Driscoll transplant recipients to gather at annual reunion
May 03, 2013
'It's a family reunion,' 19-year-old said of May 4 event
Joe Esparza, 19, received a kidney transplant at Driscoll Children's Hospital in August 2012.
CORPUS CHRISTI - In the months before he received a kidney transplant at Driscoll Children's Hospital last August, Joe Esparza had plenty of reasons to be depressed. His failing kidneys meant he couldn't eat french fries, cheese and fatty foods. He couldn't play contact sports, including football, his favorite. And missing classes for dialysis treatments would delay his high school graduation a full year. But Joe's positive attitude and supportive family pulled him through the challenges he faced.
"I enjoyed coming to dialysis and seeing the nurses," he said after a recent checkup at Driscoll's Kidney Center. "They made the time go by so fast. I was disappointed to stop seeing them. But I feel a lot better now. I've had a lot more freedom since my transplant. I have more of a social life and I can eat anything I want."
Joe, 19, plans to see staff from the Kidney Center at Driscoll's sixth annual Transplant Reunion, to be held Saturday at West Guth Park. The event, a celebration for Driscoll's 65 kidney transplant patients and their families, is a chance for them to visit, share their experiences and have fun. It will have a Fiesta theme this year, with piñatas, Mexican bingo, a Mexican food dinner, inflatables and an obstacle course. About 200 people are expected to attend.
"The Transplant Reunion is our way of celebrating our patients' and families' journeys to overcome their disease process through transplant," said Anita Rosales, Driscoll transplant coordinator. "It's a chance for them to celebrate a new life."
Joe's grandparents, Herminia and Julian David Castañeda, accompany him to all his appointments at Driscoll. Like Joe, they've become fond of the staff at the Kidney Center.
"It's like a big family," Herminia Castañeda said. "They welcome everyone and they go all out for the patients."
A kinship develops among patients and families when they're facing a serious medical procedure like a kidney transplant, she added. Joe agreed and began naming friends he made while they were undergoing dialysis treatment together and waiting for their transplants. He hopes to see them Saturday at the Transplant Reunion.
"It's a chance to bond," he said. "After you get a transplant, you don't see a lot of people anymore. So this isn't like a transplant reunion. It's a family reunion."
What: Driscoll Children's Hospital's sixth annual Transplant Reunion
When: Noon Saturday, May 4
Where: West Guth Park, 9725 Up River Rd.
Dwarfism doesn't prevent 3-year-old boy from living life
May 02, 2013
Ethann Valdez's story is second in Driscoll Children's Hospital's 60th anniversary series
Ethann Valdez, 3, was born with achondroplasia, a type of dwarfism. He's been a patient at Driscoll Children's Hospital since he was born.
CORPUS CHRISTI - Darting around a waiting area at Driscoll Children's Hospital with a huge smile on his face, Ethann Valdez has the seemingly endless energy of any 3-year-old boy. He doesn't appear to be bothered much by the life-threatening disorders that have affected him throughout his young life - and that's fine with his parents.
"We treat him like a normal child," said his mother, Brittney Guerrero. "We take him outside so he can be a boy and not live in a bubble. He knows sign language and can do handstands. He does seem to wonder why people look at him sometimes."
Tired out after a burst of energy, Ethann slows down to catch his breath. He inhales and exhales through a tube that protrudes from his throat called a trach, making a wheezing sound. He received a tracheotomy because his airway is abnormally narrow, referred to as airway stenosis, his mother said.
Airway stenosis is just one of the medical conditions that make Ethann a special member of the Driscoll Children's Hospital family. He was born with achondroplasia, a type of dwarfism caused by a genetic defect that occurs in about one out of 26,000 to 40,000 babies, according to WebMD.com. That was accompanied by a variety of health issues that have brought Ethann and his family to Driscoll over the past three years. He regularly sees a pediatric cardiologist, pulmonologist, otolaryngologist and geneticist at Driscoll.
Just about anywhere Ethann goes at the hospital, someone recognizes him.
"Driscoll is like our second family," Guerrero said. "A lot of people know Ethann here. They're part of our support system."
