Inside Gillette Blog

Meet Us Monday - Therese Krug, Imaging Systems Administrator

Posted On: 06/29/2015

What is your position and role at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare? I started at Gillette in 2002 as an X-ray Technologist.  In my time at Gillette, I’ve seen our department move from x-rays taken with film and developed in a darkroom to, today, sophisticated digital imaging.  It’s been an exciting shift!  I monitor and maintain the imaging computer systems that allow us to sync each patient’s information with our imaging equipment, document the details of each imaging exam, and track both data and results from each exam.  Gillette’s complex patient population has unique imaging needs and I consider it a privilege to be part of the team that helps meet those needs.

Do you have a favorite Gillette story or memory? There was a patient of Dr. Mark Dahl’s that came to Gillette from a Honduras orphanage with very severe lower extremity deformities. When she arrived, she was sad and a little withdrawn.  I performed some of her first imaging exams and she told me that the two things she really wanted to do was run and swim.  Dr. Dahl performed several surgeries and I watched her grow into a happier and more outgoing person as she gained increased use of her legs. She learned English, went to school, and shared stories of the good times with her host Meet Us Monday - Therese Krug, Imaging Systems Administratorfamily.  On her last day at Gillette, she asked me with a big smile, “Do you want to see me run down the hall?” I replied “yes” and she did just that – she ran down the hall.  She came back to me and said, “I can go swimming now too.” She gave me a hug and told me she was going home soon and would miss everyone at Gillette.

What do you like best about working at Gillette? The patients! We all face challenges in our lives, but our patients face their challenges every hour of every day.  Yet they have a great sense of humor, with a smile on their face (most days), have a new joke to tell, and they keep climbing the mountain.  We can all learn something from them.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? Switzerland.  I hear the country is beautiful.

What is one fun fact about you? I was the first female firefighter captain in my hometown county in Illinois. I am very proud of that accomplishment.

What are some of your hobbies outside of work? I love to cook.  I especially love to have big groups of people over for a meal and share in the friendship.  I also love to travel and have a group of friends from all over the country who travel to a new place each year. This year we are going to Hilton Head.

Meet Us Monday - Emily Syverson, Registered Nurse

Posted On: 06/15/2015

What is your position and role at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare? I am a registered nurse on the Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit. I could not imagine working anywhere else. From the doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers, etc. everyone's hearts are all in to make sure each individual child's needs are being met.

Meet Us Monday - Emily Syverson, Registered Nurse What do you like best about working at Gillette? I am inspired on a daily basis with each patient I care for and each family I meet. It is never easy seeing a child suffer, but their innocence and resilience help them overcome the struggles in a beautiful way. These kids are the toughest kids I have EVER met. They will never know the incredible impact they have made on my life.

 Do you have a favorite Gillette story or memory? One that stands out is when I met a patient who had injuries so severe she was told she might never walk again. But she worked hard at her therapy and proved everyone wrong!  On the day of her discharge from Gillette, I was honored to be the nurse that held onto her gait belt as she walked out of the hospital. One of her doctors played the song "Girl on Fire" by Alicia Keys – there was a lot of lot of cheering and tears.

What are some of your hobbies outside of work? I enjoy running – especially outdoors, reading a good book and meeting up with friends. I also love ice cream, so trying to find the best ice cream place in the Twin Cities keeps me pretty busy!

What is one fun fact about you? I love to travel! I have been to nine different countries for both pleasure and mission purposes. I have taken a piece of each country with me every time I have left. I enjoy the history and learning about cultures, as well as experiencing a different way of life. Through these travels I have learned that selflessness and simplicity are the keys to happiness.

As a world traveler, where would you go next? I would go to Greece. The history of the country fascinates me. Also, Santorini is said to have beautiful sunsets. I love watching sunsets!

Meet Us Monday - Elizabeth Weber, M.D., Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon

Posted On: 06/08/2015

What is your position and role at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare? I am a pediatric orthopedist.  My specialty in medicine is focused on fixing bones and my particular focus is on the bones of children.  On some days, I run clinics in St. Paul or in satellites during which I visit with families of children who have issues with their bones.  Some of those children will require surgery for their bones and on other days, my job as a surgeon is to fix them.  I feel lucky to be in the position to help families understand what is wrong with the bone and what I can do to help. 

