One of the best ways to understand what makes Medical City Children’s Hospital a great place to refer your patients and a rewarding place to practice your specialty is to talk with the people who work here. For patients and their families, the people of Medical City Children’s Hospital create an environment of caring and collaboration. They bring a passion and dedication that we can all be proud of.
Deb Echtenkamp, RN, MSN, CPON
Clinical Nurse Specialist, Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Program
Deb has been a pediatric nurse more than 20 years and describes herself as “blessed to work at Medical City Children’s Hospital” since 1993. She says the best thing about working at Medical City Children’s Hospital is collaborating “with such a great team of professionals who are dedicated to the care of children with cancer and blood disorders. We have a phenomenal team, from our world-renowned physicians to our excellent nursing staff, our awesome Child Life Specialists, social workers and physical therapists.”
When a family “walks through our doors,” Deb says, “you become a member of our family—and we treat you the way we would want our own family members treated. Your lives are precious. We understand the stress and anxiety you undergo when you seek us out at such a vulnerable time in your lives. We respect and honor the trust you put in us. We will partner with you, provide you with excellent care, and honor your family and the uniqueness of the precious lives you entrust to us.”
In her role as Clinical Nurse Specialist, Deb works exclusively with children who have cancer and blood disorders. “I meet families at the time of diagnosis and help to coordinate their overall care. I tell families my role is to make sure things go as smoothly as possible for them. I help to coordinate the team for their benefit.” She also makes sure the pediatric hematology and oncology program has the staff, equipment and other resources it needs to provide “high-quality, cutting-edge, compassionate care for the patients and families we serve.”
In addition, Deb serves as President-Elect of the Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses (APHON). She is continuing a tradition of pediatric oncology nursing excellence. “Many of the pediatric oncology nurses have presented posters and talks at national conferences. We had the opportunity to be on the team that developed standards for administering chemotherapy in children that are used nationwide.” Deb also notes that the nursing staff at Medical City Children’s Hospital and Medical City in general has been recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) with the Magnet certification.
Deb encourages people who are trying to choose a children’s hospital to “judge a facility and its people for yourself. Many family members and friends will give you advice about where to go, but look up the facility online, research your physicians and see what certifications and awards the facility has. That information can give you an idea about the values of the organization and the people you will interact with.”
Tiffany Morrow, RN
As someone who helps critically ill children get back to health and back home, Tiffany says, “the team we have works very hard for these children and it makes me feel so good to be part of that. The standard of care is excellent. It is just a happy, positive place to work. I enjoy coming to work every day knowing that I love my job.”
Tiffany has worked at Medical City Children’s Hospital since May 2007. Part of the reason she chose to work here was because the nursing staff members she spoke with felt fully involved in the hospital. They said that the hospital leadership really listened to them.
When asked about her approach to caring for children and their families, Tiffany says, “I try to be open, honest and always willing to listen. I have found that families and patients always appreciate someone who will listen without judgment. I try to take care of the children as I would take care of my own.”
“Our goal is to provide a great place for physicians to practice medicine, for staff to work, and —most importantly—for patients and their families to receive great care,” John says. That starts with the appropriate commitment that pediatric care requires. “It’s very important to have all the surgical specialties and the facility that’s very focused on care for children. Children are not just little adults. They require very special care, and our physicians are trained to take care of those patients. We have the facilities, the equipment that’s needed to take care of those patients, and the staff is very passionate about taking care of children.”
John notes that Medical City Children’s Hospital has “several hundred pediatric specialists on staff, including pediatric anesthesiologists.” Together, they “enable us to do everything from the minor surgeries to the most complex surgical cases.”
Additionally, John is “very proud” of the nursing at Medical City Children’s Hospital. “We have some of the best nurses in the country here at this hospital.” As proof, he notes that Medical City Children’s Hospital was the first children’s hospital in Dallas to earn Magnet certification for nursing excellence.