Recently, a major concern for Ethann's family has been the narrowing of his heart valves, a condition related to his dwarfism. Heart surgery might fix the problem, but it's too risky to perform at this time because of his other medical issues, said Umang Gupta, MD, pediatric cardiologist at Driscoll Children's Hospital.
Ethann's parents employ nurses to help with his round-the-clock healthcare needs. Like most people who interact with him, licensed vocational nurse Janine Hobrecht adores her patient.
"He's a unique little boy," said Hobrecht, who cares for Ethann Monday through Friday. "He's very talkative and likes to have fun. He's enjoying his life and he's OK with his disabilities."
Paige Cooper, a registered nurse at Driscoll's Pediatric Cardiology clinic, is another of Ethann's "fans." She said he's thriving despite his many obstacles, thanks in large part to his parents.
"Ethann and his family are so positive and a joy to be around," Cooper said. "His family is eager to learn all they can about his disorders. They embrace his uniqueness, challenge him daily and celebrate his every accomplishment."
Guerrero said she appreciates receiving straightforward information from physicians regarding her son's health, even if it isn't pleasant. She and Ethann's father, John Matthew Valdez, have resolved themselves to stay positive regardless of what the future holds.
"Whatever happens, we'll be OK," Guerrero said. "What keeps me going is knowing nobody has an expiration date. We can go anytime. So we should enjoy each other's presence. Every moment is important."
This is the second in a series of stories about extraordinary patients that Driscoll Children's Hospital is sharing throughout 2013 as part of its 60th anniversary celebration.
Celebrating the past, looking to the future: Driscoll marks 60 years
April 02, 2013
Ceremony includes dedication of historical marker honoring hospital's founder
On April 2, an historical marker was unveiled honoring Driscoll Children's Hospital's founder, Clara Driscoll. Pictured, left to right, are Steve Woerner, Driscoll president & CEO; Anita Eisenhauer, chairwoman of the Nueces County Historical Commission and member of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas - Clara Driscoll Chapter; Karen Thompson, president general of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas; Corpus Christi Mayor Nelda Martinez; and Loyd Neal, chairman of Driscoll's governing board.
CORPUS CHRISTI - Notable guests and community leaders gathered today to commemorate Driscoll Children's Hospital's 60th anniversary and witness the dedication of an historical marker honoring the hospital's founder, Clara Driscoll. The ceremony, held in Driscoll's auditorium, offered both a reflection on the past and a glimpse of the future.
Speakers included Steve Woerner, Driscoll president and chief executive officer, Loyd Neal, chairman of Driscoll's governing board, Corpus Christi Mayor Nelda Martinez and representatives from the Texas Historical Marker Program and the Daughters of the Republic of Texas (DRT). The ceremony began with messages of welcome from Neal and Woerner, followed by a flag ceremony performed by Flour Bluff High School's state champion Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps drill team.
Donna Quinn, Driscoll vice president of Operations and Quality, shared news about the renovation and expansion of Driscoll's Emergency Department (ED). In 1987, Driscoll became the first hospital in South Texas to offer emergency services specifically for pediatrics, and the ED currently serves about 35,000 children each year. The $12 million renovation and expansion project will significantly enhance overall patient care and result in a state-of-the-art ED. When it is completed in late 2014, it will include:
Two trauma rooms
Twenty private exam rooms
Two triage areas with ideal visibility to the waiting area
An expanded central nursing station
An expanded waiting area
A new ambulance vestibule and weather protection canopy
An outward extension of the building, allowing for an expanded lobby
Mayor Martinez spoke to the audience about Driscoll's importance to the community. Driscoll Children's Hospital is the seventh largest employer in Corpus Christi, and Driscoll Health System employs approximately 1,800 people throughout South Texas. She also paid tribute to the Clowns Who Care, a group of more than 30 women who volunteer their time to entertain patients, parents and staff at Driscoll Children's Hospital. Mayor Martinez has long been a member of the group, using the moniker, "Madame Flutterby."
Anita Eisenhauer, a member of the Nueces County Historical Commission and the DRT's Clara Driscoll Chapter, and Karen Thompson, president general of the DRT, provided information on the
Texas Historical Marker Program and Clara Driscoll's legacy. The historical marker dedicated today honors Driscoll as an important and educational person in local history.
