Inside Gillette Blog

An Unbreakable Spirit: Taylor’s OI Story

Posted On: 08/20/2015

Trips and tumbles are a normal part of childhood. But what if every misstep brought the potential for weeks in a cast and months of physical therapy? That risk is Taylor’s reality — she has a condition called osteogenesis imperfecta, or brittle bone disease.

An x-ray soon confirmed Taylor’s broken femur. To her family’s shock, it also indicated a second break: her tibia bone had been fractured at an earlier time. Taylor’s x-rays were sent to Stephen Sundberg, M.D., a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, who discovered two more previous fractures and confirmed her diagnosis. Sundberg admitted her to Gillette that evening, and the next morning she’d been placed in a full-body Spica cast to allow her fragile bones to heal.

“We quickly learned that when Taylor broke a bone, we wouldn’t always know that something was wrong,” explains Kim. “X-rays can miss things. And Taylor’s high tolerance for pain means she won’t always complain if something hurts.”

Today, thanks largely to bone-strengthening infusions Taylor receives, her fractures have become less frequent and less severe. While effective, the treatment will never eliminate the risk of breaks. As a result, her family walks a fine line—giving Taylor the freedom to be independent while also instilling the importance of caution. “Taylor’s personality is such that she’d be frustrated by feeling limited,” says Kim. “We don’t want to put her in a bubble or make her feel different. OI is all she knows — it’s her normal.”

From frequent orthopedic care to physical therapy, Kim and Ethan say they’re grateful to their Gillette team for supporting them since the beginning. “They care about our family,” says Kim. “It amazes me how many people it takes to care for one child with Taylor’s condition.”

Taylor, at left, is pictured with her little sister Aubrey.

Meet Us Monday - Supreet Deshpande, M.D.

Posted On: 08/18/2015

What is your position and role at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare? I am a Pediatric Rehabilitation physician who works closely with children who have physical challenges. I spend most of my time in an outpatient clinic setting. My normal day at work starts early. I spend my day trying to help children be their best and live as typical a life as possible despite their challenges. A special part of my work month is the neuromuscular clinic. In the clinic, I get to work with children who have muscle diseases such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Becker muscular dystrophy and spinal muscle atrophy. Like so many of the children I meet, the kids who have SMA are inspirational. Many learn to drive a powered chair before they turn two (I was 18 before I figured a motorbike out)! They remind me that life is fun and worth enjoying. They brighten my day as they always seem so cheerful and go about life twirling around in their powered chairs; up for any challenge life throws their way. 

Meet Us Monday - Supreet Deshpande, M.DHow did you get into health care? I was always intrigued by the human body, even as a young child (per my mother). I am told I loved to play doctor when anyone was sick or with my toys. I am not quite sure when the “games” actually became a career interest, but quite honestly, I cannot think of a time when I wanted to do anything else.

Why did you choose to work at Gillette? That is easy; it is the most caring place for kids with disabilities. I first came to Gillette as a trainee. The first month was the hardest and longest month of my career thus far. My workdays were long and the patients were unique or very complex. Despite this, I saw the staff here worked hard to help each other so the kids could get the best care possible.

What has been one of your most rewarding moments at Gillette?  This is a tough one as most every day is rewarding! I guess I would say when a very pretty young lady with long golden braids jumped in front of me and said, “hello, doc”, and I couldn’t recognize her! She was a patient whom I had taken care of after a serious motor vehicle accident. When I had admitted her after a severe traumatic brain injury, her head was shaved for treatment. She had been unable to talk or walk, recognize her family, or even eat orally. To see her progress was remarkable.

What clinical development is on the horizon that you’re most excited about? Or is there anything new and exciting in your field/specialty? Researchers are working on emerging treatments to halt, diminish, or reverse muscle and nerve damage in muscular dystrophy and spinal muscle atrophy. 

What is one fun fact about you? I used to love to drive a motorbike as fast as it would let me go in a relatively conservative town. Every head turned and frowned to see a girl driving a bike!  I was also a badminton player who competed at the University level.

What do you like to do in your free time? Read, listen to music, enjoy the outdoors and spend time with my family.

What career would you like to have in your next life, if you couldn’t be a physician? A professional soccer player who could travel the world.

