Inside Gillette Blog

My Gillette Story by Lana Beaton

Posted On: 12/10/2014

Our son Alex (pictured right with brother, James and sister, Stella) was diagnosed with left-hemiplegic cerebral palsy at 14 months old. We were unsure of what that would mean for Alex and for our family, but we felt confident in our hometown physician. Alex was on a great path, and he improved by leaps and bounds in the year after his diagnosis. Unfortunately, less than a year later, her career took her away from the area, and from us. We knew our care plan with Alex would be a long road, and we didn’t feel comfortable leaving that up to chance. We were beside ourselves with worry.

James, Alex and StellaWe reached out to the exiting physician, pleaded with her to give us some guidance even though Alex was no longer her patient. She gave us the best advice we could have ever gotten. She said, “You’ll have to make the 5-hour trip to see someone there, but if he were mine, I’d take him to Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul.”

With that, we made the first call and scheduled a consult with a doctor at Gillette. From the minute we walked into the gorgeous facility and met the smiling staff and helpful nurses, we knew that we had found the place for us. Our doctors at Gillette, Marcia Ward, M.D., and Stephen Sundberg, M.D., take such amazing care when working with Alex and our whole family. They work around activities (such as travel and new babies and football games) to make sure that he gets the care that he needs, while helping us maintain a normal family life.  Alex has had inpatient and outpatient surgeries at Gillette, he’s participated in gait lab analysis (so cool!), and he’s utilized the Assistive Technology Department (ATD) Mobile Outreach services (Joel is amazing!) for his ATD needs. It’s amazing to us how all of this care comes together so seamlessly.

Now, at 12 years old, Alex is a strong, big kid. He is resilient, courageous, fun...and just downright awesome. His differences may make things more difficult, but he never lets them slow him down. He is active in sports (aspiring to take our racquetball community by storm this year) and is "that kid” at school who everyone loves—teachers and kids alike. He's an A student in seventh grade and a wizard with anything engineering. (He has a small fortune invested in the coolest LEGO collection you've ever seen!)  

We wouldn’t think of going anywhere else. There are new providers in our area. New clinics and rehab facilities pop up all the time. But regardless of the convenience factor a closer clinic may offer, we know Gillette is the best place for our son. The care and exceptional services we receive make the trip a no-brainer! Thank you Gillette for taking such great care of us!

Editor's note: Become a fan of the Cerebral Palsy Resource Group on Facebook to connect with others and recieve support from the cerebral palsy community.

Meet Us Monday- Meet Alison Smith, Registered Nurse

Posted On: 12/08/2014

1. What is your position and role at Gillette? I started in February of 2014 as a nurse on the neurosciences unit at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare.

2. Do you have a favorite Gillette story or memory? I have truly loved getting to know my coworkers and so many kids here at Gillette. One memorable story is when I was taking care of a three-year-old boy and he was throwing a fit about taking his meds in the morning. He loved Spiderman so I told him, "Spiderman has to take his medicine too. I'm going to go give him his medicine after you take yours." He took his meds right after that and the rest of the day was asking "Is it time for my Spiderman medicine yet?"

3. What are some of your hobbies outside of work? My hobbies are running, biking, trying new recipes, listening to country music, trying unique coffee shops (even though I have yet to learn to like straight-up coffee) and doing water sports any chance I get! Something new I've tried that I hope turns into a hobby is painting/refinishing furniture.

4. Do you have any children or pets? Nope! The family dog Zoe is still at my parents’ house.

5. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? Where wouldn't I go is probably an easier question. But on the top of my list is Greece and going back to Africa. If I could live anywhere, it would probably be London.

6. What is one fun fact about you? My claim to fame is that I helped with a house for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. I got within a foot of Ty Pennington and worked right alongside his crew.

New Research Offers Hope for Rett Syndrome Patients

Posted On: 12/02/2014

By: Timothy Feyma, M.D., Art Beisang, M.D. and Marcie Ward, M.D.

Rett Syndrome is a rare genetic disorder usually caused by mutations in the gene Methyl-CpG-binding Protein 2 (MECP2) that is located on the X chromosome.  Rett Syndrome occurs almost exclusively in females, since the gene that most often causes it is located on the X chromosome, and is thought to affect 1 in 10,000 girls. Males who inherit this genetic change often do not survive pregnancy. 

