DCH News

Patients & Families

Once-fragile preemies and their families reconnect with Driscoll staff at NICU Reunion

October 13, 2014
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Infants in Driscoll Children's Hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) usually are there during the most fragile time in their lives. Patients and their families can spend months in the hospital, so it's no surprise that strong bonds often form with NICU physicians, nurses and other caregivers. Because of those relationships, Driscoll Children's Hospital has the NICU Reunion each fall to give everyone a chance to reconnect and celebrate the lives of the babies who have grown into children and adults.

"The NICU Reunion is a great opportunity for our patients, families and staff to keep in touch with each other," said Patricia Carr, Driscoll's assistant vice president of Patient Care Services. "It is a real joy to watch the growth and development of our children as they progress each year. Some of our patients who are now adults bring their own children to share in the event."

At the fall festival-themed celebration, Driscoll staff members who have cared for NICU patients over the years caught up with more than 150 families, who were eager to share stories of their children's progress since their stay at Driscoll. NICU "graduates" enjoyed food, games, prizes and other goodies at the 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 52-bed NICU cares for premature and critically ill infants from 31 South Texas counties.

Hospital's patients to have signing for Christmas book they created

October 13, 2014
Allison Shaffer is a burgeoning young writer, but she already knows the key to being a great author - create stories that come from personal experience. That's what the 17-year-old former Driscoll Children's Hospital patient did when she wrote "Tiny, The Small Christmas Tree," a Christmas book written by Shaffer and illustrated by 10 different Driscoll patients.

Shaffer and the young illustrators will have a book signing at 3 p.m. Monday, Oct. 13 at Driscoll Children's Hospital. The book is on sale for $5 at the hospital's Carousel Gift Shop and through Driscoll's web site (www.driscollchildrens.org) with proceeds going to the Auxiliary to Driscoll Children's Hospital.

Allison is a second-born twin, who weighed just two pounds at birth and spent the first 63 days of her life in the Driscoll Children's Hospital Neonatal Intensive-Care Unit. At four years old, Allison was diagnosed with mild cerebral palsy, which mainly affects her left leg. She had surgeries at ages 4 and 13 to help her walk more normally.

"After the surgeries, she had to learn to walk again, basically," said Wendy Shaffer, Allison's mother. "She's been a trooper through it all."

"Tiny, The Small Christmas Tree," is a story with which Allison can relate. In the book, Allison writes of an abnormally small Christmas tree that none of the children want to play around. Eventually the tree adapts and uses its strengths to become just as popular as the other Christmas trees.

"I came up with the story when I was a kid," Allison said. "I really was kind of a loner in a way, so I drew back on personal experience as a child. I thought back to when I was a kindergartner and I went from there. Once I got into writing mode, it really just took me one night to write it. The story just came easily to me."

Like the story's Tiny, Allison has conquered the mental aspect of her disease.

"I'm very blessed to have mild cerebral palsy," said Allison, whose family moved away from Corpus Christi when she was four and is currently a junior at College Station's A&M Consolidated High School. "I have to work a little harder than other kids. I have to do stretches and things like that to keep my legs relaxed and flexible so I'm able to walk more normally, but it all has strengthened my pride and made me tougher. I don't look at this as being a curse at all. I wouldn't change anything. It's all been a blessing."

Allison is a confident young lady, who already is working on writing a novel. However, she admits to being nervous about being the center of attention at her first book signing.

"I'm very nervous, but very excited that I get to do that," Allison said. "It means a lot to be able to do something like this for Driscoll Children's Hospital, which has helped me so much since I was a baby.

TINY, THE SMALL CHRISTMAS TREE'S ILLUSTRATORS
Brooke Hester, 7, Corpus Christi
Jonah Vargas, 5, Corpus Christi
Claribel Garcia, 6, Corpus Christi
Maden Rivera, 3, Corpus Christi
Kendra Amy, 3, Corpus Christi
Vivian Wrinkle, 6, Corpus Christi
Joshua Miller, 4, Robstown
Gianna Veliz, 6, Odem
Enrique Garcia, 12, Corpus Christi
Sean Hoover, 12, Austin

May is National Trauma Awareness Month

May 05, 2014
Remember to always wear your helmet!
Remember to always wear your helmet!
CORPUS CHRISTI - According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration more children ages 5 -14 go to emergency rooms for bicycle related injuries than with any other sport, many are head injuries. It is important to keep your head safe and always wear a helmet when participating in a wheeled sport. Here are some tips from Driscoll Children's Hospital, Kohl's Keep Your Kids Safe, and Kohl's Cares:

Fitting your helmet:

Step 1: Size: Measure your head to find the correct size. To measure properly, start above the eyebrows and measure to the widest part of the head. Try on several helmets until one fits right.

