Inside Gillette Blog

We’re Growing Our Services for Northland Families!

Posted On: 06/29/2010

We’ve been keeping you updated on the fast-moving construction of our new building and skyway on our St. Paul campus. But you may not know that we’re expanding elsewhere in Minnesota, too! Earlier this month, we opened the Brainerd Lakes Clinic — a new clinic in Baxter, Minn., that will serve as a permanent hub for assistive-technology services for area patients and families.

A Gillette presence in Brainerd isn’t new. Our Mobile Outreach Clinic — traveling clinics that bring Gillette’s clinicians and services to families in greater Minnesota — has been serving area families for more than 25 years. By having a permanent assistive-technology base in the Brainerd area, our Mobile Outreach Clinic can travel to neighboring communities like Bemidji and Grand Rapids more often. Best of all, we’ll be able to treat growing numbers of children in central and northern Minnesota who need our care.

Here’s a sneak peek inside our Brainerd Lakes Clinic assistive-technology laboratory. We’ll fabricate, fit and adjust a variety of things here, from braces to CranioCaps and seating systems.

Our new clinic is located here. Gillette signage coming soon!

We’re not the only ones excited about the Brainerd Lakes Clinic. Employees at the nearby Baxter Walmart — a top fundraiser for Gillette through it’s partnership with Children’s Miracle Network — were thrilled to hear of the new local connection.

Gillette’s northern Minnesota nurse, Joni Parker, and her daughter, Emma, purchased toys for the new clinic. They were all donated by our friends at the Baxter Walmart.

Interested in learning more about our new clinic? Click here to read a news release. If you’d like to make an appointment in the Brainerd area, call 800-578-4266 or visit

A Bird’s Eye View From Our New Building

Posted On: 06/28/2010

It’s been awhile since we shared an update about our new building (and skyway!) in St. Paul. So the photos you’ll see below probably look a little…or even a LOT…different than the ones we shared a couple of weeks ago. That’s because crews have been busy framing up our new building’s walls, adding the steel and studs that will soon take shape into new clinic, therapy and waiting space across the street.

Here’s a photo taken from University Avenue. It’s not quite as good as the view from Margaret Perryman’s former office, but you can still see how much has changed.

Why are some of the walls yellow? Its special water-resistant drywall that protects the building’s ceiling and exterior from rain.

And here’s a close-up of one of our steel beams. The white coating is an important safety precaution: spray-on fireproofing, which you’ll also see underneath the skyway. 

And we’re excited to report that we’ve also started raising the roof, so to speak! Here’s a sneak peak from Gillette’s highest point — a bird’s eye view of St. Paul. Can you spot the St. Paul Cathedral in the distance?


Brain Injuries in the News

Posted On: 06/27/2010

The connection between brain injuries and impact sports made headlines today.  As the New York Times reports, Chris Henry, the former Cincinnati Bengals receiver who died in a domestic dispute last December, had developed chronic traumatic encephaly (CTE) by the time of his death.

CTE is a progressive disease of the brain found in athletes (and others) who’ve sustained recurrent concussions. The condition is associated with memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, aggression and dementia. Some speculate that CTE could have contributed to Henry’s behavioral issues in the years leading up to his death.

A Warning for Players at Any Age

Henry’s diagnosis at an unusually young age — he was only 26 — is an important reminder of the danger of sustaining repeated brain injuries. And as the New York Times points out, it’s not just NFL players at risk. High-impact play often starts in childhood.

As the region’s leader in treating pediatric brain injuries, Gillette plays an active roll in educating children and families about prevention and safety. In fact, Gillette is Minnesota’s only pediatric hospital to be certified as an Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT) consultant. ImPACT measures cognitive abilities in children and teens who’ve sustained concussions — helping medical teams plan treatments and make recommendations about returning to activities.

