Inside Gillette Blog


Meet Us Monday – Jacki Shugart, Rehabilitation Therapy Support

Posted On: 04/13/2015

1.) What is your position and role at Gillette? I work as therapy support in Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare’s Rehabilitation Department.  You’ll see me helping transport patients and their families from the inpatient rooms to their therapy sessions, along with assisting the therapists with their daily needs.  I’m also a Child Passenger Safety Technician and part of the transport team that completes consultations with families on how to safely transport their child home.

Meet Us Monday – Jacki Shugart, Rehabilitation Therapy Support2.) Do you have a favorite Gillette story or memory? One of my favorite memories was when I was working with a patient who had been recovering from an unfortunate accident. I watched Gillette’s speech therapists help heal this patient’s voice and the progress was truly remarkable.  Eventually, the patient was finally able to find their voice again and managed to sing the song “You are my Sunshine.”  Just about everyone around began to tear up because of how special that moment was. 

3.) What do you like best about working at Gillette? I like helping patients and their families through some of the difficult situations or transitions they might encounter.  I especially like working with inpatients and their families since often times they are here for extended period. That means I get to know them even better on a personal level. Knowing that I made a difference by making their stay easier is incredibly rewarding.

4.) Do you have any children or pets? My husband and I are new parents; we have a 4-month-old baby girl named Gia! We also have a cat named Hubert and a little Havanese dog named Arnold!

5.) What are your hobbies outside of work? I play in adult volleyball leagues and love going to see new movies with my husband.  I also enjoy spending time with my parents –if I’m not at home with my husband and daughter, you can almost always find us at my parents’ house.

6.) What is one fun fact about you? I’m 6 feet tall and I played college basketball!  I’m always up for being challenged in a game of PIG.


Lawnmover Safety Tips

Posted On: 04/10/2015

Lawnmover Safety Tips - Gillette Children'sWith summer fast approaching, Minnesota homeowners soon will dust off their lawnmowers and begin the weekly routine of cutting their grass. During this time, it’s important to keep in mind the dangers that lawnmowers can pose to children. A lawnmower blade’s damage to still-developing bones and growth plates can put children at risk for limb-length discrepancies and permanent orthopedic deformities. Help prevent serious injuries by following these guidelines:

Before You Mow

  • Keep children indoors while mowing.
  • Never allow a child to ride on a riding lawn mower with the operator.
  • Pick up stones, toys and debris from the lawn to prevent injuries from flying objects.
  • Never allow children to play on a lawn mower, even if it is turned off.
  • Never mow barefoot – wear shoes, not sandals.
  • Use eye and hearing protection.

Who Should Mow?

  • Children should be at least 12 years-old before operating any lawn mower.
  • Children should be at least 16 to operate a riding mower.

While Mowing

  • Only use mowers with automatic shutdown abilities, such as those with a control that stops motion when the handle is released.
  • Don’t mow in reverse.

* These safety tips are based on the American Academy of Pediatrics’ policy statement, Lawn Mower Injuries to Children.


Meet Us Monday – Cate Pardo, Public Relations

Posted On: 04/06/2015

Cate Pardo, Public Relations at Gillette Children's

What is your position and role at Gillette? As a member of Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare's Public Relations team, I work with patient families and clinical staff to share stories about our patients’ achievements, along with stories about the amazing work done at Gillette, with members of the media.  These stories raise awareness of the unique role Gillette plays in the treatment of children who have disabilities. Even though I don’t work on the clinical side, I feel so fortunate to be able to connect with our patients and families on a daily basis. It’s incredibly rewarding!

Do you have a favorite Gillette story or memory? One of my favorite memories was from last spring, when Lady Gaga visited Gillette.  She is truly a class act.  I remember her greeting families in the playroom of our Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit—these are families of kids facing lengthy and challenging recoveries from major surgery or injury. She spoke genuine words of encouragement and then sang Born This Way, moving many to tears. It was an awesome moment.  Gaga also extended her visit to allow time with every single patient—in many cases, singing to patients at their bedside. I was impressed not only with Gaga but with the true team effort—including nursing, Child Life, and others—that made the visit an overwhelming success.

