Inside Gillette Blog

Meet Us Monday- Meet Joy Taber, M.D., Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Specialist

Posted On: 12/31/2014

1.) What is your position and role at Gillette? I am a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Specialist who works at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare’s Lifetime Clinic with adults with chronic (life-long) nervous system condition

2.) Can you tellus a little about your education/career history? I am from Minnesota and went to Hamline University and then to the University of Minnesota for medical school and residency.

3.) Do you have a favorite Gillette story or memory? During my residency program, I was fortunate to be able to train and learn from the staff at Gillette. I have lots of memories of a strong team-approach and patient and family-centered care.

4.) What are some of your hobbies outside of work? Outside of work, I enjoy being outdoors, reading, exercise, and hunting. I also love trying new foods.

5.) Do you have any children or pets? I don’t have any children, but I would love to have kids in the future! In terms of pets, my sister has a dog named Lucky. Everyone in my extended family loves her and considers her the family pet!

6.) If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? I was stationed in England for three years with the military. I got to travel a lot throughout Europe, but I never made it to Scotland or Scandinavia, so I would probably travel north if I could go back!

What is one fun fact about you? I am currently in the National Guard and love working with the military

My Gillette Story by Stephanie Petersen, Mom to Sadie

Posted On: 12/23/2014

My Gillette Story by Stephanie Loeffler, Mom to Sadie Sadie blessed us in this world on November 12, 2012 – three weeks before her due date. What we thought was going to be another normal, easy delivery, ended up being an emergency cesarean section. At birth, Sadie was small for her age, suffered from an enlarged liver, heart, and spleen, and had calcifications throughout her brain. A few days after her birth we found out that the cause of all of this was cytomegalovirus (CMV), a virus that I had contracted while I had been pregnant. We were devastated by the news. Hearing that our little girl could be deaf, never walk or talk, and would probably have seizures was horrific news to swallow.

After 3 weeks in the NICU we got to take our sweet little girl home. When Sadie was 20 months old, we were introduced to Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare during one of her routine physical therapy appointments. Her therapist noticed that when Sadie used her gait trainer to walk, her left foot turned and started to drag more and more. Together we thought braces would be a good option. Her recommendation was to go to Gillette and that’s where we met the amazing Nanette Aldahondo, M.D. She would be the one to diagnose Sadie with diplegic spastic cerebral palsy.

From that very first visit we learned so much about Sadie's diagnosis and where we were going to go from there. Sadie was fitted for her braces that My Gillette Story by Stephanie Loeffler, Mom to Sadie same day and within a month she had them. We also planned to have Sadie see Dr. Aldahondo a few months later for botulinum toxin injections. Between Sadie’s AFO (ankle-foot orthoses) fitting and her botulinum toxin  appointment, she began walking on her own! At her botulinum toxin appointment, Dr. Aldahondo was so pleased with Sadie's progress she suggested not doing the injections that time and we agreed! She thought we were going to be upset that she wasn't going to do them, but in fact we were very pleased. We were pleased that Dr. Aldahondo took the time to  explain the reasoning why and the effects it could have on Sadie just learning to walk.

We have another appointment in January to check Sadie's progress and we will determine if botulinum toxin injections are needed at that time. Sadie is a very active child and she tries to do everything her older siblings do. She is starting to run and even though she stumbles and falls quite a bit, she gets right back up and runs more. She is a determined little girl—a fighter!  We have been so grateful for the wonderful care that our little girl has received from Gillette.

Meet Us Monday- Meet Janet Cortes, Certified Orthotist

Posted On: 12/23/2014

1.) What is your position and role at Gillette? I am a certified orthotist and I work in the assistive technology department on the St. Paul campus at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare.

Meet Us Monday- Meet Janet Cortes, Certified Orthotist Gillette2.) Do you have a favorite Gillette story or memory? I’ve been at Gillette for 10 years and have so many great memories so it is hard to pick a favorite. My Gillette co-workers have become my family and some of my best friends; they are a great support system. The smiles and resilience of the kids at Gillette remind me that life is great and there is so much to be thankful for.

3.) What are some of your hobbies outside of work? I love to do crafts and make jewelry. I have participated in the St. Paul art crawl and some craft fairs with my jewelry made from up-cycled materials and natural stones.