Medical City Children’s Hospital also believes in the importance of family-centered care. John says that one of the particular responsibilities when caring for children is helping them understand what they’re going through. “We incorporate the entire family in that” process, including parents and siblings. “We consider them members of the caregiving team as opposed to visitors to the hospital. We are happy that we are able to provide that kind of environment.”
John arrived at Medical City Children’s Hospital in 2005. He says, “it’s very exciting to be a part of everything that is going on here. There is a real commitment to the families and the children that we take care of. This is truly an incredible place, and the quality of services we provide are second to none in the country.”
Dr. Eric Mendeloff
Director, Congenital Heart Surgery
Dr. Mendeloff came to Medical City Children’s Hospital in November 2003 for an “opportunity to provide the highest level of congenital heart care to patients born with congenital heart defects, all under one roof.” Medical City Children’s Hospital offers fetal diagnosis of complex congenital heart defects, high-risk deliveries, neonatal intensive care, and congenital heart surgery and recovery.
The team-based approach at Medical City Children’s Hospital is critical to the diagnosis and treatment of Dr. Mendeloff’s patients. “I work with phenomenal cardiologists and intensive care unit doctors who share the same kind of passion for taking care of these very sick babies and attend to all details about their care.” These physicians also coordinate with “a cadre of nurses who are extremely devoted to patient care and supporting our families.”
Something else that distinguishes Medical City Children’s Hospital is a family-centered approach to care. Dr. Mendeloff says, “all of our discussions as healthcare providers include the family.” He also talks about the importance of support systems such as Child Life Services, social workers and the Amazing Little Hearts family support group.
The outreach efforts of Medical City Children’s Hospital pediatric cardiologists throughout North Texas and the extended areas around it are critical, according to Dr. Mendeloff. “It makes our level of expertise available not just in this hospital, but everywhere in the surrounding area, so that children from all backgrounds and towns can get excellent care.” Additionally, “our devoted neonatal transport team” includes “a team of nurses that are trained to take care of critically ill babies with congenital heart defects,” stabilizing them and bringing them to Medical City Children’s Hospital for treatment.
Dr. Mendeloff graduated from the UCLA School of Medicine and was a general surgery resident and administrative chief resident at the University of Michigan. He spent two years as a clinical research fellow in the cardiac surgery division of the National Institute of Health, and subsequently undertook a Cardiothoracic Surgery Fellowship at Barnes Hospital at Washington University in St. Louis, and Congenital Heart Surgery Fellowship at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. He also served as the Associate Professor of Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine.
Dr. Mendeloff is board certified by the American Board of Thoracic Surgery. He has been published extensively and serves as editorial reviewer for the Annals of Thoracic Surgery, the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, and the Annals of Surgery. Recognized as a leader in the field worldwide, Dr. Mendeloff has spoken at national and international meetings on a variety of topics including congenital heart surgery and transplantation.
Dr. Matthew Bush
Director, Emergency Care
“I think what really sets apart Medical City Children’s Hospital Emergency Department is our focus on the needs of the pediatric patients,” says Dr. Bush. “Everything we do is designed with the comfort and convenience of the family and patient in mind.”
For the patient, it starts with the “separate pediatric entrance into our waiting room, which is quite kid-friendly and has the latest in video game technology for the kids.” And when patents see a physician or physician’s assistant—usually within 20 minutes of arrival—they receive care from pediatric specialists.
Because “there is always a little higher anxiety level with kids,” Dr. Bush says, the Medical City Children’s Hospital Emergency Department has been set up to be “a quiet environment that’s calming for our patients and their families.” Private rooms, extra space between the rooms, and staff who understand how to calm children and parents help make the environment more comforting for everyone.
Dr. Bush says that Medical City Children’s Hospital “is a great resource for the North Texas region. We’re fully equipped to take care of kids here and have a deep panel of specialists and sub-specialists waiting to do so. I think that the Medical City Children’s Hospital Emergency Department should be the first choice for any pediatrician that wants to refer their child to a place that’s dedicated to providing care in a way that’s convenient for patients and their families. We provide an experience that’s not scary or intimidating. We provide care in the most efficient way possible.”
