Rx in the City 2011
No growing pains here

Top-rated Texas Children's Hospital continues to grow full speed ahead under CEO Mark Wallace

Top-rated Texas Children's Hospital continues to grow full speed ahead under CEO Mark Wallace

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Courtesy of Texas Children's Hospital
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Mark Wallace as served as Texas Children's Hospital president and CEO since 1989. Courtesy of Texas Children's Hospital
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Texas Children's newly-expanded Fiegin Center. Photo by Allen S. Kramer/Texas Children's Hospital
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Texas Children's West Campus Registration Desk in the main lobby. Photo by Allen S. Kramer/Texas Children's Hospital
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Texas Children's Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute. Photo by Paul Vincent Kuntz/Texas Children's Hospital
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Texas Children's West Campus adds to the hospital empire. Photo by Allen S. Kramer/Texas Children's Hospital
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The architectural rendering of the Pavilion for Women entrance drive. Courtesy of Texas Children's Hospital
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It's difficult to imagine the fledgling Texas Children's Hospital when doors opened in 1954 to a three story building with little more than 100 beds. One million patients and more than half a century of growth later, Texas Children's stands as one of the premiere pediatric hospitals in the country, one that continues to expand its reach beyond expected borders.

As Texas Children's president and CEO Mark Wallace says, "There is an incredible story unfolding at Texas Children's Hospital here in the Texas Medical Center . . . This is a story of growth at Texas Children's Hospital."

Indeed, Texas Children's has experienced exponential growth since the doors opened on that modest hospital encompassing 350,000 square feet. Today, with expanded facilities in the medical center, health centers scattered across the city and the spanking new West Campus, located at Interstate 10 and Barker-Cypress, the prestigious hospital commands 4.5 million square feet of serviceable space. And there is no slowing down.

 This is not the stopping point. "We have to continue to grow," Wallace says, pointing out that the pediatric population in that Houston area is expected to grow by 32 percent from 2010 to 2030. 

Texas Children's Hospital West Campus, for example, sits on 55 acres, the purchase of the large parcel clearly made with expansion in mind. As Wallace points out, there are 400,000 children living within a 10-minute drive of the hospital. The campus is currently operating 48 beds with a capacity for 96.

Wallace says of TCH in general, "Our needs are increasing on a daily basis with the hospital running 90 to 100 percent occupancy." And even as the largest children's hospital in the country, Wallace adds "We are undersized based on the current demand for our services."

Thinking really big

But let's not get ahead of the story. As Texas Children's bold Vision 2010 program moves into its latter stage, the hospital has much to shout about. The ambitious $1.5 billion capital campaign and expansion of facilities is astonishing. The fact that the huge sum could be raised during an economic downturn is high tribute to Texas Children's leadership and the faith of the Houston community in the hospital's future. 

"Since our founding in 1954,"Wallace says, "our vision has been to serve as a mecca of pediatric medicine in Houston and in the state . . .  our goals have always been to expand quality and excellence in our specialties. Houstonians demand this excellence." And they have contributed generously to these goals through foundations, private donations and corporations.

"We have been blessed with our resources. Houstonians are willing to invest in the future of Texas Children's to make sure that we have the capacity to take care of all children and to offer the very finest care."

The Pavilion for Women & beyond

One of the highly-anticipated programs of Vision 2010 is the Pavilion for Women,  a comprehensive obstetrics/gynecology facility focusing on high-risk births, which is expected to begin serving out-patients in November and move into full service in early 2012. By 2015, the Pavilion is expected to be delivering 5,000 babies a year, 25 percent of those at high-risk.

Included in the Vision 2010 package was the launch last December of the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute, where programming is headed by the renowned Dr. Huda Zoghbi; expansion of the Feigin Center; opening of the West Campus satellite; expansion of existing research facilities; and funding of new equipment and information systems to support quality improvement.

"The focus has been on research and accessibility," Wallace says. 

For the man who has headed Texas Children's since 1989, there seems to be no limit to the growth potential of the hospital that consistently ranks among the top four children's hospitals in the nation, according to the respected U.S. News & World Report hospital ranking. Wallace's vision and that of the board is evidenced in numerous new and expanded initiatives, all moving to reality in recent months.

The continuing growth pattern

Texas Children's has taken steps to expand its reach in patient care and research much further than many would have anticipated. Just weeks ago, the hospital announced a 20-year affiliation agreement with Scott & White Healthcare, in particular with the new Children's Hospital at Scott & White that opens in Temple this fall.

As the news release on the partnership explained, "The affiliation couples Scott & White's expertise in creating a health care system providing care to a large, geographically diverse population with Texas Children's excellence in pediatric patient care across the full spectrum of primary care, specialty care and subspecialty care services."

In March, Texas Children's and its educational and research partner Baylor College of Medicine announced the creation of Texas Children's Center for Global Health and the appointment of renowned physician-scientist Dr. Russell E. Ware as director. The center will complement the work of Dr. Mark Kline, physician-in-chief at Texas Children's, through the Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative, which operates a network of clinics across southern and eastern Africa and in Eastern Europe.

In June, Texas Children's and Baylor College of Medicine gained headlines with the relocation of the Sabin Vaccine Institute's vaccine development program to Houston that logically followed the recruitment to the city of its leader, world-renowned neglected-disease expert Dr. Peter Hotez.

The three programs reach far beyond the doors of the Texas Medical Center, a logical extension of Texas Children's sphere of influence, according to Wallace. "We have a moral obligation to serve children in Houston and in Texas and beyond . . .  there are only a handful of children's hospitals in America that can do what Texas Children's does." From the beginning as set by its founders,  the mission of Texas Children's has always been to reach far and wide in providing medical assistance to all children.

The vast hospital landscape

Texas Children's in conjunction with Baylor College of Medicine is currently participating in approximately 400 research projects and receives more National Institutes of Health research funding than any other pediatric hospital in the nation, no small testimony to its research strength. The current NIH grant is $40 million for research.

Beyond its vast medical center campus, Texas Children's operates five health centers across the city, five Project Medical Home programs (providing primary care to children regardless of ability to pay in medically underserved areas), and Texas Children's Pediatric Associates, a primary care network with more than 44 practices and more than 170 physicians. It comes as no surprise than that Texas Children's is one of the largest employers in Houston with 7,000 employees.

And this is not the stopping point. "We have to continue to grow," Wallace says, pointing out that the pediatric population in that Houston area is expected to grow by 32 percent from 2010 to 2030. As an example of the need, there are 1,200 babies and children on the wait list to be seen and have surgery in the Texas Children's Heart Center, headed by Dr. Chuck Fraser.