February 24, 2020 | (4) Comments

In honor of American Heart Month, I’d like to tell you about Marcus Banda, a young man who was born with congestive heart failure.

At just 6 months old, Marcus was referred to Texas Children’s Heart Center where he was diagnosed with a condition requiring open heart surgery and annual follow-up visits with our cardiology team.

Thanks to the care of our congenital heart surgeons and cardiologists, Marcus is now a healthy 19 year old who firmly believes if he and his family had not wound up at Texas Children’s, he might not have made it.

Patients like Marcus come to Texas Children’s Heart Center every day in hopes of getting answers to their often complex medical needs. We welcome them and their families with open arms, and we are more often than not, able to help them due to our more than half a century of experience and expertise in caring for children’s hearts.

Ranked No. 1 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, Texas Children’s Heart Center sees more than 23,000 patients and performs more than 800 surgeries a year. Our Heart Center physicians and surgeons, and academic faculty at Baylor College of Medicine, are world-renowned leaders in pediatric cardiology, congenital heart surgery, cardiovascular anesthesiology and cardiac intensive care.

Our path to helping so many children with complex congenital heart conditions began shortly after Texas Children’s opened its doors in 1954. From the start, we were paving the way in pediatric cardiology and heart surgery, pioneering many of the now-standard procedures and therapies related to the diagnosis and treatment of children with cardiac problems.

As a leader in cardiology and heart surgery, we are committed to setting a new standard for the treatment of children and adults with congenital heart disease, and to continue developing innovative therapies for patients with these conditions.

One important part of our current and future efforts is our Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program. Led by esteemed cardiologist Dr. Peter Ermis as medical director, and Dr. Edward Hickey, a leading cardiovascular surgeon as surgical director, the program enables patients with congenital heart disease to receive seamless continuation of care from birth throughout adulthood.

As pediatric patients with congenital heart defects transition into adulthood, our multidisciplinary team of specialists advises patients on health and lifestyle choices for their adult needs. The hospital’s ACHD Program is accredited by the Adult Congenital Heart Association (ACHA) and is one of only three accredited programs in Texas.

Each year, more than 2,000 adults with congenital heart disease are seen in our clinic – in fact, our oldest current patient is 86 years old. This number is quickly growing and we are ready to accommodate all patients and walk hand-in-hand with them through adulthood.

Marcus is on his way to being one of these patients. His care team at the Heart Center are transitioning him into our ACHD program, where he will be cared for by experts who understand congenital heart disease and the complications it can cause in adults. Best of all, Marcus doesn’t have to leave Texas Children’s and those who have cared for him since he was a baby just because he reached a certain age.

This continuation of care is a relief to Marcus and his family. To me, it’s the right thing to do – a mantra we live by here at Texas Children’s. Doing the right thing for our patients and our families is our main goal and I appreciate everyone’s efforts in the Heart Center and across the organization in keeping this top of mind and at the core of everything you do.

August 5, 2019 | (2) Comments

A few weeks ago, you probably saw the U.S. News and World Report 2019-2020 Best Children’s Hospitals ranking and honor roll. We were all simply thrilled that Texas Children’s Hospital continues to be ranked among the best in the nation.

We were ranked even higher this year, tying for third place among all children’s hospitals nationally. And for the first time, Texas Children’s is ranked in the top 10 in each of the pediatric sub-specialties the survey assesses. Six of our sub-specialties were ranked in the top 3 – two are ranked #1, two are ranked #2, and another two are ranked #3.

Now I’ll admit, these rankings are just fantastic! I’m always proud of the attention they bring to our focus on exceptional care. But without a doubt, our patients are the winners here, because the survey measures things that, ultimately, are really significant for our patients and their families.

The survey factors in patient outcomes, such as mortality and infection rates, available clinical resources, and compliance with best practices. So when our rankings improve overall or in any category, it demonstrates that we’re not just striving to be better, we actually are better. And better care and exceptional outcomes are huge wins for our patients.

For example, last year our CLABSI rates were some of our lowest ever. We continued to make big strides in the reduction of hospital-acquired pressure injuries. An ongoing system-wide push from nursing helped recruit and retain more outstanding caregivers, ensuring we have the proper nurse-patient ratio at all times. Our Department of Radiology worked rapidly and tirelessly to earn a new ultrasound accreditation. And our IS department worked side by side with operations and clinicians to implement a new information-sharing system that allowed us to exchange patient health information more seamlessly with other institutions. All of these house-wide improvements were noted in the surveyors’ assessment as factors in our ranking this year.

I shared our sub-specialty rankings with you last month, but I want you to know what they really mean, beyond the numbers. Starting today on Connect and for the next several weeks, we’re spotlighting each of our 10 sub-specialty areas ranked in the recent U.S. News survey to share details about the improvements, programs, and advancements that garnered these impressive results.

There’s some incredible work happening across all 10 of these sub-specialties and throughout our organization, and the real excitement is how our gains in the rankings translate to better outcomes for our patients. When we have a strong showing on any survey that examines the care we provide, it’s another reminder that our focus is exactly where it should be.

March 27, 2019 | (11) Comments

For the next couple weeks, between the NCAA playoffs and the regular NBA season games, basketball fans like me will relish the daily dose of both young and seasoned athletes exhibiting extraordinary skills on the court. I love this game and the excitement around it this time of year. And one of the things I enjoy more than seeing my favorite teams win is seeing how they win. Good basketball games are fast-paced, and when the score is tight and the clock is winding down, you see talent and teamwork at its finest.

