DCH News

Patients & Families

Presentation to focus on need for donor breast-milk

November 29, 2011
WHAT: Mom's Place, a breastfeeding resource center and donor breast-milk collection site at Driscoll Children's Hospital, invites the community to a presentation on non-profit milk banks and the safe processing of donor human milk for medically fragile babies. The goal of the presentation is to bring awareness to the community about the use of donor milk for premature babies and sick children and to increase the number of women who donate their milk. Presenter will be Kim Updegrove, executive director of the Mothers' Milk Bank at Austin. RSVP is required (see below).

WHEN: 9 - 10 a.m. Monday, Dec. 12

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

RSVP: Laurie Beck, (361) 694-5338

Butterfly Room to be dedicated at Driscoll Children's Hospital

November 14, 2011
WHAT: Driscoll Children's Hospital will hold a special dedication for the Butterfly Room, a newly renovated patient room for terminally ill patients and their families. Featuring adjoining rooms - one for the patient and the other for family to stay around the clock - the Butterfly Room is specially designed to offer a peaceful and therapeutic environment. The suite's set-up is conducive to a family's grieving process, allowing private time in the adjoining family room when needed without being too far from their child's hospital room. Renovations include soothing colors and artwork and curtains to strategically hide wall panels with medical equipment in the patient area, as well as a sleeper sofa, compact refrigerator and microwave in the family room. The Butterfly Room renovations were made possible by a donation of $35,000 from the 2010 Valero Texas Open golf tournament.

WHEN: 3 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 15
WHERE: Driscoll Children's Hospital, 3533 S. Alameda St., 4th Tower

Driscoll, H-E-B join to make grocery shopping therapeutic

November 09, 2011
Project will be the first of its kind in a children's hospital

CORPUS CHRISTI - The regular trip to the grocery store - a life's chore that is tedious for some adults and perhaps enjoyable for others - will in the near future be a part of Driscoll Children's Hospital's rehabilitation therapy program.

With some extra space to fill in Driscoll's Rehabilitation Services Department, staff members recently brainstormed on what to do with it. Their goal was to have a place for pretend-play. A member mentioned seeing an H-E-Buddy Market at the Children's Museum of Houston, which gives children the grocery shopping experience in miniature. The group realized the therapeutic possibilities the activity would offer to Driscoll patients.

"When you put it all together, the grocery store would help us create a series of events that are encountered in the real world," said Susan Fields, director of Driscoll's Rehabilitation Services Department. "Children learn best when they don't know they are working."

A meeting with representatives from H-E-B followed, and the company enthusiastically decided to donate $30,000 toward an H-E-Buddy Market at Driscoll. Tomorrow, officials from H-E-B will present a check to Driscoll officials for the project and display items from the H-E-Buddy Market. When completed, it will include small grocery carts and baskets, shelves of child-friendly food packages, plastic produce, a refrigerated food section, check-out stand, a touch-screen cash register and more.

H-E-Buddy Markets in children's museums such as those in Houston and Laredo are designed to engage children in activities that will help them learn and grow, said Shelley Parks, manager of Public Affairs for H-E-B.

"The museums offer children a chance to make decisions based on healthy eating, menus, what they can buy for the money they have to spend and how to count and make change. There are a lot of learning activities that go into the museums."

Fields said several rehabilitative therapies can be employed in the mini-market as well. With Driscoll's physical therapists, children can improve their standing and balancing ability by reaching and picking items from high and low shelves. Pushing a grocery cart can help those who need to work on walking. In a play kitchen next to the grocery store, they can choose where to store the food. Speech therapists can help children improve language skills by having them name, match, categorize or describe products. And with Driscoll's occupational therapists, children can work on problem solving by planning a meal, purchasing items, making change and generally improving their fine motor skills.

"All these goals can be addressed while playing in a first-class, pretend-play environment," Fields said. "We're taking something H-E-B has done very well and we're going to apply it to helping the children in the community that we both serve."

Parks said incorporating an H-E-Buddy Market into a children's hospital for rehabilitative purposes hasn't been done before.

"H-E-B is proud to be able to partner with Driscoll on this unique program. The idea that children will learn to improve their balance and dexterity by using grocery carts, pulling items off of shelves, ringing up items, etc....is a wonderful example of creative thinking that works."

