DCH News

Patients & Families

Nearly 550 Coastal Bend residents receive pneumonia vaccine through Task Force's pilot project

November 30, 2011
CORPUS CHRISTI - In June, it was announced that the newly created Coastal Bend Community Health Needs Task Force, led by Corpus Christi's three largest hospital systems, had assessed the major health needs of the Coastal Bend area through a study conducted by Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

The assessment led to the Task Force's first project, pneumonia vaccinations. Beginning in September, vaccinations began being offered to the community - including people without health insurance - at area H-E-B pharmacies and various health centers in Corpus Christi, Portland, Robstown, Freer, Beeville and Sinton. The Task Force recommended that residents of the Coastal Bend ages 50 and above and those with chronic health conditions get vaccinated. They also emphasized that children ages 5 years or younger who haven't been immunized against pneumonia be vaccinated, as well as newborns receiving booster shots at two, four and six months.

Nearly 550 residents of the Coastal Bend took advantage of the pneumonia vaccinations. In September, 195 people were vaccinated and 354 in October, for a total of 549.

"This was a successful pilot project for the Coastal Bend Community Health Needs Task Force," said Eddie Read, Vice President of Finance at Driscoll Children's Hospital. "More than 500 people received a vaccination that could keep them out of the hospital. As word spreads about the work we're doing and more resources become available, the Task Force partners hope to keep offering these health initiatives to the community. Most importantly, we aim to keep them available to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay."

The Task Force's complete report can be found at www.coastalbendhealthfinder.com. The website is designed to be a one-stop source of information about services available for the health and well-being of residents in 15 Coastal Bend counties.

The Coastal Bend Community Health Needs Assessment Task Force is made up of community leaders from CHRISTUS Spohn Health System, Driscoll Children's Health Plan, Driscoll Children's Hospital, Corpus Christi Medical Center, the United Way of the Coastal Bend and the Nueces County Medical Society & Alliance.

Driscoll's Kidney Center marks 50th transplant

November 30, 2011
Program began on Feb. 14, 2007 with brother donating to brother

CORPUS CHRISTI - On Sept. 29, a 6-year-old boy from McAllen received a new kidney at Driscoll Children's Hospital, making him the 50th kidney transplant recipient since the hospital started performing the procedure in 2007. His was also the third living donor transplant.

Fifty successful transplants is a praiseworthy achievement by Driscoll Children's Kidney Center because for many years, South Texas children with kidney failure had no place to obtain healthcare services, said Chief of Staff Bill Allen, MD.

"These children originally had to drive to Galveston for dialysis and transplant services. Within the last 25 years services were developed in Houston and then San Antonio, but still there were no services in South Texas for children with kidney disease."

Over the past decade, Driscoll developed the first dialysis services and kidney transplant program in South Texas. With clinics staffed by board-certified pediatric nephrologists in

Laredo, Brownsville, Harlingen, McAllen and Corpus Christi, Driscoll can now provide

South Texas children with the same quality services that would be available in Denver,

Los Angeles or anywhere in America, Dr. Allen said.

"There is a sense of accomplishment and real joy in being able to provide the very highest standard of care for all south Texas children with kidney disease," he said.

Here are some interesting facts about Driscoll's Kidney Transplant Program:

  • The first transplant on Feb. 14, 2007 was a brother donating a kidney to his brother.

  • The majority of transplant recipients live in the Rio Grande Valley.

  • Three mothers have donated kidneys to their sons; one donated to her daughter.

  • An aunt donated a kidney to her nephew.

  • Two fathers donated to their sons; one dad to his daughter.

  • Two sets of brothers have had kidney transplants.

Presentation to focus on need for donor breast-milk

November 29, 2011
WHAT: Mom's Place, a breastfeeding resource center and donor breast-milk collection site at Driscoll Children's Hospital, invites the community to a presentation on non-profit milk banks and the safe processing of donor human milk for medically fragile babies. The goal of the presentation is to bring awareness to the community about the use of donor milk for premature babies and sick children and to increase the number of women who donate their milk. Presenter will be Kim Updegrove, executive director of the Mothers' Milk Bank at Austin. RSVP is required (see below).

