Category Archives: Uncategorized

Teen patients welcome new space in Minneapolis

The teen lounge is open for fun.

Until last week, teen patients visiting our Minneapolis campus didn’t have a special space where they could escape the beeps of machines and stuffiness of a hospital room.

The Youth Advisory Council spoke, and we listened thanks to help from Magnolia/Best Buy. Now, patients and their siblings and friends are able to enjoy a space that feels more like a state-of-the-art basement and less like a hospital.

“Being out of my room just makes me feel better,” said Olivia, a YAC member who spends most of her time in St. Paul, which has had a space for teens called the Minnesota Wild Teen Room.

The new space features a 65-inch flat panel TV, several gaming systems, leather theater chairs, a computer desk, gaming table, and many DVDs and games.

“We’re excited to be able to offer a space specifically designed for teens. The teen room will be a fun and unique space for our adolescent patients to gather with family and friends beyond the hospital patient room,” said Christi Dady, a Children’s Child Life Specialist who works with the YAC. “The interesting design and the electronic equipment create a more home-like and comfortable environment where our teen patients can relax.”

The YAC collaborated with the Magnolia team at Best Buy to plan the lounge. Mason, a YAC member, said helping design the space has been his favorite projects at Children’s.

“I would always come here (to the lounge),” Mason said.

Daniela, also a YAC member, said being confined to her hospital room gets depressing. She hopes she can spend time in the lounge, where she hopes to make new friends.



2012 Paralympic Games: Putting one foot in front of the other

It’s easy to be inspired by Mallory Weggemann.

She literally swims laps around people like you and me – and does so using only half her body.

On Jan. 21, 2008, the girl who had spent more than a decade in a pool was paralyzed from the waist down after receiving an epidural injection to treat back pain. She was 18.

Three months later, Mallory, 23, was back in the pool as if she’d never left. That summer, she was competing. In no time, she was winning.

In two days, Mallory – the daughter of Ann Weggeman, an RN at Children’s PACU in St. Paul — will compete again, this time on the biggest international stage. She’ll be vying for gold in nine events at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. The Paralympic Games are held parallel to the Olympic Games and are for athletes with physical disabilities.

“I’ve used the word ‘surreal a lot,” Ann says to describe her youngest daughter’s Paralympic debut.

Says her dad, Chris, “As a parent, it’s a pretty proud moment…It’s the ultimate swim meet.”

Mallory’s parents, siblings, brother-in-law, agent, coach, boyfriend Ryan and family friends will all be there to watch her.

Mallory is one of the most sponsored and decorated disabled athletes in the United States. She is sponsored by well-known companies including BMW, P&G, ZICO and Deloitte. In 2011, she was an ESPN ESPY winner for best female athlete with a disability. She holds 15 world records.

But it’s not her world records that make her family most proud. It’s how she uses them. Mallory’s success helps her help others. It’s given her a platform to share her story. She has spoken around the world. Some people wouldn’t be competing in disabled sport had it not been, in large part, for Mallory’s encouragement, Chris says.

It’s the impact she has on others that makes him proud.

Of the Paralympics, Ann and Chris wish the event was more visible. But to watch, you’ll have to go online. Unlike the Olympics, it won’t be broadcast on network TV in the United States.

“There are 4,200 incredible stories. Everyone has this journey to get there,” Ann says.

If anything, Ann and Chris hope Mallory will continue inspiring children and teens with a disability. In Mallory’s case, her paralysis has opened more doors than it’s closed.

“She doesn’t see herself as disabled; she just has to do things differently,” Chris says. “You have to put one foot in front of the other, even if you can’t move them.”

Follow Mallory during the Paralympics on her website, Facebook and blog, where the Weggemanns will post updates throughout the Games.

Children’s performs well in 2011 report on pediatric surgical outcomes

This is a post by Dr. Rob Payne, a pediatrician and neonatologist with over 30 years of experience here at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. He previously worked as a neonatologist at our Minneapolis hospital and now is Medical Director of Quality.

Children’s has always believed that providing high-quality surgical services was central to our mission. We thought that our services met this goal, but now we have proof.

Children’s is one of 43 hospitals from around the country that submits data to the American College of Surgeons‘ database on pediatric surgical outcomes (NSQIP). Our Health Information Management staff selects cases and verifies the data according to stringent criteria and subject to periodic audits. These are the most accurate and comprehensive data available on pediatric surgical outcomes. We recently received our report for 2011, which showed:

1.  Outcomes do not vary in most areas of measurement among the 43 participating hospitals. Since these hospitals all volunteered to be measured and compared, one could assume that only organizations with a high level of commitment to excellence would participate in the program. These are probably the best hospitals for pediatric surgery in the country.

