DCH News

Patients & Families

Reeflex Ltd. to deliver toys for children at Driscoll Children's Hospital

December 21, 2010
WHAT: Reeflex Properties Ltd., a local real estate company owned by Willard Hammonds, have been promoting a toy drive at 12 of their apartment locations. They have been waiving rental application fees for anyone who participates in the toy drive, as well as giving one month's free rent for any current residents who participate. They will be delivering all collected toys to Driscoll Children's Hospital. Last year, the company delivered about 600 toys to the hospital.

WHEN: Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2:00 p.m.

WHERE: Driscoll Children's Hospital, 3533 S. Alameda, Main Lobby

Injury Prevention Program at Driscoll Children's Hospital Launches "Keep Your Kids Safe....Buckle Up" Ad Campaign

December 21, 2010

  • Wednesday, December 22, 2010

  • Buckle Up Campaign at 10 a.m.

  • Visual Aid: City Bus with ad

  • Driscoll Children's Hospital - Injury Prevention Program

  • 3533 S. Alameda (front lawn)


CORPUS CHRISTI - The Injury Prevention Program at Driscoll Children's Hospital wants to make sure the youngest travelers stay safe during the holidays and all year round. As part of the Keep Your Kids Safe initiative, the Injury Prevention Program is launching a Buckle Up ad campaign on Corpus Christi city buses and on billboards in Laredo and Victoria.

Through a partnership with Kohl's Department Stores, the Injury Prevention Program will be able to increase awareness and promote the important safety message, "Keep Your Kids Safe...Buckle Up."

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children 3 -14 years old. The National Highway Safety Administration estimates that roughly 3 out of 4 child safety seats are not used correctly. Many parents are unaware that their child's car seat is not properly installed or realize their child is not fitted correctly into their car seat.

The current Texas law on child passenger safety requires all kids younger than 8 years old unless taller than 4 feet 9 inches be properly restrained in a child safety seat.

"The ad campaign will help remind adults to make sure kids are buckled up in an appropriate child safety seat-on every trip, every time," said Maricruz Cantu, injury prevention coordinator at Driscoll Children's Hospital. "We need to give kids the best opportunity of surviving a crash and avoiding serious injuries."

Kohl's commitment to Driscoll Children's Hospital is made possible through the Kohl's Cares® cause merchandise program. Through this initiative, Kohl's sells $5 books and plush toys where 100 percent of net profit benefits children's health and education programs nationwide, including hospital partnerships like this one. Kohl's has raised more than $150 million through this merchandise program.

Children with special needs to stage Holiday Spectacular at Driscoll Children's Hospital

December 09, 2010
CORPUS CHRISTI - For some patients and their families who have to spend the holidays at Driscoll Children's Hospital, their stay will be made a little brighter on Friday, Dec. 10. That's when the annual Driscoll Children's Hospital Holiday Spectacular takes place, a tradition that began seven years ago to entertain hospitalized patients and their families. Participants in the show include children who receive out-patient therapy at Driscoll, their siblings and guest performers from the community. No child is turned away who wants to be in the show, regardless of their abilities.

"Each year, it is amazing to see our special children give a performance to a standing-room only audience," said Christine Carter, speech-language pathologist at Driscoll Children's Hospital. "It is a heart-warming performance that embodies the spirit of Christmas. Our children, who have physical, emotional, mental and linguistic disabilities, seem not to be too aware of their own limitations, but are excited to work on their roles and to give a performance sure to spread joy for all who come to see!"

In 2004, Driscoll's rehabilitation patients were invited to perform with the Corpus Christi Symphony's holiday show, conducted by Lee Gwozdz. The children were given a standing ovation and since then, the show has been performed each year by the children of the Driscoll Rehabilitation Department for the hospital's inpatients.

Carter said this year, the children will be performing "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," "The Twelve Days of Christmas," "The Magic Toyshop" and excerpts from "The Nutcracker." The show will end with a special nativity scene. Additional performances by the Corpus Christi Concert Ballet, under Artistic Director Nancy Sulik, will take place between the children's performance pieces.

