Monthly Archives: January 2014

Five Question Friday: Amy Swanson

Meet Amy Swanson, a registered medical assistant, who works at our Partners in Pediatrics clinics in Maple Grove and Rogers.

Describe your role. I am an RMA (registered medical assistant) and one of the lead support staff for evening hours. I am the medical support staff at Partners in Pediatrics and work at our Maple Grove and Rogers offices. I would be the person who rooms you, does your immunizations and lab procedures, takes your X-ray and gives you triage advice.

What do you love most about your job? The thing I love most about my job is working with kids, getting to know them and watching them grow throughout the years.

Why did you decide to go into pediatrics? I decided to work in pediatrics because I love working with kids, interacting with them and getting to hear their reaction to things. Helping people is one of my passions. I am going on a mission trip to Haiti with a group of doctors and support staff from Partners in Pediatrics in April.

How do you spend your time outside of work? I work a lot so when I do have a little spare time I love hanging out with family and friends. Traveling to warm places and spending time in the sun. I love going out and trying new places to eat. I love going shopping and I might have a problem!

What’s one interesting fact about you? I was born in Seoul, South Korea, and I was adopted at 3 months old. I am hoping that I will someday be able to go back there.

Five Question Friday: Karen Johnson

Meet Karen Johnson, a nurse practitioner in our Sleep Center.

How long have you worked at Children’s? I started as a nurse in the infant apnea program/pediatric sleep program in 2006. In 2008, I decided to go back to school and become a nurse practitioner (NP). I am so glad I did because now I am working in the Children’s Sleep Center as a nurse practitioner! Feeling happy!

Describe your role. I am the pediatric nurse practitioner in the Children’s Sleep Center. I work full-time, meeting with parents about their child’s sleep issues such as insomnia, snoring, obstructive sleep apnea, night terrors and other sleep problems. I am also trained in biofeedback, which is used to help treat children relax who have insomnia. I teach them special skills such as diaphragmatic breathing, and guided imagery to assist them in relaxing so they can fall asleep. We use a special computer program that the kids find really fun and gives them feedback how they are doing learning the techniques.

What do you love most about your job? Biofeedback is a really fun part of the day for me because when children become mindful of how to calm themselves, they see the value in the skills they have learned, and then they are in charge of their sleep. As an NP, I enjoy helping parents create a sleep plan that will fit the needs of the child and the family. I enjoy educating the family. It’s important to educate the family, because being informed parents will increase their understanding and ability to make changes that improve the child and the parents’ quality and quantity of sleep. When the entire family sleeps well, we have a happier family that can enjoy each other and a healthier family overall.

How do you spend your time outside of work? I like to be with family and friends, float on my pontoon on a lazy summer day, ride bike, and sing when no one is around. Being outdoors brings me my peace and calm so that I can recharge. I would like to learn how to line dance, play the guitar and volunteer in my community. But on Monday mornings I become a pediatric nurse practitioner at the Children’s Sleep Center, and I LOVE it!

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why? I would like to go back to Hawaii someday, but anywhere that is warm is where I want to be on vacation.

Share your photos during the flu prevention photo challenge

Flu season is now widespread in Minnesota and across the country. The Kohl’s Cares and Children’s Flu Prevention Project wants to know how you and your family are fighting the flu. You are invited to participate in the Flu Prevention Photo Challenge to show us how.

Here is how to participate:

1.) Snap a photo of you and/or your family fighting the flu. Examples include:

  • Getting a flu vaccine
  • Washing your hands
  • Covering your cough
  • Showing off your “I got vaccinated” sticker

2.) Post your photo on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using #fighttheflumn

The challenge will run from Monday, Jan. 27 – Friday, Jan. 31. During that time, we encourage you to submit as many photos as you like. On Friday, we will choose, at random, five people who will each receive a Kohl’s gift card.

Good luck and happy snapping!

Seared ahi tuna with coconut curry

Easy Thai-Style Curry
By Andrew Zimmern

A taste of the tropics in the Minnesota winter is always welcome at my house. This
Thai-style dish is so easy to throw together for a weeknight meal, but also works as a
stunning entrée for your next dinner party. It has all the hot, sour, salty, sweet flavors
you crave in Thai cuisine, and yet it’s totally approachable for kids. Use the freshest tuna
you can find, it’ll pay off in the end.

Ingredient List

  • 2 pounds of the fresh ahi tuna
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 3 smashed garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup julienned fresh ginger
  • 2 dried red chiles
  • 1 teaspoon Thai green curry paste (Thai Kitchens brand is fine)
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 10 basil leaves
  • 3 tablespoons sliced shallots
  • 1/2 cup julienned carrots
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • Mint and cilantro for garnish


Total Time: 30 min
Servings: about 6

Cut tuna into roughly 2-inch square “cubes.” Season with sesame seeds and sea salt.

