In my 27 years at Texas Children’s Hospital, we have been blessed to cut the ribbon and open the doors to a number of brand new, state-of-the-art facilities designed to care for every need of our patients, families, staff and employees. But perhaps one of the most surreal of those openings was that of Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women on March 23, 2012.
That day was an incredible culmination of events that started in 2005, believe it or not, over a casual cup of coffee with David Fine, then-President and CEO of St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital. As David and I were talking, he suggested that St. Luke’s was ready to shift away from women’s services. I immediately and literally raised my hand and said, “I want in. We’ll take it.”
I knew that no organization in the U.S. had conjoined a leading children’s hospital with a women’s hospital providing ob/gyn, maternal fetal medicine and other women’s services. This was a really big, novel idea that, honestly, a lot of people hesitated to embrace. But fortunately, Texas Children’s Board, leaders, staff and employees are not like most people. We thrive when challenged, and for us, the ability to conceive a vision is simply the first step in fulfilling it.
So this seemingly impossible idea quickly became a reality that our Board and leadership were passionately pursuing. Within a couple years of that fateful cup of coffee with David, we were starting construction. Texas Children’s Hospital was building Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women … and our mission became that much bigger.
As with everything we pursue, we always ensure exceptional leadership to guide us, and the Pavilion for Women was another result of a stellar leadership team. I transferred what began as an idea and a vision to the leadership of then-Executive Vice President Ann Stern, Women’s Services Senior Vice President Cris Daskevich, Bellows Construction President Laura Bellows, FKP Architects CEO Diane Osan and philanthropist Laura Arnold.
What a blessing it was to have five incredibly talented and dedicated women to lead and make the dream of the Pavilion for Women a stunning reality. There were many other women – throughout Texas Children’s and in the Houston community – involved in guiding and evolving ideas for the design and experience of the Pavilion for Women, and I’ve no doubt that made all the difference in the world.
The day before we were set to have our grand opening of the Pavilion for Women, I remember pausing for a moment to really take in what we had done. Even my grandest dreams paled in comparison to the lovely reality of the Pavilion for Women and that amazing Miracle Bridge. Opening the Pavilion for Women would be a historic milestone, not just for Texas Children’s, but for health care – our conjoined children’s hospital-women’s hospital model was unique then, and to date, it still is.
By the end of fiscal year 2012, just shy of six months after the opening, the Pavilion for Women had already had 408,000 patient encounters and more than 2,000 births, including 73 sets of multiples. We now have more than 6,000 births a year with 20 percent of those being high-risk cases, and to date, we have had 27,000 births, 907 multiples and 16,000 surgeries. Amazing. Some might say the Pavilion for Women is working out pretty well for Texas Children’s Hospital.
And as we continue on this incredible journey and trajectory, I am confident it will keep getting better and better. Inevitably we will continue to grow. We had the foresight to build the Pavilion such that we could expand another eight floors to meet the demands of our increasing patient volume. So I would venture to say that another vertical expansion is sometime in our future, which will allow us to grow our women’s services programs.
Seeing all of the events, stories, videos and photos marking the Pavilion’s five-year anniversary this week has been simply wonderful. It is a terrific reminder of how big we can dream. But I have always said, we are not trying to be the biggest in Houston. We are on a deliberate and ambitious path to be the best in the world.