Family Advisory Council - Featured Members
Gerardo Camarillo and his wife of 22 years, Dilma, are parents to 14-year-old Ivana, who received treatment at MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital as a toddler. Ivana was diagnosed in 1999 with a rare chromosome transposition and acute lymphocytic leukemia that gave Ivana only a 10% chance of survival. After several rounds of chemotherapy, Ivana was one of the first patients to receive a cord blood transplant when she was only 1 ½ years old. Ivana beat the odds and thrives as an adolescent, enjoying every new trend that comes along.
Gerardo credits the Children’s Cancer Hospital for giving his family all the assistance they needed through what they describe as a nightmare situation. Nonetheless, he recalls that there were areas of improvement, especially when it came to interacting outside of the pediatric services into the adult services. Gerardo hopes to assist in the improvement of these areas as well as address the fears that newly diagnosed families face.
Jennifer Funderburk and her husband Jason are parents to 6-year-old Jackson, a patient at MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital. Jackson was diagnosed with Pre-B acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2010. Despite undergoing treatment, Jackson stays active with Taekwondo and swimming and is set to finish treatment in May 2013.
Jennifer joined the Family Advisory Council in 2012 and says that being a part of a group that strives to improve patient care is empowering. One of her goals for serving on the council is to promote and better educate patients and families about the importance of nutrition during and after treatment.
Rowena joined MD Anderson in 2008 as an inpatient nurse specializing in stem cell transplantation. She loves her family, which includes three children between the ages of 26 and 31 as well as two grandchildren.
Rowena became a member of the Family Advisory Council in 2012 in order to improve the family-centered care experience for patients on the inpatient unit. As a council member, she plans to advocate for patients and families to improve their quality of life while undergoing treatment.
Sung is a nurse practitioner in the pediatric outpatient clinic working with the non-neural solid tumor team and the Childhood Cancer Survivor Clinic. She joined MD Anderson in 2011 and the Family Advisory Council in 2012. Sung is somewhat new to the Houston area and enjoys spending her time reading and traveling.
Sung embraces the philosophy of family-centered care and the opportunity the council will give her to gain insight to the patient and parent perspective. She believes taking the time to listen, communicate and collaborate on issues affecting families will result in the best delivery of care for patients.
Dawn and Jerry Mortus
Dawn and Jerry Mortus have been married for 23 years and have four children. When Jerry retired from the Navy in 2007, the family moved to Katy, which Dawn looks back on as a divine move. In March 2009, one of their daughters, Caitlyn, was diagnosed with Burkitt’s lymphoma and was admitted to MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital. After going through several rounds of chemotherapy, Caitlyn was declared cancer free in August 2009. Caitlyn, now 17, has returned to her active lifestyle of cheerleading, soccer, gymnastics, tumbling and track.
Dawn credits the Children’s Cancer Hospital with making Caitlyn’s experience as pleasant as possible. She decided to join the Family Advisory Council in 2010 to give back to MD Anderson and help other families. In 2011, Jerry joined her as a member on the council. They both want to help so that other families can feel the love and support they felt during Caitlyn’s treatments at the hospital.
Stephanie Hines and her husband, Wes, are the parents of two children, Dalton, age 13, and Ainsley, age 10. Ainsley was diagnosed in July 2011 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and is a patient here at MD Anderson Children's Cancer Hospital. The Hines family has enjoyed many of the helpful services and resources found at Children's Cancer Hospital, including the support of our Child Life professionals and the fun found at Camp Star Trails. In her professional life, Stephanie is an elementary teacher and as an educator, has a strong passion for children and their well-being. She joined the Family Advisory Council in 2013 wanting to help other families navigate the difficulties of childhood cancer and make a positive impact on how the hospital serves its patients and families. She is passionate about making sure other families are aware of the resources MD Anderson Children's Cancer Hospital has to offer.
Julie Segovia is the Director of Clinical Services for MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital. Julie worked with children and families at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital prior to joining MD Anderson three years ago. She understands that each family’s experience is unique and her role is to ensure that staff members have both the knowledge and resources to guide and support each family member through their individual experiences and needs.
