In honor of Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Week, this edition of Five Question Friday is about Mary Sachs, RN, CNP, who works with cystic fibrosis patients at Children’s.
How long have you worked at Children’s?
I have worked at Children’s for about 22 years. I started out in the pulmonary clinic as a nurse practitioner, and I continue to work in the pulmonary field doing asthma clinics in St. Paul and coordinating the cystic fibrosis program on the Minneapolis campus. I also work 2½ days per week in the general pediatric clinic. I enjoy the variety in my job and the ability to be on both sides of the river.
How has cystic fibrosis care changed over the years? Or what advances have you seen in the way we care for pediatric cystic fibrosis patients?
One of the biggest changes that happened eight years ago was the addition of testing for cystic fibrosis on the newborn screen. Whereas before, we would diagnose most children after they had issues with frequent pneumonias or infections or were failing to thrive, we now can diagnose them shortly after birth and begin preventative medications and strategies to optimize growth and maintain lung function. We used to also hospitalize children with CF at diagnosis because they were so sick. Now we usually don’t have to hospitalize children until they are older and we provide most of our education and treatments as outpatients.
What’s one thing you want people to know about cystic fibrosis?
The main thing I would like for people to know is that there is great hope that one day we truly will find a cure. The research happening around this orphan disease is truly amazing, and Children’s is a part of this research, enrolling subjects in many observational and clinical trials. New drugs studies are actually making corrective changes at the cellular level which is very exciting.
Parents also need to know that if their child is diagnosed with CF that they are not alone. There is a team of people at Children’s who are going to be there with them every step of the way.
Do you have a favorite memory from working at Children’s?
There are some many wonderful memories of caring for children and their families here, but one memory reminds me that when you work here at Children’s – you have to be ready for anything and truly at the top of your game. I walked into one of our patients with CF’s room on the sixth floor one day and he was watching the “Wishing Well Show” (the previous in-house studio show). Porky-Chop (the pig puppet) was having a hog-calling contest for patients and staff. Sam (my patient) insisted that we enter the contest (and how could I say no?). We did our best and then I was off to see the rest of the patients with CF on the unit. The next day when I came onto the floor, he came running out of his room yelling “Mary, Mary! We won! We won!” He was just SO excited. He is a teenager now, and when he comes to Children’s for his annual clinic visit with the team once a year, we still laugh about it.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
I would go to Italy because of the wonderful culture, food and wine.