Three members of Gillette Children’s outstanding team have been recognized as 2022 Health Care Heroes by Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. Chantel Burkitt, PhD, Ashley Karlen and Tammy Sinkfield, DNP, MAN, RN, CRRN, are each being honored for their excellent work and commitment to improving the lives of the people in their care.
Chantel Burkitt, a clinical research scientist with Gillette, was honored in the Innovator category for her pioneering research of pain in children with disabilities. Children with disabilities are the most vulnerable because often, they cannot communicate or express how much pain they are in. Burkitt believes that managing pain takes a multi-disciplinary approach – meaning a mix of pain medication and distraction techniques. Since 2016, she's been studying the impact of virtual reality (VR) for pain management in children. Because many of Gillette’s patients have limited movement and abilities, they may not be able to use a toy or sing songs to distract them from an upcoming procedure, but they can wear a VR headset. Burkitt’s studies show, the distraction does improve the overall experience for the patients. Her dream is for there to be no unnecessary pain for Gillette patients, but her work will impact how pain is managed for all children.
Ashley Karlen, Director of Charge Integrity, was honored in the Health Care Staff Member – Nonclinical category for her work to help Gillette Children’s patient families navigate financial landmines that come with caring for a child who needs complex medical care. In 2019, Karlen created the financial advocacy program to help families with financial assistance eligibility, insurance appeals, prior authorizations and understanding in-network rates. Karlen oversees six teams of more than 60 staff. They work with the patient’s providers to get the clinical information needed for insurers approval services. Ashely’s passion to advocate for patients and their families has helped hundreds of families get the help they need.
Tammy Sinkfield, an inpatient nursing supervisor at Gillette, was honored in the Health Equity Champion category for being a tireless advocate for building a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace at Gillette and among health care providers. Sinkfield was the first Black nurse hired at Gillette in the 1990’s. She participated in Nursing Salons, an event in which nurses come together to talk about issues affecting their work. Sinkfield noticed the problems plaguing white nurses were different from her experiences, so in 2018, she hosted her first Nurses of Color Salon at her home. This gave nurses of color a safe space to talk about their experiences with social justice, systems of oppression and racism, health equity and well-being. After the 2020 murder of George Floyd, she used that same model to create a virtual Salon for all Gillette employees to come together to safely and honestly discuss what was unfolding. She ultimately hosted 26 Salons with 300 participants. Sinkfield says she is committed to doing everything humanly possible to speak her truth and empower those around her to do the same.
Burkitt, Karlen and Sinkfield will be honored at a June 16 awards event at JW Marriot Minneapolis Mall of American and you can find their stories in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal Health Care Heroes special print edition on June 17.
See the full list of the 2022 Health Care Heroes on the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal’s website.