s book sharing my leadership maxims – and a few other treats as well. And I’m coming in one of our bright, brand new Texas Children’s shuttles.

I’ll be taking pictures and video and posting updates here on the blog, so check back to see where I’ve been and where I’m headed next – it might be your location! No matter where I stop, I know it’s going to be a great time, and I can’t wait to see all of you.