DCH News

Press Releases

Mike Bratten, (361) 548-6073

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 kidney patients go to Spurs game courtesy of generous donors

March 18, 2011
WHAT: Five Driscoll Children's Hospital kidney patients and their parents or guardians will gather and depart for a San Antonio Spurs game as part of a package purchased at this year's Fiesta de los Niños, one of Driscoll's largest annual fundraisers. Steve Johnson of JSJ Services, Inc. purchased the live auction package at Fiesta de los Niños and will be attending the game with the patients. Transportation will be provided by TLC The Limo Company. The Spurs tickets are provided by Julianne Hawn Holt and Peter Holt.

WHEN: 2:30 p.m. Saturday, March 19

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

Students collect Easter toys, donate to Driscoll patients

March 15, 2011
Pictured are (back row, from left): Pam Voss, Central Christian School director; Tina Coddington, Central Christian School computer & music teacher; Ellen Carruthers, Driscoll Auxiliary chair; and (front) Julianna Martinez, daughter of Robert R. Elizalde and second grade student at Central Christian School.
Pictured are (back row, from left): Pam Voss, Central Christian School director; Tina Coddington, Central Christian School computer & music teacher; Ellen Carruthers, Driscoll Auxiliary chair; and (front) Julianna Martinez, daughter of Robert R. Elizalde and second grade student at Central Christian School.
McALLEN - The Auxiliary to Driscoll Children's Hospital at Driscoll Children's Medical Plaza - McAllen recently received a generous donation of 625 plush toys from Central Christian School to give to patients throughout the Easter holiday. The project was a collective effort of the students, administration and staff members at the school. Under the direction of teacher Tina Coddington, students donated money to a fund drive to help buy stuffed bunnies for Easter. Joining in their efforts were members of Baptist Temple Church in McAllen, who donated many handmade and beautifully crafted puppies, and Robert R. Elizalde, State Farm Insurance agent from Edinburg, who donated over 200 cuddly bears.

To donate to the Auxiliary to Driscoll Children's Hospital or for information on volunteer opportunities, call Ellen Carruthers at (956) 688-1235 or (956) 289-3170.

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.

K99 Radiothon will feature inspirational stories of hope and healing

March 03, 2011
WHAT: The 9th annual K99 Radiothon benefiting Driscoll Children's Hospital will be broadcast live from the hospital with on-air hosts interviewing patients, parents, physicians and staff about their experiences at the hospital. K99 (KRYS 99.1 FM) listeners will be encouraged to call in and pledge at (361) 694-6400.

WHEN: Friday, March 4, 6 a.m.-6 p.m.

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

With healthcare reimbursement at risk in state budget, Driscoll team will go to Austin, seek support from legislators

March 01, 2011
CORPUS CHRISTI - For Driscoll Children's Hospital, certain proposed cuts and changes in the state's budget mean reduced services for the children of South Texas. In response, a contingent of physicians and volunteers from Driscoll will travel to Austin to voice their concerns to legislators about healthcare issues. The group will leave the hospital by bus the morning of March 2 for a one-day trip.

There are two main issues that Driscoll wishes to address. The first is a proposed $20 million cut in Medicaid provider payments. Driscoll Children's Hospital is the second-highest-ranking hospital in the state for percentage of Medicaid patient days. The proposed budget would cut the hospital's inpatient and outpatient reimbursement by 10 percent, or approximately $10 million, and cut Driscoll's Upper Payment Limits reimbursement by approximately $10 million. If this is approved, Driscoll's ability to provide specialty services such as cancer treatment, kidney transplants and heart surgery will be diminished.

The other issue concerns a Medicaid managed care expansion, for which Driscoll is requesting support from legislators. This not-for-profit health plan, proposed by the state's Health and Human Services Commission, will enable the hospital to continue its wide range of services without fear of non-Medicaid payment.

The Driscoll team plans to make their case with simple, straightforward facts. This includes:

Driscoll has saved the lives of thousands of South Texas children. In many cases, Driscoll is their only source for medical help.

  • Medicaid is the lifeblood of medical care for many South Texas children.

  • Driscoll serves one of the poorest populations in the United States.

  • Medicaid presently pays approximately 85 percent of Driscoll's costs to treat Medicaid patients.

  • Driscoll is one of only five free-standing children's hospitals in the State of Texas, providing care from Victoria to Laredo and throughout the Rio Grande Valley.

