July 12, 2019 | (15) Comments

A couple of weeks ago, I visited Austin for our New Employee Pep Rally. As most of you know, the New Employee Pep Rally is an event I’ve hosted for the past 30 years so that I can meet all of the new team members who have joined Texas Children’s in the last quarter.

I originally got the idea for these receptions from my pastor. When I joined my church many years ago, the pastor held a welcome event to meet all of the church’s newest parishioners. It was such a great way to make a big congregation feel like a tight-knit community, and I immediately knew I had made the right decision in joining this wonderful congregation.

I look forward to the New Employee Pep Rally every time it rolls around. Having the opportunity to meet our new team members who are excited to be a part of Texas Children’s energizes me and fills me with excitement every quarter – and our first event in Austin was no exception.

As I was driving to Austin on I-71, I thought to myself, “This is going to be really good!” Turns out, it was even better than I had expected! Our first pep rally at the Specialty Care facility in Austin was one of our best ever!

We officially welcomed nearly 70 new employees, physicians and staff to our one amazing team, and each of them was so excited about what we are bringing to Austin! Between the pep rally and a tour of the facility, I spent nearly two hours at the Specialty Care site and enjoyed every minute. Please scroll through the photos I’ve shared below so you can see for yourself how excited our team is and what a fantastic time we all had meeting each other.

The Austin community is also equally excited to have Texas Children’s in their own backyard. Texas Children’s Urgent Care opened in March 2018 and has already seen more than 3,000 patients this fiscal year. We have three Texas Children’s Pediatrics sites and our Specialty Care has already had over 2,300 patient encounters since its opening in October 2018. And this is only the start – our specialty services in the capital city are continuing to grow with more to come in the next few months.

When we decided to expand to Austin a couple of years ago, it was a natural extension of our mission to provide care and access to more families in Texas. This is precisely what it means to provide the right care, in the right place, at the right time. The pep rally was a great reminder that we’re not just adding new locations – we’re expanding our care, our mission, and our culture.

We are all very excited that Texas Children’s continues to grow in strength and in numbers – but, just like my pastor, I always want to make sure that every new employee knows that they are special to our organization. Each employee brings a unique skill set and personality, and all of us together contribute to our One Amazing Team and the incredible culture we have created. These new employee pep rallies bring us all together, and whether you’re based in the Texas Medical Center or 175 miles away in Austin, each of you is a part of Texas Children’s.

We’re at the beginning of something magnificent in Austin, and we’ve got a great team there leading the way.

April 9, 2019 | (35) Comments

I remember the moment like it was yesterday. When I was 10-years-old, my parents, brother, sister and I hit the road on a warm summer day and drove from our home in Oklahoma City to Anaheim, California. Throughout the two-day drive, I dreamed and fantasized about this magical place called Disneyland that I had only seen on TV. What would it look like in person? Would I enjoy the rides? Is it really the happiest place on Earth?

Our excitement was palpable as my dad drove up to the park. I was just about to jump out of my skin when we descended upon the iconic gates of the Magic Kingdom. I stood at the entrance with my family in awe and remember thinking this was the most wonderful thing that had ever happened to me. I was so happy!

My experience walking through the Magic Kingdom was even better than I imagined. The park’s grounds were spotless, the cast members were impeccably dressed and so welcoming, and Disney’s attention to every single detail was unmatched. The rides were amazing, but none compared to “It’s a Small World.”

My brother, sister and I rode it countless times … we couldn’t get enough! Every time we were in the boat gliding through the iconic scenes, I noticed something different. But, what I noticed every time and thought was special, even at a young age, was the depiction of all of the different characters from various backgrounds, all with different gifts and attributes, who were all part of one awesome world. It was so beautiful!

Now, more than 50 years later, my childhood memories are coming to life at Texas Children’s as we gear up for the launch of the Disney Team of Heroes pilot on April 17. I am instantly reminded of the feeling I got when I was 10 years old, as I recognize how special it is that we are all from different backgrounds, all with different gifts, and all an integral part of our one amazing team.

The eye-catching murals you see going up around the hospital were designed by an incredibly talented artist named Joey Chou. If you look closely, you’ll recognize the design and color schemes of his work, inspired by my favorite ride and its artist, Mary Blair. It feels like my first trip to Disneyland has come full circle.

I am immensely proud Texas Children’s was chosen as Disney’s first partner in this exciting initiative. The company’s CEO, Bob Iger, recognized what I have always known to be true – Texas Children’s is not only the preeminent place for children to receive care, but our commitment to the patient family experience is incomparable. His focus is to bring the best of Disney’s storytelling and experiences to Texas Children’s in a way that delivers comfort and inspiration to our patients and their families. I know that by working together on this pilot, we will drive our expansion efforts across our system and in other children’s hospitals across the globe as well.

Like me, many of you have similar stories and memories about your visits to a Disney park and are thrilled to watch this partnership come to fruition. My hope is that even though some of our patients and families cannot experience an actual Disney park, we will be able to bring some of the Disney magic to them – and to all of you – here at Texas Children’s.

It really is a small world, after all.

Click here to read an FAQ about our partnership with Disney.



May 23, 2018 | (2) Comments

On Tuesday, May 22, 2018, our most critically-ill patients were moved from West Tower to floors nine through 12 of the beautiful new Legacy Tower.

