Monthly Archives: November 2012
Like most 19-month-olds, Owen Marinkovich is eager to explore anything and everything with his mouth. But unlike his peers, until recently, Owen showed little interest in swallowing food, the result of a lifetime of negative experiences with feeding tubes, vents and other medical equipment in his mouth. A micro preemie born at just 24 weeks gestation, Owen has already overcome a multitude of obstacles, showing courage befitting of his name’s meaning, “young warrior.” But as he continued to experience difficulties with food, his mom, Tatum, sought help from Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare’s Feeding Clinic.
An initial evaluation determined Owen was able to eat – a critical first step. However, like many kids with complex medical histories, eating no longer came naturally to him. Negative experiences had also impressed upon Owen the need for control – although he’d put anything in his mouth, no one else, including his mom, could do so. Through weekly therapy sessions reinforced with at-home practice, Tatum and occupational therapist Leah Hall began the step-by-step process of helping Owen see food as fun, pleasant – and, importantly, safe.
Knowing Owen loved using his mouth to explore, Leah suggested he practice with high-flavor foods like gummy worms, suckers, beef jerky and chips—items that would help him experience flavors in a non-threatening way, without the expectation of chewing or swallowing. She then encouraged him to try “meltable” foods, like cheese puffs, which would dissolve quickly in his mouth without much need for chewing. Leah also taught Tatum to dip Owen’s favorite pacifiers and toys in baby food, helping him to discover new textures on objects he already enjoyed.
As weeks progressed, so did Owen—first mouthing spoons of baby food himself, then allowing mom to feed him. Recently, using the sign language symbol for “eat,” Owen requested food for the first time. “It made my week!” recalls Tatum of the milestone.
In just 2 months of therapy at Gillette’s Feeding Clinic, Owen has gone from being fed exclusively via g-tube to eating several containers of baby food each day. He’s exploring different textures—including crunchy and puffy foods—and discovering new flavors. All of this comes just in time for Owen to participate in Thanksgiving for the first time ever. For a family that’s been apart on far too many holidays due to Owen’s hospitalizations, it’s especially meaningful.
“On previous holidays Owen has either needed to stay back from family celebrations, or he wasn’t strong enough to sit at the table, or he wasn’t eating,” recalls Tatum. “This Thanksgiving, he’ll be able to sample things like mashed and sweet potatoes, and physically be present as we enjoy the meal. What an amazing thing, as his mom, to begin to think of holidays as a family activity. It really is something to be thankful for.”
Tatum likens Leah to a coach helping to guide her in playing Owen’s “game” of discovering foods. “Owen and I have to practice, and ultimately play the game, but it’s a lot easier with someone who can coach us minute by minute, even second by second,” she says.
On Monday, November 5, the Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare’s Duluth Clinic held a celebration to mark its 13th anniversary of offering specialty services to northern Minnesota children and families. To help raise awareness about the Gillette Duluth Clinic and to champion Gillette’s CurePity movement, the celebration included a media tour of Duluth print, TV and radio outlets, as well as the Great Lakes Aquarium. Duluth’s Mayor Don Ness proclaimed November 5, 2012 as “CurePity Day” in Duluth.
The public and media were invited to the Gillette Duluth Clinic’s event program that highlighted the clinic’s history and specialty services, a patient family sharing their experiences of services provided at the Gillette Duluth Clinic, an overview of the CurePity movement and a plaque presentation by the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors. After the program, guests enjoyed light refreshments and were invited to sign the CurePity Pledge.
We’re excited to welcome back the KS95 for Kids Radiothon to the airways on Thursday, December 6 and Friday, December 7! Our 14th annual radiothon will broadcast live on 94.5 FM (and from Mall of America) with KS95′s Ryan and Shannon sharing incredible stories of local children who are triumphing over complex disabilities or childhood cancer.
Your Spare Change Means Big Hope for Kids!
Looking for a fun and easy way to make a difference in the lives of local children? Sign up for KS95′s Change for Kids program today! Collect change as a family, sports team, activity group, even at your workplace. Then bring your collected change to Mall of America during the KS95 for Kids Radiothon live broadcast, December 6 and 7. When you drop off change, we’ll also be handing out Nickelodeon Universe “Mystery Passes” which could get you one ride, multiple rides or unlimited rides at the park!
The March of Dimes recognized Gillette nurse Barbara Bor as its 2012 Distinguished Nurse of the Year. Bor was recognized at an Oct. 27 ceremony for her role as the infection prevention coordinator at Gillette.
Bor had no idea she would receive the top award. “I just thought it was lovely they invited me to the dinner,” she says.
By advocating for and launching simple hand hygiene solutions, such as collaborating with Facilities and Housekeeping to set a standard layout of hand hygiene products and lotion at sinks and placing waterless hand hygiene rubs in patient care areas, Bor has positively influenced infection prevention policies at Gillette.
How nominees educate others is a key factor in selecting the winners. “The job of a nurse is to be a resource every day,” Bor said. “Nurses challenge themselves to be better, and Gillette nurses stimulate each other to find the best care practices that help prevent infections associated with health care.”
March of Dimes celebrated Nurse of the Year winners in 15 categories. Patients, colleagues, friends and family nominated more than 300 nurses from across the state.
Additional Gillette winners included:
Leadership – Paula Forté
Mental Health – Leslie Larson
Pediatric – Sarah Conlin
Perioperative – Katherine Houle
Congratulations to our nurses!