Place a wok over high heat, let pan get hot and add one tablespoon of the peanut oil.

When smoking, brown the tuna on 4 sides, about 1 minute per side (tuna should be
rare). Reserve.

Wipe out the pan and add the tablespoon of oil.

When smoking add the garlic, ginger, chiles and curry paste.

Swirl and add the shallots, carrots, basil.

Swirl and add the mirin and coconut milk.

Simmer to a sauce consistency, about 5-8 minutes.

Season with the fish sauce and lime.

Serve the sauce under the tuna, garnishing with julienne mint and cilantro.

Photograph by Madeleine Hill.

Note: Many health care providers recommend that pregnant women and young children avoid raw fish due to mercury levels. Please be sure to talk with your provider if you have any questions or concerns.

What are ear tubes, and why do some kids need them?

Each year, more than 500,000 ear tube surgeries are performed on children, making it the most common childhood surgery performed with anesthesia, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.

But have you ever wondered why some kids need ear tubes and what an ear tube does inside one’s ear? We caught up with Tim Lander, MD, one of Children’s pediatric otolaryngologists, otherwise known as an ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor, to get the scoop on why some kids need ear tubes and what the tubes do.

According to Dr. Lander there are two primary reasons that children need ear tubes. “One reason is recurrent middle ear infections; the other is a problem with persistent fluid in the ear, which is usually found because a child is experiencing hearing loss,” Lander said.

Typically, there are two common times that children need ear tubes: between the ages of 15 months and three years (usually because of recurrent ear infections) or between the ages of four and six (typically to treat hearing loss due to fluid build–up).

So why does this happen and how do tubes help?

“The bottom line is that there is fluid trapped behind the eardrum,” Lander explained. Typically the Eustachian tube in our ears works by allowing air in and fluid to drain out. If the Eustachian tube doesn’t open, the fluid can’t get out, in turn causing either an infection or hearing loss, sometimes both.

“By placing a hole in the ear drum with a small stent, air pressure is allowed to not only come in, but the tube also allows the fluid to drain out,” Lander said.

The most common kind of ear tubes are grommet tubes which are not permanent and eventually fall out on their own 8-15 months after surgery. There is also a t-tube that is used less often that is specifically designed to stay in one’s ear indefinitely.

Does your child need ear tubes?

If you have concerns about your child’s recurrent ear infections or hearing, talk to your child’s doctor. Pediatricians will refer your child to an ENT doctor when and if they think your child is a candidate for ear tubes.

What to expect if your child needs ear tubes

If your child is referred to an ENT who decides ear tubes is the next step, the procedure is always an outpatient procedure, unless combined with another medical procedure that requires a hospital stay. “Currently all children [who have ear tubes put in] are put under general anesthesia,” Lander explained. The procedure itself takes 5-10 minutes to place a hole and the tubes into the ear drum and most kids are discharged within an hour.

Typically kids are back to themselves within the same day and don’t even notice the tubes in their ears aside from better hearing and fewer ear infections.

If you have questions or concerns about your child’s ears, talk to your child’s doctor.

Additional information about ear tubes can be found here.

Five Question Friday: Jeanine Schweiss

Jeanine Schweiss

This week, we introduce you to Jeanine Schweiss, a speech-language pathologist at Children’s!

How long have you worked at Children’s? Almost eleven years.

You’re a speech-language pathologist. What’s a typical day like for you? Every day is very different. Throughout the week, I work with outpatients and inpatients with feeding difficulties, dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), and/or speech/language delays. I also perform video swallow studies and I work with a multi-disciplinary team in our Feeding Clinic. My role as a speech-language pathologist at Children’s is very dynamic and every day brings a new learning experience.

What do you love most about your job? Being able to consistently witness a child perform a new skill and seeing the amazing impact it has on his/her life, whether it be saying/signing a new word, eating a new food item or being able to be given a bottle from a parent for the first time. Observing parents’ reactions while the children perform new skills is equally incredible and very rewarding.

How do you spend your time outside of work? I enjoy hiking, camping, and doing a lot of other outdoor activities with my husband and two young children. We also spend time traveling and visiting our family cabin whenever we have a chance.

What’s one fun fact about you? I lived in a castle in England for four months while studying abroad in college.


Curry-glazed carrots

A Quick Braise & Glaze
By Andrew Zimmern

Trying a healthier diet in 2014? This simple recipe is a good place to start. The flavor combination of carrots, curry, orange and ginger is amazing, not to mention incredibly nutritious.

Ingredient List

  • 2 pounds carrots
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 golfball size piece of fresh ginger, sliced
  • a pinch of red chile flakes


Servings: about 6, as a side dish
Total Time: 30 min

Peel the carrots and slice about 1/3-inch thick on a 45-degree bias.

