Category Archives: Staff profiles and news

Red-Vested Rockstar: Lisa Zutz

Lisa Zutz is a volunteer at Children's.

Lisa Zutz is a volunteer at Children’s.

Lisa Zutz is an aspiring pediatric RN who currently works as a phlebotomist. She has volunteered on the inpatient units, in the sibling play area and, most recently, piloted a volunteer role in the lab, which has proved highly successful. What keeps Lisa coming back week after week? The positivity and bravery of our patients.

1. Why she rocks?

I got into volunteering because of its benefits; I believe that unpaid volunteers are kind of the “glue” that holds a community or even a hospital together. Volunteering makes me happy, and knowing that I am able to put a smile on a child’s face really makes my day. Volunteering at Children’s Hospital has brought so much fun and fulfillment to my life. I want to work as a nurse with children, and I feel that the skills I gain from volunteering will make me that much better of a nurse and a person.

2. What’s your favorite thing to do outside of volunteering?

Outside of volunteering, I keep pretty busy. I am very active and love to work out; whether it’s yoga, spin, or even a nice long run. Also, I spend a lot of time with my family.

3. Do you have any kids or pets of your own?

I do not have any kids, but once a week I babysit my two nieces, Chloe and Kinzi, ages 2 and 5. We have a blast together! I spend more time with my nieces than my actual friends. We enjoy going to the Maple Grove indoor maze, making cupcakes, playing outside and making projects. We definitely keep busy all day long. I also have a kitty. His name is Luigi, and I love him with all my heart. He is a beautiful mix: half-Siamese, half-Himalayan and loves to play and run around my condo.

Subscribe to Mighty4. If you could create a new candy bar, what would be in it and what would you name it?

I am not a lover of chocolate, but for everyone who is, I would make an ice cream bar loaded with caramel, pecans, rich chocolate and, of course, ice cream. I would call it “Caramel Delight,” and it would melt in your mouth!

5. Share a favorite volunteer experience or story.

I am not sure if I can choose a favorite; I believe every experience I have had at Children’s has made me into a better person. Each child is so different and unique that every experience has its own one-of-a-kind story. It is amazing to see how brave these kids truly are; they battle so hard and are so positive despite being sick. Life is so fragile, and when you see such young children sick, you realize how life should not be taken for granted. Volunteering is so rewarding!

Five Question Friday: Dr. Anne-Marie Priebe

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Dr. Anne-Marie Priebe is a gynecologist at Children's.

Dr. Anne-Marie Priebe is a gynecologist at Children’s.

For this edition of Five Question Friday, we’d like you to meet Anne-Marie Priebe, DO, who sees patients at Children’s St. Paul, Minneapolis and Woodbury clinics.

How long have you worked at Children’s? I joined the Children’s team in September of 2013.

Why did you go into pediatric and adolescent gynecology? I never imagined that I would work in either OBGYN or pediatrics. But through my rotations I fell in love with the scope of OBGYN because it is a great combination of office, surgery and hospital. Plus I find joy in helping a mom bring a new life into the world. I did a rotation during residency with a pediatric gynecologist at a children’s hospital. At times, a few patients and parents can have preconceived notions about gynecological issues, but being able to teach families about gynecology and realize the “GYNO” doesn’t have to be scary is rewarding.

What are some of the conditions you treat? People are often baffled when I tell them I am a pediatric and adolescent gynecologist. Their first thought is teen pregnancy. Although we do see patients for contraceptive counseling, teens are referred elsewhere for prenatal care. There are many other reasons to see your friendly Children’s gynecologist for medical or surgical management of:

  • Abnormal development of the reproductive system (congenital anomalies of the uterus or vagina)
  • Contraception, including pills, patches, rings, injections, implants, IUDs
  • Delayed puberty or periods
  • Endometriosis, tissue that grows outside of the uterus
  • Labial adhesions
  • Lichen sclerosus
  • Medical uses of hormonal contraceptives (acne, menstrual migraine, catamenial seizures)
  • Menstrual problems, including painful periods, heavy periods, frequent or irregular periods
  • Menstrual suppression
  • Ovarian cysts, fluid-filled sacs in or on the ovaries
  • Pelvic pain
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal syndrome affecting females
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Torsion (or twisting) of the ovary
  • Vaginal stenosis
  • Vulvovaginitis
  • Vulvar trauma
  • Vulvar abscesses or ulcers

Subscribe to MightyWhat do you love most about your job? When I was in college, I worked at a camp for middle schoolers. I have a soft spot for the preteens and teenagers who want to learn about things, such as periods, but are either too scared to ask or don’t want to ask their parents. Often times they look to their friends for answers even when their friends might be misinformed. I hope to educate teens on gynecology issues, and, with any luck, they will pass on correct information to their friends, too.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work? I love to travel and explore new places. I have been to 41 out of 50 states and would love to make it to every continent. During my explorations, I have discovered photography and refuse to hang any photos on my walls unless I have visited the location. I also love to cook but hate leftovers.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?  I have always dreamed of buying an around-the-world ticket and just keep progressively heading east to see how others live and how the past shapes their culture.

