Inside Gillette Blog

Meet Us Monday – Meet Beth Harmening, Therapeutic Recreation Specialist

Posted On: 02/24/2013

Q. What are some of your hobbies outside work?
A.  I like socializing, kayaking, and hiking.

Q. How long have you worked at Gillette?
A.  I’ve worked at Gillette for a little over three years.

Meet Us Monday - Beth Harmening

Q. Do you have any kids or pets?
A. I have no pets and one little girl, Hannah who is 4 years old.

Q. As a child, which superhero did you admire?
A. I liked underdog and teenage mutant ninja turtles.

Q. What is your favorite food?
A. Spaghetti or pizza

Q. If you could travel anywhere where would you go?
A. I’d like to travel to Colorado to see where I was born.

Q. Do you have a favorite musician/band/type of music?
A. All…but lately enjoy contemporary christian music

Q. What drew you to Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare?
A. I always wanted to work at a children’s hospital

Q. Do you have a favorite story/memory from Gillette?
A. My favorite story is wanting to work here 10 years ago when I first moved here and actually getting hired a few years ago!

Q. What do you enjoy most about your job at Gillette?
A. I enjoy being part of a team, the variety of work and helping patients and families enjoy life through recreation and leisure…no matter the adaptations/changes that are needed.

My Incredible Meeting with Lady Gaga (Superstar Supporter of CurePity!)

Posted On: 02/21/2013

One thing most people probably don’t know about me is that I’m a huge Lady Gaga fan.  Growing up with cerebral palsy, I hit a point when I realized that I was “different” from other people. Even if no one told me directly, I always felt like an outcast.  In school, I was in all mainstream classes and tried my hardest to prove myself. Needless to say, I graduated high school in 2012 with a cumulative GPA of about 3.2.  It was my way to say “I told you so” and reject pity.

Another thing most people don’t know is that I also went through times of doubt where I would let pity get the best of me.  I would often pray to God, sobbing, and saying, Why did you make me this way?  Why am I here?  What is my purpose?

Then one night, a breakthrough. The sobs stopped.  I was physically incapable of crying.  I truly believe God answered my prayers that night.  As started to learn more about the world’s biggest pop star, I felt closer to her than one would imagine even though we hadn’t ever met (yet!)

As soon as I found out that Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Ball tour was coming to St. Paul, I knew I had to get tickets.  I was determined to see one of my personal role models in the flesh.  In December, I decided to write an e-mail to her management on impulse asking about a possible meet and greet, thinking nothing of it.  They probably get hundreds of e-mails a day, I thought.  I’ll never get a reply.

Lo and behold, on February 4th, two days before the concert, I got an e-mail saying that a documentary was being filmed about Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation and they thought that I was a perfect candidate.  You know those crazy, awesome dreams that you always wake up from before the really good part happens?  I thought this was some kind of crazy dream; a prank.  Regardless, we corresponded back and forth through e-mail and Trevor, a man who heads up the production team, stated that they wanted to come out to my house for filming.

During the interview, they asked about my life story and struggles.  I spilled my guts.  I thought I looked horrible on camera, but they said I was great.  After the nearly two hour interview, they stated that we needed to be to the Xcel Energy Center at about 3:30 so that they could film us around Lady Gaga’s Born Brave Bus/Tailgate – a place for her fans to go to get help with various issues in addition to meeting other fans in a fun and safe environment.  The camera crews said we could do whatever we wanted, so my friends and I just walked (or in my case, rolled) around a bit until they said it was time to go inside of the actual Born Brave Bus for filming.

Before we knew it, screams erupted.  Gaga!  Gaga!  Gaga!  The Lady herself walked in to greet both myself and my friend Brandon.  We hugged, and she asked us how we were, to which I simply said “I am awesome right now.”

It was at that point that I wanted to cut to the chase and tell Gaga about the absolutely incredible work that Gillette does for thousands of kids just like myself. For months, I thought about the amazing impact that even local sports players have created by spreading the CurePity movement.  I wanted to take it to a whole new level, and the wheels in my head were always spinning – Lady Gaga would be the perfect person for this CurePity pledge.  I need to get it to her somehow.  Which is exactly what I did.

I proceeded to say something along the lines of “Gaga, I don’t know if it’s too much work, but there’s something I’d like to tell you about.  The hospital that I go to – Gillette – treats kids just like me from all over the world right here in St. Paul.  They also have a campaign called CurePity, which basically means rejecting pity for those with disabilities and empower them instead.”

I then brought up on my phone.  Lady Gaga couldn’t sign it right then and there, but she did completely support the movement as well as the hospital’s work.  She then said something like:

When most fans come to me, all they want to know is about me, or my music.  But all you want me to do is sign this.  I think that’s so beautiful and inspiring.  When people see this, I think it will have the potential to empower a lot of people and change people’s lives. 

