Inside Gillette Blog

Kendall’s Journey: 4 Months Post-Op

Posted On: 07/31/2013

Four months ago, our 15-month old daughter underwent a second surgery at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare to complete the tissue expansion and removal process of her large-sized congenital nevus. Recently, Kendall had another follow-up visit with her surgeon, Dr. Robert Wood.

When we met with Dr. Wood at 3 weeks post-op, he explained that Kendall's biopsy revealed both congenital and sebaceous nevus--a rare compound nevus.

The biopsy also showed that while one of these nevi were completely removed, there were still remaining cells of the other--meaning the possibility of pigmentation reappearing and the necessity to repeat the entire process.

But I felt overcome with this huge sense of PEACE--a peace that has been a part of the healing process over the past four months. Although I had hope that the nevus cells would not return, I mostly prayed that GOOD THINGS would come out of her situation and that we would make the most of whatever came our way.


Having a child who requires on-going medical attention and surgery has made me more of a realist in this area. I no longer attended doctor's appointments with the expectation that my kids are healthy--something I used to take for granted.

Healthy children are a lot of work. Adding the additional time, stress and expenses that go along with caring for a child with medical needs is a lot to manage on top of EVERYTHING ELSE you are managing as a parent.

I learned to focus on doing the next best thing and to take things one step at a time.

So when we drove to Gillette Children's, I was prepared to hear what this next step would be.

After examining her scalp and scar tissue, Dr. Wood told us HE DID NOT SEE ANY NEVUS PIGMENTATION. He told us that she looked great and we wouldn't need to see him again until February.

An entire 8-month period with no hospital visits? Awesome.

No more medical bills? Hallelujah.

A healthy child? Praise God.

It’s still sinking in.

Once Kendall reaches the one year post-op mark in February, whether or not the nevus cells have returned should be a done deal.

Dr. Wood also told us that we’ll likely want him to remove some of Kendall's scar tissue that has stretched, which would be a scar revision surgery at some point next year. If left alone, this could potentially become a noticeable bald spot, so we'll trust that he can help sister out with this. No hair will grow on the 8-inch line of scar tissue, but with a full head of hair, this should not be an issue for her.

As relieved as we are to have a positive check-up, we will miss not seeing the wonderful craniofacial team at Gillette Children’s. I remember going in for Kendall’s first expansion and being terrified of all the unknowns--Will the injections be painful for her? What will she look like? Is this going to be traumatic for all of us?

That is when we met Martha, Katie and the wonderful staff who put to rest all of our fears and concerns about what the 18-week tissue expansion process would be like. I felt that they cared for Kendall like family--answering my endless, repetitive questions with patience and always making our daughter’s health and well-being their first priority.

I left that first expansion appointment knowing WE COULD DO THIS.

When we first met with Dr. Wood and he explained to us the tissue expansion process, Kendall was just 6 weeks old. Slowly, brick by brick, stress was added to our everyday life until FINALLY, on February 11th, these bricks began to slowly disappear.

It is a freeing experience to have this weight removed. I'm thankful that Kendall will never know what it's like to carry the burden of this process, and I'm grateful for the medical team at Gillette who continues to make this journey a success for everyone.

Gillette Children’s Names New Chief Executive

Posted On: 07/30/2013

Meet us Monday - Meet Jenny Bucka, R.N.

Posted On: 07/29/2013

1. What is your position and role at Gillette? Do you have a favorite story or memory? I am a Registered Nurse in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. My favorite memories of my job include when patients we had in our unit come back to the PICU to visit either weeks, months, or years after their hospitalization and we see all the progress they have made. We typically only get to see them when they very sick, so it is so fun to see them closer to baseline.

2. What are some of your hobbies outside of work? My hobbies outside of work include, running, volunteering, golf, and reading.

3. Do you have any children or pets? I have no children or animals, but I have two nieces and one nephew and am currently loving the role of auntie!

4. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? If I could travel anywhere in the world I think I would go to Indonesia or any country in Southeast Asia. I have heard of many people having an incredible experience out there. The people in those countries have a reputation are very nice and hospitable. There is a lot of history in those areas and beautiful scenary.

