Inside Gillette Blog

Bladder Concerns and Treatments for People Who Have Disabilities

Posted On: 01/29/2014

By Jenna Katorski, F.N.P.

When people have disabilities, they often have trouble with bladder control. Damage to the brain or spinal cord that causes a disability also can affect bladder function. A variety of bladder problems fall under the category of a neurogenic bladder.

Types of Bladder Problems

For the urinary system to work properly, two groups of muscles must coordinate: the bladder (where urine is stored) and the sphincter (muscles around the urethra that prevent urine from leaking). Depending on the nerves involved and nature of the damage, the muscles in someone with a disability might become overactive or underactive. That may cause pressure inside the bladder to increase and places the kidneys at risk.

Underactive bladder: Because the bladder is too relaxed, it doesn’t empty completely during urination. That leftover urine can cause urinary tract infections and give the feeling of having to urinate often.

Overactive bladder: The bladder squeezes (contracts) even when you aren’t trying to urinate. That can cause leakage (urinary incontinence). Otherwise, pressure rising inside the bladder can damage the kidneys.

Underactive sphincter: Because the sphincter is too relaxed, urine can leak even when you aren’t trying to urinate (urinary incontinence).

Overactive sphincter: If the sphincter is too tight, it doesn’t relax enough to let out urine when you want to urinate.

Tests and Treatments

If your healthcare provider suspects that a patient has a neurogenic bladder, they may order imaging tests or a bladder pressure test (urodynamics). Treatments may include behavioral changes, medications, catheterization programs, or surgical procedures.

The main goal of treatment is to maintain low pressure when the bladder fills and empties. That protects the kidneys from damage caused by high pressure in the bladder. Other goals may include decreasing urinary incontinence, minimizing urinary tract infections, and increasing a patient’s independence through a bladder management program.

If you have a neurogenic bladder, be sure to see your urology provider regularly to ensure your kidneys are safe with your current bladder program.




Jenna Katorski, C.N.P., is a family nurse practitioner, who is board-certified through the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. She works in the physical medicine and rehabilitation department at Gillette Lifetime Specialty Healthcare St. Paul-Phalen Clinic. She cares for adults who have spina bifida, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, or other childhood-onset disabilities. She completed a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Nursing at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minn. She has been a principal investigator or a co-investigator for a number of clinical research studies, made professional presentations, and served on numerous professional and organizational committees. In addition, she is a member of the Society of Urologic Nurses and Associates, Developmental Disabilities Nurses Association and Sigma Theta Tau (an international nursing society).

Meet Us Monday- Meet Emily Gale, Child Clinic Psychologist

Posted On: 01/23/2014

1. What is your position and role at Gillette? Do you have a favorite story or memory? I am a clinical psychologist for children at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare in both St. Paul and Maple Grove. I mainly work see outpatients who are struggling with mood, anxiety or behavior problems. I enjoy working with families and parents, focusing on building skills and improving relationships to make families successful!

2. What are some of your hobbies outside of work? I enjoy spending time with friends and family, trying new restaurants, and watching sports—especially football!

3. Do you have any children or pets? I have a rescue Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Maggie. I love her very much!

4. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? I would love to go on a photo safari in South Africa.

5. What is one fun fact about you? I grew up in a military family and moved 18 times before I turned 18!


Meet Us Monday- Meet Jenna VanProosdy, Health Resources & Education Coordinator

Posted On: 01/20/2014

1.  What is your position and role at Gillette? Do you have a favorite story or memory? I am Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare's Health Resources & Education (HRE) Coordinator:  my area was formerly known as the Family Resource Center.  My role is primarily to connect patients & families with helpful resources (books, websites, community organizations, etc.) to help them on their health care journeys.  I've been at Gillette for just over a month now, but my favorite experience thus far has been offering chair massages to parents/family members of patients in our space.  It is really rewarding to allow caregivers an opportunity to relax & take time for themselves while their children are in the hospital …and the masseuses who volunteer their time with us are truly wonderful people.

2. What are some of your hobbies outside of work? Outside of work, I love to read, write, sing, play piano, and do just about anything outdoors.  I also love spending time with my family and husband, Adam.

3. Do you have any children or pets? Adam and I have a cat (very aptly!) named Scoundrel. We adopted him from the St. Paul Humane Society last year. 

4. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? Ever since eighth grade French class, I have dreamed of traveling to Paris.  I am actually considering planning a trip there for my 30th birthday this summer…which would be amazing!

5. What is one fun fact about you? Two items on my bucket list:  publishing a novel and recording a CD of original music. 


Medical Bills and Insurance: We’re Here to Help!

Posted On: 01/14/2014

When it comes to health care and related services, everyone has questions—about their bills, their insurance coverage, their out-of-pocket costs, and more.

