Inside Gillette Blog

Michael Ruud to Represent Gillette, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals as Champion

Posted On: 06/18/2014

Last week brought a whirlwind of activity for 9-year-old Michael Ruud and his parents, Mike and Paty.  The Duluth, Minn. family spent the beginning of the week at Gillette’s St. Paul clinic for check-ups with his team of physicians.  During their stay in the Twin Cities, they also greeted supporters of Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare — from employees of local Sam’s Club stores to Miss Minnesota contestants — who raise funds for the hospital through its affiliation with Children’s Miracle Network. 

The week continued with more fun on Thursday, when a crowd of more than 60 people gathered at the Residence Inn Marriott in Duluth to mark the official start of Michael’s role as our Children’s Miracle Network Champion.  He’ll represent Gillette, and the state of Minnesota, by sharing his story with Children’s Miracle Network fundraising partners throughout the year.  Then, this fall, Michael and Champions representing our other U.S. states will travel to Walt Disney World and Washington, D.C. to raise awareness of the important work being done by Children’s Miracle Network hospitals nationwide.

Individuals who joined in Thursday’s celebration included Duluth Mayor Don Ness (pictured with Michael) and representatives from Marriott International and Delta Air Lines, both sponsors of the 2014 Children’s Miracle Network Champions program (third sponsor Chico’s FAS was not present), and representatives from other Duluth-area Children’s Miracle Network partners, including Dairy Queen, Walmart, ACE Hardware and Credit Unions for Kids. Michael’s teachers, classmates, therapists, grandparents, family friends and Gillette’s Duluth Clinic staff came out to show their support, as well.  The celebration got a big ‘thumbs up’ from Michael (pictured with Delta Air Lines pilot Darrel Baker and Marriott general manager Erin Maruska).

Stay tuned in the coming weeks and months for more on Michael’s experiences as the Gillette and Minnesota Champion child — including a special video telling the story of his family’s journey through his treatment at Gillette for a complex condition called Apert syndrome.

Meet Us Monday – Jennifer Ostergaard, Clinical Psychologist and Neuropsychology Fellow

Posted On: 06/13/2014

Fun Fact: Ostergaard was crowned Miss Minnesota in 1997.

1. Do you have a favorite Gillette story or memory?  In addition to therapy, I regularly see children for psychological testing evaluations.  I have a talking hippo in my office, which was a distraction to one of my patients that I was attempting to complete testing with.  I pretended to have the hippo whisper to me, nodded in agreement with the hippo, and set it aside informing the child that Mr. Hippo said that he wanted him to complete his testing, and would wait for him on my shelf to talk to him later.  The child walked over to me, motioned for me to bend down to come closer to him, put his hand to my ear and very earnestly whispered, “Can you teach me how to talk hippo?”  Of course, cherished moments are every time I hear from a parent, “Thank you, that was very helpful,” and get bear hugged around the knees by a child.

2. What are some of your hobbies outside of work? Running and hiking.  I also love to travel, especially to the National Parks.  I have been to 22 out of 52 and am planning to add 23 and 24 at the end of the summer.  Yosemite, Zion, Yellowstone, and Glacier are my favorite parks, so far. If you want to see the glaciers of Glacier National Park, you better go soon.  All of the glaciers are projected to melt in less than 10 years.  It’s beautiful and I would highly recommend it!

3. Do you have any children or pets?  I have a Pomeranian named Daisy.  She is very cute!

4. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? I would head to Peru to hike the Inca Trail or explore the Galapagos Islands.

5. What is one fun fact about you? I am many nationalities: Polish, Danish, English, German, French, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh. 

Did you know? The Miss America Organization partners with Children's Miracle Network Hospitals to raise funds and awareness for children's hospitals throughout the United States, including Gillette Children’s in Minnesota. Contestants competing in Miss America-sponsored competitions raise donations through appearances and fundraisers that benefit Children's Miracle Network Hospitals and the Miss America Scholarship Fund. In addition, each new Miss America becomes the goodwill ambassador for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, speaking on behalf of kids treated at children's hospitals and raising awareness around the country.

