Inside Gillette Blog

Meet Us Monday- Meet Kate Vogl, Education & Development Assistant

Posted On: 04/14/2014

1. What is your position and role at Gillette? Do you have a favorite story or memory? I currently work as the Education & Development Assistant at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. This involves training coordination, community outreach, and department administration. I started working at Gillette in April of 2013.

2. What are some of your hobbies outside of work? I love yoga, tennis, and DIY home decoration. On the weekends, I work as an assistant wedding planner, which I absolutely love.

3. Do you have any children or pets? My 10-month old English Bulldog, Winston, seems to require more work than many children.

4. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? I would love to spend a few weeks traveling around Greece. The climate, cuisine, and history sound amazing!

5. What is one fun fact about you? I grew up in Colorado and learned to ski when I was two years old. I used to hate skiing, so my dad would bribe me down the mountain with candy. Now, it’s something I really miss about Colorado.


Occupational Therapy Month Weekly Recipe Submission: Crackerd Chicken

Posted On: 04/09/2014

In celebration of Occupational Therapy Month this April, our weekly recipe submission is crackered chicken from Jenny. Jenny said that her daughter Lindsey, at the age of 9, wrote this recipe. 

Crackered Chicken

Recipe by Lindsey



1 pkg skinless chicken breasts

1 egg

1 Tsp. water

1 sleeve of Ritz Townhouse crackers

EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)



1. Trim any fat from the chicken breasts and cut them in half. Crack the egg and scramble it up in a wide bowl with about a teaspoon of water.

2. Put a bit of olive oil in a frying pan and turn the heat on medium to medium high. While the pan is preheating, do the following steps. Make sure a parent is with you to watch the oil! You don’t want it to get too hot while you are smashing crackers.

3. Put the Ritz crackers between two sheets of parchment or wax paper. Use a rolling pin to smash the crackers down into tiny pieces. Have fun! Use a rubber hammer if you want. Then put the cracker pieces onto a cutting board.

4. Dredge the chicken in the egg mixture first, then roll it in the crackers. Once the chicken is coated with cracker pieces, put it into the hot oil. Turn the chicken frequently until it is brown on all sides.

5. If the pieces are rather large, you may need to bake it a bit in an oven to ensure it’s cooked all the way through. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and put chicken in a covered dish and bake for about 20 minutes or until juices run clear.

6. Serve with sautéed green beans and a baked potato.



Meet Us Monday- Meet Michelle Holmvik and Melanie Rouse, Social Workers

Posted On: 04/07/2014

Social workers Michelle and Melanie both started working at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare on April 5, 1999, and have been officemates ever since. They are celebrating their 15th year of service to Gillette this year! Learn about them below!

1. What is your position and role at Gillette? Do you have a favorite story or memory?

MH - I am an inpatient social worker on the Rehabilitation Unit.

MR - I am an inpatient social worker on the Neuroscience Unit and the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. I also work with the Neuropalliative Care Team in the outpatient clinic.

MH & MR - We have had the privilege of walking beside patients and their families for the past 15 years. These families have displayed a tremendous amount of resiliency in the face of traumatic and/or life altering events. One of the things that we love so much about working with these patients and families is that we learn something new from them each day. A funny memory for us is that we interviewed (and saw each other in passing) on the same day for what we thought was one open full-time position.  Thankfully, they hired us both and we ended up in employee orientation on the same day.  Looking back we never knew the impact that working at Gillette would have on our lives.

2. What are some of your hobbies outside of work?

MH- Working out, spending time with families and friends, and reading.

MR- Running, skiing, and spending time with my family and friends.

3. Do you have any children or pets?

MH - No, but I’m “Auntie Michelle” to Melanie’s three children.

MR - My husband and I have 8-year-old twin boys, Ethan and Evan, and an 11-year-old daughter, Mia. We have a Puggle named Dexter.

4.  What is one fun fact about you?

MH & MR - We have run four full marathons together.  


Occupational Therapy Month Weekly Recipe Submission: Kid-Friendly Applesauce

Posted On: 04/02/2014

In celebration of Occupational Therapy Month this April, our weekly recipe submission is a kid-friendly applesauce recipe from Kay. She and her kids made this applesauce for the first time at an Early Family Childhood Education class last summer. She said that it was a lot of fun watching them use an apple peeler/corer and mix the ingredients. She added that the best part was that the kids were able to enjoy food they made themselves!


