Inside Gillette Blog

Meet Us Monday - Meet Krissa Jefferis, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

Posted On: 12/30/2013

1. What is your position and role at Gillette? Do you have a favorite story or memory? I am a Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation nurse practitioner at Gillette. I see kids with traumatic brain injuries/concussions, cerebral palsy, intrathecal baclofen pumps, etc. I work in the St Paul and Maple Grove clinics.

2. What are some of your hobbies outside of work? Outside of work, I enjoy traveling, hiking, going to sporting events, gardening, and sewing/knitting. I also enjoy trying out new restaurants in the area.

3. Do you have any children or pets? I have a 2 year old daughter and another daughter on the way, due in March. The only pets we currently have are 2 salt water fish.

4. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? I would love to go to Greece or spend a few weeks traveling all over Europe.

5. What is one fun fact about you? I have run 2 marathons – one in Copenhagen, Denmark and one here for the Twin Cities Marathon. After the last one I said I’d never run another marathon again, but I might have one more left in me, we’ll see!

Meet Us Monday - Meet Amanda Totino, R.N.

Posted On: 12/23/2013

1. What is your position and role at Gillette? Do you have a favorite story or memory? I'm a nurse on the Orthopedics/Surgical Unit here at Gillette.  One particularly funny memory I have is when a patient's family had brought a life-sized cut-out of Justin Bieber for her.  I walked into her room and was surprised, elated, and yes, a little scared to see a huge Justin Bieber hiding in the darkest corner.  I couldn't stop laughing for probably 10 minutes.  I'm constantly blown away by the lengths our families go through to make sure their kids are happy and comfortable after surgery.  Our kids and families are the best.  They make me smile every day!

2. What are some of your hobbies outside of work? I like kayaking, playing slow pitch softball (I'm on the Gillette team!), cooking, reading, and watching Netflix.

3. Do you have any children or pets?  No kids, but my cat Martha is the snuggliest, goofiest cat around.  She can play catch!

4. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? Number one on my list of places to travel is Thailand.  A vacation packed full of scuba diving in some amazing reefs, trekking through the rainforest by elephant, playing with baby orangutans, napping on sandy beaches, and eating the most amazing food sounds perfect to me!

5. What is one fun fact about you? My great-aunt invented Totino's Pizza.  Unfortunately for me I do not get unlimited party pizzas or pizza rolls.

Charitable Giving Segment on WCCO-AM’s “Your Money”

Posted On: 12/18/2013

Giving back and being charitable were the topics during the December 8th “Your Money” radio show on WCCO-AM sponsored by the Wealth Enhancement Group. As a thank you to their loyal listeners, the Wealth Enhancement Group is offering a free second opinion on financial plans for retirement. For every person who schedules an in-person or a telephone review, the Wealth Enhancement Group is donating $100 to Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare.

Guests on the program included Wendy Paulson, Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare, who provided an overview about Gillette and how donations benefit Gillette patients and Ryan McKeown, Senior Vice President, Financial Advisor from the Wealth Enhancement Group, who answered listener’s charitable giving questions.

The “Your Money” radio show airs on Sunday mornings. The program features Bruce Helmer and Peg Webb from the Wealth Enhancement Group who bring their unique perspectives and insights on a broad range of financial topics, from investments to estate planning.

Pictured left to right: Denny Long, WCCO-AM; Bruce Helmer and Peg Webb, Wealth Enhancement Group; Wendy Paulson, Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare; Ryan McKeown, Wealth Enhancement Group.


Meet Us Monday - Meet Barbara Joers, President and CEO

Posted On: 12/16/2013

1. What is your position at Gillette? I am honored to have joined the team here about two months ago as President and CEO.  I was drawn to Gillette by its model of care – one that has a strong focus and a very clear mission.

2. What are some of your hobbies outside of work?  When I’m not at office, I like to truly disconnect. That means no email, no phone, no texts. I don’t always succeed at that, but it is my goal so that I can spend time with my family and friends.  One thing that often takes my mind away from work is watching a sports game – I love watching the Vikings and the Wild, but the truth is that my heart is still with my hometown teams from Buffalo, NY.

3. Do you have any children or pets? I have a daughter, Marianna who is 5 and a dog who is nearing 13, Snap.  He is still adjusting to his new “sibling.”

4. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? I would go one of two places – either Iceland or New England in the off season. These are two of my favorite places to get away from daily routine.

5. What is one fun fact about you? Growing up, I was always a devoted fan of Snoopy.  Some might say I was even obsessed. It is very fitting that I now live in St. Paul, the home of Charles Schulz. He wrote one of my favorite quotes of all time, and something that has become my own personal motto, “It doesn’t matter what you believe, just as long as you are sincere.”

Meet Us Monday - Meet Karri Larson, Pediatric Dietitian

Posted On: 12/09/2013

1.  What is your position and/or role at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare? I am a Pediatric Dietitian at Gillette. I work mostly with patients on the ketogenic diet, from initiation in the hospital to their follow up outpatient visits. My other main role is being part of the multidisciplinary feeding team at Gillette.  I travel to all the other Gillette sites so that we can offer feeding therapy for families across the metro. I remember vividly one of the first patients I started on the ketogenic diet here at Gillette, about 15 years ago. He had severe seizures from a brain injury and was not verbal. While hospitalized on the 2nd day on the diet, he began to wimper a little and I remember feeling sad because I thought he was sad.  But his mom was elated that he was showing emotion for the first time in his life, so she started crying and then I started to cry. Together we shared a really special, emotional moment together. He left the hospital seizure free, and continued to develop cognitively once his seizures were managed.  Another favorite moment is in feeding clinic, when I have shared in the joy of a parent watching their child eat something for the first time, or applying a new feeding skill they have just mastered.  It doesn’t really get more inspiring than that.