Why did you choose to go into health care? Why did you choose to go into health care? Prior to becoming a doctor, I spent many years in the United States Air Force as a combat pilot (pictured).  During those years, I was proud of my skills and of my service.  At the end of Desert Storm, I reflected on my time in the military and concluded that the high points were those occasions when I made a direct contribution to saving lives.  After I left the military, it made some sense to investigate my aptitude for medicine—a field I had never previously considered.  This was no small undertaking because I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science.   In medical school, my passion for surgery became evident immediately and the choice of Orthopedics was easy when I thought of it as a combination of architectural planning and carpentry.

Why did you choose to come to Gillette? I came to Gillette from a children’s hospital on the east coast.  I was presented with the opportunity to be part of Gillette's team and join their proud tradition of working in the oldest freestanding special needs hospital in the country.  The patient population at Gillette is among the most complex known to medicine. At the same time, the esteemed collection of surgeons preceding me who have developed the techniques and protocols to treat these children is humbling.  To be invited to practice with this group of experts and to care for these children is an honor.

 What has been one of your most rewarding moments at Gillette?  All of my moments at Gillette have been memorable.  I have the honor of working with the most dedicated, gracious, committed caregivers anywhere on earth.  The loving, welcoming environment at Gillette makes it a pleasure to come to work every day.  With patients, any child that I get to help is a blessing.  I would say that the most rewarding moments are when I bond with patients who have a chronic condition and their families. Some surgeries seem very overwhelming to kids and their families.  When I can make a connection with a family and put them at ease, not only is it very rewarding, but I have a friend for life.

What clinical development is on the horizon that you’re most excited about? One of my great passions is limb-length inequality. That’s when one leg isn’t as long as the other.  If the inequality is great enough, you can develop back pain or hip pain and disability as an adult.  There are many techniques of equalizing lengths at skeletal maturity. To me, the most fascinating technique is an implantable, telescoping nail that fits INSIDE the bone and is gradually lengthened by a magnet applied to your leg daily.  You literally make your own leg longer!

What is one fun fact about you? Aside from my years flying planes in the military, I have been a competitive dragon boat racer as well as an expert marksman.

Meet Us Monday – Meghan Munger, Research Coordinator

Posted On: 06/01/2015

What is your position and role at Gillette? I work at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare as a research coordinator. I manage our Summer Research Internship Program which introduces young adults to clinical research. Students are paired with a Gillette mentor, work on a research project, and attend twice weekly seminars on a variety of research topics. I also support the Gait and Motion Analysis Lab in their research efforts. They are a very active group of researchers at Gillette and I help coordinate their studies from start to finish. This includes organizing study logistics, conversing with patients about potential research studies, and helping to summarize study findings at the close of a project.Meet Us Monday – Meghan Munger, Research Coordinator

Do you have a favorite Gillette story or memory? When I first started, I shadowed many patients visiting the gait lab. It was, and still is, so impressive to learn about how they utilize motion capture technology for clinical decision making.

What do you like best about working at Gillette? There are many things I enjoy about my job. With my internship program, I love having the chance to introduce clinical research to students early in their education. My hope is that students will understand the importance of research, seek out additional training, and utilize these skills during their future careers as healthcare professionals. I also love working with the researchers in the Gait and Motion Analysis lab. These researchers are world-renowned in their field. It is rewarding to be a part of their work in influencing the outcomes of children with gait disorders.

Do you have any children or pets? I have two boys, ages 2 and 4 years.

What are your hobbies outside of work? I love to cook and be active outdoors with my family. Right now, I climb a lot of trees and play superheroes with my boys!

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? I love to travel but haven’t done much since having children. I would like to go to Turkey, which is where my brother-in-law is from. There is also much of the United States that I hope to see, including the Northwest. We have our first family trip planned and are headed to Seattle at the end of the summer. I can’t wait!

Meet Us Monday -  Scott Schwantes, M.D.