4.) Do you have any children or pets? My baby is an 8-year old black cat named Martino. He is a great cuddler. 

5.) If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? I love to travel and my dream is to go to every country in the world at least once. I love learning about other cultures and enjoying the fabulous food that every place has to offer. So far my favorite city has been Istanbul.

6.) What is one fun fact about you? I don’t have good balance, I don’t know how to swim well, and I’ve always been afraid of heights. In the recent years I decided that I needed to try new things and test my fears. This summer I had fun learning how to ride a bike, paddle boarding, kayaking, and I even went on a Segway tour. It may seem like nothing but it really took a lot out me to try those activities and I was very proud of myself when I was done with each.

Meet Us Monday- Meet Carol Rodriguez Unit Coordinator/Nursing Assistant

Posted On: 12/18/2014

Meet Us Monday- Meet Carol Rodriguez Unit Coordinator/Nursing Assistant1.) What is your position and role at Gillette? I am a health Unit Coordinator / Nursing Assistant on the Orthopedic Surgical Unit at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. I have worked here at Gillette for 19 years.

2.) Do you have a favorite Gillette story or memory? I have so many stories and wonderful memories from Gillette, that I could probably write a book. I tell the patients that are getting older and transitioning that soon they will be pushing me out in the wheelchair, my wig will be falling off, my lipstick will be smeared and my stockings sagging at my ankles! They love it and usually laugh.

3.) What are some of your hobbies outside of work? I love to SHOP!

4.) Do you have any children or pets? I have 2 sons, and a daughter.

5.) If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? If I could travel, I would love to go back to Mexico. Both of my grandparents were from Mexico so I have a lot of cousins there.

6.) What is one fun fact about you? I became a Grandma this year!


Meet Us Monday- Aaron Rasmussen, Supervisor - Certified Orthotist

Posted On: 12/10/2014

1.) What is your position and role at Gillette? I am an Orthotist and Supervisor in the Assistive Technology department at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare.

Meet Us Monday- Aaron Rasmussen - Gillette Certified Orthotist2.) Do you have a favorite Gillette story or memory? Shortly after starting with Gillette, I saw a family having their picture taken (smiling from ear to ear) in front of the Gillette Children’s sign.  I don’t know what their child’s difficulties were, but I do know that the family was very happy to be at Gillette, because they knew they were at the place that could best help their child.  This moment sums up the reason why I work at Gillette.

3.) What are some of your hobbies outside of work? Snowmobiling, boating, listening to music, watching football, home improvement projects (I know, I’m crazy!), and spending time with my family.

4.) Do you have any children or pets? I have 2 children: Ronan is 5 ½ and just started kindergarten (she hates it!), and Axel just turned 2 and loves to ride his 4-wheeler (he calls it his “4-leeleler”).

5.) If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? I’ve always wanted to go to Lake Tahoe. Snowmobiling and boating in the same day sounds like paradise to me!

6.) What is one fun fact about you? Throughout high school, my nickname was “Jordan.” I received the nickname from my football coach after first refusing to cut my hair (I really liked 80’s hairbands at the time. The problem was that this was the mid 90’s). Later I shaved it all off to spite him. To my surprise, he actually liked it and said I reminded him of Michael Jordan!


My Gillette Story by Lana Beaton

Posted On: 12/10/2014

Our son Alex (pictured right with brother, James and sister, Stella) was diagnosed with left-hemiplegic cerebral palsy at 14 months old. We were unsure of what that would mean for Alex and for our family, but we felt confident in our hometown physician. Alex was on a great path, and he improved by leaps and bounds in the year after his diagnosis. Unfortunately, less than a year later, her career took her away from the area, and from us. We knew our care plan with Alex would be a long road, and we didn’t feel comfortable leaving that up to chance. We were beside ourselves with worry.

James, Alex and StellaWe reached out to the exiting physician, pleaded with her to give us some guidance even though Alex was no longer her patient. She gave us the best advice we could have ever gotten. She said, “You’ll have to make the 5-hour trip to see someone there, but if he were mine, I’d take him to Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul.”