Since 1953, Driscoll Children's Hospital's not-for-profit mission has been to care for the children of South Texas, regardless of their ability to pay.

Young heart patients to celebrate at the Heart Center at Driscoll Children's Medical Plaza - McAllen

February 09, 2011
WHAT: In observance of Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week, the Heart Center at Driscoll Children's Medical Plaza - McAllen is hosting a celebration for its heart patients. Physicians will be on hand to visit with the patients, and the event will feature cake, punch, a painting activity and photographs for keepsake magnets. All patients of the Heart Center are being invited. Spanish speaking staff will be available for interviews.

WHEN: Thursday, Feb. 10, 3:30 p.m.

WHERE: The Heart Center at Driscoll Children's Medical Plaza - McAllen, 2nd floor, 1120 E. Ridge Rd.

INFO: (361) 549-8724

New Cottage Shop is open for business

February 07, 2011
The Cottage Shop's new location opens for business Feb. 7, 2011.
The Cottage Shop's new location opens for business Feb. 7, 2011.
The brand new, completely rebuilt Cottage Shop is open for business at Driscoll Children's Hospital. The 1,800-square-foot building is stocked with men's, women's and children's clothing, toys, household items, collectors' items and more.

The Cottage Shop offers gently used and new merchandise. It's a great place to shop for people who are in search of bargains and hard-to-find items.

"It's for bargain hunters and treasure seekers," said Lizette Saenz, director of Volunteer Services at Driscoll. "It's a different type of shopping, where you can find unique items and collectibles at great prices. The clothes and items are seasonal, fashionable and some even vintage."

The Cottage Shop is operated by the Auxiliary to Driscoll Children's Hospital, who receive 100 percent of its proceeds. Ultimately the funds go to the hospital for a variety of projects such as the Children's Miracle Network. The store's first priority is to provide clothes and necessities to patients and their families who are in need, Saenz said.

For about 15 years, the Cottage Shop had been housed in a 1,500-square-foot portable building. The Auxiliary outgrew the building and, in 2009, the $250,000 project to build a new store began. Fittingly, it features a quaint, cottage-style exterior.

"The exciting thing about shopping there is that the merchandise changes daily," Saenz said. "We never know what we're going to get."

The Cottage Shop accepts donations of new and gently used items. Store hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call (361) 694-5800 for more information.

Driscoll being recognized for its breastfeeding program

February 07, 2011
Laurie Beck, RN, MSN, IBCLC
Laurie Beck, RN, MSN, IBCLC
CORPUS CHRISTI - As the lactation program coordinator at Driscoll Children's Hospital, Laurie Beck, RN, MSN, IBCLC, oversees all the hospital's services involving breast milk and breastfeeding. An advocate for breastfeeding, Beck is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and a member of the International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA).

Last month, the ILCA and the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners announced the launch of a brand new online resource, the "IBCLC Care Directory," which lists more than 200 hospitals and birthing facilities that have received the "IBCLC Care Award." This recognition, which includes Driscoll Children's Hospital, was given to facilities that have IBCLCs on staff, provide ongoing breastfeeding training for all care providers who see new mothers and babies, and which offer breastfeeding support programs for new families. The IBCLC Care Directory is available at www.ibclccare.org.

"Driscoll Children's Hospital was one of the first recipients of the award," Beck said. "I am proud to work at a hospital that is promoting and supporting breast milk for all the babies in South Texas."

In addition, the ILCA lists Beck in their "Find a Lactation Consultant Directory" online at www.ilca.org. The directory is offered to help mothers quickly and easily find an IBCLC in their community.

19th annual Fiesta de los Niños to be held as scheduled

February 04, 2011
CORPUS CHRISTI - Driscoll Children's Hospital's 19th Annual Fiesta de los Niños will take place tonight beginning at 6:30 p.m. as scheduled. To be held at the American Bank Center Exhibit Hall, the event is a major annual fundraiser for Driscoll Children's Hospital. This year's proceeds will go toward the expansion and redesign of the hospital's Emergency Services Department.

Event schedule:

6:30 p.m. - Doors open, reception, silent & bid-board auctions open, dancing to Still Crazy
7:00 p.m. - Western barbecue dinner served
8:30 p.m. - Live auction begins, silent auction closes (Bid-board remains open until 10:00 p.m.)
9:30 p.m. - Featured entertainer, John Conlee

For more information, contact the Driscoll Children's Hospital Development Department at (361) 694-6401.