  • What: Driscoll Children's Hospital Holiday Spectacular

  • When: 4:30 p.m. Dec. 10

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

Driscoll Children's Hospital employee's fundraising efforts earn him high honor from Children's Miracle Network

November 18, 2010
Richard Harris
Richard Harris
CORPUS CHRISTI - Richard Harris, Children's Miracle Network coordinator at Driscoll Children's Hospital, has been awarded the Stephanie Melemis Excellence in Service Award presented by McLane Company. The award is Children's Miracle Network's highest honor for a hospital employee who assists in fundraising. Marco Guerrero from McLane Company presented Harris with the award Nov. 12 at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla.

"When Richard became a program director at Driscoll Children's Hospital in 1993, Children's Miracle Network annual donations to the hospital were $534,000; they have since soared to more than $2.4 million," said Scott Burt, president and chief executive officer of Children's Miracle Network. "It's clear that his passion for children's health is being translated into dollars that are literally saving lives at a Children's Miracle Network hospital."

The Stephanie Melemis Award recognizes an individual at a Children's Miracle Network hospital whose selfless and heartfelt service characterizes the commitment and dedication exemplified by Stephanie Melemis, a former Children's Miracle Network Canadian employee who died of cancer in November 1998.

"We could not be more thrilled with this national recognition bestowed on one of our very own," said Martha St. Romain, vice president of Development at Driscoll Children's Hospital. "Richard Harris has served Driscoll Children's Hospital tirelessly for over 17 years. He could not be more deserving of this honor."

The award was presented during Children's Miracle Network's annual Celebration event, which brings together hospitals and sponsors to share best practices, celebrate achievements, network and meet children from around North America who have been touched by children's hospitals.

Driscoll Children's Health Plan welcomes Don Well, Matthew Evans

November 17, 2010
Matthew Evans & Don Well
Matthew Evans & Don Well
CORPUS CHRISTI - Don Well and Matthew Evans are the newest members of Driscoll Children's Health Plan (DCHP). Well has been hired as the director of provider relations, contracting, credentialing and claims oversight. After spending 23 years in the Air Force and being involved in combat logistics all over the world, Well spent the last 12 years in healthcare management. He has experience with claims, call centers and provider relations with commercial, Medicare and Medicaid payers. He holds a bachelor's degree in business and management and a master's in management.
Matthew Evans has joined DCHP as a compliance and contract manager. Evans started his career in healthcare as a Navy medic with a Marine Corps scout sniper platoon for five years. He holds a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, is a certified paralegal, and is one course away from his master's degree in management.

Salinas elected regional rep for WIC directors

November 11, 2010
Cindy Salinas
Cindy Salinas
CORPUS CHRISTI - Cindy Salinas, director of the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) Program at Driscoll Children's Hospital, has been elected the state regional representative for the Texas Association of Local WIC Directors, representing Cameron, San Patricio, Hidalgo, Laredo, Victoria and Nueces counties. Salinas will be reporting information to the state such as participation numbers, finances, policy issues for process improvement and many other issues. She was elected by the southwest regional directors and will serve a two-year term.

Cure for blindness among premature infants identified

October 13, 2010
Dr. Mintz-Hittner worked closely with Miguel De Leon, M.D., during her Retinopathy of Prematurity study, which included N.I.C.U. patients at Driscoll.
Dr. Mintz-Hittner worked closely with Miguel De Leon, M.D., during her Retinopathy of Prematurity study, which included N.I.C.U. patients at Driscoll.
CORPUS CHRISTI - A disease that causes blindness in premature infants worldwide and is a scourge to thousands of newborns in underdeveloped countries could soon be wiped out like polio was in the 1950s. Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP), the most common single cause of childhood blindness worldwide, can be eradicated with the injection of a drug into the eyes at the correct time. That's the conclusion of a recent study that was spearheaded by Helen Mintz-Hittner, MD, FACS, professor of pediatric ophthalmology at the University of Texas Health Science Center-Houston Medical School.

"This is a worldwide game changer for ROP" said Dr. Mintz-Hittner, principal investigator of the study. "This is going to catch on rapidly very shortly."