WHEN: 9 - 10 a.m. Monday, Dec. 12

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

RSVP: Laurie Beck, (361) 694-5338

Butterfly Room to be dedicated at Driscoll Children's Hospital

November 14, 2011
WHAT: Driscoll Children's Hospital will hold a special dedication for the Butterfly Room, a newly renovated patient room for terminally ill patients and their families. Featuring adjoining rooms - one for the patient and the other for family to stay around the clock - the Butterfly Room is specially designed to offer a peaceful and therapeutic environment. The suite's set-up is conducive to a family's grieving process, allowing private time in the adjoining family room when needed without being too far from their child's hospital room. Renovations include soothing colors and artwork and curtains to strategically hide wall panels with medical equipment in the patient area, as well as a sleeper sofa, compact refrigerator and microwave in the family room. The Butterfly Room renovations were made possible by a donation of $35,000 from the 2010 Valero Texas Open golf tournament.

WHEN: 3 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 15
WHERE: Driscoll Children's Hospital, 3533 S. Alameda St., 4th Tower

Driscoll, H-E-B join to make grocery shopping therapeutic

November 09, 2011
Project will be the first of its kind in a children's hospital

CORPUS CHRISTI - The regular trip to the grocery store - a life's chore that is tedious for some adults and perhaps enjoyable for others - will in the near future be a part of Driscoll Children's Hospital's rehabilitation therapy program.

With some extra space to fill in Driscoll's Rehabilitation Services Department, staff members recently brainstormed on what to do with it. Their goal was to have a place for pretend-play. A member mentioned seeing an H-E-Buddy Market at the Children's Museum of Houston, which gives children the grocery shopping experience in miniature. The group realized the therapeutic possibilities the activity would offer to Driscoll patients.

"When you put it all together, the grocery store would help us create a series of events that are encountered in the real world," said Susan Fields, director of Driscoll's Rehabilitation Services Department. "Children learn best when they don't know they are working."

A meeting with representatives from H-E-B followed, and the company enthusiastically decided to donate $30,000 toward an H-E-Buddy Market at Driscoll. Tomorrow, officials from H-E-B will present a check to Driscoll officials for the project and display items from the H-E-Buddy Market. When completed, it will include small grocery carts and baskets, shelves of child-friendly food packages, plastic produce, a refrigerated food section, check-out stand, a touch-screen cash register and more.

H-E-Buddy Markets in children's museums such as those in Houston and Laredo are designed to engage children in activities that will help them learn and grow, said Shelley Parks, manager of Public Affairs for H-E-B.

"The museums offer children a chance to make decisions based on healthy eating, menus, what they can buy for the money they have to spend and how to count and make change. There are a lot of learning activities that go into the museums."

Fields said several rehabilitative therapies can be employed in the mini-market as well. With Driscoll's physical therapists, children can improve their standing and balancing ability by reaching and picking items from high and low shelves. Pushing a grocery cart can help those who need to work on walking. In a play kitchen next to the grocery store, they can choose where to store the food. Speech therapists can help children improve language skills by having them name, match, categorize or describe products. And with Driscoll's occupational therapists, children can work on problem solving by planning a meal, purchasing items, making change and generally improving their fine motor skills.

"All these goals can be addressed while playing in a first-class, pretend-play environment," Fields said. "We're taking something H-E-B has done very well and we're going to apply it to helping the children in the community that we both serve."

Parks said incorporating an H-E-Buddy Market into a children's hospital for rehabilitative purposes hasn't been done before.

"H-E-B is proud to be able to partner with Driscoll on this unique program. The idea that children will learn to improve their balance and dexterity by using grocery carts, pulling items off of shelves, ringing up items, etc....is a wonderful example of creative thinking that works."

When completed, the H-E-Buddy Market at Driscoll will be available to any child in the community who needs rehabilitation therapy. For more information, call Driscoll's Rehabilitation Services Department at (361) 694-5678.


  • What: H-E-Buddy Market display and check presentation

  • When: 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 10

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

Driscoll patients trick-or-treat in the hospital during the Pumpkin Parade

October 28, 2011
WHAT: The 11th annual Pumpkin Parade is a chance for patients at Driscoll Children's Hospital to get dressed up in their Halloween costumes and go trick-or-treating within the hospital. Driscoll employees will line the route with toys for the children as they parade by. Representatives from Stripes convenience stores and naval aviators from the Pilot for a Day program will also participate.

