Patients & Families
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.
Marathon bringing Driscoll weight management patients together
May 01, 2013
Lap band recipients will run Beach to Bay Relay Marathon as the 'Bandsters'
Jamie Bluntzer, 20, is preparing for the 2013 Beach to Bay Relay Marathon.
CORPUS CHRISTI - Crossing the finish line at last year's Beach to Bay Relay Marathon was a proud accomplishment for Jamie Bluntzer. At this year's event, she's taking her goal to the next level.
"I'm more nervous about it this year," she said of the May 18 race. "Last year the goal was to finish. This year I'm putting pressure on myself to run a better time. If I'm going to do it, I'm going to try my best."
Bluntzer will have a special connection to three of her teammates: They've undergone lap band surgery at Driscoll Children's Hospital to control their weight. Two more teammates will be staff from Driscoll's Adolescent Weight Management Program. The lap band procedure helps patients lose and control their weight by the attachment of an adjustable band around the stomach that decreases sensations of hunger. Thirty patients have received lap band surgery at Driscoll since the program began in 2009.
Mohammad Emran, MD, pediatric surgeon at Driscoll Children's Hospital, is providing the team with t-shirts emblazoned with their name, the "Bandsters," for race day. He said joining a Beach to Bay team is something his weight management patients may not have considered previously.
"It gives them an added goal on which to focus their efforts and an accomplishment that breaks through their previous limitations."
Patients who joined the team were excited at the opportunity, said Rachel Glover, coordinator for the Adolescent Weight Management Program and a member of the team.
"I think for some of them, they weren't capable of participating in an event like this in the past. This can help increase their accountability for sticking with a workout routine."
Bluntzer, 20, underwent lap band surgery in March 2010. She said she weighed about 270 lbs. before the operation and weighs about 175 lbs. now. Driven by a competitive spirit, she has been training for Beach to Bay by working out at the gym and running along Ocean Drive with her best friend. She hopes to run her leg of the race - the sixth and last - in under an hour.
"I was never in shape enough in high school to do this," said Bluntzer, a political science and pre-law major at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. "It's proof that I've changed."
Twelve Driscoll patients will be treated to Disney on Ice show
April 24, 2013
WHAT: Twelve Driscoll Children's Hospital patients and their parents or guardians will gather at the hospital's lobby tomorrow and depart for the Disney on Ice show at the American Bank Center, courtesy of H&V Equipment Services, Inc., who purchased the trip for $40,000 at this year's Fiesta de los Niños live auction. Transportation will be provided by TLC The Limo Company, and box seats and refreshments are courtesy of American Bank.
WHEN: 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 25
WHERE: Driscoll Children's Hospital main lobby, 3533 S. Alameda St.
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 Children's Hospital, Whataburger join to help Rio Grande Valley children
April 01, 2013
McALLEN - On a daily basis, physicians and staff from Driscoll Children's Hospital in Corpus Christi travel to Driscoll's specialty clinics in McAllen, Brownsville and Harlingen to treat patients who may have cancer, need a kidney transplant or are suffering from any number of diseases. A significant number of Driscoll's patients live in the Rio Grande Valley.
At the Driscoll Children's Gala kick-off press conference March 29, title sponsor Whataburger presented a check for $45,700 to Driscoll Children's Hospital. Pictured, left to right, are: Jesse Flores, Whataburger area manager; David Cantu, Whataburger director of operations; Hugh Dobson, member of the Whataburger founding family; and Reagan Florence, Driscoll director of development, Rio Grande Valley.
To benefit the Rio Grande Valley clinics, Driscoll has joined with Whataburger for the Driscoll Children's Gala, a fundraiser to be held April 26 at the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show Event Center in Mercedes. The event promises a good time for all, including cocktails, a barbecue dinner, silent and live auctions and dancing to the music of Scott Randolph & The White Lightning Band.
"We are excited to bring this event to the mid-Valley area," said Reagan Florence, Driscoll director of Development in the Rio Grande Valley. "Driscoll Children's Hospital has been helping children in South Texas for 60 years. We hope the community comes out to support the Valley's youth who need the special medical care that Driscoll provides."
On March 29, Whataburger presented Driscoll Children's Hospital with a check for $45,700 as the title sponsor of this year's Gala. Whataburger has been the title sponsor of the Valley fundraiser since its inception in 2004.