With that, we made the first call and scheduled a consult with a doctor at Gillette. From the minute we walked into the gorgeous facility and met the smiling staff and helpful nurses, we knew that we had found the place for us. Our doctors at Gillette, Marcia Ward, M.D., and Stephen Sundberg, M.D., take such amazing care when working with Alex and our whole family. They work around activities (such as travel and new babies and football games) to make sure that he gets the care that he needs, while helping us maintain a normal family life.  Alex has had inpatient and outpatient surgeries at Gillette, he’s participated in gait lab analysis (so cool!), and he’s utilized the Assistive Technology Department (ATD) Mobile Outreach services (Joel is amazing!) for his ATD needs. It’s amazing to us how all of this care comes together so seamlessly.

Now, at 12 years old, Alex is a strong, big kid. He is resilient, courageous, fun...and just downright awesome. His differences may make things more difficult, but he never lets them slow him down. He is active in sports (aspiring to take our racquetball community by storm this year) and is "that kid” at school who everyone loves—teachers and kids alike. He's an A student in seventh grade and a wizard with anything engineering. (He has a small fortune invested in the coolest LEGO collection you've ever seen!)  

We wouldn’t think of going anywhere else. There are new providers in our area. New clinics and rehab facilities pop up all the time. But regardless of the convenience factor a closer clinic may offer, we know Gillette is the best place for our son. The care and exceptional services we receive make the trip a no-brainer! Thank you Gillette for taking such great care of us!

Editor's note: Become a fan of the Cerebral Palsy Resource Group on Facebook to connect with others and recieve support from the cerebral palsy community.

Meet Us Monday- Meet Alison Smith, Registered Nurse

Posted On: 12/08/2014

1. What is your position and role at Gillette? I started in February of 2014 as a nurse on the neurosciences unit at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare.

2. Do you have a favorite Gillette story or memory? I have truly loved getting to know my coworkers and so many kids here at Gillette. One memorable story is when I was taking care of a three-year-old boy and he was throwing a fit about taking his meds in the morning. He loved Spiderman so I told him, "Spiderman has to take his medicine too. I'm going to go give him his medicine after you take yours." He took his meds right after that and the rest of the day was asking "Is it time for my Spiderman medicine yet?"

3. What are some of your hobbies outside of work? My hobbies are running, biking, trying new recipes, listening to country music, trying unique coffee shops (even though I have yet to learn to like straight-up coffee) and doing water sports any chance I get! Something new I've tried that I hope turns into a hobby is painting/refinishing furniture.

4. Do you have any children or pets? Nope! The family dog Zoe is still at my parents’ house.

5. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? Where wouldn't I go is probably an easier question. But on the top of my list is Greece and going back to Africa. If I could live anywhere, it would probably be London.

6. What is one fun fact about you? My claim to fame is that I helped with a house for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. I got within a foot of Ty Pennington and worked right alongside his crew.

New Research Offers Hope for Rett Syndrome Patients

Posted On: 12/02/2014

By: Timothy Feyma, M.D., Art Beisang, M.D. and Marcie Ward, M.D.

Rett Syndrome is a rare genetic disorder usually caused by mutations in the gene Methyl-CpG-binding Protein 2 (MECP2) that is located on the X chromosome.  Rett Syndrome occurs almost exclusively in females, since the gene that most often causes it is located on the X chromosome, and is thought to affect 1 in 10,000 girls. Males who inherit this genetic change often do not survive pregnancy. 

New Research offer hope for Rett Syndrome.Girls who carry the mutation often have slightly delayed, or seemingly normal development until 6-18 months of life when loss of developmental milestones may occur.  In many cases purposeful hand use and language can be lost.  The disease often continues to slowly progress over time and in time the ability to walk may be lost.  Seizures, scoliosis, constipation, and breathing pattern abnormalities are also frequently seen.

Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare developed a Rett Clinic in 2005. Over time we have collaborated with researchers locally to investigate ways to further learn about Rett Syndrome while providing expert care for patients with Rett Syndrome.  To date, there has been no treatment discovered that cures Rett Syndrome.  Given our work with this unique population, the Gillette Rett Clinic was approached by Neuren Pharmaceuticals to participate in a trial of new drug (currently called NNZ-2566) being developed to promote brain development.  