Our financial specialists can help you:

  • Understand what your costs will be—before you receive a bill
  • Work with your insurance provider(s) and Medical Assistance, if applicable, to get details about benefits and coverage
  • Find out if your insurance requires a referral or physician’s order
  • File an appeal if your insurance provider denies your request for care at Gillette
  • Understand the bills you receive from Gillette
  • Set up a payment plan, if needed
  • Apply for financial assistance through the Gillette Assistance Program (GAP)

We can also connect you to Child and Family Services staff, who can help you find resources outside Gillette if you have no health care insurance or inadequate coverage

We always keep your questions and personal information completely confidential.

Just call us at:

Gillette Financial Specialists


8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., Monday through Friday

Be sure to have these things handy:

  • Your health insurance card/cards, if any
  • Your Medical Assistance card, if any
  • The name of the policy holder, if you have health insurance

About Gillette Costs

If you see a provider at one of Gillette’s Twin Cities locations (listed below), your visit will be billed as an “outpatient hospital facilities” appointment rather than an “outpatient clinic” appointment.

Insurance providers treat outpatient hospital facilities differently from outpatient clinics. You might have to make a larger copayment, pay a larger amount as a deductible, or pay a larger percentage of the cost of care than you would at a clinic that isn’t affiliated with a hospital. Be sure to ask your insurance provider or a Gillette financial specialist how this designation will affect you.

You might find that costs at Gillette are higher than they are at some community clinics.  That’s because our specialists treat patients who have complex conditions. We provide integrated care, which means that we offer all of the services someone with a particular condition requires—everything from imaging and diagnosis to surgery, rehabilitation therapy and related services. 

Gillette’s Twin Cities outpatient hospital facilities are:

St. Paul Clinic (main campus)

St. Paul – Phalen Clinic (for adults)

Burnsville Clinic

Maple Grove Clinic

Minnetonka Clinic

Minnetonka Therapies

Visits to our Brainerd Lakes Clinic, Duluth Clinic, Willmar Clinic and Outreach Clinics are billed as outpatient clinic appointments because they are farther away from our main hospital campus.

NOTE: If your insurance provider denies your request for care at Gillette, call a Gillette financial specialist at 651-325-2177. We can help you appeal.

For More Information

Find more information about medical bills and insurance on our website:

Hot cocoa, comics, and compassion from a 6-year old that gave back!

Posted On: 01/13/2014

Penelope Deignan is a charming and funny 6-year-old whose mom, Kelly, describes as a swimmer and an artist. To those who don’t know her, Penelope an average first grader who has a scar on the front of her neck. To some, a scar may be something one tries to cover up or hide, but to Penelope, the scar is a part of her story.

Penelope’s Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare experience began when she was successfully treated at Gillette as an infant because of hip dysplasia. She experienced no further health issues until, while at cheerleading camp last August, Penelope began having neck pain and returned to Gillette for treatment. She was soon diagnosed with Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH), a rare condition that occurs when the body accumulates too many immature Langerhans cells, a type of white blood cell that normally helps the body fight infection.  When too many of these blood cells build up and accumulate, they can form tumors or damage internal organs.  In Penelope’s case, LCH had caused a tumor in the C5 vertebrae of her spinal column—causing pain in her neck.

 After the diagnosis, the plan was to treat the tumor with chemotherapy. But just before the treatment was to begin, the tumor unexpectedly collapsed. Penelope spent a week in Gillette’s orthopedic unit while doctors managed her pain. During this time, her tumor collapsed once again, causing additional complications. That’s when pediatric neurosurgeon Patrick Graupman, M.D., performed a spinal fusion surgery in September, 2013 to prevent permanent damage to her spinal column.

Despite everything Penelope went through, she wasted no time springing back into action. Just three months after her surgery, today Penelope is back in the pool and back in school.  However, Gillette was never far from Penelope’s mind after her stay ended.  “She loved her experience at Gillette,” Kelly explains.  “She wanted to go back after she came home from the hospital! It was a really big experience for her--but a great one.”

Soon after Penelope came home from the hospital, she began drawing comics about animals going to Gillette for care. It didn’t take long until Penelope’s friends started asking for her comics. Instead of giving them away, Penelope decided to have a hot cocoa stand outside of their house, selling hot cocoa and comics to raise money for Gillette. So one chilly day, she bundled up, set up her stand and, in total, and raised $15! She donated every penny to Gillette.

“I’ve come to appreciate the caring staff and how they helped Penelope feel really good about herself,” says Kelly. “They always gave her confidence that she’d get better.” Kelly adds, “I think it says a lot that Penelope wants to go back to Gillette and become a surgeon like Dr. Graupman.” Until Penelope can reach her goal of being a surgeon, she’s planning even more hot cocoa and comic sales to continue giving back.  

My Gillette Story by Becky Miller

Posted On: 01/08/2014

When Connor was born prematurely at 35 weeks, it was discovered that a blood clot had formed in his upper arm, leaving him with severe muscle, nerve and skin damage. Originally, doctors thought amputation was likely—but were then able to heal his arm so that a skin graft could be performed at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. The skin graft was a resounding success!  Conner’s pain levels decreased dramatically and he was able to finally begin experiencing life. Read more about Connor below.