Kid-Friendly Applesauce 

Recipe by Kay and her kids



2 small red apples

2 tsp. sugar

2 pinches of cinnamon

2 tbsp. lemon juice



1. Peel the apples and cut them into small pieces. Throw out the core.

2. Put the apple pieces and lemon juice into the blender or food processor. Blend until the mixture is very smooth.

3. Pour the mixture into two small bowls and stir in the sugar and cinnamon.



Cooking with Kids — In Occupational Therapy and at Home

Posted On: 04/01/2014

By Heather Forst, OTR

Occupational therapists at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare are trained to evaluate and treat a child’s or adolescent’s ability to participate in day-to-day life. We focus on everyday activities that involve school/work/community life skills, vision, sensory processing, cognitive skills, hand use, and upper extremity strength. Our occupational therapists can help children work on any of these areas during their therapy sessions. Participation and returning to every­day activities plays an important role in children’s social development and can strongly influence long-term mental and physical health. 

For many children, being involved in meal preparation, cooking a meal, or eating a meal (or all of the above!) is an important part of their day-to-day family life. Occupational therapists at Gillette may incorporate cooking activities into treatment sessions with their patients to address a variety of therapy goals. For example, a child might participate in cooking during treatment sessions to learn kitchen safety, the ability to follow multiple-step directions, problem-solving skills, or even strengthening and endurance! Gillette’s rehabilitation therapies department has its own occupational therapy kitchen designed specifically for this purpose.

Involving your child in meal preparation can have many benefits, including:  allowing children the opportunity to practice their math skills using the fractions involved in measuring ingredients; exposure to new smells or tactile sensations which may be helpful for kids with sensory sensitivities; and learning important lessons early-on about kitchen safety.  In addition, research has shown that children who are involved in meal preparation may be more willing to eat the new food(s) they have helped to make.

What are some of your favorite recipes to make with your kids?


Meet Us Monday- Meet Kristine Greer, Physical Therapist

Posted On: 03/31/2014

1. What is your position and role at Gillette? Do you have a favorite story or memory? I have been working as an outpatient physical therapist with Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare for the past 8 years.   I currently work at the Maple Grove clinic. I have been privileged to work with such amazing people who continuously teach me about the importance of perseverance, compassion and hard work.   As a therapist, my most thrilling experiences include witnessing the first independent steps of a child.      

2. What are some of your hobbies outside of work? My most treasured moments are spending time with my family and friends in our boat.  I love swimming, skiing and enjoying the beautiful Minnesota summers! Other hobbies include reading, golfing and exercising. 

3. Do you have any children or pets? I just celebrated my 10th wedding anniversary with my husband Troy. We have seven year old twins, Braden and Isabella.    I also have a dog “Cheeria” who is a labradoodle. 

4. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? I would love to go on an African Safari!

5. What is one fun fact about you? I once had a basset hound named "Flash" as in the "Dukes of Hazard"


My Gillette Story by Megan Hoelzel, Elaina’s Mom

Posted On: 03/27/2014

Upon first meeting our three-year-old daughter Elaina, it would never occur to you she has juvenile arthritis. All you see is an active, imaginative, and determined three-year-old little girl that will not let anything stand in the way of keeping up with her six-year-old brother, Zach. Anything he does she wants to do too. She refuses to be left out of anything, stomping her foot and saying “me too! ME TOO!” 

Our juvenile arthritis journey starts at Elaina’s two-year well-child visit in November of 2012 with a swollen right index finger. We thought it could be from her sucking on her fingers because we took her pacifier away. Then, a few months later, her right knee became so inflamed and swollen she limped and no longer wanted to walk.  We continued to look for answers with Elaina’s pediatrician, running blood tests, physical exams, and x-rays to discover the root cause of the inflammation and pain she was experiencing. It pained my husband Dave and I to see our active little girl preferring to sit things out and watch because she was in pain.

In June 2013, we were connected with Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare to see a pediatric rheumatologist. Prior to our appointment, Dr. Richard Vehe and his team reviewed and evaluated Elaina’s case. As a parent, I was so appreciative this was conducted “off-line” without my having to bring Elaina into the office just to see if she needed to see a rheumatologist. It’s not always a pleasant adventure bringing a two-year-old to see the doctor.

Elaina’s first appointment at Gillette blew me away. As we all sat on the floor of the evaluation room, enjoying a tea party with Elaina and her doll, Dr. Vehe and Nurse Patty explained her diagnosis of persistent oligoarthritis and what this meant for our little girl going forward.  It was a lot to take in. They answered all of our questions – and we had many after our online searches about juvenile arthritis. Just so you know, Dr. Google was wrong – kids do not grow out of juvenile arthritis. Dang it! 

They explained juvenile arthritis is an autoimmune disease. Our daughter’s own immune system, the thing that is supposed to keep her healthy and safe from disease, is actually malfunctioning and mistaking her joints as the enemy and attacking them; leading to swollen, painful joints and Elaina saying with outstretched arms, “Mommy knee owie, carry me! UP!”