Combine all ingredients in a sauté pan over high heat.

When simmering, turn heat down to medium. Cover with a lid and cook for 3 minutes.

Remove lid and, while tossing regularly, reduce liquids to a tight glaze.

Season with sea salt and serve.





Photograph by Madeleine Hill.

Children’s Youth Advisory Council celebrates 10 years

They conceive new, innovative music carts, design teen lounges and visit the state Legislature to advocate on behalf of other kids in Minnesota.

They’re the Youth Advisory Council and for the 10th year running, this group of patients and patient siblings have dedicated their time to making Children’s a better place.

“Children’s is very fortunate to have one of the first, and I think one of the best, Youth Advisory Council’s in the country. Our YAC members take their job very seriously, and work hard to make the hospital experience better for all children,” said Alan L. Goldbloom, MD, CEO of Children’s. “I think the ideas and suggestions that have come from our YAC have made us a better children’s hospital, and I appreciate all of their work.”

The mission of YAC is three-fold: to help Children’s staff, leaders, doctors and parents understand what is important during hospital stays, clinic visits and emergency care; discuss and give feedback on issues that are important to kids and teens having to do with their health care; and develop a group that has a voice and active participation in thinking about health care services for pediatric and young adult patients.

“They really want to bring Children’s from good to great,” said Christi Dady, a child life specialist and one of the group facilitators.

There are currently 17 members on the council, and they meet on the second Saturday of each month during the school year. There are approximately 20 councils like this one at pediatric hospitals throughout the country, said Sheila Palm, who oversees child life and YAC at Children’s.

“Being in YAC helps members learn about health care delivery and services and gain a new perspective on taking responsibility for their health,” Palm said. “We encourage them to let their voice be heard and advocate for themselves and others.”

Members are encouraged to articulate their thoughts and be active, thoughtful and respectful listener to others ideas.

“Even though most of these kids have some sort of chronic condition, they are very active in their community. A lot of them are student athletes. They all have busy lives, but they still give to Children’s,” Palm said. “I think for the most part they’re altruistic, and they want to help other children. They really are looking at it as service to others.”

Influenza is now widespread in Minnesota. Here’s what you need to know.

By Patsy Stinchfield, MS, CPNP

Patsy is a pediatric nurse practitioner in infectious disease and the director of infection prevention and The Children’s Immunization Project at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.


Influenza is now “widespread” in 35 states, including Minnesota.

There is still time to get vaccinated if you and your family have not yet done so.

To learn more about how Children’s is helping prevent the spread of influenza in the community, click on over to

This post originally appeared on the Mighty Blog on Jan. 2.

As of Jan. 2, 2014, the Minnesota Department of Health has declared influenza “widespread” across the state, the highest designation level. Over the past two weeks, influenza cases at Children’s have more than doubled, however they still remain below where they were at this time last year. Now that influenza has arrived, it’s likely that it will remain in full swing in Minnesota for the next two months.

So what can you do? The No. 1 way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated. And it’s not too late. Anyone 6 months of age and older who has not received their flu vaccine should do so now. Most clinics and pharmacies are still vaccinating and have a good supply of vaccine. The most common influenza strain we’re seeing is the H1N1 strain which is contained in this year’s vaccine. In addition to getting the vaccine, we also recommend frequent hand washing and avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth prior to washing your hands to help prevent the spread of illness.

If the flu has already reached your house, here are few helpful tips for caring for your child while they’re ill.

What’s the difference between the cold and the flu and how can I tell?

Sometimes it’s hard to know whether a child has a cold or the flu because she may cough, have a runny nose, sore throat and fatigue with both. However with the flu, a child tends to have a high fever which comes on more suddenly and may include severe fatigue and body aches. Colds tend to come on more gradually, and many kids may feel well enough to keep playing and going to school with a cold. Clinics may use a rapid nose swab test to determine if someone has influenza.

What should I do if I suspect influenza?

Most cases of influenza are mild and can be managed at home with rest, plenty of fluids, and fever-reducing medicines. Tender-loving care is good medicine, too. Most over-the-counter “cough and cold” medicines do not help a sick child get better faster and won’t have much effect on influenza. Sometimes, the flu can make a child very ill and a visit to the clinic or emergency room is necessary.

When should I take my child to the emergency department?

Take your child to be checked if they have difficulty breathing (fast, grunt-sounding, noisy breathing or small breaths), if their color looks bad (pale or bluish), if they aren’t drinking fluids often or urinating at least once every eight hours, or if they just aren’t themselves and you’re worried. Signs of dehydration are dry lips, sunken eyes, sleepiness or crankiness. Children who seem like they’re getting better and then suddenly get worse should be taken to the Emergency Department immediately. This could mean they have another infection such as pneumonia in addition to the flu.

