Inside Gillette Blog

What Miracle Treat Day Meant to my Family

Posted On: 08/29/2014

By Melissa Reich

Editor’s Note: Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare participated in Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (CMN Hospitals) Miracle Treat Day on Thursday, August 14. The following is an open letter to the Coon Rapids Dairy Queen by Melissa Reich, Gillette Mom. Her family stoped by to greet staff, share their story and thank them for their donations to Gillette.

Dear DQ Crew,

My family and I would like to say a HUGE thank you for all you did during our Miracle Treat Day visit! My kids had so much fun and my husband and I were blown away by your hospitality. I would like to tell you a little more about my two kiddos that we celebrated with, Olivia and Elijah.

Olivia has Down Syndrome and a complication of that was a disorder called hip sublexation. Olivia spent over a week at Gillette this past January having reconstructive surgery on her left hip. While in the hospital recovering from her surgery, Olivia became quite ill which triggered a major asthma attack. We are so thankful  that we were in the hospital when this happened. I am unsure what Olivia’s outcome would have been if she were at home.

Olivia spent her recovery in a full body cast from chest to ankle for the next seven weeks. She also endured months of physical therapy re-learning how to walk. Unfortunately, this was not her first time in the full body cast and most likely won't be her last. Eventually she will need her right hip repaired..

Elijah was diagnosed with Epilepsy in October of 2013. He has been through a ringer of tests to find the cause of his seizures and the right medication.  Before his diagnosis at Gillette, he was having seizures almost every day. Due to the rarity of his seizure disorder, we had no clue he was even having seizures. Elijah became quite cognitively delayed due to the frequent seizure activity.  I am happy to report that he is doing much better with a new medication and is now starting to talk in full sentences. His brain is getting the rest it needs in order to focus on his development.

Both Olivia and Elijah have had a long and hard road. Their journey isn't over but my family is truly blessed to have an amazing facility like Gillette. We are eternally grateful to them and to amazing supporters such as Dairy Queen.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for you’re over the top generosity. We are very grateful for the smiles and laughs you gave our  kids!

The Reich Family; Kevin, Melissa, Cooper, Olivia, Elijah and Chance


Meet Us Monday- Chuck Cunnien, Materials Management Supervisor

Posted On: 08/28/2014

1.) What is your position and role at Gillette? I am the materials management storeroom supervisor located on the ground floor of the St. Paul—Phalen Clinic. I supervise and assist the materials storeroom staff with supplying the nursing units and outpatient clinic with a multitude of different products. We also supply products to all other departments in St. Paul.

2.) Do you have a favorite Gillette story or memory? My favorite part of my job is when I’m walking down the hallways and one of our patients smiles at me. Then I know they’re having a good day.

3.) What are some of your hobbies outside of work? After more than 30 years of coaching girls/women’s sports including soccer, basketball and fastpitch softball, I am now back to playing golf in a men’s league at Logger’s Trail in Stillwater and enjoying it.

4.) Do you have any children or pets? I have two grown daughters. Both of which are married. Kristin, my oldest, has three children: Gavin, 5, Declan, 3, and Asa is only three weeks old. They all call me Pop! Katie, my youngest, has a black lab named Lucky. My wife Lynn and I have a golden retriever named Lola.

5.) If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? To the North Shore—I love to hike those trails! There isn’t a better place for me to be.

6.) What is one fun fact about you? I was a DJ at a roller skating rink for 31 years.

Meet Us Monday- Natalie Jeanetta, Patient Care Technician

Posted On: 08/21/2014

1. What is your position and role at Gillette? I am a Patient Care Technician (PCT) in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit here at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare.

2. Do you have a favorite Gillette story or memory? Over the past 10 years at Gillette, I have made many memories. It is truly hard to think of just one. I have many fond memories of patients coming back and visiting.  I love seeing them conquer some of the hardest moments in their lives, and yet they always come back with a big smile on their face, and lots of stories to tell. It means a lot to me that they take the time out of their busy day of therapy and clinic appointments to stop by and say hi. To me, it means they had a great experience and can’t wait to tell us how well they are doing. I feel truly blessed to work at Gillette with such a passionate group of doctors and nurses.