Step 2: Position: The helmet should sit level on your head and low on your forehead - one or two finger widths above your eyebrow.

Step 3: Side Straps: Adjust the slider on both straps to form a "V" shape under and slightly in front of the ears.

Step 4: Buckles: Center the left buckle under the chin. This task is easier if you take the helmet off to make these adjustments.

Step 5: Chin Strap: Buckle your chin strap. Tighten the strap until it is snug so that no more than one or two fingers fit under the strap.

Step 6: Final fitting:

Does your helmet fit right? Open your mouth wide and yawn. The helmet should pull down on your head. If not refer back to step 5 and tighten the chin strap.

Does your helmet rock back more than two fingers above the eyebrows? If so, unbuckle and shorten the front strap by moving the slider forward. Buckle and retighten the chin strap, and test again.

Does your helmet rock forward into your eyes? If so, unbuckle and tighten the back strap by moving the slider back toward the ear. Buckle and retighten the chin strap, and test again.

Roll the rubber band down to the buckle. All four straps must go through the rubber band and be close to the buckle to prevent from slipping.

Here are some great tips for helmet use:

  • Replace your helmet when it has been in a crash; damage is not always visible.

  • Buy/fit the helmet for now: Buy a helmet that fits your head not a helmet to grow into.

  • Ensure helmet comfort: If you buy a helmet that you find comfortable and attractive, you are more likely to wear it. Readjust as necessary to ensure the helmet fits properly each ride.

  • Cover you head: Adjust the helmet fitting based on your helmet first being in the correct position, level on the head and low on your forehead.

  • Adjust straps until snug: Both the side and chin straps need to be snug.

  • Avoid helmet rocking: Your helmet should not rock forward, backward or side-to-side on your head. If your helmet rocks more than an inch, go back to step 6 and re-adjust.


Remember to always wear your helmet on every ride! http://www.keepyourkidssafe-kck.com/

Driscoll's kidney transplant recipients come from all over South Texas for annual Reunion

April 28, 2014
CORPUS CHRISTI - On Saturday, Driscoll Children's Hospital will celebrate seven years of renal transplants with patients and their families at the annual Transplant Reunion. For nearly 10 years, Driscoll's Kidney Center has offered comprehensive kidney care to the children of South Texas, including transplantation, general nephrology services, on-site and home pediatric dialysis. For children with end-stage renal disease, transplantation is the ideal treatment.

"The reunion not only fosters the relationship between our patients who see they aren't alone in this journey, but it allows our patients and staff to reconnect outside of the clinic as well," said Leticia Castaneda, social worker at Driscoll's Kidney Center.

According to Samhar Al-Akash, MD, medical director of the Kidney Center, patients and staff members alike look forward to the event every year. "We enjoy seeing our patients outside of the clinic, running around and having fun. It means we did our jobs by giving them a better quality of life away from dialysis machines and medical equipment," he said.

As the only pediatric transplant program in South Texas, Driscoll has performed 72 kidney transplants since the program began in 2007. Patients range in age from 1 to 21 years, and come from all over South Texas

"We're honored that parents choose Driscoll Children's Hospital to care for their children," said Stephen Almond, MD, surgical director of Driscoll's Renal Transplant Program. "This reunion is just a way for us to say thank you to our patients and families and to celebrate their new lives."

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

  • When: Noon Saturday, April 26

  • Where: FunTrackers, 9605 South Padre Island Dr.

Driscoll's Teddy Bear Hospital is a chance for patients to be the doctors

April 08, 2014
WHAT: Patients will be the doctors tomorrow during a Teddy Bear Hospital organized by the Stripes Child Life Program at Driscoll Children's Hospital. The event allows children to become more familiar with the medical equipment and procedures involved in their treatment. They'll choose their teddy bear, give it a name and, with the help of Child Life Specialists and other Driscoll staff, measure its height and weight, place an IV and draw labs, give it an X-ray, attach an anesthesia mask for surgery and put an arm or leg in a cast. The Teddy Bear Hospital and the Stripes Child Life Program at Driscoll Children's Hospital are made possible by a $1 million donation from Stripes convenience stores.

WHEN: 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 9, 2014

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

April is Child Safety Month

April 01, 2014
Driscoll Children's Hospital's Injury Prevention Program team
Driscoll Children's Hospital's Injury Prevention Program team
CORPUS CHRISTI - Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children age one through 12 years old. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash data, in 2010 almost an average of two children were killed and 325 were injured each day. This fatality rate could be reduced by half if the correct child safety seat had been used. Here are some great tips from Driscoll Children's Hospital and Kohl's Cares to help protect your child while in the car.

