Category Archives: For Patients and Families
Thanks to a generous small business owner and a grateful patient family, children receiving surgery at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare will receive a fun surprise during their hospital stay — their very own pair of adorable Bison Booties!
Bison Booties creator Erica Hager of Bismarck, N.D., was inspired to donate the booties after hearing about Gillette from her cousin, Kendra Bachmeier. Kendra’s 15-month-old daughter, Cambria, began seeing pediatric orthopedic surgeon Tom Novacheck, M.D., after her parents noticed she walked with a significant limp. She was soon diagnosed with hip dysplasia—her left hip is dislocated completely—and came to Gillette for corrective surgery in April.
“Many children on Gillette’s orthopedic unit, like Cambria, are in body casts for weeks after surgery,” says Kendra. “Bison Booties have been awesome for her to wear during this time! The nurses even mentioned how ideal they are for kids in the hospital.”
After returning home to Bismarck, Kendra told Erica that she’d like to purchase 10 pairs of Bison Booties for Gillette patients. But Erica provided them free of charge instead—and took it one step further. She gave her customers the opportunity to purchase a pair of booties for a child at Gillette, promising to match each donated pair. “She truly went above and beyond!” says Kendra.
Thanks to Bison Booties customers throughout the U.S. (even Alaska!) Erica donated 36 pairs of the one-of-a-kind shoes to Gillette. Kendra and Cambria, who returned to Gillette last week for a follow-up hip procedure, presented them personally.
Mark Your Calendar for Sunday, May 5
Sunday, May 5, will be a great day for a bike ride—regardless of the weather! Make plans now to attend the Adapted Bike and Sports Expo sponsored by Gillette and Courage Center.
You’ll have a chance to:
- See and test ride the latest adaptive hand cycles, bicycles and trikes
- Participate in adaptive rock climbing and ropes demonstrations
- Learn about adapted recreation offerings in the Twin Cities
It’s fun. And it’s free!
One person looking forward to the event is Tony Mliner, who has cerebral palsy. He hadn’t ridden a bike since he was a child—until he came to Gillette Lifetime for physical therapy. “We saw the bikes in the therapy room and it piqued his interest,” says Cindy Kreidler, Mliner’s aunt. “He rode through the whole therapy room with a smile on his face.”
The benefits of biking are numerous, particularly for people who have disabilities. “It will give him mobility, allow him to exercise, and help him meet people,” Kreidler says. Mliner says he hopes to increase his strength, core stability, balance, and reaction time.
“Because of my disabilities, I need a special bike that has been adapted for me,” he says. “Then I can ride successfully, safely and with greater independence.”
At least eight bike vendors will attend the expo this year, giving families a variety of bike options to try. “If you’re looking for an adapted bicycle for yourself or your child, I highly recommend this event,” says Krista Ash, Gillette therapeutic recreation specialist. She and other Gillette staff will be on hand to answer questions and introduce the most appropriate vendors for each situation.
Because insurance typically doesn’t cover sports equipment, Mliner and his family are planning a fundraiser for May 18. Gillette therapeutic recreation specialists can help Gillette families learn about grants and other funding options
12th Annual Adaptive Bike and Sports Expo
Sunday, May 5, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Fort Snelling Base Camp
For more information, contact Krista Ash at 651-312-3138 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Finding the right words to explain an upcoming surgery to your child can be difficult. Surgery can be a stressful time for both children and parents. In fact, it is estimated that between 50 and 75 percent of children undergoing surgery develop significant stress and anxiety in the days leading up to surgery.
Fortunately, many studies have shown that adequately preparing your child before surgery can help decrease their stress and anxiety. According to one recent study, children who underwent preparation for their surgery, including tours and information provided in a developmentally appropriate format, were less likely to have anxiety before surgery and were more likely to report a positive surgery experience.
To help you and your child prepare for an upcoming surgery, we’ve created a child-friendly “Planning for your Surgery” video. This video will walk you and your child through the steps that will occur when you come in for your surgery. It stars an actual Gillette patient and current Gillette staff members in their day-to-day roles. You can view the video here: Preparing for Surgery at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare
If you have questions about your upcoming surgery, contact our Pre-Op department at 651-229-3918 or 1-800-719-4040. If you would like to schedule a pre-surgery tour of our hospital with a Child Life Specialist, please call 651-229-3855.