The Neuren guided experiment involved use of varying doses of the NNZ-2566 compound in addition to the use of a placebo group who received no active treatment. This trial looked at parental observations of their child’s behavior and seizures while on treatment in addition to physician graded observation scales, EEG, EKG, and laboratory data.  Improvement in functioning with no significant side effect burden was seen. Click here to read the initial announcement by Neuren Pharmaceuticals. The full details of the study will soon be released, but generally speaking improvement was seen in motor function, symptom burden, and in regard to parent specific concerns.

The hope for our clinic at Gillette is that we can continue to collaborate in such activities that will attack the root cause of Rett Syndrome in addition to managing symptoms. This study provides the first evidence of a treatment that might do just that.  We hope in time to manage the course of disease and prevent progression / regression while fostering optimal development for all those afflicted by Rett Syndrome.


Meet Us Monday- Meet Rebecca Jones, Outpatient Occupational Therapist

Posted On: 12/01/2014

1. What is your position and role at Gillette?  I’m an outpatient Occupational Therapist at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare’s Maple Grove clinic location.

2. Do you have a favorite Gillette story or memory?  This is a really hard question because I can truly say that I drive home just about every day thinking how much I love my job.  I love wearing my I Heart Gillette shirt out in the community and having strangers come up to me with their own Gillette stories.  Probably what I love the most is the CurePity concept and watching families discover all the things their child with a disability is really able to do with use of modifications or adapted techniques.

3. What are some of your hobbies outside of work?  I don’t know if kids are considered hobbies but that is where most of my time outside work is lovingly spent- libraries, parks, pools, etc.  If I had some free time for myself I would probably fill it with organizing or scrapbooking.

4. Do you have any children or pets?  I have three girls; Alexia:  five-years-old, Amelia: three-years-old and Cora: 15 months.  I have two crazy labs that just won’t let age slow them down; Sydney who’s eight-years-old and Haley, seven- years-old.

5. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?  I lived in Australia for six months so I would LOVE to go back and visit with my friends there; however, it is a goal of my husband and mine to get to Europe someday. 

6. What is one fun fact about you?  I used to be Ms. Congeniality for my hometown of Rockford, Minnesota.  I got to travel to all the local towns and be in parades.  It was a really fun way to spend one of my last summers with my mom and friends before I became a “grown up”.

Meet Us Monday- Meet Michelle Hall CPO/Resident Coordinator

Posted On: 11/24/2014

1. What is your position and role at Gillette? I work as a prosthetist-orthotist in the Assistive Technology department at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare and I serve as the prosthetics residency director.

2. Do you have a favorite Gillette story or memory? This is tough as there are so many. A recent memory was the opportunity that my patient, a 7-year old boy with a below-knee prosthesis, and I had to meet Rep. Erik Paulsen twice, first in Washington D.C. and then a month or two later at the Maple Grove Clinic. I was able to provide him a tour of our clinic and it wasn’t until he saw our ATD lab that it struck him that we, myself included, actually make the orthoses and prostheses. I hope that it will help him to influence federal policy for the benefit of our patients. The other thought that comes to mind is seeing one of my patients, a very challenging above-knee prosthetics case, walk on a check socket for the first time. This was something that I was uncertain as to whether or not we would ever achieve, but had promised I would try as many times as it took to get him walking. Thankfully, we got there and he is still doing well.

3. What are some of your hobbies outside of work? My professional hobbies include volunteerism for the American Academy of Prosthetists & Orthotists, serving my sixth year on their Board of Directors as the immediate past-president for the organization, as well as volunteering on committees for the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics, and Pedorthics (ABC) and the National Commission for Orthotic Prosthetic Education (NCOPE). Outside of Orthotics and Prosthetics, I am an avid runner, having completed nine marathons and several shorter races, and I am a triathlete. I also love to cook and garden.

4. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? I would love to travel again in Latin America. I had had the opportunity to lecture in each Argentina and Chile; I loved meeting clinicians there, learning about their lives outside of Orthotics and Prosthetics and speaking their language. It would be great to have a couple of months to travel.

5. What is one fun fact about you? My husband built a two-seater single-engine airplane which we fly around the country. We’ve had some fun adventures together in it!

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