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Once-fragile preemies and their families will reconnect with Driscoll staff at tomorrow's NICU Reunion

October 25, 2013
CORPUS CHRISTI - Infants who are brought to Driscoll Children's Hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) are usually there during the most fragile time in their lives. Patients and their families can spend months in the hospital, day in and day out, so it's no surprise that strong bonds often form with NICU physicians, nurses and other caregivers. Because of those relationships, Driscoll Children's Hospital holds the NICU Reunion each fall to give everyone a chance to reconnect and celebrate the lives of the babies who have grown into children and adults.

"The NICU reunion is a great opportunity for our patients, families and staff to keep to keep in touch with each other," said Patricia Carr, assistant vice president of Nursing Operations. "It is a real joy to watch the growth and development of our children as they progress each year. Some of our patients who are now adults bring their own children to share in the event."

At the fall festival-themed celebration, Driscoll staff members who have cared for NICU patients over the years will be on hand to meet with the more than 150 families who are eager to share stories of their children's progress since their stay at Driscoll - some of whom are now adults. In addition to dressing up in their Halloween costumes, NICU "graduates" will enjoy food, games, prizes and other goodies at the event.

Driscoll Children's Hospital's level III NICU cares for newborns and infants for a variety of reasons, including prematurity (carried less than 37 weeks), respiratory distress, infections, birth defects and other illnesses. Staffed by neonatologists 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the 47-bed NICU cares for premature and critically ill infants from 31 South Texas counties.

What: Driscoll Children's Hospital's annual NICU Reunion
When: 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26
Where: Driscoll Children's Hospital, Rehabilitation Services parking lot, 3533 S. Alameda St.

Driscoll study on human bocavirus receives international attention

October 24, 2013
Dr. Na Liu presented the poster, 'Hospital Course and Risk Factors in South Texas Children Infected with Human Bocavirus (HBoV),' Oct. 4 in San Francisco.
Dr. Na Liu presented the poster, 'Hospital Course and Risk Factors in South Texas Children Infected with Human Bocavirus (HBoV),' Oct. 4 in San Francisco.
CORPUS CHRISTI - A study by Driscoll Children's Hospital resident physicians Na Liu, MD, and Karla Araujo, MD, laboratory managers Kevin Richman, BS, MT, and Charles Raven, BS, MT, and Infectious Diseases director Jaime Fergie, MD, was recently presented at a meeting of scientists from around the world. Dr. Liu presented "Hospital Course and Risk Factors in South Texas Children Infected with Human Bocavirus (HBoV)," on a poster Oct. 4 in San Francisco during IDWeek, a joint international meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, the HIV Medicine Association and the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society.

The study is significant because the human bocavirus in children is just beginning to be understood, said Dr. Fergie, a Fellow of the IDSA.

"The human bocavirus is a newly recognized respiratory pathogen that was discovered in 2005. It is the fifth most frequent cause of respiratory infection in children and it can cause disease throughout the year, although most infection occurs during the fall and winter. Children (in the study) developed symptoms of a common cold but some developed more severe infections such as bronchiolitis or pneumonia that required hospitalization."

Kiwanis Club apple sale benefiting Driscoll patients is tomorrow, Saturday

October 24, 2013
WHAT: The 31st annual Six Points Kiwanis Club Apple Sale will be held tomorrow and Saturday at Driscoll Children's Hospital's north parking lot. Cost: $40 per case of apples. Each case contains 88 to 100 Red or Golden Delicious apples. Proceeds benefit summer camps for Driscoll patients.

WHEN: Noon-6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25 and 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26

WHERE: Driscoll Children's Hospital north parking lot, 3533 S. Alameda St.

Bartakian joins Driscoll as pediatric cardiologist

October 24, 2013
Bartakian
Bartakian
CORPUS CHRISTI - Sergio Bartakian, MD, has joined Driscoll Children's Hospital as a pediatric cardiologist. Dr. Bartakian previously practiced pediatric interventional cardiology at Rady Children's Hospital - San Diego. He received his medical degree in 2006 from University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, completed an internship and residency at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital in Cleveland, and received his training in pediatric cardiology at Children's Hospital Colorado in Aurora. Dr. Bartakian is a member of the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Cardiology, Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions, and the Pediatric & Congenital Interventional Cardiology Early Career Society.

Butchko brings pediatric cardiology expertise to McAllen

October 24, 2013
Butchko
Butchko
McALLEN - Gary Butchko, MD, FAAP, FACC, has joined Driscoll Children's Hospital as a pediatric cardiologist at Driscoll Children's Medical Plaza - McAllen. Dr. Butchko was previously director of Echocardiography with Mercy Congenital Heart Disease Specialists at Mercy Children's Hospital in Toledo, Ohio. He received his medical degree in 1996 from The Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus and performed his pediatric residency at Dayton Children's Hospital and Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. Dr. Butchko completed a pediatric cardiology fellowship in 2002 at James Whitcomb Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. He is board certified in pediatrics and pediatric cardiology.

