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.



December 15, 2018 | (27) Comments

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

October 2, 2018 | (44) Comments

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.

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.