Julie is responsible for providing strategic leadership including all aspects of clinical operations, nursing practice, professional development, customer service, finance, human resources and quality outcome management. She will contribute to the Family Advisory Council by sharing MD Anderson’s institutional goals with the council, bridging alliances with staff, and offering resources to priority projects identified by the council. Julie’s belief is that patients and families are our customers, so it is important to develop goals that align with services that are important to patients and families. She feels privileged to have been selected to join the council this year and looks forward to working with the team.
Shelly and her husband have been married for 15 years and have two children, Gracie, age 10, and Grant, age 5. Grant is a patient here at MD Anderson Children's Cancer Hospital, diagnosed in September 2012 with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Shelly is a stay-at-home mother and a passionate advocate for her son's care. She wants to be an active participant in her son's cancer journey and appreciates that our patient- and family-centered care approach to patient care encourages that participation and partnership. She feels that her membership on the Family Advisory Council, which began in 2013, is a great way to help the Children's Cancer Hospital improve patients' and families' experiences here. Her goal is "to learn as much as possible, to be honest, and help MD Anderson Children's Cancer Hospital learn its strengths and weaknesses in order to make the experience easier for the next family who learn their child has cancer."
Angela Simmons is a Certified Public Accountant with 24 years experience in hospital operations, finance and public accounting for healthcare entities. For the past sixteen years, Angela has held the position of Director of Clinical Revenue and Reimbursement at MD Anderson Cancer Center. However, in 2009, she gained the parent's perspective about hospital operations as her son, David, was diagnosed with childhood lymphoma.
Angela is fully resolved to use her professional and personal experience to help other parent's fight insurance disputes and obtain coverage for important treatment services. She is working now on the cancer center impact of the Affordable Care Act. Angela strives to make sure that financial obstacles are removed for families and cancer patients. Personally, Angela also has numerous volunteer and community service hours teaching children's choir, advocating for children with special needs, mentoring students, and leading Girl Scout troops and various sporting teams. In addition to David, Angela and her husband Bradley have three daughters and one son-in-law.
Karen joined MD Anderson in 1996 and oversees the coordination and development of patient education programs and materials. She was first introduced to the Family Advisory Council when she presented a project to the council for feedback in 2012. Soon after, she became a full-time member.
Karen incorporates the feedback and perspectives of the council as she works on patient education projects for the Children’s Cancer Hospital and other clinics. One of her goals on the council is to partner with families in open and honest communication about how MD Anderson can improve their educational resources and care for patients.
Patricia "Patty" Wells has been working in pediatric health care for more than 35 years as a nurse, nurse practitioner, educator and administrator in several large medical centers. Her extensive industry in the field led Patty to relocate to Houston in 2007 to introduce family-centered care to the Children's Cancer Hospital. She is now the Director of Patient- and Family-Centered Care at the hospital, overseeing the Family Advisory Council, the Supportive Care Council and many other patient- and family-centered care initiatives.
She has a great passion for listening to and working with families and staff, and she continues to guide the Children's Cancer Hospital toward the goal of providing exceptional patient- and family-centered care throughout the organization.
Robert Wells, M.D.
Robert Wells, M.D., is the Deputy Chief of the Children’s Cancer Hospital, specializing in lymphoma and leukemia. He joined the Children’s Cancer Hospital in 2003 after serving as a pediatric oncologist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in Ohio, where family-centered care was part of the hospital’s culture.
He served on the steering committee to spearhead the family-centered care initiative at the Children’s Cancer Hospital before joining the Family Advisory Council.
“I believe the Family Advisory Council is the best hope we have of making true, family-centered change within the Children’s Cancer Hospital,” says Bob, “and I would like to be a part of that change effort.”
Bob feels his years of experience as physician and administrator at other medical centers will help him serve as a leader for the Children’s Cancer Hospital as it evolves into a more family-centered hospital for pediatric patients and families.