Gillette’s most recent annual report shared the story of a young hockey player who benefitted from ImPACT and Gillette’s expertise. (See Pages 8 – 9.) “The medical community is seeing more cases of problems resulting from multiple mild injuries,” says Leslie Larson, a Gillette nurse practitioner who specializes in brain injuries. “Our goal is to help families understand that all brain injuries are serious and deserve prompt medical attention.”

We’re Here to Answer Your Questions

Do you have a question about impact sports and concussions? Leave a comment, and we’ll answer your questions in an upcoming post from one of our brain injury specialists!  And for more information about concussion management, Gillette’s brain injury team and sports safety, visit

A Presidential Welcome to Washington, D.C.

Posted On: 06/23/2010

Lately you’ve heard a lot about Bella, who is representing Gillette and Minnesota as part of the Children’s Miracle Network Champions program. So you probably know that Bella and her family just recently returned from a trip to Washington, D.C. with Champion kids from our 49 other states. We’ve got one final update to share — and it’s a pretty exciting one!

As you can see, Bella met President Obama and even shook his hand. She also got the once-in-a-lifetime chance to ask the President a very important question. Where was his dog, Bo?

A Night of Minn-spiration

Posted On: 06/22/2010

Our Miss Minnesota 2009, Brooke Kilgarriff, gracefully turned over her crown last Saturday to her newly-crowned successor, Kathryn Knuttila, at the annual Miss Minnesota pageant. As part of the pageant, Gillette patient Bella Giraldo and her family shared their story on stage — with the audience giving them a resounding standing ovation!  Bella is this year’s Children’s Miracle Network Champion child, representing Gillette and Minnesota.

Wondering what Miss Minnesota and Gillette have in common? More than you think! Each year, Miss Minnesota contestants raise money for Gillette, Minnesota’s Children’s Miracle Network hospital.

Kathryn Knuttila is crowned Miss Minnesota 2010! (photo credit: Paula Preston)

Bella takes the stage with Brooke, our now-former Miss Minnesota. (photo credit: Paula Preston)

In the year ahead, Kathryn will be working to raise funds and awareness for Gillette.  In fact, she already started during her campaign as a Miss Minnesota contestant. In April she hosted a musical event, A Night of Inspiration, that featured a variety of musical acts.  As part of the evening’s performances, Kathryn — a music composition student from McNally Smith College of Music — serenaded the audience with an outstanding piano performance.  The event was free, with all donations going to Gillette.

The Miss Minnesota pageant also recognized Miss Northwest, Lexy Okeson, (pictured below) with the Miracle Maker Award for raising over $2,000 for Children’s Miracle Network.

A big, heartfelt thank you to all of our Miss Minnesota contestants. Congratulations on your success!

Gillette: A Top Workplace In Tough Times

Posted On: 06/20/2010

Here at Gillette, our employees frequently tell us how proud they are to work at an organization dedicated to not just excellence in patient care, but a positive and rewarding environment for staff, too. Our high employee satisfaction and low turnover rates validate the great things they’re telling us.

Yesterday, we received some exciting news — news so many Gillette employees have known for years — and we’re excited to share it with our friends and followers. The Star Tribune has ranked Gillette among its Top 100 Workplaces in the Twin Cities!  More specifically, we’re ranked third in the Private/Nonprofit sub-group.

So how did the Star Tribune decide the rankings for its first-ever workplace survey? First, employees took a confidential survey and gave feedback on things like job satisfaction, working environment, and interaction with management. Results were decided based on employee responses and size of the organization. Click here to read the Star Tribune’s article — and see below for a sample of what our employees said about working at Gillette.

Thank you to ALL of our employees for making Gillette an amazing place for our patients, families and staff. We appreciate you!

Here are some of the things our employees shared in their survey responses:

“There is such a long-standing history of employees staying on for many years- that speaks highly of how well we are treated and how we love what we are doing.”

“Working with children with disabilities has made my journey in life a very pleasant one, knowing that part of my life’s reward is seeing a smile on a child’s face. That is just priceless.”

