Inside Gillette Blog


Meet Us Monday- Eric Flam, Seating Practitioner

Posted On: 09/29/2014

1. What is your position and role at Gillette? I am a seating practitioner at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. I am responsible for evaluating, fabricating and provide custom complex seating systems. 

2. Do you have a favorite Gillette story or memory? My favorite memories are from when my little brother Evan was an inpatient here at Gillette.  I remember all the nurses and therapists playing with my brother and I during his stay here. This is the reason why I work at Gillette, because I think of it as my second home.

3. What are some of your hobbies outside of work? I love to coach my children’s sports teams, go skiing with my daughter and hopefully the rest of my family this year.  I also play hockey on Wednesday nights. 

4. Do you have any children or pets? I have an 8-year old Daughter, 4-year old son, and a 7 month old lab mix. 

5. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? I love to visit New York to visit my family and to eat the food.  But mostly the for the food.

6. What is one fun fact about you? I attended acting camp in  New York but I never made it big so I only do stand up for families here at Gillette.


How to Make Your St. Paul Clinic Visit Easier!

Posted On: 09/22/2014

Part One: Arriving at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare

By: Gillette’s Family Council

Gillette’s Family Council includes parents and caregivers of Gillette patients (members pictured below include Jo Schifsky, Tara Swedberg, Tracy Chipman and Steve Ekeberg.) We help Gillette promote patient and family-centered care and offer our perspectives on programs, departments, publications and projects. In short, we represent Gillette families! Through our experiences, we’ve learned a lot about making your time at Gillette as easy as possible—and we’re happy to share our top findings with you. If you have an appointment at Gillette’s St. Paul Clinic, these tips will help make your visit simpler and more efficient.

Make Parking a Breeze

Did you know you don’t have to waste time searching for a parking place at our St. Paul campus? And you can save money on parking, too!

  • Valet Parking: Stop at valet parking on Level D of the Regions Hospital West Ramp, between 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. If needed, valets will help you unload and show you to Registration. Then they’ll give you a claim ticket and park your vehicle. When you’re ready to go, they’ll bring your vehicle to you. And it costs the same as parking on your own!
  • Parking Discounts: Speaking of costs, stamp your parking ticket at Information and your parking will be only $3, no matter how many hours you’re here.
  • Frequent Parking Discounts: If your child is an inpatient, or if you’re at Gillette often, you can purchase a packet of five parking tickets for $10. Get them at Health Resources and Education—next to the Ginkgo Café, on the fourth floor near the skyway.

Don’t Carry It; Stow It

Does it feel as if you need another set of hands to keep track of all the items you bring to your appointments? Gillette can help!

  • Coats and Outerwear: Don’t cart your coats, boots and hats to your appointments. Check them free at Information, on the fourth floor of Gillette near Registration.
  • Lockers: Store the things you aren’t using—from snacks to extra clothing to books and other entertainment—in a fourth floor locker during your appointments. Stop at Information if you want to use a locker.

Stay tuned for Part Two: Entertainment and Information next week!

Get Involved With the Family Council!

Gillette is recruiting new Family Council members for 2015. You’ll serve for two years and attend once-a-month evening meetings. If you’d like to volunteer your time and provide Gillette with valuable feedback—or if you just want to learn more—contact Camille Feng at 651-312-3169 or cafeng@gillettechildrens.com.

 


Meet Us Monday- Anne Keenan, Supervisor-Child Life, Child and Family Services

Posted On: 09/17/2014

Test Caption1. What is your position and role at Gillette? Half of my time involves providing Child Life support to patients at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare.  The other half of my time is spent as a supervisor of my Child Life colleagues.

2. Do you have a favorite Gillette story or memory? On a daily basis, observing patients and their caregivers persevere amidst challenges is remarkable.  Our patients and families have taught me to support children for who they are and to be resilient under stress at the same time.  Other favorite memories include putting on events that bring joy to patients’ days—Cops-N-Kids, Firefighters’ Carnival, Trick-or-treating, Child Life Week, and other special events of which we are a part.

