Texas Children’s pediatrics chief abruptly departs after 7 months in role

After just seven months, Dr. Catherine Gordon is no longer in her leadership posts at Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine.

Mark A. Wallace, president and CEO at Texas Children’s, who initially hailed Gordon as “a gifted physician/scientist and renowned leader” upon her hiring, did not address Gordon by name in a news release. In a later statement, the hospital said she resigned. “We thank Dr. Gordon for her many contributions from her to Texas Children’s Hospital and our patients, and we wish her from her all the best from her in her next endeavors.” 

The role of chief pediatrician at Texas Children’s, the largest pediatric hospital in the nation, is traditionally linked with the chair of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine. Lori Williams, a spokesperson for the college, said Gordon remains a full-time faculty member, and referred all other questions to the hospital. 

Dr. Lara S. Shekerdemian, who has served as the hospital’s chief of critical care, will take over the chief pediatrician role, according to the release.

Dr. Gordon’s resignation follows the hospital’s decision to halt gender-affirming hormone therapy for transgender children in response to a controversial directive from Gov. Greg Abbott to investigate such treatments as child abuse. At the time, the hospital said the decision was made “to safeguard our healthcare professionals and impacted families from potential criminal legal ramifications.” 

The statewide directive, which was based on a nonbinding legal opinion, sent a chilling effect throughout the transgender community and put fear into the minds of healthcare providers who walk families through highly complex hormone treatment process.

Dr. Gordon has aligned with the American Academy of Pediatrics in being a vocal opponent of the state’s involvement in healthcare for transgender youth. 

in to March 31 article in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Gordon wrote that she and her colleagues “were troubled by the potential negative impact of any threat to care on a population of patients known to be at the high risk for depression and self-harm.”

“Providing evidence-based and comprehensive medical care for transgender and gender diverse children and adolescents is a complex issue,” Gordon continued later in the article. “These health care decisions should be left to physicians, patients, and their families. The recent government directives in Texas undermine the physician-patient-family relationship with the potential to erode the trust that our families place in us.”

She wrote that children were “caught in the middle” between politics and “their much needed medical care.”

The hospital said: “Dr. Gordon resigned from her position and that decision was unrelated to transgender medicine. … We are excited about our new leadership team who shares our deep commitment to our transgender and gender-diverse patients. We will continue serving our patients to the very best of our ability, with the highest standards of care.”

Gordon could not immediately be reached for comment by press time.

Gordon was preceded by Dr. Mark Kline, who also abruptly left in 2020 after nearly 30 years at the elite institution. Less than a year before Kline stepped down, he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work by him with the Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative, the world’s largest provider of HIV/AIDS care and treatment. Kline was president of the initiative.

In their press release, Texas Children’s said Shekerdemian has 23 years of experience and has worked on three continents. She has spent nearly half her career at Texas Children’s, the release said.

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