How would you describe Connor to someone that hasn't met him?
Connor is a happy, energetic and strong 8-month-old. We are often told that he is “the happiest baby in the world” by those who help care for him.  He has a genuine passion for life that is most notable when being entertained by his big brother, Parker.  Nothing in the world can bring about belly laughs and smiles the way that his big brother can.

What are Connor's favorite things to do?
Connor adores watching his big brother play. Whether wrestling with Daddy, playing with (loud!) toys or reading books, Connor always finds a way to tell us that he wants to participate in the fun!  The joy on Connor’s face when he sees his big brother cannot be described in words.  Connor also enjoys his Jumperoo so much that we often find him trying to “jump” during other activities.  Connor also thinks that toys that shake, make noise and/or light up are pretty amazing!  His favorite toy is his “Bat & Wobble Penguin.”

What is your Connor's medical condition?
Connor was born prematurely at 35 weeks as a result of pregnancy complications.  Upon birth, it was discovered that Connor had an arterial blood clot that had formed in his upper arm, due in part to a genetic clotting disorder called Factor V Leiden.  Doctors were unsure exactly when the clot formed, but they believe it was present for several weeks prior to birth.  As a result, blood flow to Connor’s lower arm and hand was almost entirely restricted, leaving him with severe muscle, nerve and skin damage.

How did your family find out about Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare?
Several Gillette surgeons were involved in managing Connor’s care while he was in the NICU.  Initially, the team of specialists following his case thought amputation was likely.  However, the team caring for Connor was miraculously able to heal his arm to a point that a skin graft could be performed. We were referred to Gillette for Connor’s skin graft and were told it was THE best place to be for the type of care that he required.  After spending the first month of his life in the NICU, Connor was admitted to Gillette for a skin graft. The graft was completed by Dr. Robert Wood when Connor was just over 1 month old and it was a resounding success.  His pain levels decreased dramatically and he was able to finally begin experiencing life!

What kinds of treatments and services has Connor received at Gillette?
Following Connor’s graft, mobility and use of his left arm from the shoulder down remained extremely limited.  In the months since his surgery, Connor has been under the care of Dr. Wood, Dr. Ann VanHeest and the amazing occupational therapy and physical therapy teams in rehabilitation therapies.  He is working with his physical therapists to correct a mild case of plagiocephaly and torticollis that were a result of him relying heavily on the right side of his body due to his injury. His occupational therapy appointments have focused on regaining range-of-motion and use of his left arm and hand.

What has your experience at Gillette been like for Connor and your family?
The surgeons that Connor has seen have done a great job managing his care.  The OT and PT team members have been friendly, caring and honest with us throughout Connor’s journey.  We are grateful that his young age has not been a limiting factor in the types of treatment that Connor can receive – splinting has been a big part of Connor’s therapy and it has proven to be a challenge for such a small arm/hand.  Through our challenges, the OT team has listened to our struggles and concerns with compassion and has always worked to find a way to make the rehabilitation process as easy and painless as possible – for both Connor as well as Mom and Dad 

Does Connor have a favorite doctor, nurse, therapist or other caregiver?
Connor adores his OTs (Lindsey A., Alyssa & Alexandria) and PTs (Michelle and Lindsay) – they are always able to bring out a ton of smiles from him during his therapy appointments!

What about Connor makes you most proud?
Connor is a fighter in every sense of the word – he has overcome so many obstacles in his short life.  While he is still too small to tell us in his own words, Connor’s non-verbals indicate that he is stubborn, persistent and driven. He has already, and will continue to, overcome any obstacles that stand in his way!

Radio Spot Highlights Gillette Tree

Posted On: 01/07/2014

Listen to KS95 (94.5 FM) this week, and you’ll hear a familiar name: Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare.  It’s all thanks to the local radio station, which generously granted us a free 60-second radio spot. Not only does the spot highlight the role of Gillette’s specialty-care expertise in moving our patients and families forward, it also calls attention to our illuminated Gillette Tree—a symbol of the expertise of our staff and generosity of our donors.  The spot closes by encouraging listeners to support Gillette with a donation. Listen to the spot here!


Meet Us Monday - Meet Jackie Norling, Physical Therapist

Posted On: 01/06/2014

1. What is your position and role at Gillette? I am an inpatient and outpatient Physical Therapist at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare. Jackie Norling Physical Therapist at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare

2. Do you have a favorite story or memory from Gillette? I love getting to see my patient do things for the first time. Previously, I worked at the Lifetime clinic. I had an adult patient with Spina Bifida who wanted a stander for at home because she was wheelchair bound. I got her in the stander and stood her up. Her husband walked over to give her a hug and kiss. This was their first standing hug and kiss!

3. What are some of your hobbies outside of work? I enjoy Sunday movie and pizza night with my family and spending time with my friends.

4. Do you have any children or pets? I have 2 kids—Luke is almost 7 yo and Kate is 3 ½ yo. I also have a dog named Ben who is a golden lab.

5. What is one fun fact about you? My grandfathers’ names were Billy Graham and Cy Young (but not the famous ones)!