Dr. Bush has been at Medical City Children’s Hospital since June 1999. He is board certified in Emergency Medicine, and did his residency in Emergency Medicine at Carolinas Medical Center. He received his MD from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School.
Dr. Jeffrey Fearon
Director, Craniofacial Center
Dr. Fearon came to Medical City Children’s Hospital in August 1990 “because I thought if I wanted to provide the best level of craniofacial care in the country, this was the single hospital I had to be in.”
He says, “the staff at this hospital is probably the friendliest and most welcoming to patients and their families of any hospital I have worked at. There’s a very positive attitude at this hospital that I think goes a long way towards making the experience less stressful for our little patients and their families.”
Importantly, the quality of care has earned the Craniofacial Center not only national but also international recognition. Dr. Fearon says, “the craniofacial center here is the busiest center in the United States, at least by numbers, and it’s one of the few centers where there are surgeons who are completely dedicated to craniofacial surgery.”
Dr. Fearon says the program achieves “phenomenal outcomes” that draw people from around the world. “In the average office visit, 80 percent of my patients don’t even come from Dallas. I suspect a lot of the reason why is just through parents trying to learn as much as they can on the Internet and so many families having such a positive experience at this hospital.”
Another key to the success of the program is “that families can travel from afar and come to one hospital and find almost all the specialists they need under one roof, so they’re not going from specialist to specialist all across town wherever they live,” according to Dr. Fearon. This is especially important for craniofacial care, which requires coordination of many specialists.
Before coming to Medical City Children’s Hospital, Dr. Fearon completed a fellowship in Craniofacial Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania. He is board certified in Plastic Surgery. He completed a residency in plastic surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, and received his MD from the University of Cincinnati.
Dr. Angela Price
Medical City Children’s Hospital “patients are happy with the service and how our nurses take care of them,” says Dr. Price. “One of the most important things that we like to focus on here at Medical City Children’s Hospital is making sure that the children feel comfortable when they come and stay with us.” Children are put in quiet, friendly rooms that help them “fall asleep and sleep through the whole night.” As a result, they are calmer and the tests that Medical City Children’s Hospital performs are as accurate as possible.
Dr. Price says that Medical City Children’s Hospital offers surgical options for children with seizure disorders that other medical centers may not do. Examples include vagus nerve stimulation, corpus callosotomy, and hemispherotomy. By offering these less common procedures in addition to the kinds of surgical options that are widely available, Medical City Children’s Hospital is better able to develop treatment plans that best fit the needs of each individual patient. Sometimes, the appropriate treatment is not surgical. Dr. Price says, “To me, it's very important to work in an environment with other specialists that I know and trust” to take care of these patients.
Another advantage Medical City Children’s Hospital offers is a single place where a mother and her newborn child with a neurological abnormality such as hydrocephalus or spina bifida can both be treated. In cases such as these, Dr. Price says, “the baby can go right down to the operating room without having to be transferred to another hospital.” Additionally, “the mother is at the same hospital as the baby. If the baby were born at another hospital, it means that the mom wouldn’t get to see her baby while she's still in the hospital.”
Dr. Price joined the Medical City Children’s Hospital staff in 2004. She earned certification by the American Board of Neurological Surgery. She completed a fellowship in pediatric neurosurgery at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center after her residency at Foothills Provincial General Hospital and her medical education at the University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine.
Dr. David Genecov
The Medical City Children’s Hospital Craniofacial Center “has been in existence for over 20 years. It has unbelievable experience in taking care of kids with complex craniofacial and cleft problems,” says Dr. Genecov.
“What do you do when you have a child born with a craniofacial anomaly? Where do you go? Who do you seek to help you with that problem?” Dr. Genecov asks. “Most facilities are not equipped to fully handle children with cleft and craniofacial anomalies. So they have to send them to a center of excellence with expertise in treating kids, which is what we have at Medical City Children’s Hospital.”