When completed, the H-E-Buddy Market at Driscoll will be available to any child in the community who needs rehabilitation therapy. For more information, call Driscoll's Rehabilitation Services Department at (361) 694-5678.


  • What: H-E-Buddy Market display and check presentation

  • When: 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 10

  • Where: Driscoll Children's Hospital, Rehabilitation Services Department, 3533 S. Alameda St.

Driscoll patients trick-or-treat in the hospital during the Pumpkin Parade

October 28, 2011
WHAT: The 11th annual Pumpkin Parade is a chance for patients at Driscoll Children's Hospital to get dressed up in their Halloween costumes and go trick-or-treating within the hospital. Driscoll employees will line the route with toys for the children as they parade by. Representatives from Stripes convenience stores and naval aviators from the Pilot for a Day program will also participate.

WHEN: 1:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 31

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

Patients to have Halloween celebration at Driscoll Children's Hospital

October 18, 2011
WHAT: Volunteers with Spirit Halloween's Spirit of Children program are bringing a Halloween celebration for patients at Driscoll Children's Hospital, including costumes, activities and more. There will be plenty of opportunities for photos and interviews.

WHEN: 1:30-2 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 19

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

Reunion brings once-fragile babies back to see their caregivers

October 14, 2011
CORPUS CHRISTI - Oftentimes, infants who are brought to Driscoll Children's Hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) are there during the most fragile time in their lives. Patients and their families can spend several months in the hospital, day in and day out, so it's no surprise that strong bonds are formed with the physicians, nurses and other members of the healthcare team who not only care for a child, but offer support to a child's family as well.

Because of the relationship that forms between patient and caregiver, Driscoll Children's Hospital holds the NICU Reunion each fall to give patients and families a chance to reconnect with their healthcare team and to celebrate the lives of those babies who have grown to be healthy children.

Trish Carr, assistant vice president of Patient Care Services says, "The reunion is a great way for our staff to keep in contact with the patients they care for. They are always so excited to see the progress the children have made. It's a great thing, being able to watch [our patients] grow up."

During the fall festival-themed celebration, staff who have cared for Driscoll patients over the years will be on hand to meet with the more than 200 families who are eager to share stories of what their children have been doing since their stay at Driscoll - some possibly many years ago. In addition to dressing up in their Halloween costumes, patients will enjoy games, prizes, pizza and other goodies at the annual 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 41-bed NICU has cared for more than 20,000 premature and critical infants in South Texas, offering the highest level of care in 31 counties.

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

  • When: 2 - 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15

  • Where: Driscoll Children's Hospital, Rehabilitation Services parking lot, 3533 S. Alameda St.

Support group offers help for grieving children, their parents

October 04, 2011
CORPUS CHRISTI - When a loved one dies, adults and children both grieve. However, children grieve differently than adults, according to Nora Besinaiz, child life specialist at Driscoll Children's Hospital. Recognizing that there are few programs in the community to help children through the grieving process, Driscoll Children's Hospital has developed the Lean on Me program.

"Children need a special place where they can go," Besinaiz said. "They need to be around other children experiencing the loss of a loved one. This helps them learn that they're not the only ones grieving. They don't have to grieve alone and wonder about their feelings."

Lean on Me is a structured, six-week program for children ages 6 years and older that begins on Oct. 6. It includes bereavement curriculum specially designed for children, and each session builds on the previous one. With the guidance of Driscoll's chaplains and child life specialists, children will be encouraged during meetings to express their feelings by discussion or through art or writing.

Parents and caregivers are also included in the Lean on Me program because the death of a loved one affects the whole family, Besinaiz said. Adults will meet for bereavement sessions with Driscoll's social workers and chaplains while the children's group meets.

"Our goal is to give the family tools and ways to help them talk to each other and support each other when they're not with us in the one-hour sessions," Besinaiz said.

Besinaiz said the fall session of Lean on Me was planned before the holidays because for many families it may be the first holiday season without their loved one, and holidays typically are the toughest times for those who are grieving.

There is no charge to participate in the Lean on Me program. Driscoll only asks that families - children and their parents or caregivers - commit to attend the six-week program. Babysitting will not be available during the program.