What are the best ways to get my child’s fever down when she has the flu?

Fever is one of the tools our immune system uses to kill germs. However, children with high fever can feel quite miserable, get crabby, have trouble waking up and may drink less fluids causing dehydration. If you can’t keep the fever down with a fever-reducing medicine such as Tylenol or ibuprofen, then the child should be taken to the clinic or emergency department.

Is there anything else I can do to help make my child more comfortable?

You can keep your child home from day care, school, sports or other activities and have them rest early in their illness until they show signs of getting back to “their normal.” If your child doesn’t want to eat regular meals, don’t insist, but do make sure they drink small amounts of fluids every hour to prevent dehydration.

Is there anything I can do to help my child recover more quickly?

There is an anti-viral medicine called Tamiflu that can be given to children as young as 2 weeks of age. This is used if the child is hospitalized with moderate or severe influenza or if the child is outpatient but at higher risk for complications from influenza. These would be children with immune system problems or neurological, pulmonary, or metabolic underlying conditions. Tamiflu works best if given in the first two days of illness which can cut the severity and number of days of illness in half.

How long will my child be contagious?

Influenza is most contagious the day before symptoms present through about day four of illness. Your child should stay home from school during this time. After viral illnesses, kids can have lingering muscle or body aches and really do need time to rest and recover before rushing back to school. They can often pick up other viruses easily and may have a lingering cough as their airway heals. Depending on the severity of the flu, this may be a few days to a few weeks. Most kids recover within a week. Remember that many schools require that your child be fever-free (without the help of medicines) for one to two days before returning to school or day care.

Staying safe on the go: winter travel tips

Here in Minnesota, Gov. Mark Dayton just announced that all of Minnesota’s public schools would be closed Monday, Jan. 6. Why? The coldest temperatures in a decade are forecast to descend on much of Minnesota. Lows are expected to reach minus 30 degrees with wind chills predicted as low as minus 50 degrees in some parts of the state.

If you and your family have to venture out into the cold over the next few days, here are some great tips, compiled by Children’s Injury Prevention team.

Before You Go:

Pack a winter survival kit.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety recommends keeping the following items in your car at all times during the winter months:

  • Metal coffee can, candles, and matches to melt snow for drinking water
  • Brightly-colored bandana or fabric and/or a whistle to alert others of your location
  • Pencil/Paper – or even some crayons and games to keep kids occupied
  • First Aid Kit
  • A battery-powered or crank-powered light; replace batteries yearly
  • Large plastic bags and safety pins to keep your feet dry and insulated
  • Snacks such as energy bars or other non-perishable foods

When possible, drivers should also make room in their vehicles for a shovel, extra warm clothes, jumper cables, tow chains, blanket or sleeping bag, and a container of sand, salt, or cat litter for traction.

Dial 511, visit, or download MN DOT’s 511 app to your smart phone to check road conditions before you go, and always call ahead to your destination so someone knows when to expect you.

If you do get stranded, don’t panic. Stay with your car and don’t keep it running if your exhaust pipe isn’t totally clear of snow.  If you do keep the car running, open a window slightly to reduce your family’s risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Lastly, COMPLETELY clean off all of your windows of snow and ice before you drive.

On the Road:

Keeping your family safe while on the road in icy and wet conditions takes a little extra planning. The Minnesota Department of Transportation recommends the following tips when you’re behind the wheel:

  • Turn on your headlights and ALWAYS wear your seat belt
  • Turn off your cruise control – if you hit a patch of ice, your cruise control will cause your wheels to spin faster, putting you in higher danger of losing control of your vehicle
  • Stay at least 5 car lengths back, and be aware of snow plows as they turn frequently, sometimes with little or no warning
  • Be comfortable with your vehicle’s braking system; never pump anti-lock brakes; instead, apply firm pressure and steer in the direction you want to go
  • Using a lower gear can help slow your car down
  • Make turns as square as possible; reducing the length of the arc on turns can prevent your car from sliding around corners

At your Destination:

As you and your family get out of the car, be aware of traffic passing nearby and be aware of the conditions under your feet. Assume there’s ice underneath the snow and take precautions so you don’t fall.

  • Point your feet out slightly like a penguin to increase your center of gravity
  • Bend your legs and walk flat-footed
  • Keep your hands out of your pockets; your arms can be used to help keep your balance
  • If you do fall, try landing on your side or bottom and don’t brace your fall with your knees, wrists, or neck; relax your muscles as you fall to reduce injury

And if you’re planning on going on frozen water, please stay safe and understand the conditions of the ice.  The DNR has great tips on what to consider if you’re headed out on the lakes.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Check out these links on other winter driving and safety tips:

MN Department of Transportation

Minnesota Safety Council

MN Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management