New Research offer hope for Rett Syndrome.Girls who carry the mutation often have slightly delayed, or seemingly normal development until 6-18 months of life when loss of developmental milestones may occur.  In many cases purposeful hand use and language can be lost.  The disease often continues to slowly progress over time and in time the ability to walk may be lost.  Seizures, scoliosis, constipation, and breathing pattern abnormalities are also frequently seen.

Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare developed a Rett Clinic in 2005. Over time we have collaborated with researchers locally to investigate ways to further learn about Rett Syndrome while providing expert care for patients with Rett Syndrome.  To date, there has been no treatment discovered that cures Rett Syndrome.  Given our work with this unique population, the Gillette Rett Clinic was approached by Neuren Pharmaceuticals to participate in a trial of new drug (currently called NNZ-2566) being developed to promote brain development.  

The Neuren guided experiment involved use of varying doses of the NNZ-2566 compound in addition to the use of a placebo group who received no active treatment. This trial looked at parental observations of their child’s behavior and seizures while on treatment in addition to physician graded observation scales, EEG, EKG, and laboratory data.  Improvement in functioning with no significant side effect burden was seen. Click here to read the initial announcement by Neuren Pharmaceuticals. The full details of the study will soon be released, but generally speaking improvement was seen in motor function, symptom burden, and in regard to parent specific concerns.

The hope for our clinic at Gillette is that we can continue to collaborate in such activities that will attack the root cause of Rett Syndrome in addition to managing symptoms. This study provides the first evidence of a treatment that might do just that.  We hope in time to manage the course of disease and prevent progression / regression while fostering optimal development for all those afflicted by Rett Syndrome.


Meet Us Monday- Meet Rebecca Jones, Outpatient Occupational Therapist

Posted On: 12/01/2014

1. What is your position and role at Gillette?  I’m an outpatient Occupational Therapist at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare’s Maple Grove clinic location.

2. Do you have a favorite Gillette story or memory?  This is a really hard question because I can truly say that I drive home just about every day thinking how much I love my job.  I love wearing my I Heart Gillette shirt out in the community and having strangers come up to me with their own Gillette stories.  Probably what I love the most is the CurePity concept and watching families discover all the things their child with a disability is really able to do with use of modifications or adapted techniques.

3. What are some of your hobbies outside of work?  I don’t know if kids are considered hobbies but that is where most of my time outside work is lovingly spent- libraries, parks, pools, etc.  If I had some free time for myself I would probably fill it with organizing or scrapbooking.

4. Do you have any children or pets?  I have three girls; Alexia:  five-years-old, Amelia: three-years-old and Cora: 15 months.  I have two crazy labs that just won’t let age slow them down; Sydney who’s eight-years-old and Haley, seven- years-old.

5. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?  I lived in Australia for six months so I would LOVE to go back and visit with my friends there; however, it is a goal of my husband and mine to get to Europe someday. 

6. What is one fun fact about you?  I used to be Ms. Congeniality for my hometown of Rockford, Minnesota.  I got to travel to all the local towns and be in parades.  It was a really fun way to spend one of my last summers with my mom and friends before I became a “grown up”.

Meet Us Monday- Meet Michelle Hall CPO/Resident Coordinator

Posted On: 11/24/2014

1. What is your position and role at Gillette? I work as a prosthetist-orthotist in the Assistive Technology department at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare and I serve as the prosthetics residency director.

2. Do you have a favorite Gillette story or memory? This is tough as there are so many. A recent memory was the opportunity that my patient, a 7-year old boy with a below-knee prosthesis, and I had to meet Rep. Erik Paulsen twice, first in Washington D.C. and then a month or two later at the Maple Grove Clinic. I was able to provide him a tour of our clinic and it wasn’t until he saw our ATD lab that it struck him that we, myself included, actually make the orthoses and prostheses. I hope that it will help him to influence federal policy for the benefit of our patients. The other thought that comes to mind is seeing one of my patients, a very challenging above-knee prosthetics case, walk on a check socket for the first time. This was something that I was uncertain as to whether or not we would ever achieve, but had promised I would try as many times as it took to get him walking. Thankfully, we got there and he is still doing well.