Kain, Z.V., Mayes, L.C., Caldwell-Andrews, A.A., Karas, D.E. & McClain, B.C. (2006). Preoperative anxiety, postoperative pain, and behavioral recovery in young children undergoing surgery. Pediatrics, 118(2), 651-658.
Perry, J.N., Hooper, V.D. & Masiongale, J.(2012). Reducation of preoperative anxiety in pediatric surgery patients using age-appropriate teaching interventions. Journal of Perianesthesia Nursing, 27(2), 69-81.
About the Author
Cheryl Tveit, RN, MSN, CAPA, is a PeriAnesthesia nurse at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare.
Saturday, April 13, 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
451 Lexington Parkway North
St. Paul, Minnesota
Gillette and the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota invite you to learn more about a child’s stages of development and the effect of those stages on epilepsy. You’ll learn about living well with epilepsy and hear about these topics:
- Life Stages and Epilepsy: Fostering Self-Efficacy Across the Life Span—Jen Maytum, doctor of nursing practice.
- The Importance of Sleep in Children With Underlying Neurological Conditions—Laurel Wills, M.D.
- Helping Children and Families Adjust to Seizures: What Parents Should Know—Katherine Buhrke, Ph.D.
- Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota: Resources and Report
This event is free and includes a box lunch. For more information, email Nikki Baker at email@example.com. To register, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
At age 10, Olivia Measells has already developed a passion for gymnastics. “She’s a very active child,” says her mother, Jill. “But gymnastics is what she loves most.”
Watching Olivia perform cartwheels on the balance beam and fly between parallel bars, you might be surprised to learn that doctors at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare diagnosed her with juvenile arthritis at age 3.
Olivia’s family first suspected something might be wrong when, during a family vacation, she began complaining of sore knees. Soon after, when one knee became swollen and warm to the touch, the family sought answers—first from their pediatrician, then from Gillette rheumatologist Evren Akin, M.D.
Dr. Akin immediately began treating Olivia with steroid injections to control the inflammation and swelling in her joints. Then, after more than two years in remission, Olivia’s arthritis flared up again—this time, in her knees and toe.
After another round of treatment, this time with methotrexate for 18 months, Olivia is once again in remission, off her medicine, and has experienced no additional flare-ups for almost one year—leaving her free to jump, leap and bend without discomfort. “It’s a day-by-day, month-by-month issue,” says Jill of Olivia’s arthritis. “She’ll always have it, but we don’t know when, or if, it will come back.”
Throughout Olivia’s journey with juvenile arthritis, her family has come to appreciate Gillette’s extra efforts to make kids feel comfortable. “Dr. Akin takes her time with each patient, making sure the child—along with the parent—understands what is happening,” says Jill. “The Gillette staff is just fantastic!”
Some conversations with Gillette staff might have a slightly different feel to them in 2013. We’re increasing our use of “teach-back,” a method of educating patients and their families about aspects of their care.
Teach-back has long been used within the health care industry (including by some Gillette staff). It’s known to be an effective way of ensuring patients and their families fully understand what’s important for them to know.
To help prepare you for taking part in teach-back at Gillette, here’s some information about the technique and how we use it here.
We’ve also produced a short video to demonstrate how a teach-back conversation between a health care provider and a patient family might occur.
What’s the teach-back method?
It’s an education technique Gillette staff use to make sure we’ve done a good job helping you understand how to best take care of yourself, your child or the patient.
The way it works is: We explain some important information or instructions; then we give you an opportunity to tell or show us what we’ve just taught. If we haven’t conveyed all information clearly enough, we stay with you to fill in any gaps or re-teach in a way that is more meaningful to you.
Who uses teach-back?
Anyone can! Gillette physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, pharmacists, therapists, assistive technology specialists and other patient care staff have been trained in the teach-back method. We consider teaching a partnership with you. We want to be sure that we answer all your questions and that you feel good about providing care at home. If we don’t always initiate teach-back, feel free to start the conversation yourself! We’ll take time to make sure you understand what you need to know.
What does teach-back “look” like?
Here are some examples of how we might use teach-back with you:
- If you’ve been taught about a new medication, we might ask, “How will you give this medicine? What side effects will you be watching for?”
- If you’ve been taught about a new diagnosis, we might ask, “How will you explain this to your loved ones at home?”
- If we’ve shown you how to perform a care procedure, we might ask you to demonstrate how you’ll perform the procedure yourself after you get home.
