DCH News

About Us

Fun, therapy combined in new park at Driscoll

May 20, 2011
CORPUS CHRISTI - The new Rehab Therapy Park at Driscoll Children's Hospital is a ton of fun for the children who use it. It's a colorful, outdoor playground with a wooden bridge, a merry-go-round, garden planters, an activity board and benches. There are even misting fans and shade canvases above. For Driscoll's physical, occupational and speech therapists, it's the perfect place to let their patients have fun while providing them individualized therapy.

"A team of therapists came together and thought about what we would need to complement what we already had in our Rehab Department," said Anna Cerda, P.T., outpatient rehabilitation manager. "The park was one idea. It simulates the community environment and gives the therapists additional tools to provide the best therapy possible."

The Rehab Therapy Park was constructed this year with $140,000 from community support. It's one of several new features that have greatly enhanced the rehabilitation therapy program at Driscoll, which currently serves about 2,500 children.

Almost everything in the park has a therapeutic purpose, Cerda said. The bridge is designed to be wobbly, which challenges children to use muscles in a way they may not be used to. The merry-go-round is used to help children who have movement disorders, decreased strength or difficulty with head control and range of motion.

Some of the features aren't obviously therapeutic. The surface is covered by playground-type rubber with cobblestone and flagstone paths. For children who use a wheelchair or special assistive device like a walker, the surfaces simulate what they may encounter in the community, Cerda said.

Herb garden planters built at three different heights allow children to kneel, stand or sit while gardening or watering the plants. What seem like easy activities can actually help them develop balance and coordination and improve body movement, Cerda said.

The speech activity board has rotating parts on which speech therapists place magnetic pictures, symbols and numbers. Therapists can help improve a child's vocabulary by playing match games, tic-tac-toe or simply creating a game with them.

"It's nice to do things with the speech activity board instead of sitting at a table with the child," said Leah Groves, speech language pathologist at Driscoll. "That's how children learn, by moving and doing things with their hands. It's just more interesting to them."

The park is often used as a reward for children when they need a little motivation to complete certain activities, Cerda said. It's available to any child in the community who is referred by their physician, she added.

Driscoll's rehab equipment and specialized, up-to-date technology allows its therapists to address any pediatric rehabilitation need.

"We're not an adult facility that sees children," said Susan Fields, director of the Rehabilitation Department. "We are specifically designed and equipped to work with children and adolescents of any age."

NOTE: This is the first in a series of press releases that will focus on Driscoll's new rehabilitation therapy equipment.

Driscoll takes home gold and silver Aster Awards

May 13, 2011
CORPUS CHRISTI - Products created by Driscoll Children's Hospital's Marketing and Community Relations Department recently won two gold Aster Awards and one silver Aster Award in a national competition hosted by Marketing Healthcare Today Magazine and Creative Images Inc. The competition, one of the largest of its kind, recognizes outstanding healthcare professionals, organizations and agencies for excellence in their advertising and marketing efforts in the 2010 calendar year.

"We are truly proud to receive these prestigious awards," said Tammy Weaver, assistant vice president of Marketing and Community Relations at Driscoll. "The materials we produce reflect not only the mission of Driscoll Children's Hospital, but also the creative talents of the people who work here."

Driscoll won a gold Aster Award in the calendar category for its 2011 calendar titled "A Driscoll Scrapbook." Designed to resemble a scrapbook, the calendar features photos of smiling patients on colorful, patterned backgrounds. Artistic elements reflect a different theme each month.

The other gold Aster was won in the professional recruitment - single category for packaged t-shirts that are used for physician recruiting by Driscoll. The white t-shirts are formed, labeled and wrapped in the shape of Texas; the label shows the state, its flag design and icons that identify all the Texas cities with Driscoll facilities.

Banner ads that were displayed on the sides of Regional Transit Authority buses in Corpus Christi garnered a silver Aster Award for Driscoll in the outdoor transit - single category. The ads promoted the Driscoll Auxiliary's 2010 holiday card collection and holiday gifts that were designed by patients and sold annually to benefit the hospital.

The 2011 Aster Awards received approximately 3,000 entries from across the United States as well as Canada and South America. Participants' entries competed against similar-sized organizations in their category.

Entries must score at least in the top 16 percent to receive an award. Judging criteria includes creativity, layout and design, functionality, message effectiveness, production quality and overall appeal.