3. What are some of your hobbies outside of work? My professional hobbies include volunteerism for the American Academy of Prosthetists & Orthotists, serving my sixth year on their Board of Directors as the immediate past-president for the organization, as well as volunteering on committees for the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics, and Pedorthics (ABC) and the National Commission for Orthotic Prosthetic Education (NCOPE). Outside of Orthotics and Prosthetics, I am an avid runner, having completed nine marathons and several shorter races, and I am a triathlete. I also love to cook and garden.

4. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? I would love to travel again in Latin America. I had had the opportunity to lecture in each Argentina and Chile; I loved meeting clinicians there, learning about their lives outside of Orthotics and Prosthetics and speaking their language. It would be great to have a couple of months to travel.

5. What is one fun fact about you? My husband built a two-seater single-engine airplane which we fly around the country. We’ve had some fun adventures together in it!

Meet Us Monday- Meet Suzanne Le, Registered Nurse

Posted On: 11/17/2014

1. What is your position and role at Gillette? I am a Registered Nurse on the Orthopedic/ Surgical unit at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare
2. Do you have a favorite Gillette story or memory? Some of my most memorable moments at Gillette are ones when I know I have made a difference in  my patient's care.  Whether that be holding their hand before they go down to surgery, teaching a three-year-old how to swallow pills for the first time, finding comfort measures to relieve pain or watching our patients walk on their own after spinal surgery and having them say "aren't you proud?!" All of those moments remind me why I love being a nurse.
3. What are some of your hobbies outside of work? I love being outdoors and exploring the natural beauty that surrounds us every day.  In the summer I enjoy running and hiking, and in the winter I like to snowboard.  I always enjoy time with my friends and family as well.
4. Do you have any children or pets? No children, no pets.
5. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? I would go to Bolivia to see the Salar de Uyuni!
6. What is one fun fact about you? I'm half Vietnamese.

November is Epilepsy Awareness Month

Posted On: 11/12/2014

By: Shani Norberg, M.D., Pediatric Neurologist

November is Epilepsy Awareness Month. More than three million Americans of all ages have epilepsy and 30% of those are children. One in ten people will have a seizure at some point, and one in 100 people will develop epilepsy.

The International  League Against Epilepsy defines epilepsy as a disease of the brain defined by:

  1. At least two unprovoked seizures (meaning there isn’t an obvious cause of the seizure, e.g., a high fever) in which the seizures occur less than 24 hours apart
  2. One unprovoked seizure in a person who has other conditions that often lead to seizures, such as: genetic/metabolic disorders, specific epilepsy syndromes (i.e. Dravet or Lennox Gastaut ) or structural problems of the brain including insufficient oxygen to the brain at birth, trauma or brain injury,  developmental brain malformation , infections of the nervous system or stroke.

When a child is diagnosed with epilepsy, it is natural for a flood of worries and emotions to surface. The patient, parents and other family members may experience anxiety, anger, embarrassment, depression and general uncertainty. Families may worry about how epilepsy will affect the child’s relationships and activities. They may also worry about how epilepsy will affect their child’s brain function and the ability to learn, concentrate and memorize. Understanding new medical information, how to care for a child, new routines, missing school/work days and learning emergency interventions may all be overwhelming.

To support the child and family with all of these challenges, Gillette Children Specialty Healthcare’s neurologists, nurse practitioners, dedicated nursing staff, social workers, child life specialists, pharmacists, dieticians, neuropsychologists and child psychologists may all play a role in the epilepsy care team.

Deeply embedded in the history, philosophy and mission of Gillette is the practice of whole-child, family-centered care. At Gillette we have expertise and experience in caring for children with epilepsy across all of these disciplines.  Utilizing specialists from all of these disciplines, goals of Gillette’s epilepsy care include:

  • To provide skillful management of seizures through medications, dietary therapies, vagus nerve stimulation, and consideration of the need for further surgical treatment.
  • To ensure that we provide the necessary support and services to allow children to reach their fullest potential and to foster the overall well-being of children and their families.

In combining multi-specialty expertise with our long standing whole-child, family-centered practice philosophy, we strive to provide the utmost support for children and their families coping with a diagnosis of epilepsy.

Click here for more information.