Our motto is “Teach-Back Is a Two-Way Street!”
Christmas morning 2011, my water broke one week early, sending us scurrying to the hospital at 2 am and leaving behind our 2-year-old son with neighbors. Four hours later, as the rest of the world was waking up and opening their gifts, my husband and I delivered ours–Kendall Christine.
She was healthy and we celebrated our Christmas blessing–my heart was full of contentment and happiness only a newborn baby girl could fill.
Then the next day, a pediatrician came in with the blow. The “birthmark” on the top of Kendall’s head was actually a congenital nevus. Being in mama-heaven, this news didn’t faze me at first. Seeing my lack of concern, the pediatrician proceeded to tell me this is a big deal and we need a biopsy to make sure it’s not cancerous.
I thought, wait a minute now, don’t go throwing that “c” word into things. Life is perfect, can’t you see? Leave us alone. Go away.
But it didn’t and it wouldn’t.
For me, pity began 6 weeks later with our first visit to see Dr. Wood. This was a defining moment, as I became aware that her nevus was an issue and that it would not be an easy or simple task to remove it. He explained to us the tissue expansion process, which entailed inserting an expander underneath the skin on her scalp and slowly, over the course of many months, injecting this with saline and stretching the skin to a large size. This newly-stretched skin would be used to cover where the mole was once it was removed.
Kendall seemed so fragile and I honestly couldn’t wrap my mind around the reality of this process, but Dr. Wood’s experience and confidence put me at ease. He recommended that we begin tissue expansion once she reached 9-months of age. We considered the options and made the decision to proceed–plans for October 15th were underway.
You could say that preparing for Kendall’s first surgery was much like training for a marathon–a marathon filled with obstacles and hurdles, that is. I knew going into it that I would have to pace myself, that this wasn’t a quick sprint and that we needed to find endurance for the long haul.
I had stayed strong and fought off pity pretty well–right up until the second I laid eyes on my daughter after her surgery. It consumed me in ways that I wasn’t prepared for, yelling at me your daughter looks different, and this isn’t fair!
Those first few days and weeks were painful–painful in ways that I can’t explain or am too embarrassed to tell. Pity told me different wasn’t as good and even different is just plain ugly. People’s doting words of beautiful quickly turned into looks of concerns and questions. I felt like I was constantly fighting off anger and tears that Kendall had to endure all of this and that we were in this situation.
We had a battle, me and pity.
When our 2-year-old son saw Kendall for the first time post-surgery, he looked at her with his big-brown saucer eyes in great concern. We explained to him that he could no longer play rough with sister and that she had an “owie” on her head that he couldn’t touch. I thought he would be upset or lose interest playing with her.
He just looked at me and asked, Can I kiss her?
This was the beginning of a new attitude for me, defining my own views on what beautiful and happiness mean. I was no longer seeking the world’s acceptance or approval because, as my son reminded me, she is already perfect. My perception began to change and over the next month, pity was replaced with confidence–a confidence that told me I was strong, that we were lucky to be in this treatable situation and to take this challenge and to turn it into something positive.
You see, pity did nothing but cripple me. It threatened to paralyze me and prevent me from making the positive response my daughter needed. Only by conquering my own pity was I able to provide strength for my daughter.
I gained confidence as I realized the things I once concerned myself with were no longer important. People’s words or reactions no longer mattered to me. I was reminded that I was being strong and bearing the burden for my daughter so she wouldn’t have to. And I realized that this process was a defining time for our family, but that it didn’t define who we are.
The past three months have involved weekly injections at Gillette Children’s to enlarge Kendall’s expander. I can’t say enough good things about the medical team that surrounded us–they have made this process smoother and easier in every way possible. The fourth floor has been a place of transformation for our family–physically and mentally. Doctors, nurses and other parents look into my child’s eyes and see that she is beautiful. It has been empowering and enabled me to shed my fear of judgment from others, along with judgment from myself.
I have such respect for the children that we see each week and deep admiration for the parents by their side. Whether a child is facing long or short term medical needs, life-changing or life-threatening, I believe what every parent wants is for their child to feel loved and accepted–to know that they can live and thrive through their uniqueness in this world.
Now here we are, in the last stretch of Kendall’s medical marathon. I once thought this journey was about crossing the finish line, but now realize it is about deciding to run.
