Monthly Archives: October 2013

Five Question Friday: Adriene Thornton

Meet Adriene Thornton, an infection preventionist at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

How long have you worked at Children’s? 15 years
What drew you to infection prevention? I have a passion for maintaining a clean environment and taking steps to prevent infections from occurring. I don’t like it when kids (and I) get sick!
What do you love most about your job? The fact that there is always a new challenge, so I never get bored.
Flu season is just around the corner. Do you have any advice for how to prevent it? Get your flu shot! Eat healthy food, do hand hygiene often, and keep a tissue handy for cleaning your nose.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? Milan, Italy. I love fashion and Milan is the fashion capital of the world so it’s perfect.  Plus I hear the french drink wine with their lunch!

Recipe: Vegetable curry (curry in a hurry)

This Indian-inspired curry is a healthy, meatless main dish that makes for a quick weeknight meal (and great leftovers). Serve with basmati rice and a cool cucumber salad seasoned with mint and lemon juice. — Andrew Zimmern

Photograph by Madeleine Hill

Ingredient list

  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
  • 2 tablespoons Madras style curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Several pinches red chile flakes
  • 14 ounces canned chopped tomatoes
  • 1 medium chopped onion
  • 3 chopped carrots
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and sliced
  • 2 cups frozen spinach
  • 14-ounce can chickpeas, drained rinsed and drained again.
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


Servings: 3 to 4
Total Time: 40 minutes

Rinse the chickpeas and drain, set aside.

Rinse the spinach and defrost. Squeeze dry and reserve.

Heat a large pan over medium heat.

Add the oil to the pan and swirl once or twice to coat the entire surface.

When the oil ripples and is aromatic, add the ginger, garlic, onion and spices. Cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the carrots, spinach and chickpeas, stirring to incorporate.

Add the stock and tomatoes, bring to a simmer.

Adjust heat to maintain a simmer and cook until the liquids in the pan have reduced by 75 percent and the ‘sauce’ is tightened, about 20 minutes.

Season with sea salt and a squeeze of fresh lime and serve immediately, garnishing with a dollop of thick yogurt if you like.

NOTE: Try upping the stock amount by a cup and throwing in a half cup of lentils for a fun twist on this easy recipe.

Get more great recipes from Andrew

The road to a cystic fibrosis diagnosis for Kyra

By Amy Schwanz

My daughter, Kyra, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (CF) in September 2004 when she was 3 months old. She was diagnosed through a sweat test done at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota in St. Paul. It was Kyra’s “failure to thrive” that prompted the sweat test. Since other possible causes of her inability to gain weight were ruled out, it was the natural next step/test. After Kyra’s pediatrician gave Mark and me the test results and diagnosis, he comforted us, explained the disease at a high level, and informed us that we were fortunate to live near two excellent CF Care Centers. He also immediately scheduled an appointment for Kyra at Children’s Respiratory and Critical Care Specialists (one of those two excellent care centers).

Mark, Kyra and I met Cindy Brady and Sandy Landvik at Children’s Respiratory and Critical Care Specialists (CRCCS) the morning after Kyra’s sweat test and diagnosis. That first visit, Mark and I were educated about CF, and Kyra had a physical exam. Specifically, Cindy explained the genetics behind the disease and how CF impacts different areas of the body. This helped us understand how the disease resulted in Kyra’s failure to thrive. At that first visit, we were given the option of having Kyra be an inpatient at Children’s in Minneapolis for a few days for testing and education, or for Kyra to continue as an outpatient, which meant we would come back to the clinic/hospital every few days for testing and education, spread out over a few weeks. Since we had another young daughter at home, we elected for the outpatient option. We brought Kyra to CRCCS quite frequently. At first it was every few days and then the time between visits extended as Kyra became healthier, with the visits happening weekly, and, finally, monthly. Although this happened nine years ago, I can still recall how patient, comforting, and reassuring the entire CRCCS staff was with us during those first visits. It was a very difficult time for us, but it would have been much worse without the support and care of the CRCCS staff.

Following the treatment plan prescribed by CRCCS, Kyra VERY rapidly gained weight and finally looked like a healthy baby with pink chubby cheeks. She also didn’t cry as often, slept better, and became a much happier baby. This change literally happened in days; it was amazing!  Over the course of the first few months, Kyra had several diagnostic tests done (chest X-ray, blood work, etc.) to determine her health status. Although these tests were important, more vital was for Mark and I to learn how to care for Kyra. It is not easy to care for a child with CF and it takes a lot of time to learn it all.  We learned the how and why of everything we did for Kyra – from pancreatic enzyme replacements to bronchial drainage techniques. We also worked with all of the CF care team members associated with Children’s to get the specific information about respiratory care, nutrition, etc.

Over the past nine years, our family has fallen into the routine of life with CF. Kyra has certainly had some ups and downs, as is to be expected with a chronic life-limiting illness. But, for the most part she has remained very healthy, and Mark and I are successfully managing the many challenges–medications, respiratory treatments, clinic visits, school health plans, travel considerations and medical bills. Kyra continues to have appointments four times per year at CRCCS, with one of those being her “CF annual visit” where we meet with the entire CF care team. Over our many visits to the clinic and Kyra’s one inpatient procedure (sinus surgery) in 2009, we have become very familiar with Children’s and CRCCS. I cannot say that every interaction at the hospital and clinic over the years has been perfect, but I can say that from the office staff, to surgical staff, and certainly to our great CF care team, I am frequently impressed with the level of care Kyra receives. The CF care team works closely with us to do what’s best for Kyra.

In 2004 when Kyra was born, CF newborn screening was not being done in Minnesota. On one hand, I wish that Kyra would have had the screening and been diagnosed at birth so that she would not have had such a rough start to her life. However, on the other hand, while Kyra’s diagnosis was devastating, it was also somewhat of a relief for us— to finally determine what was causing her inability to gain weight and to be able to “fix” the problem and see an improvement in her health. I think of the parents whose newborns are diagnosed, they must not have that sense of relief that we did and I think that would make the diagnosis more difficult. But, those parents also do not have to go through the first few months of their child’s life wondering why they won’t gain weight and they can get started on treatments right away, improving their outcome. I empathize with parents whose children are diagnosed with CF – at birth or later in life –because no matter when the child is diagnosed, it is a devastating diagnosis. It is a challenging road they will travel. Fortunately, with Children’s CF care team, they will, like us, have an excellent medical support system to help us along that road.