3. What are some of your hobbies outside of work? I just recently started updating my house so I am officially a DIY’er, kayaking (which I am new at), and yoga.

4. Do you have any children or pets? I have a two kids and a dog. My son, Jacob, is 12 ½ going on 20. The newest addition is my daughter, Evelyn, at just 17 weeks. I also have a 5-year-old Yorky Maltese named Abby.

5. What is one fun fact about you? I love to sing! I tried out for American Idol six or seven years ago. It was not what I expected it to be but it was quite the experience!

Meet Us Monday- Nancy Hefko, Development Associate/Children’s Miracle Network

Posted On: 08/15/2014

1. What is your position and role at Gillette? I am a Development Associate in the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals department at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. I manage fundraising campaigns for national, regional and local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital sponsors as well as other supporters (individuals and businesses). I provide support to partners like Dairy Queen, Costco, RE/MAX, Wal-Mart and Sam's Club to enhance their fundraising opportunities. The most recent example would be the work I did with Dairy Queen and their Miracle Treat Day campaign for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals to build relationships with franchisees for participation and connecting them with Gillette patient families.

2. Do you have a favorite Gillette story or memory?  There are so many great stories. I have the privilege to work with the Minnesota Royal Ambassadors organization and Minnesota Twins for Sparkle Night. A portion of the ticket sales for the Sparkle Night Twins game is donated to Gillette. The Royal Ambassador organization invites those Gillette patient families attending the game to lead a pre-game royal parade on the field. T.C. joins the procession adding to the excitement for all the kids (and parents)! One patient mom sent me a message following the event about her daughter. Her daughter had expressed to her mother that attending this event as a Gillette ambassador gave her a way to celebrate who she is and helped to build her self-esteem. The pictures with smiles said it all. I love my job.

3. What are some of your hobbies outside of work? I enjoy cooking, baking, flower gardening and traveling.

4. Do you have any children or pets? We have five children, two grandchildren and a dog.

5. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? I would love to go to Italy or New Zealand. I would not be disappointed with either one.

6. What is one fun fact about you? I love to bake, especially cakes. My kids get to pick their own birthday cake, which usually involves me Googling recipes. It has now become an unspoken competition between them to pick the best. I love it!

Making Physical Therapy Fun

Posted On: 08/12/2014

By Katie Wilkins, Physical Therapist

When a child comes to physical therapy at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, we strive to make it a fun and interactive experience. We want children to try their best, and we work to find activities that they enjoy while strengthening their muscles or learning new skills.

Babies love to play with bright, colorful rattles, balls and musical toys. At all of our clinics we have an abundance of interactive and interesting toys for babies. At times we will ask families to bring in a baby’s favorite toy to make the environment feel more like home. I once had a dad bring in the family’s TV remote control and, as a result, I had the best session working with this particular baby.

 For toddlers and preschoolers, I love to set up obstacle courses. I may have the child start with a wheelbarrow walk, then crawl through a tunnel, jump like a bunny on a mini-trampoline, hop between frog lily pads, practice their balance by stepping over large obstacles, and finish by log rolling up/down an incline mat. When preschoolers or young children are learning to maneuver wheelchairs, I will set up cones with bean bags on top and see if they can navigate through the obstacle course without knocking over the bean bags. Kids have the best imaginations, so the best obstacle courses always contain adventures like going on a picnic, travelling to a princess castle, or visiting the zoo. Creativity and fun are key motivators to young children in therapy. 

Playing outside is always so much fun for kids and a way to show parents activities they can practice more at home. Our Burnsville and St. Paul locations have an outdoor playground. Climbing up ladders and through tunnels is excellent abdominal and leg strengthening. I often practice bike riding outside.  Scavenger hunts outside always include an uphill walk, curbs to climb, and thick grass to tromp through.  Children are often unaware they are strengthening their legs and working on their balance. To the child we may be going on a scavenger hunt, but I can find those teachable moments when the child bends down to pick up a rock to work on strengthening while he/she is squatting.