The Cure Pity campaign gave me the strength and confidence to share Kendall’s journey. When the day comes, I’m excited to tell her how brave she was through all of this, how she rocked our world that Christmas morning and how she continues to teach us valuable lessons about the important things in life.
I hope that when you look at Kendall, you see past the bump and notice her gorgeous deep blue eyes and pink cabbage patch lips. I hope you see a one-year-old who is on the verge of walking, filled with a passion and determination in everything that she does. Ultimately, I hope you are able to look past the differences and see her through the eyes of a 2-year-old.
Cora Gryskiewicz is a spunky, high-energy toddler who loves to “help” her mother, Paula Gryskiewicz, with anything and everything she can. “Cora is my little turkey,” says Paula, lovingly calling Cora by her favorite nickname. “She is always on the go!”
Indeed, Cora’s busy schedule rivals that of most adults. That’s because, along with visits to her neighborhood park and playtime with mommy, Cora receives physical therapy three times per week at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, where she also sees physicians for help managing a complex disability called spina bifida. Paula discovered Cora would have the condition, which occurs when the spine develops abnormally, when she was just 20 weeks pregnant. It causes complications such as, in Cora’s case, hydrocephalus (fluidon the brain), clubfeet, and lower extremity issues.
When Cora was less than a day old, Dr. Patrick Graupman, a pediatric neurosurgeon at Gillette, performed surgery to close the opening in Cora’s back caused by the condition. Other major surgeries have followed—including an orthopedic procedure next week—which, along with regular physical therapy at Gillette’s Burnsville Clinic, have enabled Cora to walk with assistance of forearm crutches, which she calls her “sticks.” Walking is an especially significant achievement because Cora has very limited feeling in her feet and lower legs.
Paula, who enrolled Cora in physical therapy at Gillette when she was just 4 months old, says that early intervention has been vital to Cora’s independence today. She also credits Cora’s Gillette therapists, PT Stephanie Zigan and PT assistant Amanda Larson, with enabling her to succeed. “I firmly believe that Cora is as mobile as she is today because Stephanie pushes her,” says Paula. “She uses positive reinforcement that makes Cora WANT to work hard!”
“Gillette is like a second family to us,” concludes Paula. “Everyone there is wonderful. They recognize Cora and greet her by name. I love that!”
Ivann is a new addition to Gillette and has joined the team as a Simulation Technician and Integration Support Specialist for our surgery area. He recently moved from Mexico to the Twin Cities to join the Gillette team. The Simulation Center is a new opportunity for our healthcare team to learn and practice in a realistic setting to improve their skills and experience.
1. What are some of your hobbies outside work?
Mountain biking, walking, kayaking, tennis, movies and traveling.
2. Do you have any children or pets?
I have a 4 year old daughter that lives in Mexico with her mom and I see her via Skype. I’m hoping that I can bring her here in the future.
3. As a child, which superhero did you admire? OR If you could choose a superpower, what would it be?
I always wanted to be Batman with all the technology. If I had to choose a super power I’d choose the power of healing.
4. Do you have a favorite book? What is your favorite food?
I have some books that I like, but I don’t know their English titles. But, I really like “The Secret” I believe in the power of the mind. As for food, I love all kinds of international food; Asian – Thai, Italian, Chinese, Mexican Latin-American fusion, and from USA: BBQ Ribs.
5. If you could travel anywhere where would you go?
I would love to visit Bora Bora or a fly on a hot air balloon on Capadocia!
6. What was your favorite subject in school?
7. What is your favorite musician/band/type of music?
I like all kinds of music; it depends on the occasion. For relaxation I like Enya and for traveling I like pop music such as Adele, Colbie Caliat and Shakira.
8. Who did you admire when you were a child?
I’ll always admired my father. He showed me so many things like how to ride a bicycle, roller skate, camp, play tennis, swim, enjoylife and the concept of family.
9. Do you have a favorite story or memory from Gillette?
I have been only in USA and at Gillette for 1 month and I can say everyone has been great to me and I am blessed to be here. I’m sure that I’ll have a lot of memories here. One day, one of my co-workers from surgery came to the Simulation Center to take a bunch of funny photos to make posters for the kids. Everyone participated and we had a great time.
10. What do you enjoy most about your job at Gillette?
I enjoy helping people with technology, but the most important thing is to show the benefits of simulation for our patients.