Texas Children’s opens doors to Lester and Sue Smith Legacy Tower



Ten-year-old Skye Jeary couldn't believe her eyes as she was wheeled into her new, spacious room in Texas Children's Lester and Sue Smith Legacy Tower. She was in awe when she saw the size of her room and commented on how she'll have plenty of space to accommodate her stuffed unicorn and her mom who is in a wheelchair.

On May 22, 2018, the doors of the tower opened for the first time to care for our most critically ill patients. Beginning at 7 a.m., seven specially trained clinical teams began safely transporting 45 critically ill patients from the hospital’s existing pediatric intensive care and progressive care units to their new, spacious, state-of-the-art critical care rooms in the facility.

More than 150 Texas Children’s staff members were involved in the patient move to Texas Children’s 640,000-square-foot expansion, which includes six technologically advanced operating rooms – one with intraoperative MRI – for neurosurgery, orthopedics, plastic surgery, transplant and pediatric surgery, and 84 ICU beds, including dedicated surgical, neurological and transitional ICU rooms.

“The planning for the patient move was unbelievably detailed,” said Dr. Lara Shekerdemian, chief of Critical Care at Texas Children’s. “The patient move involved nursing, administration, physicians, nurse practitioners, all members of the team as well as the amazing family support team that guided the families through what could have been a potentially overwhelming event for them.”

Patient and Family Services teams were assigned to each family member to help accompany and escort them from their current unit to the new unit and to get them settled in their new rooms. Care teams were present as well providing any necessary medical supervision.

“Our families were so excited about the move,” said Michelle Lawson, director of Texas Children's Clinical Support Services. “They were being cheered on along the way and they were excited to be in their brand new space. They couldn't believe we built it just for them.”


First surgery

At 7:15 a.m. on May 23, 2018, one day after the move, a 9-month-old boy was taken back to a new, state-of-the-art operating room for the first surgery in Lester and Sue Smith Legacy Tower.

Dr. Larry Hollier, surgeon-in-chief, Dr. Edward Buchanan, chief of Plastic Surgery, Dr. Howard Weiner, chief of Neurosurgery, and Dr. Robert Dauser, neurosurgeon, along with a team of anesthesiologists, nurses, physician assistants and operating room staff, performed a successful craniofacial procedure on the young patient. Following the surgery, he was taken to the hospital’s new neurological ICU, a first-of-its-kind unit dedicated to pediatric patients who require specialized neurological care.

“As the largest and busiest Department of Surgery in the country, we are called upon every day to perform some of the most complex surgeries on children,” said Hollier. “Lester and Sue Smith Legacy Tower is an answer to those calls, and this is the first of many positive outcomes in our new home.”

Weiner agreed and said the new tower is a game changer that will allow various teams at Texas Children’s to offer better family-centric care.

“This is a huge day at Texas Children’s Hospital,” he said. “It’s a privilege to be here and to be part of something so transformational.”