The Ketogenic Diet- Summer Snack Ideas

Posted On: 06/09/2014

By Karri Larson, Registered Pediatric Dietitian


The ketogenic diet is a high fat, low carbohydrate diet that is used as a treatment for difficult to control seizures, or intractable epilepsy. It is a highly specialized diet that should be followed under the direct supervision of a dietitian and physician. We are still trying to understand why and how the ketogenic diet helps to reduce seizures.


The summer season often brings a feeling of wanting to cook lighter foods.  Fresh produce is bountiful and frozen treats are extra special when the temps are high. Take that into consideration when planning ketogenic diet snacks.


One requirement of the ketogenic diet is weighing out all food on a gram scale. This takes some of the simplicity and spontaneity out of cooking for families.  However, it doesn’t have to mean you can’t have any fun with your food. Below you will find 3 recipes for keto-friendly snacks that are perfect for the summer.  Even better, they are snacks that your whole family can enjoy.



Here is some guacamole topped with fresh-from-the-vine tomatoes.  Just fork mash some avocado and chop up a tomato and mix with a sprinkle of garlic salt. You can use carrots and celery as dippers.




Berries and cream

Berries are among the lowest carbohydrate fruits available. Try pairing fresh berries with whipped heavy whipping. You can add a drop or two of some natural food coloring (available at your local co-op or specialty food store) to make some fun colors for variety or put it in a glass to make a fruit parfait.











Another fun snack is to make your own popsicle or creamsicle. Inexpensive popsicle makers are easy to find at your local grocery store and are so versatile. Here we prepared some sugar free jello and mixed the liquid jello with some heavy whipping cream. Pour it into the popsicle mold and freeze.


All recipes are ~200 calories, 3:1 ratio. Please contact your dietitian for a personalized recipe for your child.


Meet Us Monday – Becky Wright, Graphic Designer

Posted On: 06/06/2014

Becky Wright, Graphic Designer1. What is your position and role at Gillette? What does your day-to-day look like?  I have been a Graphic Designer in the communications department for three years. My days are busy and diverse! They are usually spent creating graphics and print materials for internal and external communications. That includes ads, logos, brochures, annual reports, and event graphics. I sometimes help direct photo shoots, which gives me an opportunity to meet some of the kids and families that we serve. Since my job doesn't involve direct care, this allows me to learn more about their conditions and what we do for them.

2. What are some of your hobbies outside of work? Outside of work I enjoy being outdoors—I love to kayak, ride my scooter and garden. I also enjoy music—playing guitar, harmonica and drums.

3. Do you have any children or pets?  I don't have kids, but I've always had a cat or two. My 18-year-old cat Anna just passed away, so I'll soon be hunting for a couple of littermates.

4. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? Anywhere warm with water. Costa Rica is on my bucket list, along with Australia and Hawaii.

5. What is one fun fact about you? When I was in college I spent a semester at the University of Copenhagen and lived with a Danish family. It gave me an opportunity to travel to just about every European country. After I graduated from college I went back to visit them, followed by backpacking around Norway and Sweden. I met a Norwegian family and spent part of the summer painting their houses in exchange for room and board. Those were some of the best experiences of my life!

My Gillette Story by Whitney Feidt, Brynn’s Mom

Posted On: 06/05/2014

On August 23, 2013, the first glimpse of our daughter Brynn brought tears of love and worry. To our complete surprise, Brynn was born with a unilateral complete cleft lip and palate. As we held our sweet girl, our hearts overflowed with emotions. We were finally had the baby we had dreamed of—but we questioned what life was going to be like for her.  

