DCH News

Healthcare Professionals

Tilley joins Driscoll Children's Hospital as neonatologist

October 18, 2011
Melissa Tilley, MD
Melissa Tilley, MD
CORPUS CHRISTI - Melissa M. Tilley, MD, has joined Driscoll Children's Hospital as a neonatologist in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. She most recently completed a neonatology fellowship at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston.

Dr. Tilley earned a bachelor's degree in nursing at Corpus Christi State University in 1993, a master's degree in nursing at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston in 1995 and a doctorate in medicine at Universidad Autonoma de Tamaulipas in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico in 2004. She completed her residency at Driscoll Children's Hospital. Dr. Tilley is certified by the American Board of Pediatrics.

Driscoll team recognized for conducting clinical trials that improve life for cancer patients

October 17, 2011
Driscoll's oncology team, led by Dr. Cris Johnson,  includes physicians, nurses, child life specialists, social workers, chaplains, rehab therapists, lab workers and a host of other specialists.
Driscoll's oncology team, led by Dr. Cris Johnson, includes physicians, nurses, child life specialists, social workers, chaplains, rehab therapists, lab workers and a host of other specialists.
CORPUS CHRISTI - There's a battle going on to cure childhood cancer and hematologist/oncologist Cris Johnson, MD and her team at Driscoll Children's Hospital are in the trenches. Part of the battle involves clinical trials in which new medications are tested that could reduce unpleasant side effects caused by chemotherapy and radiation treatment. In that effort, Dr. Johnson and her team have earned a certificate of recognition for significantly contributing to enrollments in National Cancer Institute-sponsored clinical trials.

"We're participating in an international effort to cure childhood cancer," said Dr. Johnson, director of hematology/oncology at Driscoll's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. "We enroll patients in research trials with the goal of improving survival rates while decreasing side effects and late effects of treatment."

Dr. Johnson and her team were recognized by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Community Clinical Oncology Program/Minority-Based Community Clinical Oncology Program (CCOP/MB-CCOP). The CCOP is a network for testing and validating medical interventions against cancer and delivering the benefits of scientific discovery to the public. The Minority-Based CCOP program is a companion group to reach areas with large minority populations, which includes Corpus Christi and the 31 counties that Driscoll serves.

"A great number of our patients are minorities," Dr. Johnson said. "This population is often underserved and their response to treatment can vary from non-minorities. It's important to include all ages and races in clinical trials."

This is the first time the CCOP/MB-CCOP and NCI have recognized physicians for their enrollment efforts, according to Anne-Marie Langevin, MD, professor of pediatrics at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and principal investigator of the South Texas Pediatric MB-CCOP (STP MB-CCOP), a consortium of four pediatric oncology programs that includes Driscoll Children's Hospital.

As a consortium, the STP MB-CCOP ranks second in the state of Texas in terms of enrollment of children with cancer in NCI-sponsored clinical trials. Dr. Johnson and her team contributed more than 35 percent of those enrollments in the past year. In 2010, they had 119 enrollments.

"This is a fantastic achievement considering that (Driscoll) is competing with adult oncologists who see a lot more patients," Dr. Langevin said.

An example of a clinical trial that is underway at Driscoll involves a new drug that counteracts hearing loss caused by a chemotherapy medication used to treat tumors.

"We are hoping that this new drug decreases the incidence of hearing loss after chemotherapy," Dr. Johnson said. "To know if the drug is effective, an organized clinical trial needs to be performed."

Results of clinical trials like this are submitted to the Children's Oncology Group, a worldwide clinical trial cooperative group supported by the NCI and dedicated to studying childhood cancers, Dr. Johnson said.

Dr. Johnson said she's honored to receive the recognition from the CCOP/MB-CCOP and NCI, but she's quick to credit her team of fellow physicians, nurses, child life specialists, social workers, chaplains, rehab therapists, lab workers and a host of others.

"Without this team we wouldn't be able to take care of the children the way they need to be taken care of," she said.

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.

