DCH News

Outdoor activities, games and camaraderie in store for asthmatic children at Camp Easy Breathers

June 14, 2013
CORPUS CHRISTI - Asthmatic children will partake in some swashbuckling next week as the 12th annual Camp Easy Breathers gets underway in Rockport. Sponsored by Driscoll Children's Hospital, the Coastal Bend Community Foundation and the Coastal Bend Asthma Initiative, it will be from June 17-21 at Camp Aranzazu.

"A pirate theme is being incorporated into some of the group activities this year like 'Sail Away!,' an activity in which the campers build their own boat and sail it," said Shelly Bigelow, camp director and respiratory therapist at Driscoll Children's Hospital. "It's about team building and helping the kids get to know each other better."

While there is no cure for asthma, Camp Easy Breathers emphasizes to children with the disease that they can live a healthy, active life. The physical and social activities they'll experience will be fun and also increase their understanding of asthma, Bigelow said.

The camp utilizes interactive teaching methods such as open dialogue, various media, activities and game-play. All will reinforce key lessons to the children such as:

  • Understanding asthma and how it affects them;

  • Recognizing and avoiding asthma attack triggers;

  • Recognizing warning signs to improve asthma management;

  • Knowing how and when to take medicine;

  • Staying healthy and staying in school.


Activities at the camp will include swimming, archery, arts and crafts, outdoor games, sports and an awards show.

"Camp Easy Breathers is a great opportunity for children to make new friends, become more independent and take on real challenges in a safe environment," Bigelow said.

Asthma is a chronic disease in which the airways in the lungs become swollen, clogged and overly sensitive to changes in the environment. During an attack, the muscles that surround the airways tighten and the inner lining of the airways swells and pushes inward. Asthma kills about 5,000 Americans each year and costs the United States more than $10 billion a year in direct and indirect medical expenses. Timely diagnosis, appropriate treatment, partnership with a healthcare professional and reduction of exposure to environmental factors are some of the things that help children living with asthma.


  • What: 12th annual Camp Easy Breathers for asthmatic children ages 7-14

  • When: June 17-21

  • Where: Camp Aranzazu, 5420 Loop 1781, Rockport

Leukemia survivor finds fun, friends, normality at summer camp

June 12, 2013
Elizabeth Ochoa, a leukemia survivor, prepares for archery at Camp Star Trails in 2011.
Elizabeth Ochoa, a leukemia survivor, prepares for archery at Camp Star Trails in 2011.
Driscoll Children's Hospital organizes annual trip to Camp Star Trails for cancer patients

CORPUS CHRISTI - To say that Elizabeth Ochoa is excited about going to summer camp next week is an understatement. On June 16, the 9-year-old will depart with other cancer patients from Driscoll Children's Hospital for her fifth trip to Camp Star Trails in Burton.

"I like swimming, meeting new friends and art," Elizabeth said with wide-eyed enthusiasm. "We get to go canoeing and fishing. The best part of it is the hot tub. I like the food too."

Camp Star Trails is hosted at Camp for All, a camp for children and adults with chronic illnesses or disabilities and their families. Driscoll Children's Hospital organizes the yearly trip for cancer patients ages 5-12 and their siblings, and funding comes from the annual Six Points Kiwanis Club Apple Sale.

Elizabeth was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at age 2, said her mother, Marilou Ochoa. She had become fatigued, her legs were bruised and she couldn't walk or play. After consulting with her pediatrician, Elizabeth's family took her to Driscoll Children's Hospital, where she began chemotherapy treatment.

"At first we had a feeling of panic because we didn't know what to expect," Ochoa said. "But the oncologists at Driscoll were great. They explained everything to us and lifted our spirits."

Elizabeth lost her hair completely three times due to chemotherapy treatment, her mother said. Now in her third year of being cancer-free, she has a full head of hair and a constant smile.

Cancer treatment and hospitalization can significantly curtail regular childhood activities, said hematologist/oncologist Cris Johnson, MD, medical director of Driscoll's Cancer & Blood Disorders Center. Summer camp allows kids to catch up on those experiences.

"At camp, you're a camper, not a patient," Dr. Johnson said. "It gives these children the opportunity to be kids and to focus on their abilities instead of their disabilities. They're supported by other children who understand what they're going through. They form lasting friendships and look forward to seeing each other every year."

Besides making new friends at Camp Star Trails next week, Elizabeth said she's looking forward to seeing a friend she made at Driscoll who was also being treated for cancer.