"It was an honor to have the number of healthcare organizations and agencies that participated in the 2011 Aster Awards competition," said Melinda R. Lucas, Aster Awards program coordinator. "The quality of this year's entries went well beyond the judges' expectations."

All winners are posted on the Aster Awards website (www.asterawards.com), as well as published in Marketing Healthcare Today, a national healthcare marketing magazine.

Families to share support, good times at Driscoll's annual Transplant Reunion

May 05, 2011
Brothers Dondi, 13 (left), and Mark Maldonado, 12, who have both had kidney transplants at Driscoll, plan to attend the annual Transplant Reunion with their family Saturday, May 7, at the Texas State Aquarium.
Brothers Dondi, 13 (left), and Mark Maldonado, 12, who have both had kidney transplants at Driscoll, plan to attend the annual Transplant Reunion with their family Saturday, May 7, at the Texas State Aquarium.
About 200 people expected at event Saturday at Texas State Aquarium

CORPUS CHRISTI - Coming in for blood tests at Driscoll Children's Hospital's Kidney Center is a routine affair for brothers Mark and Dondi Maldonado. The 12- and 13-year-old, who have both received kidney transplants at Driscoll, hang out in the waiting area, play with their younger siblings and joke around with their parents, Roger and Cindy Maldonado. It's a comfortable, happy scene compared to when the brothers were undergoing dialysis treatment before their transplants.

"It's hard when your children are going through something like that and they're in the hospital," Cindy Maldonado said. "It hurts you as a parent. Plus we have four other kids. Sometimes I felt like I was getting overwhelmed but I had to stay strong for my kids. The strength of my husband and the people at the hospital are what kept me going."

On Saturday, the Maldonado family will be joining other families of Driscoll kidney transplant patients at the Texas State Aquarium for the annual Transplant Reunion. The event is designed for patients and their families to enjoy some fun, food, games and fellowship.

Mark and Dondi Maldonado both have juvenile nephronophthisis, a childhood genetic kidney disease in which there is progressive destruction of the kidneys and eventual kidney failure. Mark had his transplant in 2008 and Dondi had his last November. They are among 41 children who have had kidney transplants at Driscoll Children's Hospital since 2007 and the second pair of siblings to have had the procedure at the hospital.

Cindy Maldonado said transplant families share a special bond and support each other through their experiences.

"I've met a lot of families here," she said of Driscoll's Kidney Center. "One family we became good friends with. We talk and make sure they're doing OK.

"The reunion is nice because everybody can come together," she added. "It also lets the kids know they're as normal as anyone else. They like to catch up with each other like the parents do."

Transplant Coordinator Anita Rosales expects about 200 people to attend this year's reunion. Large tents will be set up on the sprawling lawn in front of the Aquarium, a location that proved to be ideal for the event last year. Staging the reunion is rewarding for the staff at Driscoll's Kidney Center.

"Our transplant team enjoys putting this reunion together for our patients," Rosales said. "It is our way of celebrating them and their new gift. We look forward to seeing each and every one of them. Many of them live in the Rio Grande Valley and make the trip to the reunion because they enjoy the camaraderie and the activities so much."

Besides the other transplant families, Cindy Maldonado said the reunion will be a good chance for her family to visit with her sons' medical staff from Driscoll.

"I definitely feel like I have a bond with the staff - the nurses, Dr. (Samhar) Al-Akash and Anita (Rosales) especially. I feel like they care about people 100 percent."

  • What: Driscoll Children's Hospital annual Transplant Reunion

  • When: Noon Saturday, May 7

  • Where: Texas State Aquarium

Wanted: Volunteers seeking rewarding experiences

April 21, 2011
Driscoll volunteer Gerry Reeves assists a young customer in the hospital's Carousel Gift Shop.
Driscoll volunteer Gerry Reeves assists a young customer in the hospital's Carousel Gift Shop.

Van Burkleo
Dot Van Burkleo had some free time on her hands and wanted to spend it in a worthwhile way. After seeing an ad in the newspaper, she attended a meeting of the Auxiliary to Driscoll Children's Hospital. Three and a half years later, Van Burkleo looks forward to her weekly shifts as a volunteer at the hospital.
"Knowing that I have a part in helping the patients and their families to have a better stay while they are hospitalized is the most rewarding part about volunteering at Driscoll," she said. "An added bonus is the fun and fellowship shared by the volunteers."