What are some of your hobbies outside of work? With two young kids, I don’t have a ton of spare time.  When I do, I enjoy hanging out at my parents’ lake home in Hudson, spending time with family and friends, and singing karaoke (my favorites are Dixie Chicks and Indigo Girls songs).  I also enjoy cheering for the Green Bay Packers—mostly when they play the Vikings.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? I would love to visit Maui or anywhere in Hawaii for that matter.  My husband and I also hope to visit Ireland and Scotland once our kids are older.

Do you have any children or pets? I have a 3-year-old son named Gavin, a 6-month old son named Beckett, and an 8-year-old dog named Dante.

What is one fun fact about you? I love The Walking Dead and I’ve learned a lot of handy survival tips from watching it!  If zombies ever do walk the Earth, I’m the gal you want to hang out with.


Meet Us Monday – Katy Noack, Registered Nurse

Posted On: 03/30/2015

1. ) What is your position and role at Gillette? I am an evening charge nurse on the Adult Unit at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare and am lucky to be part of a fantastic care team. My role is to help coordinate care for our patients and families from the moment they come to my unit until they are discharged. I also serve as a resource for all patients, families, and Gillette staff during the evening hours to ensure we provide the best possible family-centered care. My role varies and changes every day, but I ultimately strive to be a team leader and help advocate for our patients and their families.

Meet Us Monday – Katy Noack, Registered Nurse 2.) Do you have a favorite Gillette story or memory? This is embarrassing to share but it will always stay with me as a favorite moment. To provide some background, I am a huge Minnesota Wild hockey fan. During my first year at Gillette, I was lucky enough to be working when their mascot, Nordy, stopped by for a visit. Having the chance to meet Nordy was basically a dream come true. I gasped, and then quickly tried to cover it up because he was there to visit our patients, not me! Nordy heard my excited response and came right over. My face turned tomato red and I could barely talk to him but he gave me a big hug. This happened right outside my patient's room where he was audibly laughing. In the end, I'm glad my patient was able to witness my unplanned antics!

3.) What are some of your hobbies outside of work? Anything that involves being outside and active! I love to run, bike, rollerblade and do any kind of skiing. I'm currently training for a trail race and Grandma's Marathon. I'm blessed to be able to spend time with family – especially my nieces. I also love when my Gillette crew gets together outside of work!

4.) Do you have any children or pets? Not yet! My husband Ryan really wants a Husky & a son (or daughter that plays hockey).  

5.) If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? I would love to go back to Italy and Portugal and travel to Ireland and New Zealand – but really my list is endless. Since my husband's family is Irish, and my family is Portuguese/Italian, we really love getting back to our origins.

6.) What is one fun fact about you? I secretly love to write. Writing a book is on my bucket list.


All About Integrative Care at Gillette

Posted On: 03/27/2015

By Becky Schauer, Registered Nurse

Holism is a word that is often thrown around but frequently misused.  Holism actually means looking at the whole of a person and seeing that each part is interconnected.  In a holistic model of care, each Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare Wellness Modelcircle represents an aspect of one’s level of wellness.  These circles include: physical, psychological (emotional), social, and spiritual aspects of health.  All of the circles in one’s life are interrelated and connected.  At Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, we use the phrase ‘integrative care’ to describe health care that aims to use holism as the model of care delivery.  It combines both conventional treatments (Western medicine, e.g. medication, surgery) with complementary ones (non-Western, e.g. massage, acupuncture) and acknowledges that each play vital roles in one’s health. 

 Gillette’s Integrative Care Committee works to explore ways we can enhance and optimize our patients’ levels of wellness.  This is an exciting time for Gillette, as we’ve continued to add new options of integrative care for our patients.  Areas of focus include aromatherapy, massage, adaptive yoga, acupuncture, osteopathic manipulative therapy, and healing touch. We also focus on providing care for caregivers.  