Sitting in the hospital room with Brynn wasn’t what I had thought it would be like or what I had planned on. I didn’t want visitors, I didn’t know what to tell people when they asked, and I didn’t want to share the first photos of my baby girl. To us she was beautiful and perfect. But the thought of what others would think consumed me with worry and anxiety.

The first week at home was very challenging as we battled feeding issues. At ten days old, Brynn had her first appointment with a wonderful team of doctors at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. The day was filled with countless appointments. It was a long, emotional day and we were overload with information but we were willing to do whatever it took. In the end, all of our questions and worries were put to ease.

We spent countless hours at Gillette with Brynn during her first six months preparing her for surgery. We went to our weekly orthodontic appointments with Cheryl Anderson-Cermin, D.D.S to address a number of issues. This included being fitted for the Gillette OrthoCleft® retainer, a presurgical device that results in improved outcomes when worn in the months before surgery.  We also saw a feeding nurse, an audiologist, and an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist.  In December, 2013, pediatric craniofacial surgeon Robert Wood, M.D. performed Brynn’s lip repair surgery and did an incredible job. I knew then that all the time, stress and appointments were worth every second.

Although Brynn’s journey was overwhelming at times, it led us to a beautiful destination. We created Brynn’s Smile Box Foundation in the hopes that we can help other families whose babies are born with a cleft lip or palate. Brynn’s Smile Box gives families a convenient box to hold all the supplies needed while their child is using an OrthoCleft retainer, along with a flashlight, scissors, toothbrush and a gift card to Gingko Café, which is located right inside Gillette. We can’t wait to see what the future has in store for Brynn’s Smile Box!

Meet Us Monday - Joel Tomlinson, Reimbursement Analyst

Posted On: 05/30/2014

1. What is your position and role at Gillette? I’m a Reimbursement Analyst at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare. I started working here in April 2004.

2. What are some of your hobbies outside of work?  My family and I like to spend time in our backyard and pool during the summer, bringing my son to the driving range, going out to eat, and watching movies. This winter we spent a weekend at a waterpark and had a great time so we decided to book another weekend.

3. Do you have any children or pets? I have a stepson Ryan, stepdaughter Randi, and son Hunter.  We also have two dogs named Deuce and Molly.  Deuce is a 90 lb. yellow lab who thinks he’s a lap dog.  Molly is a 12 lb. dog who likes to chew on Deuce’s leg.

4. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? Anywhere that doesn’t have snow!  Someday I would like to spend a month traveling around Europe.

5. What is one fun fact about you?  I like to put together puzzles and balance my checkbook…but doesn’t everyone?

Lady Gaga’s Surprise Visit to Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare!

Posted On: 05/29/2014

Last Thursday began as an ordinary day for patients and employees at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare.  But by the end of the day, it became one they’d never forget.

So how did Lady Gaga connect with Gillette? The background story is just as amazing as the visit itself!  Last year, Gaga befriended Gillette patient Emma Carroll, 20, after she reached out by sending the pop star a letter.  During her concert last Wednesday, Gaga recognized her friend publicly:

“I met Emma at the St. Paul show a year ago…she was a fan who needed me, but I had no idea how much I needed her. So, thank you, Emma, for inspiring me every day with everything you do. Emma has been in a wheelchair her whole life, and she has a better attitude than 99 percent of the people I know.”

The next day, Gaga surprised Emma—and everyone at Gillette—by paying an unexpected visit before her tour bus departed later that evening.  Gaga visited one-on-one with every inpatient and their family, sharing inspirational words, hugs, and even a cappella renditions of her hit song ‘Born This Way.’ 

In addition to touching the lives of dozens of patients with her kindness and compassion, Gaga also showed her support for Gillette’s CurePity® movement by signing the CurePity pledge (see photo – Gaga is pictured with Gillette CEO Barbara Joers and Emma).  CurePity is Gillette’s commitment to moving attitudes away from pity, and towards acceptance, of all people who have disabilities.  It’s a mission that echoes that of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation, which similarly encourages acceptance and empowerment.