Lady Gaga is completely genuine and hands down one of the nicest people ever. Not only that, but she gave me a shout out during her song “Born This Way” – more specifically with the lyrics, “no matter if life’s disabilities/left you outcast bullied or teased/rejoice and love yourself today/cause baby you were Born This Way.”  In addition to the two hours we spent before the show, we also got to go backstage after where we spent another hour with her.  It was one of the coolest experiences of my life, and making her aware of Gillette’s incredible work was just icing on the cake!

Unfortunately for Miss Gaga, she had to cancel her tour as a result of a hip injury and subsequent surgery.  She called me personally last night and said, “Hi Emma!  This is Gaga.  I just wanted to call you and tell you that I really screwed up my hip after a show. I’m on crutches and occasionally in a wheelchair right now, but I’m doing okay.  Thank you so much for making me brave and be sure to tell your friends that I love them.  I want to see you again as soon as possible!”

I also asked Gaga personally about the follow up interview – it’s still on as soon as she can make it!

Meet Us Monday – Meet Kaitlin Lewis, Therapeutic Recreation Specialist

Posted On: 02/17/2013

Meet Kaitlin Lewis, Therapeutic Recreation Specialist

  1. What are some of your hobbies outside work? Weekend road trips, sewing & painting, playing with my dog and an avid yoga practitioner!
  2. How long have you worked at Gillette? 1 ½ years
  3. Do you have any kids or pets?  My child is furry!  He is a long-hair Chihuahua named Rajah.  I enjoy dressing him up and taking him to play dates.
  4. As a child, which superhero did you admire? OR If you could choose a superpower, what would it be? I related to Disney characters more than Superheros and really admired ‘Beauty’ from beauty and the beast because of her open heart. (I seriously am not very familiar with superheros, but if I need to stick to the topic, I’d choose the superpower to be: cloning myself so I can do and learn so many things at once!)
  5. What is your favorite food?Italian Stuffed Manicotti and Sea Salt Carmel Gelato!
  6. If you could travel anywhere where would you go? Cape Town, South Africa
  7. Favorite musician/band/type of music? Oldies, Indies, Classic Rock and Pop; Favorite all-time groups are Queen, Cold Play, & Oasis
  8. What drew you to Gillette? When moving to Minnesota, it was highly recommended by the Medical Director at my previous job.  When I looked into it, the recommendation was spot-on.  What a professional, respectful, comfortable and challenging work place!  I love it!
  9. Do you have a favorite story/memory from Gillette? When occasionally storing the adaptive bikes next door to Phalen Clinic this past winter, I ended up having to ride them over to our building for patient appointments.  One day when I needed them, I had to bundle up head-to-tow because it was -6 and snowing (I didn’t’ have the guts to try to recruit help!).  I had a close encounter with a UPS truck, many horn honks from Phalen Blvd. (honks of encouragement, I hope!) and a doctor who called me, “nothing but crazy.”  That miserable 30 minutes was well worth the memory and well worth the ability to teach the opportunity of bike riding to my patients!
  10. What do you enjoy most about your job at Gillette? My colleagues!  They are consistently supportive, team players, who wear daily smiles and work together to make providing great care seem so easy!


Life for Leo after a Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy Surgery

Posted On: 02/14/2013

Dear Gillette Team,

We are thrilled to share what our son, Leo, has achieved in the past year. It is almost one year ago (March 28, 2012) since we traveled from the United Kingdom to Minnesota for Leo’s selective dorsal rhizotomy surgery. He is now walking independently indoors and we are totally thrilled about it!

The last year was, and still is, very intense.  Leo has been doing physiotherapy five times per week with professional therapists. In addition, he is swimming, riding horses, bike riding and going to kindergarten.
Outside of therapy we took, and still take, every chance to make him work his muscles, from taking him swimming to Croatia, walking around Legoland, Windsor and Disneyland in Paris. He needs to be motivated constantly in order to keep up this intense regimen.

Leo is majorly into Star Wars now. He changed our names to R2-D2 (mom) and Chewbacca (dad). Leo calls himself C3PO and walks around with his light saber, especially when the physiotherapist knocks on the door! It is great to see him walk independently.

The selective dorsal rhizotomy surgery definitely was worth it. Leo is a confident and happy boy. He does not struggle with pain anymore, and his reduced spasticity gives him so much more energy for play, interaction and daily activities. Leo starts school in April and we are sure he will have fun.

Thank you for all your expertise, care, support, trust, knowledge and love.

- Nancy, Marc and Leo Pugliese

Meet Us Monday – Meet Tammy Larson, Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist

Posted On: 02/10/2013

Q. How long have you worked at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare?
A. I have worked at Gillette for 22 years!

Q. Do you have any children or pets?
A. I have two children,  Jessie who is 19 and Alexandra who is 15.

Q. What are your hobbies?
A. Watching my kids play soccer, basketball, and run track. I personally love running and bike riding.

Q. What is your favorite food?
A. Popcorn

Q. What do you enjoy most about working at Gillette?
A. I enjoy having the longevity of seeing children grow up and lead successful lives.

