Leisa: Hello. Welcome to the Business Makers Show heard here and seen online at TheBusinessMakers.com. I'm Leisa Holland-Nelson, author and voice of Women Mean Business and we're doing a special edition today live from the Pavilion for Women at Texas Children's Hospital. My guest is the senior vice president of Texas Children's Pavilion for Women, Cris Daskevich. Cris, it's a mouthful to talk about - even just saying the name of the place here.
Cris: It is a mouthful but it kind of goes with the building itself. It's unique and magnificent.
Leisa: It is absolutely beautiful and I'm thrilled to be sitting in front of the skyway which I know is one of the signatures of the building but I want you to tell us about the building and the process and I know that lots of women were involved in all of it but first tell us about you and what you do particularly and how you got there.
Cris: Sure. Well I've actually been with Texas Children's for over 15 years which is hard to believe. I started as an administrative fellow and had great opportunities, great mentors throughout my process here, had great projects accessible to me. So I've done a lot of different things. I started with our Texas Children's Health Centers in all of our community subspecialty clinics. I was in a little bit of real estate and helped picked sites and actually helped pick the set for our new west campus that's out on Parker Cypress and I-10.
I led marketing and public relations for a couple of years and had pathology and radiology for the entire system before I was asked by our CEO Mark Wallace to bring all of that together. This has really been the culmination of a lot of my experience here and put it together to help build the Pavilion for Women. So it's truly been an opportunity of a lifetime for me to bring all of my career experience in as a woman and as a mother. This was the ultimate challenge and just an incredible opportunity for me personally.
Leisa: I totally understand. I was fortunate enough to take a tour of the building when it was opening with Mark Wallace and hear him tell the story about having the opportunity in St. Luke's calling and saying they want to go out of the delivery business and this dream come true for all of you. I know a lot of women had to do with putting this together. So tell me a little about that.
Cris: Certainly. A lot of people at first said, “Why would a children's hospital get into adult medicine?” But if you really think about it and the mission and vision of Texas Children's Hospital is to improve the health status of our children and improve neonatal outcomes and the way to do that is to back up and begin taking care of women. Even before they decide to become mothers. So in doing that it naturally made complete sense that we would lead the country in my opinion. So who's best to start talking about what do want? Women.
Actually we have a very strong leadership team that is mostly comprised of women but we also went out to the market. We talked to local obstetricians. We talked to mothers; over 50 mothers who had recently delivered. We have a very active women's advisory council, 14 women who have been on this project for almost 4 years. They've dedicated tireless amounts of energy and time. Then our lead architect, Diane Osen from FKP Architects and our construction partner, W.S. Bellows led by Laura Bellows.
Leisa: The new president.
Cris: The new president.
Leisa: Very exciting.
Cris: So really it just came together as we looked around the room in doing all of our planning and talking with consumers and women. We talked to dads too but this facility truly is built by women for women. I knew in one of our focus groups that we were getting it right when one of the women said, “Finally, a woman designed the bathroom.” Think about it. In most hospital settings a bathroom is cold and unfriendly but especially when you've just delivered a baby it's the only time that you're coming in - you're healthy. You're coming in as a single unit, you and your spouse and you're leaving in a joyous occasion as a family. Shouldn't your experience feel more accommodating and more family centered as you're going through that process?
So even the bathroom counts as far as counter space and hair dryers and mirrors and jets in the shower with seating and space for your makeup. I mean it's the little details like that but great rooms for baby showers for moms on antepartum. The way we leave the building. I had two children during this process. And in our advisory council many of our women they actually had children going through the process with us. So that was great, too. They would come back with great feedback of, “Here's what worked well. Here's what didn't work well. Here's what I would change.” So they had lots of design elements.
But for example, we call it the family launch zone. When I Left the facility where I delivered it was very stressful. I was in valet parking. It was a long line of cars. My husband and I are trying to get everything in the car and loaded up and a little tiny baby. Well that experience was stressful leaving. What we've built here you exit the building down on the lower level of the B1. It's private. It's air conditioned. It's beautiful. There's a person down there who's well-equipped to help with that car seat.
The advisory council also helped design our NICU rooms that are private, large rooms but truly the family space is important to them. They're going to spend a lot of time there. They elected, for example, not to have bathrooms inside those rooms because of infection control and noise control and how much traffic comes in. Details like that. Our families and our mothers really made decisions. Sometimes even we questioned, our clinicians questioned but we really listened to women involved in this project. I think you'll see it in the artwork, in the lighting and it's truly about family.
Leisa: I know that there's a special surprise in store for dads who are coming in here. I know in paying attention to every detail you guys thought about what the father's experience was going to be. Will you tell us a little about that?
Cris: Certainly. We had dads involved in this process whether it was consumer focus groups but also the husbands of our Women's Advisory Council joined us at the - we had mocked up all of our patient rooms at an offsite warehouse and they spent an evening with us early on in the project. One of the things they did was actually test out our daybeds and our couches in making sure they were the right length and comfortable, that they had work space to them. They also talked a lot about technology and what they needed with their laptops and being able to still work and things like that. So we feel like the family zone in all of our rooms whether it's in the antepartum area which we call our Women's Specialty Unit or a mother/baby area or the labor and delivery that there's always a room for dad that's comfortable seating for him and it's large enough seating. My husband's 6'5”. So he was one of our guinea pigs who got to test out daybeds for us.
Leisa: Well I know that lots of dads are going to be glad to hear about that. So tell us about the clientele here at Texas Children's Pavilion for Women.
Cris: Well we do focus on high risk deliveries but of course this facility was built for women of all stages of life. So we truly believe that by taking care of women even before they want to have a baby or if they're not or even after -
Leisa: Like me.
Cris: - the full comprehensive care for women is what we want to offer and we'll continue to build our services and programs here at the Pavilion. The other part of this is everyone is just amazed by the facility, of course, and it is a state of the art facility and it's incredible but I do want to point out that without the people and the programs and all the intellectual capital and the incredible staff and physicians that we've invested in it's just a beautiful facility. So at the end of the day just like Texas Children's mission/vision in order for us to fulfill that it's all about our people.
Leisa: I just want to congratulate you. I think that this has been an incredibly successful opening and launch. I know you had like sextuplets or something right away and handled it beautifully. I'm really looking forward to whatever's going to be next for the Pavilion for Women here at Texas Children's Hospital. So thank you very much for being with us today.
Cris: Thank you so very much.
Leisa: There you have it. Another extraordinary woman doing extraordinary things. I'm Leisa Holland-Nelson, author and voice of Women Mean Business and this has been a special edition of the Business Makers Show heard here and seen online at TheBusinessMakers.com.