2.  Children’s was among the 10 hospitals in the database with the (6th) lowest rate of complications from all types of surgery after adjusting for risk factors. This is a tremendous compliment to everyone in our organization who works with surgical patients. It is a particularly high accolade for the surgeons, anesthesiologists and perioperative staff. Children are less likely to suffer a complication from their surgery here at Children’s compared to other excellent hospitals in the database.

3.  Children’s had the lowest rate of complications in newborn infants with abdominal surgery of any hospital in the database. This did not quite achieve statistical significance but was so close as to indicate that Childrens’ is almost certainly better in this area. Congratulations to the surgery and neonatal staff for their superb work on these very ill patients.

When you see any of the perioperative staff, anesthesiologists or surgeons, please compliment them for their excellent work.

Preparing for our new delivery: The Mother Baby Center

This is a post by Dr. Michael Slama and Jennifer Olson. Dr. Slama is president of The Mother Baby Center’s clinical service line. Jennifer is the executive director and vice president of operations for The Mother Baby Center’s clinical service line.

The Mother Baby Center

We have a big announcement, and we’re excited to share it on the Kids’ Health Blog. We’re expecting an exciting addition to Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota and Abbott Northwestern Hospital – The Mother Baby Center. Due date: February 2013.

We conceived The Mother Baby Center after years of working together almost exclusively to deliver the best care to new mothers and high-risk newborns. In the event of a high-risk delivery at Abbott Northwestern, babies are historically taken a few blocks away by way of underground tunnel to Children’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in Minneapolis. While this partnership has worked well, we wanted to provide better care and a better experience at the most appropriate cost for our families.

Enter one of our many crowning achievements – The Mother Baby Center. Located on Children’s – Minneapolis campus and connected by skyway to Abbott Northwestern, The Mother Baby Center will integrate Abbott Northwestern’s maternity and newborn services with Children’s NICU, Special Care Nursery and Infant Care Center (ICC), all under one roof.

The Mother Baby Center reflects a unique partnership that brings together two of the best-known names in mother and baby care. With
more than 4,000 babies born there each year, Abbott Northwestern delivers more babies than any other hospital in the state. Children’s cares for children in all stages of life and was named one of America’s “Best Children’s Hospitals” for its neonatal care, which delivers some of the nation’s best outcomes. These two forces combined make The Mother Baby Center a great place to have a baby and a great place to be a baby.

In the years ahead, we’re committed to delivering an exceptional experience for patients, families, referring physicians and staff; effective outreach programs and services; advanced innovation; programs for healthy families including lactation, maternal mental health and maternal fetal genetics services; and continuous pursuit of quality and research.

We’re also committed to taking our mission beyond the walls of The Mother Baby Center. Through the Kids’ Health Blog, we’ll deliver important information and stories around children’s and women’s health from our physicians, medical experts and our patients. We hope to create a greater sense of community here where staff, families and others can connect. We invite you to leave comments, ask questions, give us feedback and share your stories.

Learn more about The Mother Baby Center at You can also visit our Facebook page here.

Sarcoma: Greater awareness key to early diagnosis

This is a post by Dr. Nancy McAllister, a pediatric oncologist in Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Clinic. She treats patients with sarcomas, and she focuses on children with head and neck cancers. She’s also a clinical partner to the Karen Wyckoff Rein in Sarcoma Foundation. The foundation will throw their 12th annual Party in the Park on July 23 from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Como Park in St. Paul.

Dr. Nancy McAllister

Sarcoma is a type of cancer that occurs in a variety of tissues. It can show up in nerves, muscles, joints, bone, fat and blood vessels. Because these tissues are found everywhere in the body, sarcomas can occur anywhere. They can be found in people of all ages, from young children to adults. In fact, fifteen percent of children and adolescents with cancer suffer from sarcomas. The majority of sarcomas in this age group are one of three types: Rhabdomyosarcomas, Osteosarcomas and Ewing’s sarcomas.

Sarcomas most frequently occur in the limbs. They may be hidden deep in the body so often they’re large by the time they’re diagnosed. Delay in diagnosis can create tumors that are more difficult to treat, so early recognition of these tumors is critical. In order to get a proper diagnosis, a surgeon with expertise in cancer surgery needs to do a biopsy.