“I am able to work within a team of specialists and provide nursing support and gain valuable knowledge each time I work with these patients.”

“I enjoy the people I work with – I enjoy doing my job, I also feel fulfilled when I can be helpful to others. I do enjoy learning more.”

Cookies From Crowns

Posted On: 06/13/2010

It was a morning filled with cookies and crowns in our lobby today.  Kids decorated cookies with 20 Miss Minnesota contestants and the current Miss Minnesota, Brooke Kilgarriff.  The ladies chatted and signed their photos for patients -  one contestant even gave out bracelets to patients for ‘positive karma’ during their stay at Gillette!  Later, they were given a tour around the hospital and served lunch. 

The ladies’ stop at Gillette is part of weeklong Miss Minnesota activities culminating with the Miss Minnesota Pageant this Saturday, June 18th.  All of the contestants raise funds for Gillette as part of the Miss Minnesota organization’s partnership with Children’s Miracle Network.  Brooke, for example, raised over $14,000!  The new Miss Minnesota will also be helping to raise money for Gillette. 

Be sure to check out this video message from Brooke. Thanks to all of the Miss Minnesota ladies for brightening our patients’ morning!

And here are a few more photos from today’s festivities:

Hello from Washington, D.C.!

Posted On: 06/08/2010

It’s day 3 of Gillette patient Bella’s weeklong trip to Washington, D.C. as part of the Children’s Miracle Network Champions program.  She, and kids representing our 49 other states, are having the time of their lives — and keeping busy! They’ve already visited the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials, the Washington Monument, and some of our nation’s most famous museums. Bella and her family even got to meet Minnesota senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken at the Capitol building.

The trip is all part of an important mission: to raise awareness, among government officials, of the exceptional care provided by Children’s Miracle Network hospitals, like Gillette, throughout the U.S.

Here is Bella outside the Lincoln Memorial:

And with her sister, Grace, at the Washington Monument:

So what’s next for Bella and her fellow Champion kids? Taking in a Nationals baseball game, and today, meeting the President of the United States!  Stay tuned for more photos from D.C.

Bella Goes to Washington

Posted On: 06/06/2010

Calling this a BIG week for Gillette patient Bella Giraldo would be an understatement.  That’s because, on Saturday, she and her family boarded a plane bound for Washington, D.C.  There, she’ll join other children — kids representing all of our 50 states — as part of the Children’s Miracle Network Champions program.  She’ll visit some of the fun museums and landmarks in our nation’s capitol, and meet with legislators on Capitol Hill.  Though we can’t say for sure, there’s a pretty good chance she’ll meet President Obama too! (Want to see if Bella met the President? Click here!)

Back in February, we introduced you to Bella — and told you that she’d be representing Gillette, and Minnesota, for Children’s Miracle Network this year.  And now, with Bella’s trip to Washington, D.C., well underway, we thought there couldn’t be a better time to debut a video we’ve created about how Gillette is helping her overcome a complex disability.  Why not take five minutes and check it out?  We promise you’ll be inspired by Bella.

Our Building’s Structure is Nearly Complete!

Posted On: 06/03/2010

As usual, there was plenty of activity at the site of our new building this week. And we’re pleased to report that, as of today, the structural skeleton of our building is more than 90% complete! That means crews can work on pouring concrete for the 4th and 5th floors, along with the ceiling deck. Concrete for the 3rd floor hasn’t been poured yet—crews will first need to install important wiring needed for our Center for Gait and Motion Analysis, which will move across the street when the new building opens.

In this photo, taken today, you’ll notice the 4th floor, 5th floor, and ceiling deck — all poured concrete supported by steel beams:

Here’s a view from below, looking up at Margaret Perryman’s former office. Behind the wall, crews are busy preparing to link the skyway up with the hospital. Check back next week to see a beautiful mural that will block her office space from view until the skyway connection is completed.

And last but not least, here’s a skyway view from the other end. The skyway itself is 165 feet across!

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