Hospital Week 2023: A Tribute to Texas Hospital Heroes

For over 100 years, Hospital Week has recognized the tremendous impact hospitals and health systems have on patients, families and communities. This week, THA is honoring its members by highlighting some of our favorite heartwarming stories from Texas hospitals from the past year.


Since its founding in 1930, THA joined the American Hospital Association and other state hospital associations to recognize our hospitals, health care workers and the tremendous roles they play in our communities.

The genesis of Hospital Week began in 1921, when a group of medical professionals wanted to raise public awareness about the important role of hospitals. This recognition came amid a flurry of medical triumphs, including the discovery of insulin, the introduction of the diphtheria and tuberculosis vaccines and the discovery of the B1 vitamin. On May 12, 1921 – Florence Nightingale’s birthday–the first Hospital Day was celebrated.

In 1953, the AHA expanded Hospital Day into Hospital Week to promote the importance of hospitals and the services they provide to their communities.

Here are some of our favorite stories from Texas hospitals over the past year.

Cook Children’s Medical Center Performed Its First Separation Surgery for Conjoined Twins

Photographs courtesy of Cook Children’s Medical Center

On Jan. 23, 2023, at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas, a team of 25 medical professionals performed its first separation surgery of conjoined twin sisters AmieLynn and JamieLynn Rae Finley. The 11-hour surgery was performed by an expansive medical team, including three anesthesiologists, four pediatric surgeons, two plastic surgeons and 18 other clinical professionals who made the surgery a success.

On April 7, three weeks after JamieLynn was discharged, AmieLynn left the hospital with her parents, Amanda and James Finley. Their care team hopes they will grow up healthy, happy and independent with their amazing family.

Last month, the Tarrant County Commissioners Court officially proclaimed Jan. 23, 2023 as JamieLynn and AmieLynn Finley Day. The Commissioners Court also created a Congratulatory Resolution for Cook Children’s Medical Center to recognize teams of nursing and medical professionals for their continued efforts and critical care for the youngest members of our community. Read more about JamieLynn and AmieLynn’s long journey home here.

Houston Methodist Team Joins Medical Mission to Ukraine

Photographs courtesy of Houston Methodist

In March 2023, a team of Houston Methodist doctors and health care providers traveled to Ivano-Frankivsk, a city in the northwest region of Ukraine to provide care to injured soldiers and civilians and train Ukrainian surgeons. While Ukraine has a robust health care system, it is being challenged not just by large volumes of patients but also by the incredibly complex nature of the injuries.

Between March 25 and April 3, the 13-person Houston Methodist team performed 112 procedures on 30 patients, accounting for almost 100 hours of time in surgery. Read more about Houston Methodist’s work in Ukraine here.

100-Year-Old Volunteer Devoted 61 Years of Service to Texas Children’s Hospital

Photographs courtesy of Texas Children’s Hospital

Before her retirement, Elaine Kuper devoted 61 years of volunteer service at Texas Children’s Hospital, making her the longest-serving volunteer at the largest pediatric hospital in the U.S.

According to a January 2023 article in USA Today, Kuper, who turned 100 in November 2022, began volunteering at Texas Children’s Hospital just two weeks after it opened in February 1954. Her level of dedication prompted her to take Spanish lessons so she could better communicate with Hispanic and Latino families in the hospital.

During her 61 years of volunteering, Elaine volunteered at the hospital’s snack bar, information desk and later assisted with mail delivery and tours of the facility.

Former Traumatic Brain Injury Patient Reconnects with Nurses and Staff

Photograph courtesy of EMC El Paso

On Jan. 31, 2023, Jaclyn Pellicotte returned to UMC El Paso where she received life-saving care five years prior for a traumatic brain injury she incurred when a Ford F-150 truck hit her car head-on. She was not expected to survive her first night at UMC, but 16 surgeries later, she was able to walk the halls of UMC.

Jaclyn spent two months at UMC, treated by nurses like Sarah Herrera, who at the time of Jaclyn’s injury, worked as the emergency room manager. Five years later, Herrera still remembers treating Jaclyn when she came back for a visit to thank the health care workers who saved her life.

A Memorial Hermann Nurse Makes a Lifesaving Detour

Photograph courtesy Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital

Dioni Lopez, RN, was on her way to work one morning when the highway traffic came to a sudden stop. She worried briefly about being late for her 8:30 a.m. meeting, then she saw a man lying in the roadway. The man, a motorcyclist, appeared to have hit the back of a box truck. He’d been thrown off his bike and onto the side of the road. He was bleeding and unconscious.

Some people had gotten out of their cars, but no one was helping the motorcyclist. Lopez, an oncology nurse at the Cancer Center at Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital, pulled her car into the median, got out and ran. She started to administer CPR. After two sets of chest compressions, the man’s stomach made a wave motion, and he began to breathe. Soon after, an ambulance arrived and took him to another hospital. Read more about Dioni Lopez here.

Uvalde Patient Returns to University Health to Encourage Blood Donations

Photographs courtesy of University Health

In January, Mayah Zamora, a Robb Elementary survivor who was hospitalized at University Health for 66 days, returned to meet the blood donors whose donations saved her life and reunited with trauma surgeon Dr. Ronald Stewart, chair of surgery at University Hospital. During her visit, Zamora encouraged others to consider donating blood with organizations like South Texas Blood & Tissue, which hosted several emergency blood drives in the wake of the Robb Elementary school shooting.

Read more about how South Texas hospitals banded together after the tragedy in Uvalde here.

Twin Nurses Care for NICU Patients in the Same Hospital Where They Once Fought for Their Lives

Alexa and Brianna Rabagos were delivered at 28 weeks and promptly admitted to the Driscoll Children’s Hospital NICU where they spent four months fighting for their lives.

That’s just the beginning of the Rabagos’ journey to Driscoll. As they grew older, the twins decided they wanted nursing career and dedicate their careers to caring for premature babies. Now, Alexa and Brianna work in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) caring for babies and offering comfort and encouragement to new parents. Read more about the Rabagos twins here.

From all of us at THA, thank you and Happy Hospital Week!