Driscoll is looking for more volunteers like Van Burkleo. The qualifications are simple and the rewards are great. Candidates should be compassionate, dependable, willing to work a regular shift and have a can-do attitude. An ideal volunteer at Driscoll can communicate well and demonstrate empathy.

"We're looking for people who are able to recognize other people's needs and look for ways to meet those needs as a result of training and your own life experiences," said Lizette Saenz, director of Volunteer Services at Driscoll.

Volunteers are asked to commit to a minimum of four hours weekly for at least six months. There are a multitude of duties that volunteers are needed for, such as providing customer service in the gift shop, assisting visitors at the welcome center, distributing toys to patients, stocking the Half Pint Library, operating a cash register in the Cottage Shop and, with additional training, working directly with children.

Volunteers at Driscoll not only experience the reward of making a difference in the lives of children, they also relish the new challenges and social activities.

"They really enjoy making new and lasting friendships with the hospital staff and their fellow volunteers," Saenz said.

Dot Van Burkleo agrees. She said Driscoll is a wonderful place to spend a few hours each week.
"The patients, employees and other volunteers make it a most satisfying experience."

If you would like to become a valued part of Driscoll's volunteer team, you can obtain an application by calling the Volunteer Services Department at (361) 694-5011, pick one up at the hospital's welcome center or view more information and download an application from the web site by clicking HERE.

Rooms To Go will present check for $20,000 to Driscoll Children's Hospital

April 18, 2011
Martha St. Romain, vice president of Development at Driscoll, accepts a check from Gerry Raymond, Rooms To Go vice president of sales for Texas, and Brian Smolik, Rooms To Go store manager.
Martha St. Romain, vice president of Development at Driscoll, accepts a check from Gerry Raymond, Rooms To Go vice president of sales for Texas, and Brian Smolik, Rooms To Go store manager.
WHAT: Rooms To Go will donate a portion of the sales from their grand opening to Driscoll Children's Hospital in the form of a check for $20,000. The store, at 3901 S. Padre Island Drive, had its grand opening on March 26.

WHEN: 10 a.m. Tuesday, April 19

WHERE: Driscoll Children's Hospital main lobby, 3533 S. Alameda St.

Ribbon-cutting, open house to be held for new Cancer & Blood Disorders Center

April 07, 2011
  • WHAT: A ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house will be held for Driscoll Children's Hospital's new, $2.7 million Cancer & Blood Disorders Center. Officials and physicians from Driscoll, as well as Councilman John Marez, will participate in the ceremony. The Center is 40 percent larger than the previous space and will allow Driscoll to serve the growing population of South Texas children who need specialized hematology and oncology services. More than 160 children are served at the Center annually, and more than 40 new cancer patients are diagnosed there each year.

  • WHEN: 2 p.m. Friday, April 8

  • WHERE: Driscoll Children's Hospital, 3533 S. Alameda St.

New Cancer & Blood Disorders Center is making life easier for patients and staff at Driscoll Children's Hospital

April 05, 2011
Driscoll President & CEO Steve Woerner visits with cancer patients Brooke Hester, 3, and Andrew Laury, 14, in the new, $2.7 million Cancer & Blood Disorders Center.
Driscoll President & CEO Steve Woerner visits with cancer patients Brooke Hester, 3, and Andrew Laury, 14, in the new, $2.7 million Cancer & Blood Disorders Center.

Ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house to be held April 8

CORPUS CHRISTI - A cancerous brain tumor sidelined Andrew Laury from the football games he loved playing so much at Calallen High School last year. Now, six months after his tumor was removed at Driscoll Children's Hospital, the 14-year-old is anxious to finish his chemotherapy treatments and get back on the field. He still has remnants of cancer on the right side of his brain.

"The cancer really slowed me down," Andrew said, lying in his hospital bed at Driscoll. "It took me out of school, and I don't see my family in Amarillo as much because I can't go far from the hospital. It makes you appreciate the smaller things in life, like birthdays. I missed my little cousin's birthday party. You don't realize how great they are until you miss them."

On April 8, Andrew plans to attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house for the newly renovated and expanded Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at Driscoll, which was designed for patients just like him. The Center is 40 percent larger than the previous space and will allow Driscoll to serve the growing population of South Texas children who need specialized hematology and oncology services. More than 160 children are served at the Center annually, and more than 40 new cancer patients are diagnosed there each year.