3. What are some of your hobbies outside of work? I am an avid hockey fan and have been playing on a women’s team for the past 14 years.  In the winter, if I’m not playing myself, I’m usually glued to Gopher and Wild games on TV.  Taking early morning walks, spending time with my family, and housecleaning (strange, I know) also are enjoyable in my spare time.

4. Do you have any children or pets? I have an 18-month old son and another child due mid-September.  We have a 10-year old black lab named Maggie.

5. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? I would love to take road trips across the U.S. with my family.  There are many relatives, friends, and historic sites that I would love to visit.  Of course, visiting the ocean in the winter is also a dream vacation for me. 

6. What is one fun fact about you? I was a member of the inaugural women’s soccer team at the University of Minnesota.  Go Gophers!


Raising Spinal Cord Injury Awareness in a Kid-Friendly, Interactive Way

Posted On: 09/17/2014

Every 48 minutes, someone in the United States becomes paralyzed because of a spinal cord injury. September marks Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month—a month focused on raising awareness about the need for better treatments, research and prevention of spinal cord injuries.


Teaching people about spinal cord injuries plays a big part in this month’s efforts to raise awareness about the condition, too. Approximately 200,000 people are living with spinal cord injuries in the United States. There is currently no cure for the paralysis caused by the condition. Depending on the location and severity of their injury, the changes and challenges faced by people who experience spinal cord injuries can range from mild to severe. For many of our spinal cord injury patients—including their family members and friends who are children—understanding how a spinal cord injury affects them or their loved one can be a difficult concept to grasp.


That’s why we’ve created a new interactive educational tool called “Exploring Your Brain and Spinal Cord”. The tool—specifically created with kids in mind—features a learning module all about spinal cord injuries. Kids can interact with and learn about different parts of the spinal column. We explain how certain types of spinal cord injuries affect the body in various ways and provide useful tips for interacting with people who've had spinal cord injuries.


You can try “Exploring Your Brain and Spinal Cord” here or visit Spinal Cord Injury and Related Neurotrauma to learn more about the care and services we provide for spinal cord injury patients at Gillette.


Hydrocephalus Awareness Month: Your Questions Answered

Posted On: 09/15/2014

By: Amanda Seeley, Neurosurgery Nurse Practitioner


Did you know that September is National Hydrocephalus Awareness Month? As one of four neurosurgery nurse practitioners at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare, I help our team take care of numerous patients with hydrocephalus, and answer many questions about this condition from patients, families and staff.  I also help lead the Hydrocephalus Association Walk at the Mall of America (photos below) to generate funds for research and create awareness! Here are the five most frequently asked questions about hydrocephalus and shunts.

This is my captionWhat causes hydrocephlaus?
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is a water-based solution that flows in a certain path within our brain and spinal canal.  Usually, there is an even rate between how much CSF a person is making and how much CSF his/her body is absorbing.  Hydrocephalus occurs when there is a disruption in this balance or a block in the normal flow of CSF that naturally happens.  CSF can build up within the ventricles (fluid spaces) of the brain and can cause pressure to be dangerously high in the brain. There are many causes of hydrocephalus.  Babies can be born with congenital hydrocephalus.  Also, patients may have a high risk of developing hydrocephalus when they are babies because of an underlying diagnosis, such as spina bifida.  Other causes of hydrocephalus are acquired obstructions in CSF flow, like brain hemorrhage, brain tumor, or trauma.   

How is hydrocephalus treated?
Although there are a few medications that may temporarily treat hydrocephalus, the usual treatment involves surgery.  The most common treatment for hydrocephalus is a surgically implanted shunt.  This is a device that moves CSF from the ventricles of the brain to an area in the body where the patient can safely absorb it, most commonly within the sac that holds the abdominal organs, called the peritoneum. Working shunts can keep a patient’s brain at a normal pressure, but unfortunately can malfunction.  The average life of a shunt is about 5 years, but the range of shunt life is days to decades long.  The surgery to fix a non-working shunt is called a shunt revision.