5. What is one fun fact about you? One fun fact about me is that I have ran two full marathons, seven half marathons, and several other small races. I hope to run fifteen half marathons by the time I'm 30

My Gillette Story by Kimberly Hammock

Posted On: 07/23/2013

My Daughter, Malikia Hammock, is 12 ½ years old. I would describe Malikia as a child who fractures easily because of her brittle bones, but who never gives up.

We found out about Gillette Children’s Specialty Heathcare when Malikia was four months old. It was her first known fracture at the time. When I brought her to a local hospital, the emergency room doctor noticed the whites of Malikia’s eyes (the sclera) appeared blue. This is a telltale sign of Osteogenesis Imperfecta, a rare bone disorder also known as brittle bone disease. At Gillette, follow up testing confirmed Malikia’s condition.

Malikia has received a lot of services at Gillette such as; endocrinologist services, genetic services, surgeries, physical therapy, intravenous services, orthopedic care, evaluations for her wheelchair fittings, and dental care. Our experience at Gillette has been awesome. The casting technicians know her well and they even have nicknames for each other! When they see each other in passing in the hallway, they give each other a hard time. The front desk staff knows her by name, but the best part of that is that they actually pronounce her name correctly. I also really like the valet parking. And at times, we have used the coat-check. They are both very helpful when you have a child who maybe using crutches that day or in a wheelchair.

During her time with Gillette, Malikia has seen many different doctors and specialists, so it’s hard to choose a favorite. I think she really likes the casting technicians because they allow her to continue on in her daily activities after she gets that cast on. Malikia’s favorite thing to do is attend all types of sporting events; her favorite team is the Minnesota Twins. Her last cast was red and blue, the Twins’ colors, and then we went to a Minnesota Twins game. She loves the arts, attending movies, swimming, and spending time with her nieces and nephews and her adult sisters.

Malikia makes me most proud to be her mother because she is not a quitter. She has a high pain tolerance and a high endurance level. She shows me how to live life to its fullest and to never give up on anything you want to do.

Meet us Monday - Meet Lisa Littlejohn, Customer Service Rep

Posted On: 07/22/2013

1. What is your position and role at Gillette? Do you have a favorite story or memory? I work in the Registration department, so my position includes covering Registration, Clinic Check-In and the Information Desk. When I first started working here, I met a young teenage international patient.  He was in a wheelchair and very withdrawn, only speaking in Spanish to his mother.  Fast forward eighteen months and several surgeries later.  He was not only walking, but volunteering (talking with other patients about his surgeries and therapy) AND speaking to everyone in both English and Spanish.  His transformation was so amazing, it really opened my eyes to just how profoundly this hospital can transform a patient's quality of life.

2. What are some of your hobbies outside of work? I love gardening, especially Daylilies.  I am an interim music worship leader at Hayden Heights Baptist Church and occasionally a guest soloist at Fort Snelling Chapel.  I am also an avid collector of cookbooks and books on kitchen science.

3. Do you have any children or pets? I have four cats.  I only intended to have two, but then I rescued two more to keep them from going to a shelter.

4. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? My favorite place in the world is Aruba!  I went there in 2000 and I would love to go back!

5. What is one fun fact about you? I became a licensed radio announcer at age 16, two years before I graduated high school.

St. Paul Firefighters Ignite Fun at Gillette’s Annual Firefighters Carnival

Posted On: 07/22/2013

Dilly bars dripped, foreheads perspired, and face paint smeared as a heat advisory over St. Paul, Minnesota was in full force. The thermometer rose well into the 90’s but that did not stop many Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare patients from venturing outdoors to enjoy the annual Firefighters Carnival, hosted by the St. Paul Fire Department.

The carnival consisted of a number of activities, such as sand art, mini golf, pony rides, a bean bag toss and extravagant face painting, a favorite among many of the carnival-goers. Participants wandered the event at their leisure, picking and choosing which activities they wanted to try. The carnival even had some special guests who came to join in the festivities! Two Minnesota Vikings cheerleaders, accompanied by Miss Minnesota, Miss Minneapolis, and Miss Brainerd Lakes, all stopped by to mingle and take photos with the families at Gillette. And what’s a carnival without a king and a queen? This year’s royalty is King Carter and Queen April, two Gillette patients. Both donned their crowns and smiles for photos and received a fun prize.