Driscoll resident receives Maternal and Child Health Scholarship

October 22, 2013
Adepoju
Adepoju
CORPUS CHRISTI - Oluwarotimi "Timi" Adepoju, MD, a second-year resident physician at Driscoll Children's Hospital, is one of 23 residents chosen to receive the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) 2013 Maternal and Child Health Scholarship. The $500 scholarship enables Dr. Adepoju to attend the AAP's National Conference and Exhibition Oct. 26-29, 2013, in Orlando, where he will attend medical education sessions on maternal and child health issues.

Driscoll opens Maternal-Fetal Medicine Clinic in Laredo

October 22, 2013
At the open house Oct. 16 were (left to right): Miguel De Leon, MD, medical director, Driscoll Neonatal Intensive Care Unit; Ryan Loftin, MD, Driscoll maternal-fetal medicine specialist; Jorge P. Orezzoli, MD, Laredo obstetrician/gynecologist; Anna Gonzalez, MD, Driscoll maternal-fetal medicine specialist; Celso Rodriguez, MD, Laredo obstetrician/gynecologist; John Visintine, MD, Driscoll maternal-fetal medicine specialist; Laredo Mayor Raul G. Salinas; Jatin Patel, DO, Driscoll pediatric cardiologist; and  Omar Perez, MD, Laredo obstetrician/gynecologist.
At the open house Oct. 16 were (left to right): Miguel De Leon, MD, medical director, Driscoll Neonatal Intensive Care Unit; Ryan Loftin, MD, Driscoll maternal-fetal medicine specialist; Jorge P. Orezzoli, MD, Laredo obstetrician/gynecologist; Anna Gonzalez, MD, Driscoll maternal-fetal medicine specialist; Celso Rodriguez, MD, Laredo obstetrician/gynecologist; John Visintine, MD, Driscoll maternal-fetal medicine specialist; Laredo Mayor Raul G. Salinas; Jatin Patel, DO, Driscoll pediatric cardiologist; and Omar Perez, MD, Laredo obstetrician/gynecologist.
LAREDO - 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 neonatologist, were joined by local physicians, as well as Laredo Mayor Raul G. Salinas, to celebrate the new clinic. Driscoll's maternal-fetal medicine program is excited about this endeavor and look forward to collaborating with local obstetricians in providing the highest level of care to women in the Laredo area. The clinic can be reached at (956) 764-7000.

Patients will be treated to Halloween party at Driscoll Children's Hospital

October 15, 2013
WHAT: The Stripes Child Life Program at Driscoll Children's Hospital is partnering with volunteers from Spirit Halloween's Spirit of Children program to bring a Halloween party to patients at Driscoll Children's Hospital, including free costumes, activities and refreshments.

WHEN: 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 15

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

Driscoll Children's Hospital earns 2013 Path to Excellence award for its commitment to improving the patient experience

October 07, 2013
Mauricio Flores, MD, endocrinologist at Driscoll Children's Hospital, and Evelyn Ferrer, Driscoll director of Patient Relations, accept the 2013 Path to Excellence award Sept. 22 in Baltimore.
Mauricio Flores, MD, endocrinologist at Driscoll Children's Hospital, and Evelyn Ferrer, Driscoll director of Patient Relations, accept the 2013 Path to Excellence award Sept. 22 in Baltimore.
CORPUS CHRISTI - Driscoll Children's Hospital has been selected by National Research Corporation as a recipient of the 2013 Path to Excellence award. Driscoll was recognized at the 19th Annual International Patient-Centered Care Symposium in Baltimore on Sept. 22.

National Research selected Path to Excellence award recipients based on their achievement within categories that patients have identified as being most important to the quality of their care. The award is only bestowed upon those organizations that are ranked by patients as being a top performer in one of the following categories: Rate Hospital, Specialty Hospital: Rank Hospital, Children's Hospital: Overall Rating, Adult: Would Recommend Doctor's Office, Pediatric: Would Recommend Doctor's Office, Catalyst Improvement Planner Champion and Most Improved Client.

The winners were selected from the extensive database of National Research hospital customers for their performance over the last four quarters. Driscoll was a top-ranked children's hospital in the Most Improved: Rate Hospital category.

"National Research congratulates Driscoll Children's Hospital for their outstanding achievements," said Susan Henricks, president and chief operating officer of National Research. "We understand that driving improvement changes across an organization takes an incredible amount of resources and dedication - and Driscoll has done exactly that. They are committed to providing the best healthcare possible for their patients and families."

