A Year to Remember

In 1953 Driscoll Children's Hospital opened its doors to the children of South Texas thanks to the generosity and vision of founder Clara Driscoll. For 60 years, with the health and well-being of children at the heart of our mission, Driscoll Children's Hospital has provided high-quality healthcare in an environment of trust, compassion and care. As we celebrated our 60th anniversary, we were blessed with continuous growth, eye-catching renovations and child-friendly additions, making 2013 "A Year to Remember."

Ribbon-cutting held for Driscoll's NICU Family Support Program

Informational books and materials are available to families in the NICU Family Support Program located outside of Driscoll's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Aug. 15 for the new NICU Family Support Program at Driscoll Children's Hospital. The purpose of the program, a nationwide initiative by the March of Dimes, is to provide information and comfort to families of premature babies and other critically ill newborns being cared for in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

Incorporating NICU families into every level of the program, March of Dimes NICU Family Support addresses the needs of families throughout hospitalization, during the transition home and in the event of a newborn death. The program also includes a professional development component to provide hospital NICU staff with support and educational opportunities.

With expansion comes new Laredo office for Driscoll Health Plan

Representatives from Driscoll Health Plan and the city of Laredo attended the ribbon-cutting for Driscoll Health Plan's new Laredo office.

Laredo Mayor Raul Salinas and representatives from the Laredo Chamber of Commerce joined officials from Driscoll Health Plan (DHP) in February to celebrate the opening of their new Laredo office at 1705 Del Mar Blvd.

The 1,245-square-foot office is used by DHP to conduct provider relations, community outreach and social work. It is the result of DHP's 2012 expansion into the Hidalgo Service Delivery Area (SDA), which includes the counties of Cameron, Duval, Hidalgo, Jim Hogg, Maverick, McMullen, Starr, Webb, Willacy and Zapata.

"We are pleased to have an office in Laredo for our staff as well as a place for healthcare providers to meet with us," said Mary Dale Peterson, MD, MSHCA, chief executive officer of DHP. "The physicians of Laredo have been wonderful to work with. The expansion is just another example of Driscoll Health Plan's commitment to this area."

Renovations in Dialysis Clinic benefit patients and staff

As a result of recent renovations, patients such as 8-year-old Lindsey Leal receive dialysis in a more spacious, comfortable environment.

With the goal of enhancing current space for patients and providing better functionality for staff, the Dialysis Clinic at Driscoll Children's Hospital began undergoing renovations in 2013. In addition to making the space brighter and more child-friendly with new furniture, colorful decorations and more, the area was expanded and new equipment was installed.

The clinic, which opened in 2004, includes four dialysis stations and one isolation station. All five dialysis machines were upgraded and a new water purification system was relocated from its previous location within the clinic to one floor below the clinic.

"With the new system located downstairs, we were able to expand the area to include improved work stations, more counter space and more storage," said Britt Stone, dialysis coordinator. "This really opened up the area, providing patients with increased comfort and creating more space for staff to move around."

In fact, the space more than doubled and now includes a new nurses' station in the middle of the room that allows staff to continually monitor patients and the dialysis machines while checking charts or other paperwork. A new medication room, as well as a new tube station that connects the clinic with the Laboratory and Pharmacy-both located in a different part of the hospital-provides staff with everything they need in close proximity.

"We're proud of these new additions that have allowed us to improve the patient experience," said Stone.

Driscoll opens Maternal-Fetal Medicine Clinic in Laredo

At the open house in Laredo Oct. 16, Driscoll Children's Hospital physicians were joined by the mayor of Laredo and local OB/GYNs.

On Oct. 16, Driscoll Children's Hospital hosted an open house at their new Maternal-Fetal Medicine Clinic at 6423 McPherson Rd., Suite 13. Driscoll physicians, including maternal-fetal medicine specialists, a pediatric cardiologist and a neonatologist, were joined by local physicians, as well as Laredo Mayor Raul G. Salinas, to celebrate the new clinic. Driscoll's maternal-fetal medicine staff is excited about this endeavor and looks forward to collaborating with local obstetricians in providing the highest level of care to women in the Laredo area.

Patients create atmosphere with new features in Radiology

With the new X-ray/fluoroscopy unit that was installed in Driscoll's Radiology Room 5 this past spring came an ambient lighting system that enables patients to choose the color of the room. It also helps to ease their anxiety and enhance their overall experience in Radiology, as well as improve workflow in the department.

