Inside Gillette Blog

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.

Meet Us Monday – Jamie Welle, Child Life Specialist

Posted On: 03/16/2015

1.) What is your position and role at Gillette? As a Certified Child Life Specialist at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare I provide a number of services to patients and families. I help to reduce the stress and anxiety associated with hospitalization for children through preparation for procedures, procedural support and distraction, medical play, and creating a more relaxing environment.  I also explain things in a "kid friendly" and developmentally appropriate way. My role varies with each family that I interact with but the most important thing is advocating and providing patient and family centered care.

Meet Us Monday - Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare2.) Do you have a favorite Gillette story or memory? One of my favorite memories is when our entire care team worked together to overcome a number of challenges we encountered with a patient. It was incredible to watch the teamwork and communication that went into providing an amazing level of care. At the same time, the team advocated for the patient and family so they could have the resources they needed to cope with the hospitalization of their child. I was incredibly impressed with the work ethic and creative solutions the team came up with to help make it a more positive experience for the family.

3.) What are some of your hobbies outside of work? I enjoy figure skating and spending time with family. I am from northern Minnesota so I love winter sports!

4.) Do you have any children or pets? I have a boxer puppy named Belle. No kids yet!

5.) If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? I would love to travel back to Europe someday. I have been to Germany, but haven't explored elsewhere. Each year I try to go to a new place.

6.) What is one fun fact about you? I have two different colored eyes.

Meet Us Monday - Nicole Williams Doonan, M.D.

Posted On: 03/09/2015

1.) What is your position and role at Gillette?  I am a pediatric neurologist at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare.

Meet Us Monday - Nicole Williams Doonan, M.D. 2.) What has been one of your most rewarding moments at Gillette? I am lucky, because I experience rewarding moments on a regular basis at Gillette. I enjoy spending time with families and children in clinic. I have met so many wonderful and inspiring families through my work at Gillette. I am most rewarded when I am able to provide an explanation regarding a particular symptom and develop a treatment plan that may include education and reassurance, or a medical intervention for symptom relief. 

3.) How does your position fit into caring for those who have cerebral palsy?  As a neurologist, I am one of the specialists who introduce the diagnosis of cerebral palsy to a family. Neurologists also provide information to families about the cause of cerebral palsy for their child, which may include interpreting brain imaging studies or ordering new studies.  Neurologists directly manage or co-manage many of the symptoms of cerebral palsy (such as spasticity and motor delays) and neurological conditions that can sometimes accompany cerebral palsy (such as epilepsy, cognitive disabilities, attention difficulties, language delays, dysautonomia and sensory issues) by recommending medications, rehabilitative therapies, psychology/neuropsychology referrals and/or educational interventions.  Neurologists also screen for related medical conditions that may require additional treatment, such as vision impairment, swallowing difficulties, growth concerns, sleep problems or orthopedic abnormalities.

4.) What are the benefits of working with an interdisciplinary team of caregivers?  The logistics are easier for both families and providers when the necessary specialists all practice together in one medical system. At Gillette, I often consult directly with other physician specialties, psychologists/neuropsychologists, and therapists about my patients.  This results in comprehensive, higher quality care. We all evaluate a child through the lens of our specialty training and personal experiences, so children at Gillette benefit from the knowledge of multiple experts.  I benefit professionally by constantly learning from my colleagues.  If I don’t know the answer to a patient’s question, there is likely someone at Gillette who can answer or point me to someone else to ask.  We also have an amazing staff of social workers who help families access available community resources.          

5.) What advice would you give a parent with a child who has cerebral palsy? My advice changes depending on how old a child is, how early it is in the diagnosis, what the child’s needs are and the parents’ questions.  In general, I stress that children with cerebral palsy fall on a spectrum and each child is unique.  Although the symptoms of cerebral palsy can change over time, I emphasize that cerebral palsy is not a progressive or degenerative disorder.  Although we don’t have treatments that can cure the underlying brain abnormalities that result in cerebral palsy, we have many treatments to help children reach their maximum potential.  For parents of young children who have mild cerebral palsy, I might tell them “success stories” about teenagers I take care of with similar symptoms, who play basketball or tutor kids or are going off to college.  I also try to be aware of the fact that parents may have emotional struggles at certain ages or stages outside of the initial diagnostic time period, such as when their child misses certain educational milestones or social milestones (driving, prom, etc.).

6.) What are some of your hobbies outside of work? Running — often around the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes and typically running in at least one 10-mile or half marathon race each year, hiking, cross country skiing, playing piano, singing, learning about wine, baking and travel (favorite repeat vacations include Hawaii and France).

7.) What is one fun fact about you? I caught my personal best largemouth bass 21-1/2 inches (6 pounds) while fishing with my husband last summer.

Meet Us Monday - Rebecca Busch, Registered Nurse

Posted On: 03/02/2015

Meet Us Monday - Rebecca Busch, Registered Nurse1.) What is your position and role at Gillette? I am a Night Charge Nurse on the inpatient rehabilitation unit at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare.

2.) Do you have a favorite Gillette story or memory? I will always remember when one of my patients with a very serious brain injury, who had not been interactive, surprised me by spelling out “Tylenol” using sign language. She continued to amaze me, her family and caregivers as she pushed herself towards a miraculous recovery. 

3.) What are some of your hobbies outside of work? I enjoy spending time with family and friends, baking, traveling, and being outside.

4.) Do you have any children or pets? Our daughter, Angelina, is 10 weeks old.

5.) What is one fun fact about you? My other home is Tanzania. My husband and I direct a non-profit organization and run a special education center in a rural village in Tanzania.

Meet Us Monday – Heath Marvel, Music Therapist

Posted On: 02/23/2015

1.) What is your position and role at Gillette? I am a music therapist at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. As a board-certified music therapist, I use music to help patients make positive changes in behavior, level of functioning, and quality of life. This can mean many things! I often sing, play instruments, or write songs with patients to make their hospital visit and other therapies more enjoyable Meet Us Monday – Heath Marvel, Music Therapist and meaningful.  Sometimes I will play live music to help distract or relax patients during a medical procedure. Other times, especially with patients who are in our rehab unit, I will use the structure of music in interventions to cue speech, develop motor skills, and improve memory. I’ve been with Gillette since last October and love it here!  

2.) Do you have a favorite Gillette story or memory? Last month I sang “Shake It Off” and a few country songs with a patient who had been having a rough afternoon on the adult unit. The next day, I received a letter from him saying that his music therapy session with me was the best thing that happened that day and that it helped him feel better all day long. He also wrote that I was better than Taylor Swift, which I doubt, but it was a rewarding moment nonetheless.

3.) What are some of your hobbies outside of work? I enjoy going to movies and live music, playing drums, spending time with friends, playing board games and trivia, and checking out new restaurants. I’m also at the gym quite a bit and run outside when it’s not freezing out.

4.) Do you have any children or pets? Not yet, but I’d love to get a dog sometime soon. I grew up with black labs, so larger dogs have a special place in my heart.

5.) If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? Europe, particularly England and Germany, would be awesome because of their history and culture. Thailand is a close second. There are elephants that paint pictures there.

6.) What is one fun fact about you? My cousin is the drummer for the band Limp Bizkit. No joke. I wouldn’t make that up.

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