2. What are some of your hobbies outside of work? Outside of Gillette, I like to take advantage of all the sporting, arts and cultural events the Twin Cities has to offer. I really like going to MN Vikings games and the shows at the Children’s Theatre are phenomenal. In the summer I try to go to all the arts festivals around town and visit all the beautiful parks here, like Minnehaha Falls and Lebanon Hills. I also like to spend time in the kitchen, cooking meals from scratch. I read cookbooks like novels and find it relaxing to try new recipes with unusual ingredients or cuisine that is traditional in other countries.

3. Do you have any children or pets? I have 2 sons, ages 7 and 9.  They are very active and keep me young at heart. With 2 boys, we have had lots of “pets” in our home over the years including a bunny named Rosie and a frog named Joey. We hope to get a puppy at Christmastime and have already named her Penny. We chose this name because my youngest son wished on a ‘penny’ at a fountain at the Mall of America that he could have a dog, so it seemed fitting we would name her Penny. 

4. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? We love to travel as a family and I would really like to take my boys to Honduras.  My dad and husband go there every year to build houses for those less fortunate, and I  think it is vital to expose our kids to a different way of life and instill in them a value of helping others. I also want to go to Liverpool England next fall for the 4th International Symposium for Dietary Therapies for Epilepsy and other Neurological Disorders. Thanks to Gillette, I have been able to attend the previous 3 conferences and I have learned so much about making the ketogenic diet a useful treatment option for our families.

5. What is one fun fact about you? I am a music junkie! I especially love live music and going to concerts. My favorite concert experience was seeing U2 at the TCF stadium a couple years ago.  It was raining and stormy, which added a unique mood to the event that I will never forget.

Juvenile Arthritis Affects Area Families

Posted On: 12/04/2013

Kaeli and Lily’s Children’s Miracle Network ‘Champions’ Trip

Posted On: 12/03/2013

By: Adele Harris, Gillette patient mom

Earlier this year, we were so honored when our girls, Kaeli, 12 years old, and Lily, 8 years old, were asked to be Minnesota’s, Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare ambassador champions for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, Champions Across America program. Every state is represented by a child, or siblings that are treated at a CMN Hospital. The champions program brings together every state’s representative and their family, first to Disney World, then to Washington D.C. There, the champions are recognized for their continuing medical fight, meet with sponsors, advocate for their hospital, have fun sightseeing, and meeting and networking with other families that are going through similar experiences.

Our trip started Oct. 8th. We woke up bright and early, and as soon as we arrived at the MSP airport, our VIP treatment started by Delta, who was one of the main sponsors of the champions trip. A Delta employee escorted us to the front of the security line, then directly to our plane.

When we landed in Orlando, the girls received an ovation on the plane after the flight attendants announced them. Then, when we got off the plane, a huge crowd of Delta and CMN Hospitals employees were waiting for us at the gate with balloons, cheering our arrival. We were once again escorted through the airport, our baggage was handled, and the VIP treatment continued! This was only the beginning of 10 days of being spoiled.

Our time in Disney World was fantastic. We spent some time at the parks, but the most fun was at the CMN Hospitals planned events. The highlight of the trip for me as a mom, was the medal ceremony, which thousands of people attended, and every champion was acknowledged. The ceremony was hosted by Nick Cannon, who was joined onstage by Miss America, Zendaya, Marie Osmond, and John Schneider. All these kids, most of whom have gone through something life threatening, all got their individual turn to come out onstage, smiling, waving, doing a little dance, and then receiving a medal for going through all they have gone through. Seeing Kaeli push Lily out on the stage was such an emotional moment, remembering all the things both my girls have gone through. Hearing and seeing the standing ovation the girls received, was such a proud moment for me.

Our time in Disney World, also included, media appearances, VIP seating for parades, lunches and dinners with all the families, a mom’s suite sponsored by Chico’s FAS, and a pin exchange with sponsors, where the kids and sponsors get to meet each other one on one .

After our time at Disney, we were taken on a private charter provided again by Delta. Before boarding the plane, we were taken directly onto the tarmac, where we went through security, and met the pilots and flight attendants. A high school band provided music, and of course, there was another cheering reception!

Our time in D.C. was a bit slower paced than originally planned because of the shutdown. We all made the best of it though. We had family come visit us, so some of our canceled events meant more visiting time with them.

We were still able to do some of our scheduled events, including individual and group photos in front of the U.S. Capitol, lunches, a wonderful wreath laying experience at The Tomb of the Unknown in Arlington National Cemetery, and a fancy 3 hour dinner cruise on the Potomac River. This was another big highlight! It was a gorgeous night out on deck of the boat, but inside there was yummy food and a big dance party. This night was one of my favorites from the trip.

Our final day brought the biggest thrill! We were able to go to the White House for a meet and greet and photo with President Obama! We were on the South Lawn which is directly across from the Elipse and the Washington Monument. The President said some very nice things about how much our kids have gone through, and how it puts things in perspective for him when he has a bad day. He then took a few cute questions from the kids about a bowling alley and hot tub in the White House. The visit with the President was pretty quick, because this was the day the shutdown ended and he was needed elsewhere. I think for all families, no matter which side of the aisle they are on, meeting the president on the White House lawn is something none of us will forget!

I can’t thank enough, Gillette, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, and all the sponsors that made this possible! It was so nice to forget all worries with doctor’s, paperwork, phone calls, etc…and just be pampered for a week and a half. We are so grateful for the whole experience and for the opportunity to meet other families who understand and are going through similar medical experiences. The VIP treatment will never be forgotten. My girls have memories that will last a lifetime.