Chavez is new Radiology Services director at Driscoll

October 11, 2011
Ernest Chavez
Ernest Chavez
CORPUS CHRISTI - Ernest Chavez has joined Driscoll Children's Hospital as director of Radiology Services. He was formerly the director for medical imaging services, diagnostic imaging outpatient center, radiation oncology and transportation at Danville Regional Medical Center in Danville, Va. Chavez earned a degree in radiologic technology in 1975 at Odessa College and a master's degree in hospital administration in 1987 at Wayland Baptist University in Plainview.

President of American Academy of Pediatrics to give insights into profession

October 06, 2011
WHAT: James Stockman, MD, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, will appear for a Grand Rounds session for pediatricians and healthcare providers in the community. He will give a presentation titled, "Best Articles of the Last Decade." Dr. Stockman will review recent articles and studies of interest to pediatricians, particularly articles that have changed the way they practice medicine. He will also discuss trends that will impact the pediatric workforce in this century and assess how education methodologies can be integrated into cost-effective care.

WHEN: 12:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7

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

Pulmonologist comes to Driscoll from New York

October 04, 2011
Jon Roberts, MD
Jon Roberts, MD
CORPUS CHRISTI - Pediatric pulmonologist Jon Roberts, MD, FCCP, has joined Driscoll Children's Hospital after practicing in New York. He completed his pediatric residency and pulmonary fellowship training at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola in 2006. Dr. Roberts earned his medical degree from New York Medical College School of Medicine in Valhalla in 2000, and he is certified by the American Board of Pediatrics.

Perinatologist joins Driscoll Children's Hospital

September 26, 2011
Ryan Loftin, MD
Ryan Loftin, MD
CORPUS CHRISTI - Perinatologist Ryan Loftin, MD, has joined Driscoll Children's Hospital and Maternal Fetal Medicine of South Texas. Dr. Loftin comes to South Texas after completing a three-year fellowship in maternal-fetal medicine at the University of Cincinnati. He earned his medical doctorate in 2003 at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. From 2003 to 2004 he trained as a Paul Ambrose Fellow at the New Hampshire - Dartmouth Family Practice and Leadership-Preventive Medicine residencies in Concord, NH. He then began a residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in El Paso, which he completed in 2008.

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.

New partnership to provide faster patient transports to Driscoll Children's Hospital

September 16, 2011
CORPUS CHRISTI - Driscoll Children's Hospital and HALO-Flight, Inc. have begun a partnership that will result in an unprecedented level of service for critically ill and injured children of South Texas. Beginning this month, HALO-Flight will dedicate a helicopter exclusively to Driscoll Children's Hospital. This partnership will significantly reduce the time it takes to transport patients to the hospital.

"The purpose of this partnership is to transport newborns, infants and children with life threatening illnesses and injuries to the hospital as fast as possible," said Steve Woerner, president and CEO of Driscoll Children's Hospital.

Helicopters roughly cut transport time in half compared to ambulances, according to Driscoll records. For example, the average round trip by ambulance from Driscoll to a hospital in Brownsville is seven hours. The same round trip by helicopter is around three hours.

"By having a dedicated HALO-Flight helicopter, Driscoll will be able to better serve children throughout our 31-county service area," Woerner said. "This is monumental in our mission of providing hope and healing to the children of South Texas."

Excellent patient care is at the forefront of HALO-Flight's partnership with Driscoll, said Tom Klassen, HALO-Flight, Inc.'s executive director.

"Our goal is to continue to provide advanced critical care utilizing our premier helicopters and the highly skilled flight crews at Driscoll. HALO-Flight is dedicated to ensuring that the children of South Texas have the opportunity for a better chance at life by receiving air ambulance transports. We are two companies who have been, and will continue to be, serving South Texas residents' emergent needs."

Driscoll Children's Hospital is the only major hospital in South Texas to have this partnership with HALO-Flight, according to Patricia Carr, director of Driscoll's neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and Transport Department. The hospital's service area covers 31 counties and 33,000 square miles, with its level III NICU offering the highest level of care in the area.

Driscoll, HALO-Flight to announce new partnership

September 15, 2011
WHAT: Officials from Driscoll Children's Hospital and HALO-Flight, Inc. will hold a press conference to announce a new partnership that will result in an unprecedented level of service for critically ill and injured children of South Texas. A helicopter will be unveiled during the event.

WHEN: 9:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 16

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