Posted On: 05/04/2015

What is your position and role at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare? I have the privilege of serving as Gillette’s Associate Medical Director of Pediatrics. This work allows me to help shape how our fantastic care is delivered in the hospital for our patients. This role also has provided me with the ability to advocate for our patients on a local, state, and even national platform. It is invigorating to be able to expand my focuses to not only address my patient’s needs in the clinic room or hospital, but to also be able to address our patients’ needs on a larger scale.

Meet Us Monday -  Scott Schwantes, M.D.When I’m not providing direct patient care or out spreading awareness and advocacy for our kids, my clinic practice is spent working in Pediatric Hospice and Palliative Medicine. This rewarding and humbling work has graced me with the opportunity to get to know some truly incredible children and their families. I also have trained in Medical Acupuncture, and have been fascinated with using this modality to improve our children’s and young adult’s lives, outlook, and resilience.

Why did you get into healthcare? Ah, my vocation in healthcare is the current chapter in my life after many intriguing and interesting adventures. After taking my time in school (including dropping out of Art School), I eventually achieved a degree in Physics & Astronomy as well as Mathematics. I strive to maintain that sense of awe and wonder with the natural world even now. After briefly considering pursuing an esoteric career in gravitational mechanics, I worked for a small software company. It was during this time that I had a niece born with a congenital heart condition that was not compatible with a long life. After that experience with my niece Valerie, I had the presence of mind to engage in some serious self-reflection and listen to the quiet voice that allowed me to begin my journey to becoming a physician. The rest, as they say, is history.

What has been one of your most rewarding moments at Gillette?  Oh my goodness, there have been so many. I love seeing our kids when they are healthy. All too often, our only encounter with a child and their family is when they are ill or recovering in the hospital. When I see them going to physical or occupational therapy and they’re healthy, active and vibrant, it is incredibly rewarding. 

Some of the most moving moments in my career here at Gillette have been the deep and meaningful conversations I’ve been honored to participate in with families as their child nears the end of life. To be able to have admittedly difficult but moving and meaningful conversations reflecting on the joys and wonders of their child’s life is truly a glimpse into the sublime. Being able to work with those families and celebrate the life at the center of that work is eternally rewarding.

What do you like to do in your free time? I love hanging out with my lovely wife. We enjoy being outdoors and staying active. We enjoy walks along the mighty Mississippi River, as well as exploring our neighborhood. We also enjoy discovering great new restaurants to eat in Minneapolis and St Paul. To that end, we are excited that Sea Salt has opened again for the season. I also enjoy woodworking and love having a home improvement project to focus upon. Last summer I enjoyed making our big dining room table. I love cooking as well, and sharing the fruits of that labor with friends and family.

What is one fun fact about you? Just one? Here are three!

  • Already stated it, but I am a proud art school (MCAD) dropout
  • I used to have REALLY long hair in undergraduate school
  • I speak French, and like to believe that I can speak Spanish, German, and Latin.

Meet Us Monday - Jacque Jenkins, Guest Services

Posted On: 04/24/2015

What is your position and role at Gillette? I am a Guest Service Representative at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare’s St. Paul Campus. I have been with Gillette for a little over four months.

Meet Us Monday - Jacque Jenkins, Guest ServicesDo you have a favorite Gillette story or memory? Forming relationships with our patients is so rewarding. There is one patient I am particularly fond of who comes in regularly for her back brace. She wears a permanent smile and always has a band bracelet for me.  She and I talk about the Minnesota Wild and how she plays adapted hockey. Last week she told me that she no longer needs to wear her brace and that she won’t be coming in a whole lot anymore – happy news although I will miss her.

What do you like best about working at Gillette? I love being part of Gillette’s team, greeting our families and helping them to find their way around.  I love seeing smiles on the children’s faces when we can wear our silly hats or dress up for holidays!

Do you have any children or pets? Yes, I have two children Hayden, who will be 11 in November and Tayz who will be 2 in October. Hayden plays hockey for White Bear Lake Squirt level. Tayz, (who was named after a hockey player from the Chicago Blackhawks Jonathan Toews #19 [teɪvz/ TAYVZ]), likes to play and shoot his pucks around. Both boys are funny little characters. I am a definitely a true boy mom!