My child has never had a shunt malfunction, how will I know if it isn’t working/what will it be like?
Every patient is different, but common symptoms of a shunt malfunction are headache, vomiting, sleepiness, and irritability.  I often tell patients, families, and caregivers to remember that it is not up to them to know if a shunt is working or not, it is up to them to let us know if they are concerned.  The neurosurgery team will help sort out if a patient’s symptoms are because of a shunt malfunction or something else.  Often times we use different imaging studies, like a head CT or brain MRI to get more information about the shunt’s function.   Remember that most episodes of vomiting and fever are not shunt related.


Will the doctor shave my child’s head during surgery?
Usually the pediatric neurosurgeons at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare do not need to shave a child’s hair for shunt placements or revisions.  Often, the surgeons will use dissolvable stitches that will not need to be removed after surgery as well.


Are there activity restrictions for patients that have shunts?

Our team generally does not recommend strict activity limitations for patients with shunts.  We do recommend avoiding scuba diving and sky diving due to the pressure dynamics, but otherwise encourage patients to be active and involved in the activities they wish to pursue.  Of course, we always remind patients and families to wear helmets appropriate for sports and activities as part of our general health recommendations.

 


Meet Us Monday- Beth Engelking, Music Therapist

Posted On: 09/09/2014

1. What is your position and role at Gillette? I am a music therapist. I see inpatients at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul. I just started seeing adult patients at the Lifetime clinic.

2. Do you have a favorite Gillette story or memory? It’s hard to pick a particular story from all the great things that happen every day! It’s so rewarding to see patients light up when we start creating music, and it’s even better when the whole family makes music together. One patient wrote a song that she’d like to sing for the American Idol judges and asked me to accompany her at the audition someday. On the more serious side, I sang patient and family preferred songs at bedside for a young patient who was in the end stages of life. The patient visibly relaxed, and the experience was very meaningful to the family. It’s such an honor to be part of these patients’ lives! 

3. What are some of your hobbies outside of work? I’m really involved in the local Irish community – Irish Fair, Irish Music and Dance Association, Friends of St. Patrick. I also love practicing yoga, hiking, traveling, reading, playing my own music for fun, and playing board games.

4. Do you have any children or pets? Almost! Our first child is due in October.

5. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? I’ve had the good fortune to travel at home and abroad quite a bit, and I’ve lived in Paris, France and Cashel, Ireland. Someday I’d love to visit the Pyramids of Egypt, Machu Picchu, and Niagara Falls.

6. What is one fun fact about you? I love to dance! I started ballet classes when I was two and went on to train professionally until I was 18. I have danced with a few professional ballet companies from around the country. After retiring my pointe shoes, I learned swing dancing and Irish dancing. I have even taken a few classes on Japanese and Korean pop dance.


Meet Us Monday- Nancy Thomas, Volunteer Coordinator

Posted On: 09/05/2014

1.) What is your position and role at Gillette? I am a Volunteer Coordinator, which allows me to interview, recruit, coordinate and supervise the volunteers at Gillette. I enjoy meeting new people and connecting with the staff at Gillette to schedule volunteers for positions!

2.) Do you have a favorite story or memory? I meet incredible people in the community who want to donate their time and energy to Gillette.  One example is a 7-year-old patient who wanted to give back to Gillette. He threw a birthday party in his hometown and instead of asking for gifts for himself, he asked everybody to bring an item from home (glue sticks, craft supplies, popsicle sticks, crayons, etc.). He used the items to create “Imagination Kits” for the children at Gillette, to keep them entertained while in the hospital. He brought in 299 imagination kits! Great things come in small packages!

3.) What are some of your hobbies outside of work? I am an avid Minnesota sports fan. Show me a Groupon for a new restaurant and I’m there! I also love grilling out and spending time with my family.

4.) Do you have any children or pets? My husband, Jeff and I have two sons, one daughter and one granddaughter. Cooper, our Cairn terrier, is 12 years old and is quite the crowd pleaser!

5.) If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? I hope to visit Albuquerque, New Mexico sometime in October for the International Balloon Fiesta.

6.) What is one fun fact about you? I have owned 14 different types of animals, everything from an iguana, ducks and homing pigeons to a guinea pig named Gumdrop!


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!


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