Elizabeth's older sisters have gone to camp with her twice, Ochoa said. Like Elizabeth, they enjoyed making new friends and interacting with young people who could relate to them. Sibling inclusion is important when a family is focusing on a child with cancer, Dr. Johnson said.

"When their brother or sister is in clinic for treatment, they're often in school and don't have the chance to meet the siblings of other cancer patients. Camp allows them to form a peer group with this shared experience."

Although Ochoa misses Elizabeth when she's at camp, she said the annual week away from home has helped her daughter become more independent because she has to remember to brush her hair and teeth and take a bath every day.

Brushing and bathing aren't at the top of Elizabeth's mind as camp approaches, however.

"At the end of the week, we have a campfire and we make a list of what we wish for," she said. "We hold hands in a circle, they say our name and we throw our wishes into the fire. Then we pop fireworks.

"When we get home, I feel like I want to go back again because I miss everybody."

What: Driscoll cancer patients depart for Camp Star Trails
When: 9 a.m. arrival, 10 a.m. departure Sunday, June 16
Where: Driscoll Children's Hospital Day Surgery & Rehabilitation Building, 3533 S. Alameda St.

Driscoll Health Plan presents Kids' Day at Harlingen Field

June 07, 2013
HARLINGEN - Driscoll Health Plan (DHP) is sponsoring Kids' Day for member families during Rio Grande Valley WhiteWings games on June 10, June 25, July 21 and Aug. 13 at Harlingen Field. Perks for families include:

Free admission for children 17 and under
Discounted tickets
Private meet & greet with the team before the games
First pitch honors

"Our members are important to us and Kids' Day is our way of saying thanks for their continued support," said Mary Dale Peterson, MD, chief executive officer of DHP.

Members need only to show their DHP identification card at the ticket booth to receive up to six tickets for $10. The first 20 members who arrive 1 hours before game-time will get to meet the team. Finally, one lucky member will be chosen to throw out the first pitch at each of the four games.

For more information about DHP, go to www.driscollhealthplan.com or call 855-425-3247.

What: Kids' Day for Driscoll Health Plan member families
When: 7:05 p.m. June 10, June 25, July 21 and Aug. 13
Where: Harlingen Field, 1216 Fair Park Blvd.

Driscoll Health Plan presents 'At the Ballpark' for members

June 07, 2013
LAREDO - Driscoll Health Plan (DHP) is sponsoring "At the Ballpark," a member appreciation event, during the Laredo Lemurs games June 9 and July 14 at Uni-Trade Stadium. Perks for members include:

Discounted tickets
Team autographs
On-field appearance
First pitch honors

"Our members are important to us and a night 'At the Ballpark' is our way of saying thanks for their continued support," said Mary Dale Peterson, MD, chief executive officer of DHP.

Members need only to show their DHP identification card at the ticket booth to receive a $2 discount on tickets. The first 20 members in line by 6 p.m. on game days will receive team autographs. The first 50 members who arrive at the ballpark an hour before game-time will be presented on the field. Finally, one lucky member will be chosen to throw out the first pitch at each game.

For more information about DHP, go to www.driscollhealthplan.com or call 855-425-3247.

What: "At the Ballpark" for Driscoll Health Plan members
When: 7:30 p.m. June 9 and July 14
Where: Uni-Trade Stadium, 6320 Sinatra Pkwy., Laredo

Driscoll cancer patients to enjoy annual fishing tournament

June 06, 2013
WHAT: The Chemo Kids Fish Off is an annual excursion that allows cancer patients at Driscoll Children's Hospital to take their minds off chemotherapy and enjoy a morning of fishing. About 45 children will ride in boats driven by fishing guides who will be donating their time. After fishing, trophies will be awarded to the children in various categories.
WHEN: Boats depart at 8 a.m. & return at 11 a.m. Monday, June 10
WHERE: Hampton's Landing Marina, 430 E. Ransom Rd., Aransas Pass

The staff welcomed us with open arms

June 03, 2013
On Friday, May 31, Montanna was playing outside with her daddy when she jumped off the trampoline and broke her arm just above her elbow. We left our local emergency room about 11:30 p.m. that night. When we arrived at Driscoll Children's Hospital, the emergency room had been notified that we were coming and the staff welcomed us with open arms.