"Any time you give children control, they become calmer," said Ernest Chavez, director of Radiology Services. "They like it when you ask them if they want to change the color of the room. Parents like to change it sometimes too."

On a wall-mounted keypad, the lighting can be set to one color - usually the patient's favorite - or to alternating colors. The room is serene and mesmerizing as it's bathed in red, yellow, blue, green, orange and violet light.

The Radiology Department plans to incorporate ambient lighting in all X-ray rooms, Chavez said, and the computed tomography (CT) and nuclear medicine rooms will also be outfitted soon. In addition, ambient lighting will be installed in all three ultrasound rooms during future remodeling. The lighting system is funded by proceeds from the 2013 Fiesta de los Niños.

New MRI suite eases patients' anxiety

The newly renovated magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) suite at Driscoll Children's Hospital saw its first patients in late October 2013. The state-of-the-art suite could have come from the Starship Enterprise, with its streamlined architecture, new, larger magnet and features that allow patients to choose sights, sounds and even movies while they undergo an MRI, which typically takes 45 minutes to an hour.

By allowing children to control their environment when they may be nervous about a procedure helps them become calmer. The new magnet with a 70-centimeter bore is extremely beneficial; patients can more easily see their parents while the MRI is being performed, Driscoll's technical and medical staff have easier access to the patient, it lessens the potential for claustrophobic feelings and it can accommodate larger patients.

"With this equipment, an MRI can be a pleasant experience rather than one that may be scary to a child," said Driscoll radiologist Allister Arnold, MD. "At the same time, procedures can be done more efficiently."

Additional and customizable features in the MRI suite:

  • A projection system that displays moving, child-friendly images in different themes, including sky, underwater and jungle.
  • Ambient lighting that allows the patient to choose the color of the lighting in the suite.
  • A 32-inch, flat-screen TV that displays a movie chosen by the patient.
  • Headphones to listen to movies or music chosen by the patient.

Renovated Cardiology Clinic includes rooms with 'wow' factor

Child-friendly murals in each exam room encourage patients to stay active and lead healthy lives.

On June 20, the Pediatric Cardiology Department held an open house for its newly renovated clinic located in the Health Center building at Driscoll Children's Hospital. The 4,930-square-foot clinic is three times the size of the previous clinic, said Judy Vest, RN, clinic director. It's spacious, with plenty of rooms, new colors and equipment and a child-friendly theme throughout.

Approximately 400 patients are seen and treated each month in the Pediatric Cardiology Clinic, Vest said. To accommodate them, the new clinic includes two triage rooms, three echocardiogram rooms and eight exam rooms.

Inside each individually colored room, murals depict children engaged in healthy activities such as fishing and playing soccer.

"We want kids to have a 'wow' experience when they come into the rooms," Vest said.

Other additions to the clinic are an electrocardiogram (EKG) room, an ergonomically designed bed for use during echocardiograms and TVs that serve to distract and entertain patients during echocardiograms, Vest said.

Renovated playroom is designed to make hospital stays more pleasant

The renovated playroom's environment and activities allow patients to take their minds off of their hospital stay.

In February 2013, Driscoll Children's Hospital and Stripes officials unveiled a renovated playroom on the fourth floor of the hospital. The area was renovated in an ongoing effort to reduce anxiety for young patients and make their hospital stay more pleasant.

An interior designer helped plan the renovation, and the playroom was stocked with children of all ages in mind.

"The new playroom creates a non-threatening environment that will decrease patients' anxiety and aid them in coping with hospitalization," said Michelle Goodman, director of 4th Tower and the Stripes Child Life Department at Driscoll Children's Hospital.

Renovations were made possible by Stripes convenience stores' $1 million donation in 2009.

New amenities include:

  • Media center with flat-screen TV and game systems
  • Computer
  • Play kitchen
  • Custom-designed infant/toddler mat
  • Toys, games, puzzles
  • Arts & crafts

The playroom also features medical play equipment, including a stretcher, IV pole and hospital bedside table.

H-E-B Kids' Market unveiled

The H-E-B Kids' Market can be utilized to address treatment goals in physical, occupational and speech therapy.

The H-E-B Kids' Market at Driscoll Children's Hospital opened in January 2013 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony in the Rehabilitation Services Department. Officials from Driscoll and H-E-B were on hand and children were cued up to begin shopping in the kid-sized grocery store. The market, with its mini grocery carts, shelves of food, plastic produce and check-out stand, offers many therapeutic possibilities for Driscoll's rehabilitation patients.