Gillette’s Teach-Back Method

Posted On: 02/07/2013

Some conversations with Gillette staff might have a slightly different feel to them in 2013. We’re increasing our use of “teach-back,” a method of educating patients and their families about aspects of their care.

Teach-back has long been used within the health care industry (including by some Gillette staff). It’s known to be an effective way of ensuring patients and their families fully understand what’s important for them to know.

To help prepare you for taking part in teach-back at Gillette, here’s some information about the technique and how we use it here.

We’ve also produced a short video to demonstrate how a teach-back conversation between a health care provider and a patient family might occur.

Video: Gillette’s Teach-Back Method

What’s the teach-back method?

It’s an education technique Gillette staff use to make sure we’ve done a good job helping you understand how to best take care of yourself, your child or the patient.

The way it works is: We explain some important information or instructions; then we give you an opportunity to tell or show us what we’ve just taught. If we haven’t conveyed all information clearly enough, we stay with you to fill in any gaps or re-teach in a way that is more meaningful to you.

Who uses teach-back?

Anyone can! Gillette physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, pharmacists, therapists, assistive technology specialists and other patient care staff have been trained in the teach-back method. We consider teaching a partnership with you. We want to be sure that we answer all your questions and that you feel good about providing care at home. If we don’t always initiate teach-back, feel free to start the conversation yourself! We’ll take time to make sure you understand what you need to know.

What does teach-back “look” like?

Here are some examples of how we might use teach-back with you:

  • If you’ve been taught about a new medication, we might ask, “How will you give this medicine? What side effects will you be watching for?”
  • If you’ve been taught about a new diagnosis, we might ask, “How will you explain this to your loved ones at home?”
  • If we’ve shown you how to perform a care procedure, we might ask you to demonstrate how you’ll perform the procedure yourself after you get home.

Our motto is “Teach-Back Is a Two-Way Street!”

From Patient Family to Gillette Nurse

Posted On: 02/05/2013

At Gillette, we believe our staff members are something special. The compassion and care they provide to our patients is remarkable. In some cases, that compassion grows from a unique understanding of what our families are going through—because many of our employees are also patient families.

Take, for example, Eleesha Hruza, a Gillette nurse. In 2005, Eleesha gave birth to her son, Javier, in Bemidji, Minnesota. When Javier was a month old, he contracted a severe infection and was hospitalized for more than a month.

Eleesha and Javier

“Medical professionals told me his outlook was bleak,” says Eleesha. “Very few professionals believed Javier would even survive his first year of life.” He was eventually diagnosed with cerebral palsy, and at 18 months he was referred to Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare.

“I had never heard of Gillette, and didn’t know what to expect,” says Eleesha. “When we arrived for our first appointment, I was blown away. I was given a thorough education about Javier’s disability, and was told he would have a happy and healthy future. What a gift for someone to believe in him!”

Over the next year, Javier saw medical specialists at Gillette, and his health dramatically improved. His Gillette medical team took pride in his triumphs and never lost hope. Today Javier is a happy, healthy, 7-year-old first grader.

“The Gillette nurses who cared for Javier inspired me to become a nurse,” says Eleesha. “And now I work at Gillette as a full-time registered nurse, doing my best to help other children the way those nurses helped Javier.”

Eleesha adds, “I can say with great conviction that the people who work at Gillette are the most committed and caring group I have ever known. I hold myself to these standards because I want to give each patient and family the kind of care that Javier and I received. I’m asking people to support this wonderful hospital because I know on a very personal level the importance of the work we do.”

Meet Us Monday – Amy Gordon, Appointment Coordinator

Posted On: 02/03/2013

Q. What are some of your hobbies outside work?

A. I’m part of a golf league in the summer, a pool league in the winter, love to read, spend time up north at the lake relaxing.

Q. How long have you worked at Gillette?

A. Since 1980! A long time.

Q. Do you have any kids or pets?

A. Yes, two kids a 24 year old son and a 21 year old daughter. I also have a dog and a cat.

Meet Us Monday - Amy Gordon, Appointment Coordinator

Q. As a child, which superhero did you admire? OR If you could choose a superpower, what would it be?

A. I’m not sure about superhero, but how about healing power!

Q. If you could travel anywhere where would you go?

A. In a month I’m taking a cruise going to Freeport and Nassau, Bahamas with a group of friends.

Q. What is your favorite type of music?

A. I like Cities 97 and country radio stations.

Q. What drew you to Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare?

A. I was hired in 1980 and worked on 4 west as a HUC. I went to St Paul College and finished school on a Wednesday, interviewed on a Friday, started the next Monday.  

Q. Do you have a favorite story or memory from Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare?

A. My best memories are working on 4 West during Christmas and Halloween because employees would have costume contests. Also getting to know patients and families during long in-patient stays.

Q. What do you enjoy most about your job at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare?

A. New patient services is the first contact for families coming to Gillette. Speaking and reassuring concerned and anxious parents about their child’s first appointment is so rewarding. It’s easy to work at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare because what we do is so great!