WHEN: 1:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 31

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

Patients to have Halloween celebration at Driscoll Children's Hospital

October 18, 2011
WHAT: Volunteers with Spirit Halloween's Spirit of Children program are bringing a Halloween celebration for patients at Driscoll Children's Hospital, including costumes, activities and more. There will be plenty of opportunities for photos and interviews.

WHEN: 1:30-2 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 19

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

Reunion brings once-fragile babies back to see their caregivers

October 14, 2011
CORPUS CHRISTI - Oftentimes, infants who are brought to Driscoll Children's Hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) are there during the most fragile time in their lives. Patients and their families can spend several months in the hospital, day in and day out, so it's no surprise that strong bonds are formed with the physicians, nurses and other members of the healthcare team who not only care for a child, but offer support to a child's family as well.

Because of the relationship that forms between patient and caregiver, Driscoll Children's Hospital holds the NICU Reunion each fall to give patients and families a chance to reconnect with their healthcare team and to celebrate the lives of those babies who have grown to be healthy children.

Trish Carr, assistant vice president of Patient Care Services says, "The reunion is a great way for our staff to keep in contact with the patients they care for. They are always so excited to see the progress the children have made. It's a great thing, being able to watch [our patients] grow up."

During the fall festival-themed celebration, staff who have cared for Driscoll patients over the years will be on hand to meet with the more than 200 families who are eager to share stories of what their children have been doing since their stay at Driscoll - some possibly many years ago. In addition to dressing up in their Halloween costumes, patients will enjoy games, prizes, pizza and other goodies at the annual 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 41-bed NICU has cared for more than 20,000 premature and critical infants in South Texas, offering the highest level of care in 31 counties.

  • What: Driscoll Children's Hospital's annual NICU Reunion

  • When: 2 - 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15

  • Where: Driscoll Children's Hospital, Rehabilitation Services parking lot, 3533 S. Alameda St.

Support group offers help for grieving children, their parents

October 04, 2011
CORPUS CHRISTI - When a loved one dies, adults and children both grieve. However, children grieve differently than adults, according to Nora Besinaiz, child life specialist at Driscoll Children's Hospital. Recognizing that there are few programs in the community to help children through the grieving process, Driscoll Children's Hospital has developed the Lean on Me program.

"Children need a special place where they can go," Besinaiz said. "They need to be around other children experiencing the loss of a loved one. This helps them learn that they're not the only ones grieving. They don't have to grieve alone and wonder about their feelings."

Lean on Me is a structured, six-week program for children ages 6 years and older that begins on Oct. 6. It includes bereavement curriculum specially designed for children, and each session builds on the previous one. With the guidance of Driscoll's chaplains and child life specialists, children will be encouraged during meetings to express their feelings by discussion or through art or writing.

Parents and caregivers are also included in the Lean on Me program because the death of a loved one affects the whole family, Besinaiz said. Adults will meet for bereavement sessions with Driscoll's social workers and chaplains while the children's group meets.

"Our goal is to give the family tools and ways to help them talk to each other and support each other when they're not with us in the one-hour sessions," Besinaiz said.

Besinaiz said the fall session of Lean on Me was planned before the holidays because for many families it may be the first holiday season without their loved one, and holidays typically are the toughest times for those who are grieving.

There is no charge to participate in the Lean on Me program. Driscoll only asks that families - children and their parents or caregivers - commit to attend the six-week program. Babysitting will not be available during the program.

  • What: Lean on Me program for children ages 6 years and older and their parents or caregivers

  • When: 6 to 7 p.m. Thursdays, Oct. 6 through Nov. 10

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

  • Information/registration: Nora Besinaiz, (361) 694-5763

National Weather Service Employees to deliver gifts to cancer patient

September 27, 2011
WHAT: Employees at the National Weather Service's Corpus Christi and Brownsville offices will present gifts they collected to a Driscoll cancer patient whose story they read on Driscoll's web site (www.driscollchildrens.org). Matthew Carroll, 8, of Brownsville, had to have his lower left leg amputated last March due to osteosarcoma, a malignant tumor of the bone. He now receives care at Driscoll Children's Hospital and Driscoll Children's Specialty Center - Brownsville.

WHEN: 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28

WHERE: Driscoll Children's Specialty Center - Brownsville, 5500 N. Expressway