They walked us through the various treatment options to reduce the swelling in Elaina’s joints. Believe it or not, the treatment for juvenile arthritis can involve some pretty hard core medications. Some are the same ones used for chemotherapy (but in lower doses). Another common treatment is steroid injections directly into the affected joint(s). Together we worked out a treatment plan of approach for Elaina, and Dr. Vehe and his team connected us with valuable resources and support in the community so we knew we were not alone.

We are now eight months into our journey with Gillette; Elaina is relatively pain free and we are hopefully on the road to remission. It is very apparent to me that Dr. Vehe and his team truly care and get to know their patients and families. Our family walked in the Juvenile Arthritis March (JAM) on March 1, 2014 and we saw Nurse Patty – she knew who we were, and there were no charts or reminders to queue her. You need to remember that Dr. Vehe, Nurse Patty, and their team see kids from all over Minnesota as there are only pediatric rheumatologists in Minneapolis/St. Paul and Rochester. 

For Nurse Patty to remember Elaina, my husband, and I and her excitement to meet Zach, outside of the clinic setting, warms my heart and tells me we are truly part of the Gillette family.  



Meet Us Monday- Meet Katie Wilkins, Physical Therapist

Posted On: 03/24/2014

1. What is your position and role at Gillette? Do you have a favorite story or memory? I am an outpatient physical therapist at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare at the Minnetonka Therapies clinic. My favorite memories at Gillette are developing long term relationships with amazing patients and families, and watching kids grow up! One of my favorite stories was seeing a young child in a wheelchair for the first time. After twenty minutes in the wheelchair, the young child had already figured out how to wheel down the hallway and had the biggest smile. I feel so fortunate to work with the most amazing colleagues and have so much fun every day in the job I love.

2. What are some of your hobbies outside of work? I enjoy traveling to new places and photography – I always have my camera with me. My husband and I especially love travelling back to Montana (his home state) to go downhill skiing, backpacking, camping and hiking. Every fall my husband and I backpack into the Boundary Waters with friends. In the summer we enjoy spending time with friends and family, boating, and spending time at the lake. I also enjoy running and rock climbing any chance I can. 

3. Do you have any children or pets? I have twin boys, Jack and Sam who were born in October 2013. 

4. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? I have been very fortunate to travel to some amazing places and have many more on the wish list. I have never taken a “beach vacation,” and would love to try it out, Saint Lucia or Hawaii look amazing!

5. What is one fun fact about you? I was a collegiate gymnast at University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.


Gillette’s Simulation Center Featured in Pioneer Press

Posted On: 03/20/2014

Gillette's surgical simulation center, which opened in 2012, is a state-of-the-art facility located adjacent to our hospital's surgical suites and imaging center. Our medical staff use the space to rehearse complex surgical procedures in a real-life surgical environment - and as part of training for new residents and fellows. The surgical simulation center is also used to educate science-minded high school students about potential careers in the medical field through hands-on learning. That role was recently highlighted in the March 16 edition of the Pioneer Press 'Education Notes,' a weekly round-up of happenings at Twin Cities-area schools. See below for more - or, read the story on the Pioneer Press website.

More than 50 students from the biomedical sciences program at East Ridge High School in Woodbury visited Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare as part of their medical interventions class. The students worked with biomedical professionals and used the surgical simulation lab where doctors and nurses are trained. East Ridge has more than 250 students in the program.

Meet Us Monday- Meet Linda Hoffman, Registered Nurse

Posted On: 03/17/2014

1. What is your position and role at Gillette? Do you have a favorite story or memory? I'm an RN here at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare.  I work with rheumatology and orthopedics as well as doing infusion therapy in the outpatient department of St. Paul clinic. I started as a nurse intern on the orthopedics unit in June 1991. I have so many heartwarming stories with the wonderful patients we are able to meet and care for.  When I was working as an inpatient nurse, I had one patient for over a week and he was saddened to hear I was going on vacation. His question to me was: “Now who is going to wash my hair?” I still see him at Gillette when he comes for appointments, and I still get a big hug from both him and his mom.

2. What are some of your hobbies outside of work? I have a wide variety of hobbies. My family and I enjoy snowmobiling, four-wheeling, boating, and fishing. I love to garden, bake, and cook as well.

3. Do you have any children or pets? I have two grown children and my grandson is almost 18 years old and a senior in high school (already!).  We no longer have any pets, but when my children were young they each had a horse.

4. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? I have a “bucket list” that I’m working on now, but I have done a fair amount of traveling with my family, which is priceless.

5. What is one fun fact about you? A fun fact is that I became a certified scuba diver, along with my husband and children at the same time. We have taken many trips together where we were able to scuba dive as a family! 


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