"Whataburger is honored for the opportunity to help celebrate Driscoll Children's Hospital's 60th anniversary," said David Cantu, Whataburger director of operations. "The work they do to support the community is life-changing and they have done so many great things for children and their families. We are especially proud of the friendship Whataburger has forged with such an important member of the South Texas family."
Laura Cortez, executive director of Driscoll's Rio Grande Valley clinics, said Driscoll is extremely grateful for Whataburger's sponsorship.
"Whataburger's support, along with the donations of others, will stay in the Valley and enable our children to receive the quality care they deserve right here."
What: Driscoll Children's Gala
When: 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 26
Where: Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show Event Center, 1000 N. Texas Ave., Mercedes
Information/donations: Reagan Florence, (956) 688-1239 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Driscoll Children's Hospital, Whataburger to announce details of upcoming Gala
March 28, 2013
WHAT: Young patients at Driscoll Children's Medical Plaza - McAllen will be among those gathered for a press conference at which Whataburger will present a check to Driscoll Children's Hospital and details will be announced about the upcoming Driscoll Children's Gala in Mercedes. Whataburger has been the title sponsor of the Rio Grande Valley fundraiser since its inception in 2004. Proceeds from the event will benefit Driscoll's specialty clinics in the Valley and the children who are treated there.
WHEN: 10 a.m. Friday, March 29
WHERE: Driscoll Children's Quick Care - McAllen, 1120 E. Ridge Rd.
Driscoll patients going to Spurs game courtesy of generous donors
March 15, 2013
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, owners of JSJ Services, Inc., purchased the package for $41,000 and will be attending the game with the patients. This is the fourth consecutive year the Johnsons have purchased the package.
WHEN: 4:15 p.m. Saturday, March 16
WHERE: Driscoll Children's Hospital main lobby, 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.
Radiothon will broadcast tomorrow from Driscoll Children's Hospital
February 28, 2013
CORPUS CHRISTI - On Friday, March 1, K-99 (KRYS 99.1 FM) will team up with Driscoll Children's Hospital and McDonald's for the 11th annual Radiothon. The one-day event will be broadcasted live from the Half Pint Library in 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 $450,000 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: 11th annual Radiothon
When: 6 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, March 1
Where: Driscoll Children's Hospital main lobby, 3533 S. Alameda St.
Driscoll Children's Quick Care - McAllen has much to celebrate
February 22, 2013
Clinic opened four years ago, recently saw record number of patients
On Feb. 7, staff at Driscoll Children's Quick Care - McAllen celebrated the clinic's four-year anniversary and December's record number of patients. Pictured, left to right, are (front row): Carla Amezquita, Lori Ayala, Juan Calderon, Rebecca Garza, Yadira Ruiz, Dora Renteria, Martin Madera, Juan Mendiola, Yanira Valdez, Jessica Valenzuela and Anna Cavazos; back row: Martin Villarreal, Joe Vasquez, Greg Torres, Brittany Lopez, Gail Weigel and Yesenia Carter.
McALLEN - Staff at Driscoll Children's Quick Care - McAllen recently celebrated the clinic's four-year anniversary and a record number of patients seen in the month of December. The 2,900-square-foot clinic, located in Driscoll Children's Medical Plaza, opened on Feb. 23, 2009 and offers outpatient, non-emergency medical care for patients from birth to 21 years old.
Rio Grande Valley families appreciate Quick Care's hours of operation - 6 to 11 p.m. on weekdays and 2 to 11 p.m. on weekends - because they fill the gap when their children's primary physicians' offices are closed. Quick Care's physicians typically see about 9,500 patients per year, averaging about 790 per month. In December 2012, a record 1,114 patients were seen.
Laura Cortez, executive director of Driscoll's Rio Grande Valley clinics, attributes Quick Care's success to a local staff and Driscoll's legacy of excellent pediatric medical care.
"We're proud to say that our staff and physicians are from the Rio Grande Valley and they understand the needs of the community," she said. "We care for children with all the experience that Driscoll Children's Hospital has to offer."
Non-life-threatening illnesses like coughs, colds, asthma and allergies can be treated at Driscoll Children's Quick Care - McAllen, as well as minor lacerations, fractures and sprains. Laboratory services, X-rays, ultrasounds and computed tomography scans are also performed at the Medical Plaza.
Driscoll Children's Quick Care - McAllen is located at 1120 E. Ridge Rd. and can be reached at 800-525-8687 (toll free) or (956) 688-1350.