MDA Summer Camp Sets the Stage for Recreation Therapy

Posted On: 08/18/2015

By Heather Ott, Therapeutic Recreation Specialist

As a Therapeutic Recreation Specialist, I encourage our patients and families to attend summer camp. When I learned that Gillette (a camp supporter and sponsor), had an opportunity for me to attend MDA Camp as a volunteer, I quickly jumped at the chance. The MDA (Muscular Dystrophy Association) supports kids and families living with neuromuscular diseases such as Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy, and spinal muscular atrophy. MDA Camp gives kids with neuromuscular conditions an opportunity to spend a week participating in a wide variety of activities like horseback riding, swimming, and adaptive sports.

On the morning of camp I found myself becoming nervous, wondering what I should wear, what we would we be doing, and even, should I bring sunscreen? As I was thinking about this, I realized this must be what all first-time campers must be wondering! So, after packing extra clothes and sunscreen, I was ready for whatever MDA camp would throw at me.

As I was driving into camp, the land around me was beautiful—everything was green and the sun was shining. As the road wound in I saw the sign that said “MDA Camp” and I instantly became excited. I was met by Kristina, who gave me a nametag and assigned me to a bunk. She told me to walk down the hill to meet my group, “the Rotary bunk”.

What I encountered was wonderful—just kids being kids! I saw kids chasing each other in power wheelchairs through the grass, kids at tables working on creative projects, and kids in large groups laughing together. It was striking to see the campers moving around, all of them wearing their blue Gillette drawstring bags. It made me feel proud that Gillette helps to support such an amazing community program.

As I walked towards my group, I became nervous. I was supposed to play a game with my new bunkmates. I was to ask them questions to figure out what animal name I had been assigned during check-in. Fortunately, my bunkmates were skilled in giving clues, even if I wasn’t asking the right questions and my animal was quickly identified. Then, everyone in my bunk introduced themselves. I explained that I worked for the place on the blue bags, and several girls in my bunk said they were Gillette patients!MDA Summer Camp

Soon, it was time for root beer floats and water fun. As everyone quickly ate their treats, I asked the counselors how they got involved with the camp. Most were college students and some were professionals from the health field, but everyone I spoke with was retuning for their second or fourth year! 

The highlight of the day was the firemen bringing out a huge hose, creating a waterfall over a path on the steamy day (pictured right). Whether campers used AFOs, power or manual wheelchairs, as they raced back and forth the roar of laughter sounded the same by all after being sprayed with the cold water. No one sat out. No one was unable to access the area. All the barriers melted away.

At the end of the day, I took a tour of the camp. Not only was the camp accessible in almost every area, it was also had a basketball court and was located on a lake. It was amazing to see a camp so accessible for campers to participate no matter the ability level. I am so grateful for the day I got to spend with these kids at THEIR camp!

Visit and MDA Summer Camp for more information.

The Mounting Evidence for Later School Start Times

Posted On: 08/11/2015

By John Garcia, M.D., pediatric sleep specialist

In a new report released last Thursday, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) acknowledged that the majority of U.S. middle and high schools start too early for students to get sufficient sleep.  In these findings, the CDC has sent a clear message to middle and high schools.  The indisputable tide of scientific support is relentlessly shifting the burden from individual teens to societal policy

The Mounting Evidence for Later School Start TimesIn the past, teens were blamed for their own sleepiness.  It is clear that teen sleepiness, rather than being a character issue, is caused by school start times that do not fit the adolescent biologic clock. Nationwide, fewer than 20 percent of middle and high schools start at the recommended 8:30 AM start time.  The same is true in Minnesota.  Here in Saint Paul, extended conversations with Saint Paul Public School administrators on this issue in 2014 led only to delayed decision-making.  As Martin Luther King Jr. said clearly, a decision delayed is a decision denied.

Some of the objections have come from those promoting after school sports and employment.  But the change from a 7:30 AM to an 8:30 AM start time has clearly been shown by Kyla Wahlstrom, PhD, University of Minnesota College of Education, to decrease teen suicide, improve grades by a whole letter grade, and decrease teen automobile accidents.  These three issues—of concern to any parent of teens—clearly outweigh the concerns of after school sports and employment. 

Other concerns, including increased busing costs, have not proven to be valid issues in other school districts. Concerns regarding younger children waiting at early morning bus stops can be addressed as they were in Edina without derailing the conversation.  As both a physician and parent, I remain hopeful that data from the CDC and others will encourage a growing number of middle and high schools to embrace 8:30 AM start times.  It’s in the best interest of our kids—and ultimately, that’s what it’s all about.