In the past year, a group of Gillette employees attended a massage certification course to learn the skills needed to bring bedside massage to patients on the hospital’s inpatient units and at Gillette Lifetime Specialty Healthcare, our adult clinic.  We have also begun to educate our staff on the concept of mind-body connection and how to integrate this mindset into their daily care of patients.  We have trained 20 members of our staff in adaptive yoga and mind-body awareness. We’re also formalizing our aromatherapy policy, as we have found this modality to be well-received among patients and families.  Finally, several of our physicians are involved in Gillette’s integrative care initiatives. Scott Schwantes, M.D., is certified in medical acupuncture and Todd Dalberg, D.O., is certified in osteopathic manipulative therapy. These certifications complement the medical care they provide in their role as physicians. 

We hope that our patients will be as excited as we are to explore these new integrative options and their role in enhancing the exceptional care offered at Gillette.  Please contact your medical provider to find out more.


Meet Us Monday - Tom Novacheck, M.D.

Posted On: 03/23/2015

1.) What is your position and role at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare? I am a pediatric orthopedic surgeon and director of the James R. Gage Center for Gait and Motion Analysis. I work with our gait lab team — which includes engineers, technicians, and physical therapists — to gather information to understand problems with movement.

2.) What has been one of your most rewarding moments at Gillette?   The most rewarding moments are developing long-term relationships with children and their families. I have some families that I’ve been seeing for more than 20 years.

3.) How do you fit into caring for those who have cerebral palsy?  As an orthopedic surgeon, I focus on problems that impact a child’s bones and joints.  For children who have cerebral palsy, even when spasticity is diminished, they still can have problems with their bone and joint alignment. We want their muscles to have the best capacity that they can, so correcting a bone and joint deformity will help them with that.

4.) What are the benefits, both professionally and for our patients, in working with an interdisciplinary team?  Care for children who have cerebral palsy or other disabilities needs to be comprehensive because certain medical conditions can affect many different functions. That could be communication, it could be eating, it could be mobility, it could be problems with seizures, or learning. We offer all of those services here as part of a team in one organization. And because my colleagues and I know each other, I can trust that my patients are going to receive good care - and caring care – with any specialist they see. Then I can concentrate on what I think I do best.  And we all know that no one can be the best at everything!

5.) What innovations or advancements have you seen that benefit our patients?  Our Gait Lab is one of the best in the world and was the first to be accredited.  There are only 10 - 15 accredited Gait Labs in the country.  Accreditation indicates high quality and also dedication to patient care. Our Gait Lab also has a tremendous amount of experience. It’s one of the two or three oldest Gait Labs in the country – and certainly one of the busiest in the country in terms of the number of patients we see each year. With that comes a lot of experience and understanding of our patient population.

6.) What advice would you give a parent with a child who has cerebral palsy?  In my practice, it’s not very common that I’m telling the child or the family that “you have cerebral palsy.” They already know that, and that can be a devastating thing to hear for the first time.  From there, it’s time to pick up the pieces and say, “Okay, you know that you have cerebral palsy.  Let’s make sure you understand what cerebral palsy means. Now what are we going to do to help?” Most people gain comfort from knowledge. We try to educate, answer questions, clear up misconceptions — and because families see all of us Gillette specialists working together, they’re not getting this piece of information from this person, that piece of information from another person. They’re getting all of it together from a highly coordinated team.

7.) How and why did you become an orthopedic surgeon?  I went into orthopedics because I like mechanical things and I like sports.  However, I did not know that I wanted to work with pediatric patients. Within two weeks of starting my pediatric orthopedics rotation during my residency, I went home and told my wife, “I know what I want to do.” It was the opportunity to influence the way children grow and the opportunity to work with kids and their families.


My Gillette Story by Jessica Boerboom, Mom to Joe

Posted On: 03/20/2015

How would you describe your child to someone who hasn't met him or her?

Joe is 8 years old and in second grade. He is the sweetest guy!  He has an engineering-type brain — he wants to know how stuff works, and he questions and processes constantly. At the same time, he can be a goofball!  Joe also loves to read. He’ll read anything from Ninja Turtles books to books about Abraham Lincoln.

How did your family come to find out about Gillette?