One of my absolute favorite illustrations of that teamwork is the Dream Team – the 1992 Olympic men’s basketball team that brought together some of the greatest players the game of basketball will ever know. Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Clyde Drexler, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, Larry Bird, John Stockton, Karl Malone … just amazing.

They were coached by Chuck Daly, who was the head coach of the Pistons at the time. He had a couple of championships under his belt, and even though he built a roster of all-stars, he knew that didn’t make them invincible. In fact, his biggest concern from the start was how to get this team of all-stars to shelve their egos and play as a team.

Chuck had an idea. He had his group of NBA greats scrimmage against a team of NCAA college players just before their first Olympic qualifying game. And even though it’s still pretty hard to fathom, they lost. This team of incredibly gifted NBA players lost – and it was embarrassing. How did it happen? Chuck threw the game. He didn’t make adjustments or sub players. He just let them go for it out there on the court – awkwardly, disjointedly and, at times, even sloppily, each athlete playing to his own rhythm.

Chuck wanted them to see and experience that anybody can get beaten. Even a team of all-stars. He reminded them they would be competing against international players who were even better than the college players who’d just delivered that embarrassing loss. And he wanted them to be clear that they always have to be ready to play and play well.

So they got serious. Michael Jordan went to every single player and vowed he’d check his ego at the door, and he wanted them to do the same. They started practicing really hard and had some knock-down, drag-out scrimmages in Monte Carlo. Sportswriters have even described those scrimmages as some of the best games we’ll never see. Those relentless practices and their collective, unwavering focus removed the walls. Rivalries disappeared. They became friends and solid teammates.

By the time the team arrived in Barcelona for the 1992 Olympic Games, they were beyond prepared. That summer, the world watched their hard work and team dynamic pay off. In fact, they dominated every game, winning by an average of 50 points over their opponents. And, of course, you know the rest … Team USA walked away with the gold and a crushing record.

I enjoy reliving this story every time I happen to catch The Dream Team documentary on ESPN. It’s inspiring, and it makes me think about our very own all-star dream team at Texas Children’s. We have unparalleled nurses, physicians, employees, leaders and facilities, and we have an incredible reputation. But we do not rest and rely on that reputation. We work hard daily to elevate children’s and women’s health care to the next level.

I like this story about the Dream Team because, well, I love basketball. But secondly, it really is the ultimate example of how relentless determination, work ethic and teamwork pay off. It reminds us that as good as we are individually, we are exceptional as a team. And it’s about not losing focus just because you’re ahead of the game. Leads can vanish. Anyone can be beaten. We must always maintain our focus and commitment to Texas Children’s mission. We can never underestimate or be unprepared for the inevitable challenges that lie ahead. Ours is One Amazing Dream Team, and we’ve got to stay ready to play.

March 1, 2019 | (1) Comments

For decades, Texas Children’s has been a leader in pediatric healthcare with the quality of patient care and safety at the heart of everything we do. Being a leader is a journey – one that we must work hard at each and every day, continuously striving to improve and to set new standards of excellence to meet the ever-evolving needs of the patients and families we serve.

As part of this journey, several initiatives – including our patient access initiative – have been implemented across our health system to generate a positive impact on our patients and their families. Referring physicians are taking notice as well. Our efforts to improve access are ongoing and were recently validated by the Harris County Medical Society when they released the results of their physician satisfaction survey last week.

The survey was completed by 3,900 physicians and provided results for 24 Houston-area hospitals, including two of our campuses. And without a doubt, Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus and Texas Children’s Hospital Medical Center Campus are the No. 1 and No. 4 highest ranking hospitals in Harris County!

According to survey results, we earned these rankings for overall satisfaction, and both campuses were in the top one or two spots in several of the survey’s categories, including:

  • Referral Processes and Procedures
  • Electronic Medical Records
  • Access to Care
  • Prioritization of Quality and Safety
  • Code of Conduct and Peer Review Process
  • Leadership

I have no doubt these sentiments are the direct result of the work we have done to standardize clinic sessions, implement direct scheduling, create an electronic waitlist, and streamline our referral process, among many others. And I’m confident that our ongoing efforts will continue progressing on this positive track.

As you all know, I firmly believe that “leadership always influences or determines outcomes – not some of the time, but all of the time.” The survey results highlight our leaders’ determination and acute focus on driving successful outcomes year after year while we simultaneously expand and lead the charge of accelerating health care.

The relationships we build and nurture with area physicians are a critical part of that. Those relationships are built on trust and are strengthened by consistent excellence. These survey results provide valuable insights into the physicians’ perceptions of Texas Children’s, and our dynamic with them broadens our access to the children and women in our community.

Dr. Bernard Gerber, President of the Harris County Medical Society, congratulated us on these spectacular results, and I am thrilled to pass that on to you. Congratulations and thank you for all of your efforts to constantly elevate our quality of care. This is a tremendous accomplishment and confirms the exceptional work done by our one amazing team every day.

Texas Children’s Hospital compared to other area hospitals on each question.

Texas Children’s Hospital Report 2018 vs. 2017

Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus Report 2018 vs. 2017