What are your hobbies outside of work? We are a HUGE hockey family! We eat, breathe and sleep hockey at our house! If my oldest doesn’t have a game or practice, you can bet we will be watching hockey. During summer we love to go down to Millville and watch the Pro Nationals Motocross (dirt bikes).  I also love to ice fish, camp, go for motorcycle rides and play with my kiddos.

What is one fun fact about you? I was born and raised a California girl, but am a true Minnesotan at heart!

Meet Us Monday - Analise Ludwig, Audiologist

Posted On: 04/17/2015

What is your position and role at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare?  I am an audiologist and provide hearing evaluations and necessary follow-up for Gillette’s patients of all ages!  My job is to make sure those children and adults can hear everything they need to in order to communicate and live life to its fullest.

Do you have a favorite Gillette story or memory? Recently, a young sibling of a patient staying at Gillette decided to stop by my office window every time he and his parents took a walk down the hallway. Since they walked down the hallway a couple of times a day for several weeks we became fast friends! He would put his face right up to the window, and tap the glass. I made a habit of coming up to my side of the window and making funny faces for him. We both had a good laugh!

What do you like best about working at Gillette?  I love being at Gillette because I get to spend time with awesome kids and families that remind me to be hopeful and optimistic every day.  My patients and coworkers inspire me to work hard and always do my best.

Do you have any children or pets?  My husband and I have two young boys - Bennett and Felix.  They sure keep us busy these days!  We also have two dogs – Sugar, the French Bulldog and Pico, the Chihuahua.

What are your hobbies outside of work? Outside of work, I spend time enjoying all of the great activities near our home in Como Park. My family loves walking and biking around the lake, going to the zoo and swimming in the neighborhood pool. I’m also a big music fan – my kids and I have dance parties in our living room! 

What is one fun fact about you?  Every year, as soon as the snow melts, I switch over from driving my car to commuting to work on my yellow scooter!  Don’t be surprised if you see me headed in to or out of the audiology office with a black motorcycle helmet on.

Meet Us Monday – Jacki Shugart, Rehabilitation Therapy Support

Posted On: 04/13/2015

1.) What is your position and role at Gillette? I work as therapy support in Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare’s Rehabilitation Department.  You’ll see me helping transport patients and their families from the inpatient rooms to their therapy sessions, along with assisting the therapists with their daily needs.  I’m also a Child Passenger Safety Technician and part of the transport team that completes consultations with families on how to safely transport their child home.

Meet Us Monday – Jacki Shugart, Rehabilitation Therapy Support2.) Do you have a favorite Gillette story or memory? One of my favorite memories was when I was working with a patient who had been recovering from an unfortunate accident. I watched Gillette’s speech therapists help heal this patient’s voice and the progress was truly remarkable.  Eventually, the patient was finally able to find their voice again and managed to sing the song “You are my Sunshine.”  Just about everyone around began to tear up because of how special that moment was. 

3.) What do you like best about working at Gillette? I like helping patients and their families through some of the difficult situations or transitions they might encounter.  I especially like working with inpatients and their families since often times they are here for extended period. That means I get to know them even better on a personal level. Knowing that I made a difference by making their stay easier is incredibly rewarding.

4.) Do you have any children or pets? My husband and I are new parents; we have a 4-month-old baby girl named Gia! We also have a cat named Hubert and a little Havanese dog named Arnold!

5.) What are your hobbies outside of work? I play in adult volleyball leagues and love going to see new movies with my husband.  I also enjoy spending time with my parents –if I’m not at home with my husband and daughter, you can almost always find us at my parents’ house.

6.) What is one fun fact about you? I’m 6 feet tall and I played college basketball!  I’m always up for being challenged in a game of PIG.

Meet Us Monday – Cate Pardo, Public Relations

Posted On: 04/06/2015

Cate Pardo, Public Relations at Gillette Children's

What is your position and role at Gillette? As a member of Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare's Public Relations team, I work with patient families and clinical staff to share stories about our patients’ achievements, along with stories about the amazing work done at Gillette, with members of the media.  These stories raise awareness of the unique role Gillette plays in the treatment of children who have disabilities. Even though I don’t work on the clinical side, I feel so fortunate to be able to connect with our patients and families on a daily basis. It’s incredibly rewarding!