A true product of South Texas, Driscoll was born in 1881 in St. Mary's of Aransas, Texas on Copano
Bay. Growing up on her family's ranch, called Palo Alto, she was equally skilled with a revolver, rifle and lariat. By the time she was 16, she could speak four languages: English, Spanish, French and German. In 1904, she was proclaimed "The Savior of the Alamo" after purchasing the structure for $75,000 and saving it from destruction for commercial interests.
Driscoll's philanthropy led her to political pursuits. A generous giver to the Democratic Party, she was elected National Democratic Committeewoman in 1928, a post she held until 1944. Following the death of her brother in 1929, Driscoll was called upon to take over the Driscoll empire, which consisted of cattle, oil and vast tracts of land. Prior to her death on July 17, 1945, she chose to honor her family's memory by leaving the bulk of her enormous estate to provide for the medical treatment of the children of South Texas. Driscoll Children's Hospital would become the first free-standing pediatric hospital in South Texas. It was dedicated on February 22, 1953 and had 25 beds. It's now a 189-bed facility that serves patients from 31 counties and 33,000 square miles of South Texas.
Today's ceremony culminated with Woerner and Neal unveiling the historical marker that will be permanently displayed outside Driscoll Children's Hospital facing Alameda Street. This year, the hospital has hosted 60th anniversary parties for patients and employees, and its website features special patient stories, an anniversary video and an historical timeline (www.driscollchildrens.org).
Driscoll's 60th anniversary ceremony will include dedication of historical marker
April 01, 2013
WHAT: A ceremony commemorating Driscoll Children's Hospital's 60th anniversary and the dedication of an historical marker honoring its founder will be held tomorrow. Speakers will include Nueces County Judge Loyd Neal, Corpus Christi Mayor Nelda Martinez and representatives from the Texas Historical Marker Program and the Daughters of the Republic of Texas.
WHEN: 3 p.m. Tuesday, April 2
WHERE: Driscoll Children's Hospital auditorium, 3533 S. Alameda St.
Stripes Child Life Carnival is a fun interlude for Driscoll patients
March 11, 2013
CORPUS CHRISTI - A Stripes Child Life Carnival for patients will be held tomorrow by staff with the Stripes Child Life Program at Driscoll Children's Hospital. The fifth annual event is designed to make hospitalization a little more pleasant for children by providing a distraction from their illness and an opportunity for socialization, self-expression and normalization.
"The Stripes Child Life Carnival provides an excellent opportunity for our organization to express appreciation to our Child Life staff while providing fun activities for our patients to help ease their mind from stress and illness," said Michelle Goodman, fourth floor and Stripes Child Life Program director at Driscoll.
Activities at the carnival will include a ring toss game, cake walk, fishing game, treasure hunt, magic show, treasure box decorating, Xbox Kinect game and photo booth. Patients will also be able to make their own ice cream sundaes. Employees from Stripes convenience stores will provide a carnival-style prize wheel and store coupons.
The Stripes Child Life Carnival is made possible by a $1 million commitment from Stripes convenience stores in 2009.
What: Stripes Child Life Carnival for Driscoll patients
When: 1 p.m. Tuesday, March 12
Where: Driscoll Children's Hospital auditorium, 3533 S. Alameda St.
Joyal promoted to NICU director at Driscoll
March 04, 2013
CORPUS CHRISTI - Christopher Joyal, RN, BSN, CPN, has been promoted to director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Driscoll Children's Hospital. He previously served as manager of Driscoll's Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). Joyal has also worked in Driscoll's Transport Services Dept. and, as the PICU educator, he was instrumental in bringing best practice initiatives to the unit. He is a graduate of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.