Unfortunately, patients and doctors often miss signs of sarcomas or mistake them for something harmless. In an effort to increase awareness around sarcomas, Children’s is participating in the Rein in Sarcoma Foundation’s Party in the Park on July 23 at Como Park in St. Paul.

The Rein in Sarcoma Foundation and their Party in the Park help raise awareness about sarcomas and encourages families and medical providers to be especially aware of lumps.

Did you know…

People experiencing the following symptoms should be evaluated by a medical professional familiar with sarcomas as soon as possible:

  • Any lump or bump, 2 inches or greater in size
  • Deep lumps that increase in size
  • Pain, anywhere in the body, that isn’t explained by injury or increased activity that worsens or lasts longer than a month

At Children’s, we have several pediatric oncologists who can evaluate patients with the above symptoms:

Dr. Julie Chu, Dr. Jawhar Rawwas, Dr. Susan Sencer, Dr. KrisAnn Schultz and myself. We’re dedicated to diagnosing sarcomas early and treating children with sarcomas in the best way possible.

To read more about Dr. McAllister’s involvement with Rein in Sarcoma, click here. For more information about the Party in the Park, click here.





A Hero’s Journey: Discover your inner hero

This is a guest post by Daniela, a member of  Children’s Youth Advisory Council. 

As part of the Youth Advisory Council at Children’s, we get to let the staff know what kids really think about things. Recently, I got the chance to check out the A Hero’s Journey workshop to see what it was like. It was really fun!

It’s a project the Guthrie Theater is doing at Children’s to explore that whole idea of being a hero. Most people think of heroes being someone like Iron Man, but all of us have our own hero moments! When you stand up for someone or learn something new, your words and actions make you your own kind of superhero.

We got to play theater games and act out stories. Each person had a role and a line. That was a ton of fun! I really liked meeting new friends. The Guthrie teaching artists were so nice, caring and comfortable to be around.

If you like storytelling or acting, this would definitely be the thing for you!

A Hero’s Journey workshops are open to children and teens ages 8 to 14. The workshops are held one Saturday each month, with a morning and afternoon workshop that lasts two-and-a-half hours. Patients with chronic conditions, repeated hospitalizations or appointments, and those who have been hospitalized for at least three days are prime candidates. Children may be patients at any of Children’s locations, including outpatient clinics and our main hospitals.

Call the Child Life Department at 612-813-6259 for more information and to register. Children’s and the Guthrie are excited to help patients discover their inner hero!

Sweet Dreams for Kids brings pajamas, smiles to Children’s

Wendy Berezovsky, founder of Sweet Dreams for Kids, and her family threw a pajama party at Star Studio on May 31.

Kids don’t always understand that sometimes it hurts to feel better. At Children’s, we believe that the small things can make a big difference to our patients and families.

Wendy Berezovsky knows firsthand from the time she spent at Children’s with her daughter, Dalya, who was born with cancer and spent much of her first year here, that a cozy pair of pajamas can bring a smile to the face of a young patient.

Wendy started Sweet Dreams for Kids, an organization that has donated more than 3,000 pajamas to patients in Minnesota hospitals and beyond and brought new pajamas to our patients for a super fun PJ Party-themed show in the Star Studio on Thursday, May 31. Kids tuned in from their hospital beds or came to the first-floor studio to join the slumber party games, stories and songs!

Thank you Sweet Dreams for Kids!

Check out the news coverage from WCCO and KSTP.

Reflecting on the loss of Children’s dear friend, James G. Miles

One of the founders of Children’s – Minneapolis, James G. Miles, died earlier this week.

Ask Dr. Arnold Anderson, the hospital’s first medical director and chief executive officer, about the impact of Miles, and his answer is unequivocal:

“Without Jim Miles, Children’s Hospital would not be.”

Perhaps best known as a founder and top executive at Control Data Corp., at one time one of the leading computer companies in the world, Miles was an engineer, lawyer, inventor, entrepreneur, gubernatorial candidate and author.  Dr. Anderson would add a few more descriptions to the list: “visionary,” “genius,” “revolutionary” and “a man of principle.” But not many people know his history as founder of Minnesota’s largest children’s hospital.

After a discouraging meeting with a Chicago consultant who questioned the feasibility of building a Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis, Miles said to Dr. Anderson: “If you will stick with me, we will build that hospital.”

Despite opposition from local philanthropists, government officials, medical academics and the hospital community, Miles believed that children should have a hospital dedicated to their unique needs. Starting in 1967, Miles helped lead the effort to win the necessary approvals, financing and funding to build the hospital, which opened in 1973.