At 7 a.m., seven specially-trained clinical teams began safely transporting more than 45 critically-ill patients to their new, spacious, state-of-the-art critical care rooms. The amount of planning and effort behind this monumental move was almost inconceivable. More than 150 staff were involved, and the careful transfer of our patients took more than 7 hours. Once our patients and their families settled into their new spaces, our staff focused on what they do best – providing the highest quality pediatric care to our patients and their families in a new, family-focused environment.

This phase one opening of our 640,000-square-foot, 400-foot-tall Legacy Tower marks a significant milestone in our 64-year history that will help us continue to serve our patients and their families, particularly children who are critically ill and have complex needs. We are opening with six technologically advanced operating rooms – one with intraoperative MRI – and 84 ICU beds, including dedicated surgical, neuro and transitional ICU beds.

In September when phase two of Legacy Tower opens, it will be the new home of Texas Children’s Heart Center® and will include an outpatient clinic, four catheterization labs with one intraprocedural MRI, cardiovascular intensive care unit, four CVORs, and cardiology acute care beds.

While all of these enhanced clinical amenities will better enable us to care for sick children, the truly special thing about Legacy Tower is that it was built for and with the input of our patient families. During the construction process, we listened to the wants and needs of Texas Children’s patients, families and the staff who cares for them, and we implemented many of their suggestions.

We heard parents when they told us they wanted to be able to sleep in a bed next to their child instead of a chair. That they wanted to be able to take a shower without leaving their child’s room. And that they wanted peaceful places to take a break when needed, without having to leave the hospital.

We also have a therapy dog dedicated to Legacy Tower. Bailey, a lively 18-month-old Golden Retriever, will offer comfort and encouragement to our patients. My wife Shannon and I supported the addition of Bailey for the hospital’s Pawsitive Play Program to enhance the emotional well-being of our patients. Bailey will help patients feel less anxious, reduce their perception of pain and fear of the hospital and will really complement our holistic approach to care.

As a whole, we want our patients and their families to be as comfortable as possible while they are here with us, and we want our clinical teams to have the best environments in which to work and the best tools with which to care for our patients. With Legacy Tower, we will achieve all this, better than ever before.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to the realization of the opening of Legacy Tower. The leadership, the collaborative teams, the innovation and ideas from knowledgeable front line staff … all of these elements are what got us here. Together, we have taken another step to fulfill the legacy of Texas Children’s, and I walk these halls today – as should you – with immense pride. Today is a new era and a blessing, to us and to all those we will serve for decades to come. Congratulations Texas Children’s.

Click here for a video of our staff and employees sharing their thoughts about the big move!


April 30, 2018 | (7) Comments

When I became President and CEO of Texas Children’s Hospital almost 30 years ago, the Department of Surgery was a small, tight-knit group of highly skilled surgeons who operated on children with a variety of health issues.

Today, things look much the same but on a significantly larger scale. Over time, Texas Children’s Department of Surgery has become one of the largest pediatric surgery programs in the nation, spanning nine surgical divisions: Congenital Heart Surgery, Dental, Neurosurgery, Ophthalmology, Orthopedics, Otolaryngology, Pediatric Surgery, Plastic Surgery and Urology. These divisions work in conjunction with our partners in Anesthesiology, Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, and Transplant Services.

One of the main reasons for our Department of Surgery’s long-standing success is strong leadership. Beginning with our first Surgeon-in-Chief Dr. Luke W. Able, who trained under the father of pediatric surgery Dr. William E. Ladd, to Dr. Charles D. Fraser, whose focus on outstanding outcomes solidified our already stellar reputation, leadership has always been the glue that holds the department together and the force that drives it to greater heights.

I am confident we will continue this legacy and advance it even further under the leadership of the hospital’s newest Surgeon-in-Chief Dr. Larry Hollier. Dr. Hollier is an extraordinarily talented plastic surgeon who joined Texas Children’s Hospital 20 years ago after earning his medical degree from Tulane University School of Medicine and training in general and plastic surgery at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School and New York University Medical Center.

During his tenure at Texas Children’s, Dr. Hollier has led the hospital’s Plastic Surgery Division, championed patient experience organization wide, participated in a variety of global efforts and performed countless life-changing plastic and reconstructive surgeries. He is undeniably dedicated to our mission and has a burning passion for making our organization the best it can be in an ever-changing health care climate.

What sets Dr. Hollier apart even more is his focused yet humble leadership style. Rather than a top-down approach, Dr. Hollier believes in empowering sharp, nimble people in the organization to blaze their own paths. He sees his role as surgeon-in-chief not as being in charge, but as taking care of the people in his charge. Yet, he can also make the thoughtful and sometimes difficult decisions needed to help move the department and the organization forward.

I appreciate that he is such a bold and decisive leader with a keen and natural ability to consider the entire Texas Children’s system. Dr. Hollier perceives Texas Children’s as a team of teams, and I like that. His thinking and his approach is vital to the continued growth of our organization and to our long-term efforts to improve patient access and coordinated care.

I am excited to see what great things Dr. Hollier does at Texas Children’s in the years to come. He already has contributed so much. Please join me in congratulating him on his new post.