  • What: Lean on Me program for children ages 6 years and older and their parents or caregivers

  • When: 6 to 7 p.m. Thursdays, Oct. 6 through Nov. 10

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

  • Information/registration: Nora Besinaiz, (361) 694-5763

National Weather Service Employees to deliver gifts to cancer patient

September 27, 2011
WHAT: Employees at the National Weather Service's Corpus Christi and Brownsville offices will present gifts they collected to a Driscoll cancer patient whose story they read on Driscoll's web site (www.driscollchildrens.org). Matthew Carroll, 8, of Brownsville, had to have his lower left leg amputated last March due to osteosarcoma, a malignant tumor of the bone. He now receives care at Driscoll Children's Hospital and Driscoll Children's Specialty Center - Brownsville.

WHEN: 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28

WHERE: Driscoll Children's Specialty Center - Brownsville, 5500 N. Expressway

Car seat inspection event will be hosted by Driscoll's Injury Prevention Program, community partners

September 23, 2011
CORPUS CHRISTI - Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children 3-14 years old. The National Highway Safety Administration estimates that roughly three out of four 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.

Through a partnership with the All Star Mitsubishi dealership, Driscoll Children's Hospital's Injury Prevention Program and community partners urge parents and caregivers to have their children's car seat checked on National Seat Check Day, Saturday, Sept. 24. As part of Child Passenger Safety Week, Sept. 18-24, certified child passenger safety technicians will be available to inspect car seats and provide hands-on advice. They will also focus on reminding the community to "Never Leave a Child Alone in a Car." Forty-nine children died from heat stroke while unattended in cars in 2010 - the worst year on record. Texas led all states with 13 deaths.

"We want to remind the community to make sure kids are buckled up in an appropriate child safety seat 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. We also want to make sure kids are not left alone in vehicles not even for a minute and to make it a habit to always check the back seat."

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

Updated recommendations emphasize how important it is to keep children in each restraint type for as long as possible before moving them to the next type as they grow. For maximum child passenger safety, parents and caregivers should visit their local inspection station to ensure their children's car seats are used properly:

  • Birth - 12 months
    For the best possible protection, any child under age 1 should always ride 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 car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing parents to keep their child rear-facing for a longer period of time.
  • 1 - 3 years
    The child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by the car seat's manufacturer. This may result in many children riding rear-facing to age 2 or older. Once a child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, he or she is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.
  • 4 - 7 years
    Keep the child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by the car seat's manufacturer. Once the child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it's time to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat.
  • 8 - 12 years
    Keep the child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seatbelt properly. For a seatbelt to fit properly the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snugly across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face.

Parents and guardians should remember:
  • Select a car seat based on the child's age and size, choose a seat that fits in the vehicle and use it every time.
  • Always refer to the 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 the 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 the child in the back seat at least through age 12.

  • What: Children's car seat checks
  • When: 10 - 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 24
  • Where: All Star Mitsubishi, 2440 S. Padre Island Dr.

2nd annual Hair Cutting Event a clear-cut success

September 20, 2011
People watch with anticipation as the first ponytail is clipped from a generous donor at the Childhood Cancer Awareness Hair Cutting Event on Sept. 19.
People watch with anticipation as the first ponytail is clipped from a generous donor at the Childhood Cancer Awareness Hair Cutting Event on Sept. 19.
The second annual Childhood Cancer Awareness Hair Cutting Event at Driscoll Children's Hospital Sept. 19 was a huge success. About 400 people came through the doors of the hospital's auditorium, some to have their hair cut and some to support friends and family members who were having their hair cut. More than 100 ponytails were clipped by the end of the event, all of which will be used to make wigs for young cancer patients who've lost their hair due to chemotherapy. Some Driscoll cancer patients even assisted the hair stylists as they cut hair.

Corpus Christi Mayor Joe Adame was on hand to read a proclamation in observance of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Other speakers included Steve Woerner, Driscoll's president and CEO, and Clay Powell from ExxonMobil, whose generous donation helped make the event possible. Free food was provided by Freebirds World Burrito, and music was provided by DJ Dexter Miranda. The Coastal Bend Blood Center had a bloodmobile on site and received 33 units of donated blood. And of course nothing would have been possible without the hair stylists who gladly donated their time to cut hair for this wonderful cause. Based on the community's response, organizers at Driscoll are already looking forward to next year's event.