The wait in the ER was quick and everyone was so kind and caring. A nurse came to our room at 6:30 and said they would take her back for surgery at 7:30. Sure enough, they were there at 7:30 to get her. Everyone in the operating room was so loving and caring. After surgery, they let me go in the recovery room while she woke up. Dr. (Roger) Timperlake, the anesthesiologist and the nurses were amazing and each gave me a comforting hug. The care that we received on the 7th floor was just as amazing. We will return on Wednesday, June 5, for her hard-cast placement.

I will be forever grateful for all the love and care Driscoll gave not only to Montanna but mommy and daddy too! Thank you!


Submitted by: Susan, Harlingen, Tx

I beat the odds. Driscoll saved my life

June 03, 2013
I would like to thank everyone at Driscoll Children's Hospital who helped me while I was a patient. At the age of 10 I contracted meningococcemia. I was given only a slim chance of survival and my parents were told that if I survived the night there was a possibility I might not be able to walk, talk or do anything by myself. But by God's grace and the physicians at Driscoll, I made a full recovery. Today I am 23 and going to a university. I was offered a scholarship to play soccer, but decided to stay close to home. I graduated from high school in the top 10 percent of my class and I was an honor student also. So, to make a long story short, I beat the odds. Driscoll saved my life. THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING.


Submitted by: Samantha Nicole, Weslaco, TX

I am really thankful for all the care, attention and love

June 03, 2013
On Nov. 15, 2012, my little Angel came into the world. I was the happiest mom in the world but I knew something was wrong. At two days old he was diagnosed with a bowel obstruction (atresia). Angel arrived on a helicopter at Driscoll Children's Hospital. He had surgery and we spent a month at the hospital. I am really thankful for all the care, attention and love they gave to my little Angel. Three months later, we went back for his last surgery. Everything went well, thank God, and thanks to the doctors and sweet nurses in the neonatal intensive care unit. Thanks, Driscoll Children's Hospital. You all really do miracles.

Submitted by: Deyanira, Zapata, TX

Driscoll Health Plan members offered discount at Sunday's Laredo Lemurs game, concert

May 31, 2013
WHAT: Driscoll Health Plan is offering its members a $2 discount on tickets to this Sunday's Laredo Lemurs game and Christian music concert at Uni-Trade Stadium. Point of Grace, a Christian music band, is scheduled to perform immediately following the game against the Kansas City T-Bones.
WHEN: 3:16 p.m. Sunday, June 2
WHERE: Uni-Trade Stadium, 6320 Sinatra Pkwy.

Children's Miracle Network Telethon coming to Rio Grande Valley

May 31, 2013
Event benefitting Driscoll Children's Hospital will be broadcast Sunday on KGBT

RIO GRANDE VALLEY - After more than 24 years of sharing true-to-life stories of children meeting tremendous challenges with the help of South Texas' finest healthcare professionals, the Children's Miracle Network Telethon staged by Driscoll Children's Hospital is coming again to viewers on KGBT TV in the Rio Grande Valley.

Months of preparation go into the Children's Miracle Network Telethon every year. Interviews with patients, parents and physicians are recorded and neatly packaged, and the stories are no less than miraculous. KGBT graciously hosts the program at their Harlingen studio and dedicates their time and talent to make it run smoothly. They interview Driscoll physicians, young patients and parents in between recorded stories. Many of Driscoll's patients reside in the Rio Grande Valley and receive treatment and checkups at the hospital's clinics in Harlingen, Brownsville and McAllen.

The telethon shows viewers how a non-profit children's hospital like Driscoll is bringing care and compassion to children in 31 South Texas counties. To meet those needs with new physicians, procedures, equipment and programs, fundraisers such as the Children's Miracle Network Telethon are crucial. And year after year, the community responds. Last year, $750,000 was raised through the telethon in the Rio Grande Valley.

"Driscoll Children's Hospital is thrilled with the generous and loyal support received from so many grateful people and corporations throughout the Rio Grande Valley," said Martha St. Romain, Driscoll vice president of Development. "It shows a commitment by all that the children of South Texas deserve the highest level of quality, specialized healthcare that only Driscoll can provide."

What: Children's Miracle Network Telethon benefiting Driscoll Children's Hospital on KGBT TV
When: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday, June 2; phone banks open to take pledges until 5 p.m.
Where: KGBT TV, 9201 W. Expressway 83, Harlingen
Information: (361) 694-6401 or go to www.driscollchildrens.org and click on CMN Telethon