The sight of friendly firefighters’ smiles and the aroma of hot dogs and popcorn filled the air as the carnival carried on despite the heat!  Mother Nature did her best to deter people from the carnival as she brought rising temperatures on Wednesday. Little does she know there’s nothing that can break the spirit or determination of Gillette’s patients and families!

Gillette Clinicians Improving Lives of Jamaican Children

Posted On: 07/17/2013

When Wayland Richards left his native Jamaica for the U.S. to pursue a degree at Crown College in St. Bonifacious, Minn., he often struggled with the question, “What will you take back to the young people of Jamaica?"  Beginning in 1995, Richards answered that question by hosting youth retreats dedicated to helping young Jamaicans receive job training and education essential to rising above the poverty line.

Mark Gormley, M.D. (far right) pictured the U.S. Ambassador to Jamaica, Jamaica’s Minister of Health and Minister of Tourism, along with fellow volunteers.

During one such retreat, a physician volunteer told Richards of his interest in using his medical training to help Jamaican children living with complex health conditions. Richards soon shifted his focus to medical mission work—and in 2002, founded the Organization for Strategic Development in Jamaica (OSDJ). When Richards learned of Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare through a member of his church, he saw an opportunity to partner in treating Jamaican youth with disabilities.

During Richards’ first visit to Gillette (accompanied by Jamaica’s Minister of Health) he met Mark Gormley, M.D., a pediatric rehabilitation medicine physician. Gormley, who had just returned from a medical mission trip to Russia, spoke to Richards about how his team’s efforts in Russia could be replicated in Jamaica.  Less than a month later, Gormley received an invitation—could he travel to Jamaica to tour the country’s healthcare facilities and give several medical lectures?  He agreed, and an international outreach program was born.

Gormley has since traveled to Jamaica semi-annually with a team of colleagues hailing largely from Gillette, from physical therapists to nurses and orthotics (bracing) specialists.  Together with Jamaican physician Paula Dawson, M.D., the group collaborates to provide treatments—including surgeries, Botox injections, therapies and assistive technology—to children who have cerebral palsy and other disabilities. Gormley estimates that his group has already helped more than 250 children.

They’ve also caught the attention of the U.S. Ambassador to Jamaica and Obama administration. As a result, Gillette will be part of a new effort to collectively spur volunteerism, medical education and tourism in developing countries like Jamaica. “Jamaicans understand that tourism reflects positively on their country,” explains Gormley. “If more groups like ours can give these countries tourism dollars while also helping local children, it’s a win-win for everyone involved.”

Meet us Monday - Meet Stephanie Zigan, Physical Therapist

Posted On: 07/15/2013


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

I'm a Physical Therapist at the Burnsville location.  I love working with kids throughout their childhood.  To see a child sit independently, walk for the first time, or help them find freedom in mobility is an amazing opportunity. 

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

I love to be outside and go fishing.

3. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

Hawaii--it is sunny and 80 degrees every day!

5. What is one fun fact about you?

I know American Sign Language.

Meet us Monday – Meet Jessica Pietsch

Posted On: 07/07/2013

1. What is your position and role at Gillette? At Gillette, I am a Lead Technologist for CT, Fluoroscopy, and Inpatient X-ray in the Imaging department. In our department, we perform numerous diagnostic Imaging exams. Patients need Imaging for all kinds of reasons; diagnosing of fractures, congenital abnormalities, spine deformities, and cancer to name a few. We take a look at what’s going on inside your body.

2. What are some of your hobbies outside of work? Fishing, Rollerblading, BBQ’s with friends and family, Any activity outside, Random house projects, cooking with my husband (who calls himself the grill master). I’ve recently took up Zumba with a friend, that’s fun!

3. Do you have any children or pets? No children yet. 1 dog (a Golden lab) and 1 cat (a mainecoon).

4. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? To me, a vacation is great at the cabin or somewhere tropical. The few I’ve thought of lately include going on an all-inclusive tropical vacation like me and my husband did when we got married, a wine tasting at a bed and breakfast, and I would love to go to the lighting of that big Christmas tree in New York in November.

5. What is one fun/interesting fact about you? I know every ‘Friends’ episode by heart, word for word………not kidding. My cat measures 3 feet tall standing up, not including his tail…..again, not kidding. Also, my fridge never runs out of cheese!

Montevideo American News Story on RE/MAX Fundraiser

Posted On: 07/01/2013

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