Car seat recommendations for children:

  • Select a car seat based on your child's age and size.

  • Choose a seat that fits in your vehicle and use it every time.

  • Always refer to your specific car seat manufacturer's instructions; read the vehicle owner's manual on how to install the car seat using the seat belt or LATCH system; and check height and weight limits.

  • To maximize safety, keep your child in the car seat for as long as possible, as long as the child fits within the manufacturer's height and weight requirements.

  • Keep your child in the back seat at least through age 12.


Birth - 12 months

  • Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat. There are different types of rear-facing car seats: Infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing. Convertible and 3-in-1 seats usually have higher weight limits, allowing children to stay rear-facing longer.


1 - 3 years

  • Keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. Your child should remain rear-facing until he or she reaches the maximum height and weight allowed for the seat.


4 - 7 years

  • Your child should stay in a forward-facing seat with harness until he or she reaches the maximum height and weight limit allowed for the seat. Once the child has outgrown the harness, the child is now ready for a booster seat.


8 - 12 years

  • Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit into a seat belt properly. The law in Texas requires all children younger than 8 years old, unless they are taller than 4 feet 9 inches, to be properly restrained in a child safety seat.


Kohl's Keep Your Kids Safe, Driscoll Children's Hospital's Injury Prevention Program, in partnership with Kohl's Cares, offers free car seat inspections. To make an appointment and have your car seat checked to ensure the safety of your child, call (361) 694-6700. http://www.keepyourkidssafe-kck.com/

Driscoll patients go to Spurs game courtesy of generous donors

March 28, 2014
WHAT: Five Driscoll Children's Hospital patients and their parents or guardians will gather at the hospital's lobby and depart for San Antonio to see a Spurs game as part of a live auction package purchased at this year's Fiesta de los Niños. Steve and Jessica Johnson of JSJ Services, Inc. have purchased this item at Fiesta for the last six years, donating a total of $152,250 to Driscoll Children's Hospital.

WHEN: 4 p.m. Saturday, March 29

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

Driscoll patients to be treated to Child Life Month celebration

March 10, 2014
March is Child Life Month
March is Child Life Month
CORPUS CHRISTI - The Stripes Child Life Program at Driscoll Children's Hospital will celebrate Child Life Month with a superhero-themed party for in-house patients tomorrow. The sixth 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.

"Child Life professionals strive to promote coping and reduce anxiety of children and their families. They embrace the power of play to teach children about their diagnosis, prepare for and support during painful procedures," said Michelle Goodman, director of the fourth floor and the Stripes Child Life Program at Driscoll.

Driscoll Children's Hospital began a Child Life program in 1985. Today, Driscoll has nine Child Life Specialists who provide service to the Emergency Room, in-patient units 4T, 6T and 7T, the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Renal Dialysis, Driscoll's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, Day Surgery and Radiology.

Activities at the celebration will include face painting, making their own superhero masks and capes, superhero bowling and dart board, and photo booth. Employees from Stripes convenience stores will provide a carnival-style prize wheel and store coupons.

  • What: Child Life Month Superhero Celebration for Driscoll patients

  • When: 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 11

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


12th annual Radiothon will broadcast live from Driscoll Children's Hospital

March 05, 2014
CORPUS CHRISTI - On Friday, March 7, K-99 (KRYS 99.1 FM) will team up with Driscoll Children's Hospital for the 12th annual Radiothon. The one-day event will be broadcasted live from the main lobby at Driscoll Children's Hospital beginning at 6 a.m.

Listeners can tune in to hear patients, parents, physicians and staff share inspirational stories of hope and healing. Over the past decade, K-99 listeners have helped raise more than $500,000 to benefit the patients and services provided at Driscoll Children's Hospital.

For more information or to donate, contact Driscoll's Development Department at (361) 694-6401.

  • What: 12th annual K-99 Radiothon benefiting Driscoll Children's Hospital

  • When: 6 a.m. - 6 p.m. Friday, March 7

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

Valdez brings neurology expertise to Driscoll

February 26, 2014
Valdez
Valdez
CORPUS CHRISTI - Marcos Valdez, MD, has joined Children's Physician Services of South Texas at Driscoll Children's Hospital as a pediatric neurologist. Dr. Valdez was previously in private practice in McAllen, Texas for 10 years. He completed his residency in pediatrics at Scott & White Memorial Hospital - Texas A&M College of Medicine in 1999 and a fellowship in clinical neurophysiology at Texas Children's Hospital - Baylor College of Medicine in 2003. Dr. Valdez earned his medical degree in 1987 at Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon Medical School in Mexico. He is certified in neurology with a special qualification in child neurology by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.