Do you have a favorite Gillette story or memory? One of my favorite memories was from last spring, when Lady Gaga visited Gillette.  She is truly a class act.  I remember her greeting families in the playroom of our Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit—these are families of kids facing lengthy and challenging recoveries from major surgery or injury. She spoke genuine words of encouragement and then sang Born This Way, moving many to tears. It was an awesome moment.  Gaga also extended her visit to allow time with every single patient—in many cases, singing to patients at their bedside. I was impressed not only with Gaga but with the true team effort—including nursing, Child Life, and others—that made the visit an overwhelming success.

What are some of your hobbies outside of work? With two young kids, I don’t have a ton of spare time.  When I do, I enjoy hanging out at my parents’ lake home in Hudson, spending time with family and friends, and singing karaoke (my favorites are Dixie Chicks and Indigo Girls songs).  I also enjoy cheering for the Green Bay Packers—mostly when they play the Vikings.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? I would love to visit Maui or anywhere in Hawaii for that matter.  My husband and I also hope to visit Ireland and Scotland once our kids are older.

Do you have any children or pets? I have a 3-year-old son named Gavin, a 6-month old son named Beckett, and an 8-year-old dog named Dante.

What is one fun fact about you? I love The Walking Dead and I’ve learned a lot of handy survival tips from watching it!  If zombies ever do walk the Earth, I’m the gal you want to hang out with.

Meet Us Monday - Tom Novacheck, M.D.

Posted On: 03/23/2015

1.) What is your position and role at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare? I am a pediatric orthopedic surgeon and director of the James R. Gage Center for Gait and Motion Analysis. I work with our gait lab team — which includes engineers, technicians, and physical therapists — to gather information to understand problems with movement.

2.) What has been one of your most rewarding moments at Gillette?   The most rewarding moments are developing long-term relationships with children and their families. I have some families that I’ve been seeing for more than 20 years.

3.) How do you fit into caring for those who have cerebral palsy?  As an orthopedic surgeon, I focus on problems that impact a child’s bones and joints.  For children who have cerebral palsy, even when spasticity is diminished, they still can have problems with their bone and joint alignment. We want their muscles to have the best capacity that they can, so correcting a bone and joint deformity will help them with that.

4.) What are the benefits, both professionally and for our patients, in working with an interdisciplinary team?  Care for children who have cerebral palsy or other disabilities needs to be comprehensive because certain medical conditions can affect many different functions. That could be communication, it could be eating, it could be mobility, it could be problems with seizures, or learning. We offer all of those services here as part of a team in one organization. And because my colleagues and I know each other, I can trust that my patients are going to receive good care - and caring care – with any specialist they see. Then I can concentrate on what I think I do best.  And we all know that no one can be the best at everything!

5.) What innovations or advancements have you seen that benefit our patients?  Our Gait Lab is one of the best in the world and was the first to be accredited.  There are only 10 - 15 accredited Gait Labs in the country.  Accreditation indicates high quality and also dedication to patient care. Our Gait Lab also has a tremendous amount of experience. It’s one of the two or three oldest Gait Labs in the country – and certainly one of the busiest in the country in terms of the number of patients we see each year. With that comes a lot of experience and understanding of our patient population.

6.) What advice would you give a parent with a child who has cerebral palsy?  In my practice, it’s not very common that I’m telling the child or the family that “you have cerebral palsy.” They already know that, and that can be a devastating thing to hear for the first time.  From there, it’s time to pick up the pieces and say, “Okay, you know that you have cerebral palsy.  Let’s make sure you understand what cerebral palsy means. Now what are we going to do to help?” Most people gain comfort from knowledge. We try to educate, answer questions, clear up misconceptions — and because families see all of us Gillette specialists working together, they’re not getting this piece of information from this person, that piece of information from another person. They’re getting all of it together from a highly coordinated team.

7.) How and why did you become an orthopedic surgeon?  I went into orthopedics because I like mechanical things and I like sports.  However, I did not know that I wanted to work with pediatric patients. Within two weeks of starting my pediatric orthopedics rotation during my residency, I went home and told my wife, “I know what I want to do.” It was the opportunity to influence the way children grow and the opportunity to work with kids and their families.

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