Dr. Mintz-Hittner will discuss her study in a presentation titled "The Possibility of Anti-Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) for Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)" during Driscoll Children's Hospital's grand rounds at 12:30 p.m. Oct. 1 in the hospital's auditorium.

ROP is caused by the abnormal development of blood vessels in the retina affecting preterm infants. Among babies, the primary risk factor is prematurity; those that are very sick are most susceptible. Most babies who develop ROP weigh less than 3 lbs. at birth, but in underdeveloped countries they can weigh up to 5 lbs. For example, in India, there are 50,000 to 60,000 children who are blind due to ROP, Dr. Mintz-Hittner said.

"It's a worldwide problem that is growing exponentially," she said. "Cases are increasing because of the increased survival of premature infants with improvements in neonatal intensive care units."

The standard procedure for treating ROP currently is operating on the retina using a laser. This comes with side effects: It obliterates a portion of the peripheral vision, can leave the patient near-sighted and often causes the development of crossed eyes.

In the study led by Dr. Mintz-Hittner, physicians tested a drug called Avastin, which is commonly used to treat cancer and eye disease in adults. Adults whose eyes were treated with Avastin had greatly improved vision. But the drug had never been used in an organized clinical trial to treat ROP in premature infants.

From March 2008 to August 2010, Dr. Mintz-Hittner and her colleagues compared results of Avastin treatment and laser treatment among babies in the first clinical trial of this kind. Fifteen medical centers across the US were involved in the clinical trial, including Driscoll Children's Hospital, where almost 20 percent of the study's babies were being cared for.

The study was the first to use a RetCam, a $100,000 machine at Driscoll that allows close-up examination of the retina, Dr. Mintz-Hittner said.

The study was conclusive: Injecting Avastin into the eyes of preterm infants at the proper time makes the vessels disappear that cause blindness in ROP and leaves the infants with normal vision.

"It's like putting a needle into a grape," Dr. Mintz-Hittner said. "It takes seconds for the eye to be cured. It can be done by anyone who is medically trained, so it has great potential in developing countries especially."

Simply stated, Avastin decreases the chemical signal that stimulates the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the retina and allows them to grow out normally.

"This is a great step in the fight to improve the outcomes of our premature babies," said Miguel De Leon, MD, medical director of Neonatology Consultants of Corpus Christi. "Our hope is that Dr. Mintz-Hittner's research will one day allow us to save these babies without visual impairments due to ROP."

Dr. Mintz-Hittner said she has been active in ROP research throughout her 36-year career. She has travelled all over the world explaining her latest study to audiences, including India, China, Canada, Germany and the Czech Republic. The study will soon be published, she said.

Driscoll Children's Hospital is currently using Avastin to treat premature newborns. Dr. Mintz-Hittner anticipates that soon "everyone will start using it," she said.

  • What: Grand rounds featuring Dr. Helen Mintz-Hittner and her presentation, "The Possibility of Anti-Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) for Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)"


  • When: 12:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1


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


  • Information: (361) 694-5335


Driscoll designated child abuse Center of Excellence

October 13, 2010
CORPUS CHRISTI - The Child Abuse Resource and Evaluation (CARE) Team at Driscoll Children's Hospital has long been valued in the region for diagnosing and treating children who are suffering from physical and sexual abuse as well as neglect. Texas lawmakers at the last legislative session recognized the epidemic of child abuse in the state and made recommendations to identify Centers of Excellence for the care of victims of child abuse. Driscoll has been recognized as one of only eight centers in Texas to receive this designation, and the only one south of San Antonio.

"The designation of Center of Excellence is the first step in building a network of medical providers to recognize, diagnose and treat the children in Texas who have been abused," said Sonja Eddleman, RN, CA/CP SANE, SANE-A, CMI-III, CFN, clinical coordinator for Driscoll's CARE Team.

Eddleman also stated that a key component of the designation is that the CARE Team's medical director, Dr. Nancy Harper, is one of only 12 board certified child abuse pediatricians in the State of Texas.

Driscoll's CARE Team evaluates approximately 1,700 children each year who have been suspected of being abused, Eddleman said. She encourages anyone who suspects a child has been or may be abused to immediately call the Child Protective Services hotline at 1-800-252-5400 and help protect the small voices in our region.