Meet Us Monday - Kelly Bolf, Nurse Practitioner

Posted On: 08/10/2015

What is your position and role at Gillette Children’s Specialty Heatlhcare? I am a Certified Family Nurse Practitioner and work primarily within the physical medicine and rehabilitation realm. I have the privilege of seeing infants, children and adults at the Duluth Clinic and also provide outreach services in Hibbing, Grand Rapids and Bemidji. Outreach provides the patient and family with a shorter commute for visits, making access easier. I recently joined the outreach team and quickly realized that Gillette is an outstanding organization filled with dedicated and talented people working in the metro, and throughout Minnesota, to meet the needs of the special population we serve.   

Meet Us Monday - Kelly Bolf, Nurse Practitioner Do you have a favorite Gillette story or memory?  When I came to interview for my current position, I was a bit on the fence as to whether or not I would leave my previous career of nearly 13 years. By the end of conversing with the outreach providers, nursing recruiter and clinic manager, I was sold…hook, line and sinker! The passion, engagement and strong leadership was so evident that I could not think of anything more than wanting to be a part of this very special team. I knew that I would be able to fulfill my professional and personal goals by accepting a position here.

What do you like best about working at Gillette? The patients! I love being able to connect with patients of all ages. It’s awesome to be able to talk about current events in one room with an older child and ninja turtles or Dora in the next room. I make it a goal to get a smile out of everyone I see.  Sometimes it comes easily and other times I have to work really hard to get it! I believe that oftentimes laughter really is the best medicine.

Do you have any children or pets?  My husband David and I have two boys.  Gavin is eight and Aidan is six. We had a pet fish named “Finny” once who lasted 4 days before his passing.  We have not yet summoned up the bravery to get a second pet but our boys are wearing us down on a dog.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?  I would really like to see Alaska as and do some more extensive travel abroad. I have plans to start participating in mission trips in the future and hope that these trips become a family endeavor once our boys get a little older.

What is one fun fact about you? I worked as a summer intern laborer at a Taconite mine on the Iron Range during my freshman year of college.  I shoveled taconite pellets in very hot temperatures and sprayed taconite sludge down drains with a firehose. It was just what I needed to learn about the value of working hard and also the value of a good education.

What are some of your hobbies outside of work? I am an outdoor fanatic! I love to sea kayak on Lake Superior and smaller inland lakes. Camping and other outdoor things such as sports with the family are right up there too! Training for events such as Grandma’s half marathon, a duathalon or 5K here and there helps me to keep in shape so I can keep up with my little guys. 

Meet Us Monday - Esther Herbert, Respiratory Therapist

Posted On: 08/03/2015

What is your position and role at Gillette? I am a registered respiratory therapist and am proud to say I have been with Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare for 26 years. My daily activities can change each day, but they mostly consist of monitoring patients on ventilators, teaching families and patients about respiratory needs and consulting with nurses, social workers and doctors about a patient’s needs.

Meet Us Monday - Esther Herbert, Respiratory Therapist Do you have a favorite Gillette story or memory? Some of my favorite memories are from years ago when I used to accompany our nurses and patients to events like Taste of Minnesota, State Fair or Twin’s games. It was such fun to come into work and get to go out on these outings.

What do you like best about working at Gillette? I love the atmosphere and my co-workers. Everyone at Gillette respects one another and is willing to go the extra mile for you.  

Do you have any children or pets? I have four sons: Shane 24, Eric 21, Ryan 19 and Cole 17. I also have one dog named Gizmo – she is, of course, a female because I am so outnumbered.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? Australia, it’s a place I would love to explore.

What are some of your hobbies outside of work? My hobbies outside of work currently center on hockey and soccer, but I also like to take walks and hike.  I also see wine tasting in my future!

Our Top Doctors Caring for Your Kids Best

Posted On: 07/29/2015

Q:  How many doctors does it take to make Gillette an outstanding place for kids?

A:  All of them!

Gillette physicians improve the lives of our patients every day through their specialized expertise, knowledge and compassion.  It’s no surprise, therefore, that 20 of our physicians were included in this year’s Mpls. St. Paul Magazine “Top Doctors” list!  Gillette physicians play a vital role in our patients’ health and well-being.  Families can feel confident — and reassured — that Gillette physicians provide the highest standards of care to every child, every day.  And of course, they do it with a smile!  Click the links below to learn more about the 2015 honorees who practice at Gillette.