The summer before Joe started kindergarten, we began to notice he couldn’t keep up with other kids. I remember being at a waterpark and watching him climb a set of circular stairs. All the kids were passing him and my girlfriend asked, “Do you think he’s declining at all?” Later that summer, on a trip to Mall of America, he fell seven times. We saw his pediatrician the day before a 10-day family vacation to Boston.  She asked him to climb the stairs without using the handrail. He told her, “I can’t — I will fall.”  They did a blood test and said they would be back in touch in about a week.  When the phone rang the very next day, I knew something was wrong. They told us they suspected muscle disease, and even mentioned muscular dystrophy, and told me “our expertise ends here.”  They called Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare and, due to the urgency, we were able to get an appointment right after we got home from our vacation. It was the longest 10-day vacation ever, but we were blessed to be with family.

We had to wait six weeks for blood and genetic testing to confirm Joe’s diagnosis. It was the longest six weeks of my life.  Finally, it was confirmed that Joe has Becker muscular dystrophy.  Being newly diagnosed is an agonizing time period. That’s why, today, I’m a contact at the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) so I can help provide newly diagnosed families with emotional support.

What treatments and services has your child received at Gillette?

Joe sees Dr. Stephen Smith for neurology and Dr. Mark Gormley for physician medicine and rehabilitation. He wears ankle-foot orthoses at night and he’s done some physical therapy to work on mobility at Gillette, too. During one of our first visits at Gillette, we were connected with representatives from the MDA so that we could take advantage of their services and resources, such as a loaner stroller for Joe, and most recently, a scooter.

What has your experience at Gillette been like for your child and family?

Everyone—from Dr. Smith, to Dr. Gormley to Joe’s neuromuscular nurse, Kristin Morgan, is really great. We especially love Kristin. I think it’s wonderful we know she will be Joe’s nurse at every appointment. Kristin will call us 3 to 4 weeks before Joe’s next appointment just to see how he’s doing and if we have concerns so she can have answers ready at our next visit. We like all the familiar faces. Gillette knows our family and knows Joe. When Joe has an appointment near his birthday, they remember it and give him a gift. It’s a comfortable place for kids and we feel welcomed at Gillette.

What about your child makes you most proud?

Joe knows his own limitations, but he never complains. He just rolls with it. Joe has some tough days, but he is a really positive kid who takes it all in stride. He’s doing good—as best as he can be doing.


Meet Us Monday – Jamie Welle, Child Life Specialist

Posted On: 03/16/2015

1.) What is your position and role at Gillette? As a Certified Child Life Specialist at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare I provide a number of services to patients and families. I help to reduce the stress and anxiety associated with hospitalization for children through preparation for procedures, procedural support and distraction, medical play, and creating a more relaxing environment.  I also explain things in a "kid friendly" and developmentally appropriate way. My role varies with each family that I interact with but the most important thing is advocating and providing patient and family centered care.

Meet Us Monday - Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare2.) Do you have a favorite Gillette story or memory? One of my favorite memories is when our entire care team worked together to overcome a number of challenges we encountered with a patient. It was incredible to watch the teamwork and communication that went into providing an amazing level of care. At the same time, the team advocated for the patient and family so they could have the resources they needed to cope with the hospitalization of their child. I was incredibly impressed with the work ethic and creative solutions the team came up with to help make it a more positive experience for the family.

3.) What are some of your hobbies outside of work? I enjoy figure skating and spending time with family. I am from northern Minnesota so I love winter sports!

4.) Do you have any children or pets? I have a boxer puppy named Belle. No kids yet!

5.) If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? I would love to travel back to Europe someday. I have been to Germany, but haven't explored elsewhere. Each year I try to go to a new place.

6.) What is one fun fact about you? I have two different colored eyes.


Medicaid is a lifesaver for my family. This is why.

Posted On: 03/11/2015

By Adele Harris

I don’t like to think about what life would be like without Medicaid’s assistance for my 9-year-old daughter Lily’s medical expenses. I honestly don’t know where we would be without it. Would we be homeless? Would Lily be able to receive the care she needs?  

Complications during Lily’s birth left her without oxygen until she was delivered by emergency caesarian section. It was the scariest day of my life. Lily was diagnosed with a severe form of cerebral palsy as an infant and has received care at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare ever since.  We feel so fortunate that Gillette is less than 20 minutes from our White Bear Lake, Minnesota home.  Lily’s cerebral palsy causes abnormally tight muscle tone. This makes movement more difficult for Lily than other children her age. Lily also experiences seizures. Thanks to her care at Gillette, those seizures are currently under control.  

