Our journey to Lester and Sue Smith Legacy Tower


Our journey to Lester and Sue Smith Legacy Tower

On May 22, 2018, Texas Children’s reached an historic milestone when the Lester and Sue Smith Legacy Tower opened its doors for the first time to care for our most critically ill patients. Four months later, Texas Children’s No. 1 ranked Heart Center moved into the tower, marking the completion of the project, and delivering on our promise to ensure children receive the right care, at the right time, in the right place.

“The opening of Lester and Sue Smith Legacy Tower is another dream come true for Texas Children’s,” said Texas Children’s President and CEO Mark Wallace. “With 640,000 square feet of state-of-the-art space, this building will help us continue to be able to meet the needs of our patients and their families, particularly those children who are critically ill and have complex medical needs.”

A new era in patient care

As the new home for heart, intensive care and surgery, the tower houses new and expanded operating rooms and a new Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) that spans four floors and 84 beds, including dedicated neurology ICU rooms, surgical ICU rooms and a Progressive Care Unit (PCU).

The new space for Texas Children’s Heart Center – ranked No. 1 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report – includes an outpatient clinic, catheterization lab, cardiovascular intensive care unit, four cardiovascular operating rooms and cardiology acute care beds. The patient care rooms in the tower are three times the size of the hospital’s former ICU rooms, and feature a dedicated family space, bathroom and shower. Care teams also have increased visibility and monitoring between patient rooms and from the nurses’ stations.

Lester and Sue Smith Legacy Tower features a helistop, allowing for even greater access to Texas Children’s for the region's most critical pediatric patients.

“I don’t know of any other children’s hospital in the country that has the type of experience that Texas Children’s has in bringing all of these elements together,” said Texas Children’s Surgeon-in-Chief Dr. Larry Hollier. “With larger, more functional spaces, we can provide patients and their families with the best possible environment to receive care. "


From vision to reality

Texas Children’s Board of Trustees approved plans in January 2014 for the construction of the 19-floor expansion of the tower to re-invest in our core clinical areas – Emergency Center, Critical Care, Operating Rooms. Turning this vision into reality involved several years of meticulous planning, preparation and training.

To ensure that functionality drove the design of the new tower, an Interdisciplinary Work Group was formed that comprised key players representing different specialty areas of the hospital including Clinical Care, Pharmacy, Radiology, Anesthesiology, Surgery, Patient and Family Services, Emergency Center, Blood Bank, Supply Chain and the Heart Center. These teams worked together to determine what design changes need to be made to enhance operational efficiency and overall patient experience in the new tower.

“Putting all key players in the same room at the same time was powerful,” said Melanie Lowther, director of Business Process Transformation at Texas Children’s. “After spending more than 35 hours with bedside and support staff, and reviewing more than 150 workflows, we generated creative solutions and requirements to help architects develop a better and more functional schematic design for the new tower.”

Before construction began in December 2015, simulations led by Texas Children’s Simulation Center played an integral role in guiding the design and construction of the building to ensure it promoted the safest possible environment to care for our critically ill patients and their families.

During these simulations, multidisciplinary teams from across the organization, including patient families from our Family Advisory Committee, participated in these patient care scenarios. Their feedback was later incorporated into the final design the facility.

And, as construction neared completion inside the tower, multidisciplinary teams conducted simulated patient care scenarios inside the new state-of-the-art PICU, PCU and OR/MRI suite to test workflow processes and address any potential safety concerns before the new building opened.

“It is very nice and comforting as a parent to see how much thought went into this,” said Family Advisory Committee member Christine Hanes. “They are testing every decision and making sure they follow the most up to date procedures and do everything to optimize their care.”


Overwhelming support

Lester and Sue Smith Legacy Tower project would not have been possible without tremendous collaboration from teams and departments across the organization as well as the abundant generosity from donors, primarily Lester and Sue Smith, for whom the tower is named.

The Smiths, who have dedicated much of their private wealth for public good, generously donated $50 million to Texas Children’s to support the construction of the tower, as well as to support patient care and research at Texas Children’s Cancer Center.

“I am incredibly grateful to Lester and Sue for this transformational gift,” Wallace said. “Their unwavering commitment to our patients and families over the years is unmatched, and this is another shining example of their extraordinary generosity and compassionate care for others.”

Drawing from a place of gratitude for the lifesaving care Lester received during his battles with cancer, the dynamic couple has dedicated more than $150 million to support research at numerous institutions including Texas Children’s, Baylor College of Medicine and Harris Health System. In honor of their unparalleled dedication and the extraordinary initiatives they have spearheaded to help find cures for pediatric cancers, Texas Children's Hospital previously named the Cancer Center’s outpatient clinic the Lester and Sue Smith Clinic at Texas Children's Cancer Center, the largest pediatric cancer clinic in the nation.

“Giving to others is our guiding philosophy,” said Lester and Sue Smith in a joint statement. “There is nothing more precious than a child, and we hope this gift will help support the incomparable patient care for which the hospital is known. It is truly our honor to leave a legacy of support for generations to come at Texas Children’s.”