Five Question Friday: Samantha “Sam” Hanson

five_question_friday1It’s time for Five Question Friday! This week, we have a special video edition to introduce you to our new Chief Human Resources Officer, Samantha “Sam” Hanson. In her first few months with the organization, Sam has been inspired by the amazing work of our employees and how they create a difference in the lives of children in our clinics, hospitals and communities every day.

Watch the video to get to know Sam (including a special bonus FQF question) or read the transcript of her answers below.

Five Question Friday: Samantha “Sam” Hanson from Children’s of Minnesota on Vimeo.

What brought you to Children’s? I was very intrigued by Children’s mission and its employees. I have worked in several different organizations, leading HR, helping companies grow and learn. I was very attracted to the special qualities of the culture, the people and the mission of Children’s.

What has impressed you most so far? So far, I’ve been most impressed by the creativity of our employees. There isn’t a problem/situation that is too big or too complex. Every day I see our employees going the extra mile, driving innovation for the benefit of our families and our children.

What do you look forward to most about working at Children’s? I am dedicated to working with our HR organization to make sure that we have the tools, the learning opportunities and the services that we need to support our employees to do their very best.

Subscribe to MightyWhat was your favorite childhood toy? As a child, I remember being very fond of a Mrs. Beasley doll. This was a doll associated with a TV show. It was my favorite doll, and, in fact, my sister bought a Christmas ornament of the Mrs. Beasley doll – these are long gone – but it’s the first ornament that goes on the tree. But now that I have an 8- and 11-year-old, we play with all sorts of toys; building toys are our favorite (Legos). You can find us down in our playroom building lots of Lego sets.

What do you enjoy doing outside of Children’s? Well, we are parents of an 8- and 11-year-old, so you can find us on any given day at courtside or at a field somewhere. Our daughter also performs with Circus Juventas here in St. Paul. We are outdoorsy, we like to camp, paddle and hike, so we love to take advantage of Minnesota’s beautiful state parks. And on the rare occasion where Missy and I can get away, Italy is our favorite location.

Five Question Friday: Andrea Herbert

Meet Andrea Herbert, a CT/MRI technologist at our St. Paul hospital.

Andrea Herbert

Andrea Herbert

How long have you worked at Children’s?

I have worked at children’s for 13 years.

What do you love most about your job?

I love the variety of my job. I love working in CT/ MRI and X-ray. I get to advance in all three areas, and my skills continue to grow. The variety keeps me challenged at work, which is very nice since I have been here for 13 years.

What do you think makes kids great?

I think kids are great because they are positive and upbeat, for the most part. If they have something like cancer or a brain tumor, they are able to not dwell on it and continue being and acting like a kid. Also, when they are scared, I can work with them to make their tests not scary at all, and that is very rewarding when I see a smiles on their faces.

How do you spend your time outside of work?

I spend a lot of time with my two kids, my boyfriend and my new puppy. We like to go on bike rides, walks and runs. I also love to go to concerts and out to new restaurants.

What’s your favorite restaurant?

My favorite restaurant is Ruth’s Chris.

Five Question Friday: Kris Ann Schultz, MD

Five Question FridayIn this week’s Five Question Friday, we catch up with Kris Ann Schultz, MD, as she talks about her work in our Cancer and Blood Disorders program and the many memories she has made working with children and their families.

During her first two years in college, Kris Ann Schultz, MD, wanted to be editor of Ranger Rick magazine or a pediatrician.

During her first two years in college, Kris Ann Schultz, MD, wanted to be editor of Ranger Rick magazine or a pediatrician.

How long have you worked at Children’s?

I’ve worked at Children’s for six years.

What are some of the conditions you treat?

I care for children with cancer and blood disorders, usually brain tumors, solid tumors such as kidney or ovarian tumors, and leukemia.

You are the principle investigator for the International Ovarian and Testicular Stromal Tumor Registry. Can you tell us more about that project?

We started the International Ovarian and Testicular Stromal Tumor (OTST) Registry in December 2011 to try to understand more about what causes these rare tumors in children and young adults around the world, and how to best treat them. We suspected that these tumors were related to another kind of rare tumor we study here called pleuropulmonary blastoma (PPB). We knew we needed to understand more about that connection to help us find both kids of tumors in their earliest and most curable form.