It wasn’t easy. Not by a long shot. At one point, construction had to be stopped due to insufficient funds, and a cyclone fence was installed around the perimeter of the site to prevent neighborhood children from falling in the giant hole that had been dug, according to Dr. Anderson. Later, during a cash crunch early in the hospital’s history, Miles pledged his entire net worth to keep the hospital going, according to a Star Tribune story about Miles in 2008.

“Miles was instrumental in creating plans for the hospital, employing innovative and cost-effective construction principles and child-friendly designs,” Dr. Anderson said. “He even had a critical role in the hospital’s budgeting and governance that enabled the hospital to remain viable despite challenging fee schedules and a commitment to serve all children regardless of their economic circumstances.”

Miles established the organization principles for Children’s that remain essential today: a worthy common purpose, a strong “esprit de corps,” competence, a loving spirit, innovation, cooperation, generosity and faith, Dr. Anderson said.

“I would say that the very spirit of Children’s is due to Jim Miles,” he said.

Jim Miles may have died earlier this week, but at Children’s his spirit lives on.

Children’s is celebrating National Volunteer Week!

Children’s is celebrating National Volunteer Week this week! From April 15-21 we are taking a moment to thank the many volunteers throughout Children’s who share their time and talents with our patients & families. Children’s is supported by many volunteers, including:

  • All those who wear the red volunteer vest of honor
  • Children’s Association-Minneapolis members
  • Board members at all levels
  • Children’s Hospital Association members
  • Corporate Partners
  • Family Advisory Council
  • Families as Partners
  • Parent-to-Parent
  • Youth Advisory Council

In addition to the Kids’ Health Blog, Children’s has a blog focused solely on volunteerism at our hospitals and clinics, called the “Red Vest Review.” This week, the blog will be updated twice a day with in-depth stories on volunteers, staff supervisors, and their impact on the Children’s community. Said volunteer Jazmine Olson:

I really enjoy volunteering at Children’s. Everyone in the surgery unit is nice, friendly, and helpful. My favorite part of volunteering is interacting with the families and trying to make them feel more comfortable during their visit.”

Along with recognizing volunteer contributions, we will be recognizing the contributions of the many amazing staff who partner with volunteers in so many different areas!

You are cordially invited to attend our Volunteer Services Open Houses this week. Join us:

  • St Paul (B-L297 lower level) Tuesday, April 17, 2012: 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM
  • Mpls:  (B-700, lower level) Thursday, April 19, 2012: 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM

Cake will be served!

Thanks for your wonderful support of Children’s volunteers!

CoBank’s commitment to Children’s

CoBank’s Minnesota associates have been working with various organizations in their community for a number of years, and are always looking for new opportunities.

Late in 2010, Russ Nelson, President, Farm Credit Leasing, was approached by Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota with a request for support. With so many associates using Children’s services for their own families, this was an organization everyone wanted to support.

CoBank made a long-term commitment to support Children’s with charitable contributions and volunteer service. Associates Jonathan Doran and Lisa Tollefson were asked to spearhead CoBank’s efforts with Children’s.

Jumping right in, more than 40 CoBank associates participated in the HeartBeat 5000 5k run/walk in June. Another opportunity arose shortly after with the “Love for the Lounge” program. Beginning in November, associates began stocking the shelves of the hospital’s sixth floor family lounge with items such as refreshments, magazines, games, toys and toiletries.

“CoBank’s contribution to the sixth floor lounge has added a sense of comfort for the families and children here,” said Christi Dady, Child Life Specialist, Children’s Hospital. “They are so appreciative that someone cares enough to do something like this for them at such a difficult time.”

“When families head to the hospital they often don’t have time to pack, they just grab their child and go,” said Tollefson. “Some of these families don’t have the means to purchase the things that can make them more comfortable or help pass the time during a long wait at the hospital. Offering these much needed supplies can make a big difference to these families.”

“The items we donate are provided to families at no cost while their children are receiving treatment in the hospital,” added Doran. “It’s been so gratifying to help these families. We are committed to making it work and growing our support.”

CoBank is a national cooperative bank serving vital industries across rural America. The bank provides loans, leases, export financing and other financial services to agribusinesses and rural power, water and communications providers in all 50 states. The bank also provides wholesale loans and other financial services to affiliated Farm Credit associations serving more than 70,000 farmers, ranchers and other rural borrowers in 23 states around the country.