Mokhashi joins Driscoll as pediatric endocrinologist
March 04, 2013
CORPUS CHRISTI - Moinuddin H. Mokhashi, MD, FAAP, has joined Children's Physician Services of South Texas at Driscoll Children's Hospital as a pediatric endocrinologist. Dr. Mokhashi was previously with Specialty Pediatrics Ltd. in Yuma, Ariz. and the State of Arizona's Children's Rehabilitative Services. He completed his residency in pediatrics at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center - New Orleans in 2005 and a fellowship in pediatric endocrinology/diabetes at Children's Hospital in New Orleans in 2003. Dr. Mokhashi earned his medical degree in 1999 at Bangalore University in India. He is certified by the American Board of Pediatrics.
Sutton joins Driscoll as pediatric pathologist
February 25, 2013
CORPUS CHRISTI - Lisa M. Sutton, MD has joined Driscoll Children's Hospital as a pediatric pathologist. Dr. Sutton completed a fellowship in pediatric pathology at Children's Medical Center in Dallas and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. She performed her residency at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, where she also earned her medical degree. Dr. Sutton is certified in anatomic and clinical pathology by the American Board of Pathology.
Three Driscoll physicians included on Top Doctors list
February 21, 2013
CORPUS CHRISTI - Three Driscoll Children's Hospital physicians have been included on U.S. News & World Report's list of Top Doctors. Samhar Al-Akash, MD, Stephen Almond, MD and Jaime Fergie, MD were nominated by fellow physicians to be on the list (http://health.usnews.com/top-doctors), which is designed to be a reliable resource for patients and referring physicians.
Samhar Al-Akash, MD, Stephen Almond, MD and Jaime Fergie, MD
"First, we want to help consumers find the doctors who can best address their needs," the U.S. News website states. "Second, we want to enlist doctors across the country in sharing their awareness of who among their peers are the most worthy of referral."
Physicians on the Top Doctors list are identified by name, location, hospital affiliation and specialty. Specialties span more than 2,000 diseases, medical issues and procedures.
"I think inclusion on the list is a big positive for Driscoll Children's Hospital as well as myself," said Dr. Almond, a pediatric surgeon who, with Dr. Al-Akash and others, helped launch Driscoll's Kidney Transplant Program in 2007. More than 60 kidney transplants have since been performed at Driscoll.
"It's a reflection of the hospital's administration and governing board because they had the foresight to start the transplant program."
U.S. News determines which physicians qualify as Top Doctors in collaboration with New York City-based Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. Physicians are chosen based on nominations from other doctors and reviews by Castle Connolly's physician-led research team. Any physician may nominate one or more peers, but doctors can't nominate themselves. Physicians can't pay U.S. News or Castle Connolly to be selected as Top Doctors. Hospitals or group practices also can't pay to have their doctors selected.
"It's an honor to be included on this list," said Dr. Fergie, Driscoll's director of Infectious Diseases. "I'm grateful to my colleagues who nominated me and to all those who have supported the research program in Infectious Diseases at Driscoll Children's Hospital. This encourages me to continue serving the children of South Texas."
Driscoll celebrates its 60th anniversary with a party for patients
February 20, 2013
CORPUS CHRISTI - The first of several events planned to commemorate Driscoll Children's Hospital's 60th anniversary will be held tomorrow, and the invitees are the most important people in the Driscoll family: our patients.
"We thought, what better way to celebrate Driscoll's anniversary than to throw a party for our patients?," said Karen Long, Driscoll vice president of Patient Care Services and Chief Patient Care Officer. "The children of South Texas are the reason Driscoll Children's Hospital was created 60 years ago and they're the reason we're here today. They deserve to have some fun."
Tomorrow's event will have the feel of a giant birthday party, with children enjoying music, games, a magic show and face painting. A photo booth will be available for keepsake photos and patients will be able to make their own party hats. Birthday-themed treats will be offered to party-goers, including a cake.
Driscoll Children's Hospital was dedicated on February 22, 1953 and had 25 beds. It's now a 189-bed facility that serves patients from 31 counties and 33,000 square miles of South Texas. Throughout 2013, Driscoll's website will feature special patient stories, videos of anniversary wishes and the hospital's historical timeline. The web address is www.driscollchildrens.org.
What: Driscoll Children's Hospital's 60th anniversary party for patients
When: 2 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21
Where: Driscoll Children's Hospital auditorium, 3533 S. Alameda St.