Enhancements to the Center include a more child-friendly theme, additional exam and treatment rooms, TVs, interactive games and computer connectivity for patients who often spend hours there for treatment. The $2.7 million Center was funded in large part by community support. Almost 70 percent, or $1.8 million, of the total cost of the project was raised through fundraisers such as the annual Fiesta de los Niños.

The lobby is especially striking with track lighting, wood laminate flooring and multi-colored fish and bubbles on the wall. One wall contains a mesmerizing bubble tank in which the water seemingly changes colors with a lighting effect.

Cris Johnson, M.D., medical director of the Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, believes the Center is defined by all the professionals who are dedicated to the treatment of children with cancer.

"We are very lucky in a town of 300,000 to have a children's hospital," Dr. Johnson said.

"We are also blessed with people who are dedicated to children and have the knowledge necessary to care for and treat children with cancer. It is our team approach to care and the availability of multiple specialties and a dedicated ancillary staff that make it possible to treat Andrew and patients like him."

Andrew, whose treatment at Driscoll began before the new Center was completed, said he appreciates the comfortable recliners in the teen area and the Xbox video games. He also likes that the children's area is separated from the teen area.

"It's just real nice all around, from the bathrooms to the lobby," he said. "It's bright, up-to-date and peaceful. It shows how much Driscoll cares about their patients."

Dr. Johnson said light and spaciousness were priorities in the Center's design.

"We strove to get as much natural light as possible to as much of the clinic as possible. The (electric) lighting is also fantastic, and makes it easier to work. There is enough room for the staff to work without tripping over each other."

For Andrew's current phase of treatment, he receives chemotherapy drugs intravenously in the Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. He'll have to return to Driscoll regularly through June for the treatment. One of the side effects he's experiencing from past radiation treatment is neuropathy in his legs and feet. The nerves tingle and burn, he said, causing his legs to give out. He uses a walker to get around and takes medication to ease the pain.

With a grin of resilience, the former offensive and defensive tackle for the Calallen Wildcats is confident he'll tackle cancer.

"I'll be happy when the cancer's gone," Andrew said. "I can't wait to get back into life and school and sports."

  • What: Ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house for the Cancer & Blood Disorders Center

  • When: 2 p.m. Friday, April 8

  • Where: Driscoll Children's Hospital, 3533 S. Alameda St.

Driscoll's Laredo clinic relocating

March 11, 2011
LAREDO - In order to expand their space and serve a growing number of patients, Driscoll Children's Specialty Center - Laredo, 10710 McPherson Ave., Suite 100, is relocating to offices above their current location, to Suite 202. The relocation will be complete and patients will continue to be seen on Monday, March 14. For more information, call the clinic at 1-800-525-8687.

Ribbon cutting ceremony to be held for the brand new Cottage Shop

March 09, 2011
WHAT: A ribbon cutting ceremony will be held to mark the opening of the brand new Cottage Shop at Driscoll Children's Hospital. The 1,800-square-foot resale shop offers men's, women's and children's clothing, toys, household items and more. Operated by the Auxiliary to Driscoll Children's Hospital, its primary purpose is to provide clothing and necessities to patients and their families, but it is open to the public. Proceeds from sales go to Driscoll.

WHEN: Thursday, March 10, 11:45 a.m.

WHERE: The Cottage Shop at Driscoll Children's Hospital, 3533 S. Alameda St. (behind the Rehabilitation & Day Surgery building)

Stripes convenience stores to raise funds for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals March 7 - April 3

March 07, 2011
Beginning March 7, Stripes convenience stores in South Texas will be asking customers to purchase a $1 Miracle Balloon icon to raise funds for Driscoll Children's Hospital, which is a part of Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, a children's charity that raises funds for more than 170 pediatric hospitals.

The icons are attached with coupon books, providing customers an additional incentive to make the $1 purchase. Stripes convenience stores have also stocked their shelves with Monkey Juice, a new children's drink sold exclusively in Stripes stores. A portion of Monkey Juice sales will raise funds for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. A buy-one-get-one free Monkey Juice coupon is included in the $1 coupon book.

Like all Children's Miracle Network Hospitals fundraisers, the funds raised from Stripe's four-week campaign will help create miracles by funding medical care, research and education that saves and improves the lives of 17 million children treated at Children's Miracle Network Hospitals each year, including Driscoll.

Stripes has been a partner of Children's Miracle Network Hospitals since 1997, raising funds for children's hospitals through different fundraising campaigns. Stripes has raised more than $1.15 million during the last four years for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. In 2010, Stripes raised $471,468.