How you can benefit from the Gillette Assistance Program

Posted On: 11/11/2014

What is the Gillette Assistance Program (GAP)?
The Gillette Assistance Program (GAP) is a program to help Gillette patients and families who are struggling to pay for their medical expenses. Although most people have insurance coverage these days, many plans require families to pay high deductibles or large coinsurance portions. 


For qualified patients, GAP can assist in paying the self-pay portions of their Gillette bill. The program has been in place at Gillette for many years under a variety of names.


Who qualifies for GAP?

Family size and income determine who qualifies for GAP. Discounts can be from 25 percent to 100 percent of balances for uninsured people (self-payers). We ask that our patients and families apply for state and/or government assistance before receiving GAP assistance.  Government programs also are likely to cover services at other health care organizations; GAP funds can only be used for care received at Gillette.


How do I apply for GAP?
Applying for GAP is straightforward and easy. Our GAP application is available (in both English and Spanish) on Gillette’s website at The GAP application forms are also available at each Gillette clinic site. Just ask a social worker or someone at the front desk for an application also.


Gillette has a long history of serving people who have special needs and of giving back to the community.  We are proud to be able to offer the GAP to help our patients and their families cover the costs of highly specialized medical care. 

If you have questions about GAP and would like more information or an application, please call 651-325-2177. Gillette’s Patient Accounting team will be happy to help you.

Double a Donation on Give to the Max Day

Posted On: 11/05/2014

Thursday, Nov. 13, is Give to the Max Day, a 24-hour online fundraising event hosted by This year Gillette will be sharing our “top-10 reasons to give to Gillette” throughout the week of Nov. 13 on social media, but you can get an exclusive sneak peek here! Hint: Help us make a splash!

Mike Frattallone of Frattallone's Ace Hardware Stores and Garden Centers has offered to match your donations dollar-for-dollar up to $30,000! Another generous donor has increased the match by offering an additional $20,000. If we can raise $50,000 on Nov. 13, we can put $100,000 to work for the kids at Gillette. Please help us meet our goal!

You can go to Gillette’s GiveMN page now to schedule your gift. Just follow that link to be taken to our page and begin filling out the donate form – it’s that easy! Your credit card won’t be charged until Nov. 13 so that your donation can be matched.

Let others know that you support Gillette on Give to the Max Day by changing your Facebook cover picture to one provided here. Simply click the image, save it on your computer and upload it onto your Facebook page. Whether you donate, tweet or post, your support will help make this year’s Give to the Max Day a successful one for the patients at Gillette.

Meet Us Monday- Suzanne Constantini, Manager APN/Dentistry and Orthodontia/Registration

Posted On: 11/03/2014

1. Please describe your roll in the military (for example, in what capacity did you serve in the US Military, what branch, how many years, etc.). I joined the Army Nurse Corps during my last year of college. The Army paid one year of my tuition and in return I agreed to serve three years.  I spent two years stateside working in pediatrics at large Army hospitals and I also served one year in Vietnam from March 1970 – 1971. While in Vietnam I worked in PACU, Surgical ICU and Neurosurgery ICU. This was an intense year of caring for American soldiers, allied troops and Vietnamese people who sustained war injuries. As a diversion, I took advantage of the occasions to work with children in clinics outside of the hospital compound.
2. What is your position and role at Gillette? My position at Gillette is an outpatient manager for Advanced Practice Nursing / Dentistry and Orthodontia / Registration.
3. Do you have a favorite Gillette story or memory? Every day I see children and their families or caregivers come for some level of service at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare. In my early career I worked in newborn ICU and often wondered who would provide the special care these children would need over the course of their lives. And now I know – it is truly very unique. So when I look at the lighted tree on the hill and watch the video of Ellie dance with her father, that is a wonder and very special.

4. What are some of your hobbies outside of work? I enjoy cooking, gardening, golfing, fly fishing and have taken up painting. Then there are times to just sit back a read a good novel.
5. Do you have any children or pets? I have a 9-year-old golden retriever named Bella. She is wonderful and spoiled.
6. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? I have traveled to Scotland, England, Italy, Australia, Hong Kong and some special places in the US. I would like to go back to Italy and stay for a month.
7. What is one fun fact about you? I took up golf and fly fishing with my husband, and we are good partners at both!

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