Critical Care Medicine
Stephen Kuracheck

Neurological Surgery
Michael Partington

Shani Norberg
Beverly Wical

Orthopedic Surgery
Mark Dahl
Steven Koop
Tom Novacheck
Stephen Sundberg
Ann Van Heest 
Kevin Walker

Pediatric Surgery
Robert Acton 
Daniel Saltzman

Nancy Mendelsohn

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Mark Gormley, Jr.
Marshall Taniguchi

Richard Vehe

Elizabeth Reeve

Sean Elliott
David Vandersteen  
James Wolpert

Star Tribune features Gillette CranioCap® in Story on 3-D Printing

Posted On: 07/27/2015

Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare treats thousands of babies who have plagiocephaly (also called flat head syndrome). The Gillette CranioCap orthosis is a custom-fit helmet that, when worn consistently for approximately 3 to 4 months, gradually rounds a baby’s head to a more consistent shape. Today, thanks to advancements in 3D printing at Gillette, babies can receive their CranioCap — and begin treatment — even sooner.  

Read the article from the Star Tribune to learn more!

Meet Us Monday - Samantha Eder

Posted On: 07/24/2015

What is your position and role at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare? I am an Imaging Technologist at Gillette’s Lifetime Clinic. I perform imaging exams for patients and assist with the entire process – from getting preexisting images into our system to sending them out to other providers.

Meet Us Monday - Samantha EderWhat do you like best about working at Gillette? I love seeing the many things done here every day to help our patients and families.

Do you have any children or pets? I have a son named Joey (or Joe or Joseph depending on his mood) who is eight. He loves bowling, karate and swimming. I also have a dog, a cat and many fish.

What is one fun fact about you? I am an Army brat! Throughout my life I’ve lived 15 different places across the U.S. and in Germany when I was young. Until I was married 16 years ago, I moved approximately every three years of my life. I miss moving at times and seeing new places, but it’s also nice to have lived somewhere so long that I know it inside and out.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?  I would love to go back to Germany to visit the places I saw as a young girl living there. I would like to see where we lived, my old school and the everyday places we went. Plus it would be fun to take my son to the castles and other historical places.

 What are some of your hobbies outside of work? I like to garden and I do a lot of canning in the summer. I also love baking, especially for holidays. We do a lot of camping and hiking around the north shore and dream of opening our own campground one day.

Representing Gillette in Our Nation’s Capital

Posted On: 07/21/2015

By Melissa Zeleny

This past June, our family had the opportunity to represent Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in Washington, D.C. as a part of Speak Now for Kids Family Advocacy Day, an annual initiative of the Children’s Hospital Association.  Hayden was one of 42 children from across the country that traveled to our nation’s Capitol with a unified mission:  to raise awareness, among members of Congress, of the important issues impacting children’s hospitals and pediatric health care today.

Our first official event was a lunch where we met families and children from across the U.S.  During the lunch they also had mock meetings where kids got to role play and see what their congressional visits might be like.  After the lunch, we took a bus tour of some of Washington’s landmarks. It was pretty exciting to see icons like the Lincoln Memorial and Korean War Memorial. Hayden stood in the exact same spot Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous speech and raised her arms with a great smile as she remembered being honored for her essay on her own dream:  that all kids are treated the same, regardless of their disability.

The next morning we headed over to the Capitol.  Our first appointment was with Senator Amy Klobuchar. Hayden was nervous but told her story well and covered all of her speaking points. After taking a group photo, Senator Klobuchar noticed Hayden’s Vivo fit and the two compared steps and talked about how much walking there is around the Capitol.  One of Hayden’s goals with her cerebral palsy is to stay active, so her Vivo was an early birthday present. She was proud to be able to count her steps with a Senator.

Next we headed over to see Representative Betty McCollum who we found very welcoming. She also showed us some eggs from the annual White House Easter Egg hunt that the kids thought were pretty neat. We ended our day with Senator Al Franken. Franken entered the room with his trademark smile and immediately had the kids engaged and laughing.  My father and I are old school Saturday Night Live fans and although he is past his comedian days, Senator Franken did not disappoint.

Throughout the day Hayden did a great job of representing Gillette and being sure her message was heard. We left the Capitol feeling like we achieved our mission of highlighting the importance of specialty health care for every child. We were proud to be chosen to represent Gillette.

Hayden has always said she wants to be a nurse or child life specialist when she grows up. After her time on the Hill, she now says she could see a career as a lobbyist or in politics. We say GO HAYDEN!

Editor’s note:  Read Hayden’s story here.

 1 2 3 >  Last ›