Today, Lily is followed by five specialists at Gillette, including neurology, orthopedic surgery and pediatric rehabilitation medicine. She receives regular injections of botulinum toxin (Botox) and phenol, along with frequent physical therapy, to relax her muscles. Before Gillette, movement was difficult – even painful – for Lily. Now she rolls around and roughhouses with her sister like any other child.

I credit Lily’s coordinated care at Gillette for helping her remain healthy and happy despite her complex medical needs.  And I credit Medicaid for helping my family remain afloat. Raising a child with special needs is incredibly expensive. Quite honestly, we wouldn’t be able to handle the expense without Medicaid. Lily’s feeding and medication expenses alone, for example, cost more than $1,500 per month.

As Lily has grown, additional Gillette specialists – including spine, dental and seating services – have become part of her care plan.  She will soon begin speech therapy to, hopefully, begin using an augmentative communication device. We have our little ways of communicating, but expanding that is something we've wanted to do for a long time. We want Lily to realize her fullest potential.

Medicaid is, truly, an essential service for my family and countless others in Minnesota.  Of course, we hope that someday, we won’t need Medicaid. But until that day comes, it is vital us — and more importantly, it is vital to Lily's health — to have that help.


My Gillette Story by Tommy Collison

Posted On: 03/10/2015

Originally from rural Ireland, I grew up among cows, computers, and not much else. Now I’m a writer studying journalism and politics at New York University. When I’m not studying, I edit part of the student newspaper. My life today is thanks to the staff at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare, who gave me the confidence to move from Ireland to the U.S.

My Gillette Story: Tommy CollisonWhen I was born, my mom thought that my cries had an unusual pitch and worried that something was wrong. In the hospital, she asked the pediatrician about it, but her concern was dismissed. Over the months that followed, I was slow to develop. My parents weren’t overly perturbed, because the doctors had reassured them that the crying was due to colic, and I'd settled down. Plus, I was their third child. By this stage, they were experienced parents who accepted the fact that children develop at their own rate. It wasn’t until my routine 12-month developmental check that I was termed “developmentally delayed.” When I was 18 months old, I was officially diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

My mom became an expert on the subject. She read everything she could find. A physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist gave her a book by James R. Gage, M.D., of Gillette and she read it cover to cover with a medical dictionary by her side. After hearing Dr. Gage speak at a conference, my mom decided that if I should ever need surgery, we would go abroad and ask him for an opinion.

When I was 9, my parents and I began researching the surgical options at Gillette. My desire was pretty simple—I wanted to be able to stand straighter and walk faster.  A year later, in 2004, I arrived in the U.S. to undergo surgery with Dr. Gage and Tom Novacheck, M.D. I was astounded by how caring everyone was, bothMy Gillette Story by Tommy Collison inside the hospital and out of it. My dad tells the story of Dr. Gage coming into pre-op to talk to me and ask if I had any questions. My only question was about the color of the teddy bear that the nurses had promised me. I think that’s a pretty good indicator of the standard of care Gillette offers. I was about to undergo single-event multi-level surgery, and yet the teddy bear color was my most pressing concern.

After that initial surgery, I had two follow-up procedures with Dr. Novacheck in 2010 and 2012. During the second one, my brothers came from San Francisco to take care of me, allowing my parents to celebrate their wedding anniversary. They proved themselves totally capable of taking care of their “favorite youngest brother.”  The event sticks out in my mind as not so much a surgery but as a bonding experience.

If I have one piece of advice for other kids or teens who have a “disability,” it’s this: don’t let it define you. I wasn’t a 14-year-old who had cerebral palsy. I was the 14-year-old who loved drums, who read every book he could lay his hands on, and who probably played his music too loud. As people, we’re not defined by our abilities or disabilities. It’s our choices, our aspirations, and our attitudes that define us. So, go out there and discover your passions—as I did.

Editor's Note: Are you looking for a way to connect with people who have cerebral palsy and their families? Join the Cerebral Palsy Resource Group on Facebook! This community forum is the perfect place to ask questions, share your experiences and receive support from the cerebral palsy community.


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