Transformation in progress at the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio


Last month, the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio (CHofSA, formerly Christus Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital) hosted a group of mom bloggers (including my son and me) for lunch to meet with hospital leaders and talk about the transformation that is underway to create a freestanding, academic children’s hospital in downtown San Antonio.

Transformation at Children's Hospital of San Antonio | San Antonio Charter Moms

I’m lucky that my kids have suffered nothing worse than the usual colds, fevers, ear infections, and scraped knees. (Knock on wood.) At the luncheon, I met Heather Collins, who blogs at Crazy Heart Mama, and heard the story of her son Colman, who has had multiple heart surgeries and is waiting for a transplant. They are planning to relocate to Houston so that they will be nearby when a new heart becomes available at Texas Children’s Hospital; there is no facility in San Antonio that can do the procedure.


CHofSA will offer a much wider range of services than is currently available in San Antonio. Pediatrician-in-Chief Dr. Mark Gilger gave examples of services being added, including sports medicine and bariatric medicine (i.e., studying and treating obesity). Through the partnership with Baylor College of Medicine, CHofSA will provide training and perform research. (Dr. Gilger mentioned specifically the development of a vaccine for Norwalk virus.)

A story about handwashing (yes, handwashing) made a big impression on me. It sounds simple, but it’s not. Handwashing is still one of the best ways to prevent infections, but it’s hard to get everyone to wash their hands every time they see a new patient.

Dr. Vanessa Hill, an academic pediatric hospitalist and the CHofSA’s Chief Medical Informatics Officer, said that over the past 15 months, the hand hygiene compliance effort has improved hand hygiene rates from 86 percent to 98 percent. As a result, central line infection rates and urinary catheter associated infection rates have fallen dramatically.

Dr. Hill says that the best way to measure quality is to collect data and make comparisons with other hospitals. CHofSA’s Clinical Quality and Effectiveness Center does over 2,ooo hand hygiene audits per month. And, CHofSA is joining the Pediatric Health Information System to share patient outcome data with other hospitals.

Hospitals, like schools, have a mission to serve the public, and they should strive for the highest possible quality of service. I agree with Dr. Hill that the way to measure quality is to collect data and make comparisons to peer institutions. A good example of this from the world of charter schools—my usual topic—is BASIS Charter Schools, which opted in to the rigorous PISA exams (an international benchmark) and outperformed Shanghai. Learn more at “High Scores at BASIS Charter Schools”, June Kronholz, EducationNext, Winter 2014, and this earlier post.

I didn’t know what San Antonio was missing. Now that I know more about what an academic children’s hospital can be like, I can hardly wait to see it finished. Kimberly Stanley, architect at Stanley Beaman & Sears in Atlanta (with local partner WHR Architects in Houston, and San Antonio’s Overland Partners for the exterior), presented a vision for CHofSA as an efficient, healing place. We rode the elevator to a floor that’s being renovated and saw a mock-up of a new room. We talked about what the new rooms will be like: lots of natural light and bright color schemes; large rooms for family to visit (including a daybed where a family member can spend the night) and for teaching. The materials, including textiles and laminated woods, remind you of home, but are easy to clean.

CHofSA is bringing together a team of great physicians and teachers, a drive for quality through data and benchmarking, and an inspiring new facility. I am looking forward to learning more about CHofSA as it comes together.

What questions do you have about CHofSA?

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