We’re ecstatic to have Lady Gaga’s support of our CurePity movement—and incredibly grateful for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our patients. 

Click here to join Lady Gaga in signing the CurePity pledge!

Volunteer Perspective- An Interview with Taylor Piepenhagen

Posted On: 05/27/2014

Taylor Piepenhagen (left), pictured with mom Kristina, while dropping off donations.

Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself? I am an honor roll student in my junior year of high school. I am an editor of the yearbook and I work at Walgreen's.

Q: What made you want to volunteer at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare? I was sitting in the car last summer going to the mall with my mom. She was talking, but I was in my own world!  I was thinking about how I want to make a difference. I feel like people get so caught up in life stressors that they don't have perspective outside of their immediate life.

Q: How did you turn that revelation into action? I started a business with the help of my mom called Pretty in Pink Tutus and More. For every item sold including tutus, hair accessories, blankets, and burb rags, I decided I would donate two items. This is something close to my heart. I am putting my own money into this in order to put a smile on children’s and families’ faces. I want them to know people care about them.

Q: How did you select Gillette as your donation spot? When it came closer to donation time, I didn't really have to research what hospital I wanted! Gillette instantly came to mind. Plus it’s a local hospital, and that was really important to me.

Q: What was the donation experience like for you? Life changing- I can’t wait to go back with even more things!

Do you want to get involved at Gillette? Learn how by clicking here.



Meet Us Monday- Kevin Murphy, M.D., Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine Physician & Veteran

Posted On: 05/23/2014

This week we feature one of our many employees who have served our country.  Kevin Murphy, M.D., served for 24 years in the Minnesota National Guard; division surgeon for the 34th Infantry Red Bull and served four combat tours in Iraq.

1. What is your position and role at Gillette? I am the Medical Director Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare’s Northern Minnesota Clinics and a pediatric and adult rehabilitation physician providing lifetime care to people of all ages with childhood onset conditions.

2. Do you have a favorite memory? Driving through the Red Lake Indian Reservation in the middle of January; white out conditions, zero visibility, in route to our Roseau outreach clinic. Our team of nurses, medical assistants, orthotists, and equipment specialists were all in the same convoy essentially "bumper to bumper".  We could not see the road so we had to drive just between the telephone poles and hope to stay on the pavement.  It was then I realized what a dedicated team of professionals the Gillette outreach staff is and the wonderful organization of which we all are blessed to be employed! 

3. What are some of your hobbies outside of work? Martial arts and scuba diving (especially in Lake Superior).

4. Do you have any children or pets? Four children; two are adopted from Haiti and two are natural born. I also have two beautiful dogs (black labs); Kelly and Shannon.

5. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? I would go and visit my roots in Ireland. 

6. What is one fun fact about you? I can look too serious at times but I am anything but!

Meet Us Monday- Tara Swedberg, United Cerebral Palsy Associate

Posted On: 05/19/2014

1. What is your position and role at Gillette? I am a United Cerebral Palsy of Minnesota (UCP) Associate. Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare became the affiliate for UCP MN in late 2012 and I started working for Gillette Children’s/UCP MN in January 2013. I have enjoyed working on many projects, educational programs, websites and the first Pedal in Place fundraiser for UCP MN. My greatest joy is being able to help patients and families with their questions or needs.

2. What are some of your hobbies outside of work? When I am not running children from point A to B I enjoy spending time with family and my “girl’s days!”

3. Do you have any children or pets? I have three children, ages 15, 12 and 10 and two dogs. My middle son, Logan, has been a patient at Gillette Children’s since birth. Last year he was involved with the CurePity campaign!

4. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? I have always wanted to go to Australia and New Zealand.

5. What is one fun fact about you? I danced (tap, ballet, toe and jazz) for over 18 years, and now enjoy watching my daughter share the same love of dance.

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