"The market helps us create a series of activities that children will encounter in the real world," said Susan Fields, director of Driscoll's Rehabilitation Services Department. "It will allow them to have fun and learn at the same time. Children learn best when they don't know they're working."

In addition to a grocery store, the H-E-B Kids' Market at Driscoll features a play kitchen with a refrigerator, working sink and washer and dryer.

Approximately 1,500 children have benefited from the H-E-B Kids' Market in its first year.

H-E-B Kids' Market is a hit with patients

Since the H-E-B Kids' Market opened in January 2013, it has become a favorite place for patients like 4-year-old Sara Flores.

"She likes to put groceries in her cart and use the play kitchen," said Sara's mom, Laura Flores. "As she gets older, she'll be able to do these things in everyday life."

Sara was born with spina bifida, a condition in which the bones of the spine do not form properly; leg braces and a little walker enable her to get around. Navigating the aisles of the
H-E-B Kids' Market with a grocery cart, and using the mini-kitchen are helping Sara become more independent, said Susan Fields, Rehabilitation Services Department director.

"Sara is working the whole time and she loves it. Every time she experiences success and is able to repeat that movement her confidence improves and her ability to move around her own home environment improves."

Driscoll welcomes new physicians

A new physician joining Driscoll Children's Hospital is always a cause for celebration. During this landmark year we were fortunate to be joined by these talented physicians.

Dilachew Adebo, MD - Cardiology
Elizabeth Anyaegbu, MD - Nephrology
Sergio Bartakian, MD - Cardiology
Emily Becker, MD - Dermatology
Gary J. Butchko, MD - Cardiology
Anna Gonzalez, MD - Maternal-Fetal Medicine
Ben A. Leeson, MD - Emergency Medicine
Kimberly Leeson, MD - Emergency Medicine
Melissa Mizesko, MD - Pediatric Rheumatology
Maria Narcise, MD - Pediatrics
Ana M. Paez, MD - Endocrinology
Gerardo D. Sanchez, MD - Neonatology
Mathew Steehler, MD - Surgery
Adrienne Tinana, MD - Allergy & Immunology
Kenneth R. Velleman, MD - Anesthesiology
Shaye Walston, DO - Pediatrics
Kerry Yancy, MD - Pediatrics, Emergency Medicine
Ningxi Zhu, MD - Allergy & Immunology

  Committed to improving health

Historically, Driscoll Health Plan (DHP) has been a community leader in healthcare innovation. From 2012 - 2013, DHP continued its efforts to further develop programs aimed at improving health.

Understanding that early intervention can be important to improving healthcare outcomes, DHP continuously looks for ways to ensure that children and adolescents receive their well-care visits on time and that immunizations are provided to protect against preventable childhood diseases.

Childhood immunization

It is important to ensure children have access to well-care visits and immunizations that are essential to their development and overall health. DHP consistently strives to help members manage healthcare and to be a leader in the healthcare industry. Recognizing the critical importance of timely immunizations to mitigate risk of specific diseases, DHP exceeded state and national averages and achieved the highest percentage of childhood immunizations for the State of Texas during 2012.

7-day follow-ups after discharge for mental illness

To ensure effectiveness of treatment, rehabilitation and follow-ups are a vital part of the care cycle for patients, for any medical condition. Mental illnesses are equally as important as physical illnesses and require detailed and thorough monitoring to ensure treatment plans are adequate and effective. Through close partnership with the many network providers, DHP aggressively managed 7-day follow-ups after discharge for mental illness, dramatically exceeding state averages. DHP exceeded state and national averages in this category and achieved the highest percentage of 7-day follow-ups after hospitalization for mental illness for the State of Texas during 2012.

Well-child visits 3, 4, 5 and 6 years of age

Early childhood is a critical time in human development. By exceeding state averages for early well-child visits, DHP, along with the associated primary care providers, has been proactively engaging young patients and providing timely assessment for potential at-risk health issues, while simultaneously working with families to educate them on healthy lifestyle initiatives. DHP achieved the second highest percentage in the State of Texas in this measure.

Adolescent well-care visits

DHP continued to exceed the state and national averages for adolescent well-care visits by partnering with both the providers and members to ensure that they received their well-care visits on time. It is through this partnership that DHP is able to stimulate the dialogue to help aid members in establishing and maintaining nutrition and physical activities that will sustain healthy patterns well into adulthood. DHP achieved the second highest percentage in the State of Texas in this measure.