One distinguishing feature of the Medical City Children’s Hospital Craniofacial Center is that it “can take care of the entire problem—the surgical aspects, the critical-care aspects, as well as the evaluation. We have a center of excellence with all the diagnostic, treatment, and care capabilities to deal with complex craniofacial anomalies. The children don’t have to go to different offices or different places to have access to all the different specialists that they need.”
As a result of these strengths, Dr. Gencov says, “At our center, we see children and adults from all 50 states and almost every country in the world.” And when people travel to Medical City Children’s Hospital, they get the support and assistance they need.
Dr. Genecov came to Medical City Children’s Hospital in 1997 after completing his fellowship in Plastic Surgery at North Carolina Baptist Hospital. Previously, he did a residency in Plastic Surgery and an internship at West Virginia University Hospital. He received an MD from the University of Texas at San Antonio. Dr. Genecov is certified in Plastic Surgery by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
Dr. Carl Lenarsky
Director, Hematology and Oncology
Dr. Lenarsky describes the Medical City Children’s Hospital Hematology and Oncology Center as “a premier program that does deliver very personalized care in a loving, compassionate environment. We also are able to offer new types of therapy for children who need them.”
Dr. Lenarsky joined the Medical City Children’s Hospital staff in 1995 “with a vision in mind of working in and building a pediatric hematology and oncology program that provided the best of all possible care in a loving and compassionate environment and where we could develop new forms of care.”
Today, the Medical City Children’s Hospital Hematology and Oncology Center “takes care of children with a variety of hematologic disorders and oncologic disorders, ranging from common things like iron deficiency, anemia and platelet problems all the way to the most complex disorders with a variety of different types of treatment.”
“Being able to take care of children with complex hematologic and oncologic disorders requires a variety of specialized areas,” continues Dr. Lenarsky. “We have very specialized nurses who are experts and actually world leaders in pediatric oncology. We have built a very sophisticated hematology and oncology unit with specialized air to help prevent infections. Our stem cell transplant unit is totally separate. And we have achieved just about every level of certification that can be achieved in the field.”
Dr. Lenarsky adds, “One of the ways in which we try to excel is in communication with those physicians who refer us patients. We understand the trust that you are putting in us by referring your patients. We try to respond to your calls immediately. We try to give the best follow-up we can regarding your patients. Ultimately, our goal is to get your patients back under your care.”
Dr. Lenarsky is certified both in and Pediatrics and in Pediatric Hematology and Oncology by the American Board of Pediatrics. He earned his MD from New York Medical College, completed his internship and residency in Pediatrics at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, and held a fellowship in Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at UCLA Medical Center—Los Angeles.
Pediatric Physical Therapist
“When I talk to people about how amazing Medical City Children’s Hospital is,” Amanda says, “I emphasize the consistent continuum of care that every staff member provides to every child, regardless of their roles in the child’s care. We treat the whole child, addressing not only their sickness, but also their emotional state and overall sense of well-being. We are big enough to meet all patient and family needs, but also small enough to be able to provide the essential individual attention for every child who walks through our doors.”
For example, Amanda once made a superhero outfit for a patient—complete with cape and mask—to convince him he could overcome any obstacle during his strength training. She says that kind of personalized approach “is necessary because each child is unique. But they all like to have fun—and so do I! I make every attempt to incorporate fun activities, parents, and even siblings.” Her examples include painting murals on windows while working on standing balance and taking a trip outside to visit a family pet while working on endurance training.
Because of her commitment to individualized care and to mentoring aspiring therapists, Amanda was selected as the winner of the Irma Bartlebaugh Ancillary Excellence Award in 2009.
Amanda joined Medical City Children’s Hospital in July 2007 “because the quality of care is outstanding. I also appreciate the wide variety of patients and the amazing staff.” She feels that “the doctors, nurses, and ancillary staff communicate openly.”