Editor’s note: The OTST and PPB registries were recently featured in an NBC News story about a baby whose lung tumor was found early thanks to the research of the registries and the bravery of his mom.

Do you have a favorite memory from working at Children’s?

My favorite memories at Children’s are all about the kids and families I’ve cared for. I love watching the kids have fun at the Pine Tree Apple Tennis Classic to raise funds for children’s cancer research. I love watching doctors, hospital staff, parents and siblings shave their heads in honor our young heroes at our annual head shaving event to support St. Baldrick’s. Both the Pine Tree Apple Tennis Classic and St. Baldrick’s Foundation support the OTST and cancer research at Children’s.

Subscribe to MightyWhat’s one interesting fact about you?

During my first two years in college, I wanted to be either editor of Ranger Rick magazine or a pediatrician. I decided that I wanted to be a doctor when I was in a small village in rural Tanzania. I was studying giraffe during the day and spending time in the village in the afternoons and evenings when it was too hot to track giraffe. Working with the amazing people there made me realize I wanted to work with people in a direct “hands-on” way and pediatric oncology has been a great way to do that.

At home, I love spending time with my family, my husband and our three kids.

Meet Red-Vested Rockstar Debbie Closmore

Debbie Closmore is a St. Paul volunteer with nearly 200 hours of service.

Debbie Closmore is a St. Paul volunteer with nearly 200 hours of service.

Children’s volunteer Debbie Closmore truly lights up a room with her laughter and positive energy. She isn’t afraid of a challenge and loves stepping up to the ever-changing needs in the surgery department.

Why she rocks

Debbie is a volunteer on the St. Paul campus; she was a float volunteer and currently serves as a peri-operative escort in our surgery department. She’s energetic and fun. Debbie serves as a trainer for new volunteers, passing on her knowledge and expertise. See why she got into volunteering at Children’s:

“I got into volunteering with hopes to ease the anxiety for children and their families during a stressful time,” Debbie said. “Spread a little joy!”

What’s your favorite thing to do outside of volunteering?

“I love spending time with my husband, family and friends. I also enjoy biking, hiking, yoga and walking, staying active.”

Do you have any kids or pets of your own?

“I have a stepson, daughter-in-law and five grandchildren.”

If you could create a new candy bar, what would be in it and what would you name it?

“My candy bar would be made with raw pecans, dates, figs, sunflower seeds and dark chocolate. I would name it ‘Healthy Me.’ ”

Share a favorite volunteer experience or story.

“I spent many hours rocking and holding an infant boy. Every week I went to his unit to rock and talk with him; we really had a connection. When he smiled at me, my heart sang.”

Thank you, Debbie, for your bright, positive energy and true commitment to Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota!

Five Question Friday: Janay Moore

Senior talent acquisition assistant Janay Moore has been with Children's since February 2012.

Senior talent acquisition assistant Janay Moore has been with Children’s since February 2012.

Janay Moore, senior talent acquisition assistant, has a job she loves – helping others find jobs they love at Children’s! Get to know Janay in this week’s Five Question Friday.

How long have you worked at Children’s?

I started working at Children’s as a contractor in August of 2011 but I applied for a regular position and was hired in February 2012. Therefore, I just celebrated my two-year anniversary in February.

Describe your role.

I’m a senior talent acquisition assistant. My primary responsibilities include: recruitment for the clinical support associate positions, the MNA internal bidding process, pre-boarding our RN travelers, and supporting our new grad training program and external nursing recruitment.

What’s your favorite memory from working at Children’s?

My favorite memory working at Children’s is an ongoing one. As a part of the Talent Acquisition Team we are involved in a number of student internships in the community. It’s a blast to see the growth of our student interns from Cristo Rey, Project Search and the Step-Up program mature into young working professionals. Just another reminder of why we do the things we do.

Subscribe to MightyWhen you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Funny enough when I was a kid I always thought I wanted to be a veterinarian. As I matured, I realized that I loved the idea of working with animals but couldn’t live with the idea of working with ailing or dying ones. It’s important to know your strengths and weakness and emotionally it was too much for me.

How do you spend your time outside of work?

I love spending time with my husband and our two daughters, Aarylin, age 6, and Milaya, age 3. We really enjoy going to the park, shopping and traveling!

Five Question Friday: Mary Sachs

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. 

Mary Sachs, RN, CNP, has worked at Children's for about 22 years.

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.

Five Question Friday: Bonnie Carlson-Green

Working as a neuropsychologist is a bit like being a detective for Bonnie Carlson-Green, PhD, LP. Learn more about her fascination with the brain in this week’s Five Question Friday.