As a 2013 award recipient, Driscoll is among a select group of healthcare innovators leading the way on the path to patient-centered care.

"By partnering with National Research and utilizing its measurement and quality improvement solutions, we have been able to implement changes and make the necessary adjustments to improve the patient and family care," said Evelyn Ferrer, Driscoll director of Patient Relations. "This improvement also gives patients and families the trust and confidence they deserve when seeking the right healthcare provider."


Driscoll nurse cares for babies where she was once a tiny patient

October 07, 2013
Christianna
Christianna "Chris" Donald, 25, cares for an infant in Driscoll Children's Hospital's neonatal intensive care unit, where she was treated as a newborn.
Chris Donald's story is third in Driscoll Children's Hospital's 60th anniversary series

CORPUS CHRISTI - In the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Driscoll Children's Hospital, tiny babies sleep tranquilly in incubators amid the occasional whispers of nurses and the faint beeps and hums of medical equipment. Infants from all over South Texas are brought here to be treated for disease, injury, complications due to premature birth and numerous other maladies.

With gloved hands, registered nurse Christianna "Chris" Donald gently adjusts a tube connected to a boy less than a month old from the Rio Grande Valley. He was born with congenital heart defects, and Donald has a special bond with him. As a newborn nearly 26 years ago, she was a patient in this same unit for the same reason.

"He's going to have the exact same surgeries I had," she said.

Donald was admitted to Driscoll's NICU within 24 hours of being born, she said. One of her lungs kept collapsing and tubes called catheters had to be inserted into her chest. Her heart was missing two heart valves and a one ventricle - conditions that required surgery. (Ventricles are chambers on each side of the heart that receive blood and force it into the arteries.) Donald underwent three open heart surgeries by age 4; two were performed at Driscoll and one in Minnesota.

Although she recovered successfully, Donald's condition meant she would need medical attention for the rest of her life. She was 12 years old the last time she was a patient at Driscoll, she said, and she remains under the care of a cardiologist.

Her surgeries at such a young age naturally worried Donald's parents. Her mother became close to her doctors and nurses at Driscoll and remembers their names to this day. So it didn't surprise Donald when her mother gave her a list of nurses to look for when she started working at Driscoll in August 2012.

"My family liked Driscoll's nurses the best," she said. "They were the most genuine."

One of the people who treated Donald at Driscoll 25 years ago, cardiologist Billy Rios, MD, continues to be a positive influence in her life. Dr. Rios, who still practices at Driscoll, was her cardiologist until just a few months ago.

"First I wanted to be a pediatric cardiologist because I wanted to be just like him," Donald said. "I send him Christmas cards every year."

Many letters, photos and cards from current and former patients are displayed along a wall in Dr. Rios' office. He pointed out several mementos from Donald that range from when she was a baby to when she graduated from college.

"I treat all my patients as if they were my own," Dr. Rios said. "I'm very proud of Chris and all she's accomplished. She never gave up. I've watched her grow up, through different stages, and she was always in good spirits, always asking questions and wanting to learn everything she could. Nothing was going to deter her from accomplishing her goals."

Donald ultimately decided to pursue nursing, graduating from Texas Tech University in 2010. She began working in a NICU in Lubbock shortly afterward. But it was when she returned to Driscoll's NICU as a nurse that she felt her life had come full circle.

"I understand the parents' fears now," she said. "I feel for them. I want to give their child the best care I can because nurses can make an impact, like they did in my life."

Giving children and families hope is important to Donald too. She has volunteered at Camp Hearty, a summer camp for children with congenital heart defects that Driscoll sponsors annually in Rockport,
and she often offers support to families in the NICU.

"Chris has an outstanding ability to connect with the babies and families in the NICU," said Ana Olivera-Hamm, a chaplain at Driscoll Children's Hospital and Donald's friend. "Not only is she a NICU survivor and graduate, but a conqueror. Only God could have ordained her healing and her calling to become a healer herself."

Donald is as healthy as she is happy. She hasn't had any major complications from her heart condition, and a daily dose of blood pressure medication is one of the few reminders of her ordeal. She has even backpacked across Alaska with her parents, where they now live, she said. And, with a husband who is in pharmacy school, she is focused on the future and having children.
Nevertheless, she doesn't take her good health for granted.

"All my life I've been given a finite number of years to live - maybe 12 years, maybe more," Donald said. "Now I'm told I'll probably have a normal lifespan. You either get devastated because your life may be short or you make the best of it. It's in God's hands."

This is the third in a series of stories about extraordinary patients that Driscoll Children's Hospital is sharing throughout 2013 as part of its 60th anniversary celebration.