Adolescents find therapy at Gillette motivating and challenging. At all of our Gillette locations, we have the Wii available to work on balance and strength activities. I often set up cones and agility ladders to simulate soccer, basketball or gym class drills. We will go outside to practice throwing and catching balls, running drills, or walking with a new walker or crutches. I will set up a simulated errand to a grocery store practicing reaching up on shelves and squatting down to put items under the cart.  I often play trivia games or play music while they are exercising on a treadmill, stationary bike or stretching.  I can videotape skills they are learning to help them refine their technique. We strive to create a safe environment for adolescents to practice new skills or return to the activities they enjoy.

 All of our Gillette locations have the equipment, expertise and environment to provide high quality care that is fun and engaging. By providing playful and fun therapy for children of all ages, we are able to help our patients get back to doing what they do best, which is being a kid! 





Care Coordination: Finding the Best Ways to Care for Our Kids

Posted On: 08/08/2014

Gillette has been taking care of children in Minnesota—and across the country and around the world—for more than 100 years. We’ve learned a lot about the best way to take care of kids who have disabilities—and an important part of what we do is share that information. Now the State of Minnesota is helping us spread the word.

The Minnesota Department of Health recently awarded Gillette a three-year, $480,000 grant to identify and test something called “models of pediatric care coordination.” Care coordination is a concept that involves delivering the right care and services at the right time to people who have complex medical needs. In other words, it’s not just about medical interventions. It’s about a methodical approach to bringing together everything a patient with a diagnosis—such as cerebral palsy—needs so that the patient’s health and well-being improves. It also involves strong partnerships between health care and community organizations.

“Care coordination is a hot topic in health care right now, but the term is under-defined and often misused,” explains Holly Bronson, manager of Gillette’s statewide clinics. “Our work will involve helping the Minnesota Department of Health better define what care coordination means for children with complex medical needs.”

The grant—awarded only to Gillette—helps fund, among other things, a licensed social worker, a registered nurse and a scheduling specialist to aid families in their care navigation. When patients need specialty services not available in their local community, for instance, the scheduling specialist will help coordinate multiple Gillette appointments on the same day.

Because of this grant, Gillette will partner with four primary care clinics across Minnesota: Mankato Clinic; Sanford Bemidji Clinic; Fairview Range – Hibbing Clinic; and HealthEast Roselawn Clinic in St. Paul to evaluate the effectiveness of various models of care coordination. We’ll work together to discover how Gillette’s specialty care model can best communicate and integrate with our primary care partners. Then, we’ll work with the Minnesota Department of Health to disseminate our findings across the state.

We are excited for our innovation and expertise to come together as we constantly strive to find new ways to improve the quality of care for our patients.

Meet Us Monday- Mary Maginas, Neurosurgery Nurse Practitioner

Posted On: 08/08/2014

  1. What is your position and role at Gillette?   I am a pediatric neurosurgery nurse practitioner.  I work primarily at the St. Paul campus but also see patients in Duluth and Burnsville.  I help manage pediatric and adult neurosurgery patients in both the inpatient and outpatient settings. 
  2. Do you have a favorite story or memory?  I have had the opportunity meet so many remarkable patients and families—all of them with their own special stories. I have followed many patients in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit after a severe injury.  I love being able to see them throughout their recovery, and continue to follow them years later, to see what amazing progress they have made. Our patients never cease to inspire me.
  3. What are some of your hobbies outside of work?  You can usually find me playing outside with my sons or walking to the park or the lake near our home.  I love to bake and cook and find new recipes for my family to try. My husband and I also enjoy going out to try some of the many unique restaurants we have near us in Minneapolis (when we have time!) 
  4. Do you have any children or pets?  I have two sons ages one and three.
  5. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? Greece! I am Greek and love visiting my family and the country of my heritage.  The country is beautiful, the food is amazing and the people are the friendliest people you will ever meet.
  6. What is one fun fact about you?  I was born and raised in Southern California.  I've grown up in Orange County, have had the opportunity to live in San Diego and went to graduate school in New York City.  I love  Minneapolis because I feel like it offers the best of all the places I have lived.