When she was in high school, Bonnie Carlson-Green, PhD, LP, wanted to be a pediatrician but decided to major in psychology in college because she was fascinated with the study of brains and behavior.

How long have you worked at Children’s?

I’ve been at Children’s for 17 years – one year less than my eldest child’s age, which makes it easy to remember!

Describe your role.

I was hired to develop the neuropsychology program, specifically as it relates to supporting the hematology/oncology patients. Many children who have central nervous system (CNS) cancers or are treated with brain surgery, craniospinal radiation, or intrathecal chemotherapies can develop neurocognitive late effects – problems with attention, processing speed, memory or other difficulties that affect their development and learning capacity. We now have six neuropsychologists across both Children’s hospital campuses and see children from age 2 years to young adults into their 20s, and sometimes 30s, for neurocognitive issues related to a variety of diagnoses and conditions.

How did you decide to go into pediatrics?

In high school, I wanted to be a pediatrician but decided to major in psychology in college because I was fascinated with the study of brains and behavior (there were no neuroscience or neuropsychology programs back in those dark ages). My psychology classes were a lot more interesting than the cutthroat pre-med classes so I gave up plans for med school. Now I feel like I get the best of both worlds: I work in a hospital setting with kids but get to spend a lot more time getting to know them over the course of their assessment.

What do you love most about your job?

I love the challenge of a mystery. Families come to me with questions about why their child is struggling. I listen to their stories for clues, do my own bit of detective work through my assessment, and then present my hypotheses to the families. It’s so gratifying for parents to have an “aha” moment in your office when all of a sudden they have a better understanding of their child. It’s also wonderful to be able to follow children over time and to see them learn to read or to do better in school because of recommendations or strategies that you suggested.

What’s your favorite meal?

My absolute favorite food in the world is Tom Yum soup. It’s a Thai soup that is a little sweet, a little sour and served with rice. Every bite tastes a little bit different than the last. There is nothing better, and it cures every ill. Unfortunately, the little hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Dinkytown that made the best Tom Yum soup in the Cities closed a number of years ago, so my husband and I were forced to learn how to make it ourselves.

Five Question Friday: Tami Koth and Morgan Koth

In honor of Nurses Week and Mother’s Day, we’re bringing you a double feature Five Question Friday. Meet Tami Koth, RN and assistant nurse manager on the seventh floor in Minneapolis, and her daughter, Morgan Koth, who works in the Children’s Foundation.

Tami Koth, RN, and daughter Morgan are Children's employees.

How long have you worked at Children’s?

Tami: I’ve worked here for 28 years.

Morgan: I have worked at Children’s for one year. Before my time in the Foundation, I worked as an intern in Genetics during my senior year of college and logged countless hours as a Children’s volunteer starting in 2002.

Describe your role at Children’s.

Tami: I am a nurse and assistant nurse manager on seventh floor, where we see both medical/surgical patients as well as hematology/oncology patients.

Morgan: As a corporate development associate for the foundation, my job is to help our corporate donors engage their organizations, employees and customers to support the patients and families of Children’s. When people band together, they can do amazing things and I love seeing that magic happen with our corporate groups.

Tami, why did you decide to go into nursing?

I was hospitalized a few times as a child. My last hospitalizations actually took place at Children’s in Minneapolis. I saw what the staff was able to provide to sick children and thought if I ever became a nurse I wanted to end up back here! My mother was a nurse and this directly influenced my decision to go into nursing.

Morgan, did your mom’s career influence your decision to work at Children’s? Absolutely. When I was in elementary school, she brought me to Children’s for “Take Your Child to Work Day” where I got to experience some of Children’s magic. Starting in the summer I was 13, I came in every Tuesday to volunteer at the hospital while my mom worked her shift. She inspired me with how thoughtful she was with patient families and the kids. For a long time, I wasn’t sure what my role would be at Children’s, but I knew early on that I wanted to be like my mom.

What do you love most about your job?

Tami: The greatest part of my job is in my role as assistant nurse manager. I gain leadership opportunities and also have my days providing patient care to our medical/surgical and hematology/oncology population; it is a great balance. Actually, one of my new favorite parts of my job is getting to have lunch with my daughter!

Morgan: My favorite moments are in the rare opportunities I get to meet with patient families at corporate events. Seeing the joy of the kids and their parents who are able to have fun and simply be a family makes this the best job in the world, hands down.

How do you spend your time outside of work?

Tami: I enjoy spending time with my husband and friends; one of our favorite summertime activities is attending outdoor concerts at the Minnesota Zoo.

Morgan: I love to stay active. You can often find me running around Minneapolis training for a few races this year. I also love to cook and try new foods, plan the next trip and enjoy the simple things with my friends and family.