Category Archives: Featured

Family thankful for care infant daughter received at Children’s

Khloe Marincel spent six weeks at the Infant Care Center in Minneapolis. (Photos courtesy of the Marincel family)

Khloe Marincel of Rice Lake, Wis., and her family spent six weeks at the Infant Care Center in Minneapolis. (Photos courtesy of the Marincel family)

The following is a letter to Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota from Jason and Beth Marincel, father and mother of patient Khloe Marincel, and Kyri, Khloe’s sister.

Dear Children’s,

I am writing to you on behalf of our family’s outstanding experience we had while our infant daughter, Khloe, was hospitalized at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota’s Infant Care Center (ICC) in Minneapolis from July 9 to Aug. 16. Typically a lot of people wouldn’t consider a six-week hospital stay as a pleasant experience; however, to our family, this stay couldn’t have been any better except the fact we were split apart.

When this journey began July 9, we could say this was the scariest thing we have had to encounter as a family. Within a few hours of arriving in the Emergency Department, a solution was found to Khloe’s issue, and we immediately were comforted by several nurses and doctors that Khloe was in the best place.

Even though Khloe couldn’t get into surgery until July 11, we knew your staff was doing as much as it could to make sure our family’s needs were met. Prior to surgery, your staff thoroughly explained the procedure and recovery process for Khloe. As parents not knowing what to expect, we found that their explanation of the surgery very comforting and gave us confidence about the type of care Khloe would be receiving at your hospital.

Q4_mighty_buttonKhloe’s recovery time seemed to take forever due to a few setbacks. But, even when there was a setback, your staff was on top of it and already had a plan of action to take to get her quickly back on the path to recovery. When these setbacks seemed to get us down, your staff reassured us that these setbacks weren’t anything major and Khloe would be back on track before we know it.

There wasn’t a day that went by where a nurse didn’t ask what we needed or a surgeon didn’t clarify/explain Khloe’s progress. When it came time for Khloe to be discharged, we felt it was a bittersweet moment. We were excited the moment had finally arrived, but Beth had to fight herself from crying because of the extraordinary hospitality and service we received during Khloe’s stay. Your staff was professional and friendly and knew exactly how to make us feel welcome and at “home” even though we were two hours from our home and family in Rice Lake, Wis.

This kind of experience wouldn’t be easy for any family, but if a family were given a choice of where their child can receive the best service, we would definitely direct them your way! We are truly grateful for all your staff did to make us feel welcome in this chapter of our lives and the dedication they provided Khloe to make her stronger!  We are proud to inform all of you that Khloe weighs little more than 9 pounds (a number we hadn’t seen yet!), back to rolling over (as she did before being admitted) and smiling and talking more than ever! She has had one emergency room visit since she has been home, but only for an ear infection as a result of teething, another sign of getting much stronger! Our family would have no idea where we would be today if you didn’t provide your absolute best care to our daughter! (And Kyri would have no idea what she would be doing without her sister!)

Thank you so much!

Jason, Beth and Kyri Marincel

P.S. The members of the Geek Squad provide amazing customer service and have provided our family with many memories that enlightened our stay at Children’s Hospital. They have no idea how much their positive attitudes and generosity mean to families in your facility. Sometimes a highlight of my day would be those five pictures I was able to print. They may think it is a simple act of kindness, but it’s the whole world to most in your facility!

Children’s preemie returns as intern

Kathryn Marxen was born at 25 weeks in 1989, weighing 1 pound, 6 ounces. She is 1 week old in this photo. (Photos courtesy of Kathryn Marxen)

Kathryn Marxen was born at 25 weeks in 1989, weighing 1 pound, 6 ounces. She is 1 week old in this photo. (Photos courtesy of Kathryn Marxen)

By Jimmy Bellamy

Kathryn Marxen’s life has come full circle. Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota is where it all began for the 25-year-old occupational therapy intern.

Underdeveloped lungs and vision problems were just some of doctors’ and Kathryn’s family’s concerns.

Underdeveloped lungs and vision problems were just some of doctors’ and Kathryn’s family’s concerns.

Born premature at 25 weeks at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, fragile 1-pound, 6-ounce infant Kathryn immediately was brought next door to Children’s where she spent her first 10 weeks on a ventilator, refusing to give in to the obstacles an early entrance into the world can create.

Underdeveloped lungs and vision problems, including a detached retina, were just some of doctors’ and Kathryn’s family’s concerns. Later she would be diagnosed with retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) – abnormal blood vessel development in the eye. Eating became difficult, too, for tiny Kathryn, who could wear her father’s wedding ring as a bracelet, so a gastronomy tube was required for feeding.

Q4_mighty_buttonWhile staying in the neonatal intensive care unit, her organs began to fail. Kathryn said when things looked grim, her mom and dad stayed at her side and her dad would read to her, and it seemed to help.

“Dr. Ronald Hoekstra came by and said, ‘Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it,’ ” Kathryn said she was told. “It was that connection of a parent’s voice.”

Doctors performed a patent ductus arteriosus ligation to close the ductus arteriosus in Kathryn’s heart, cryosurgery on her eyes to stop the progression of ROP, gave her lung-surfactant medication, and a scleral buckle to reattach the retina in her right eye in – a surgery that was fairly new in 1989.

At 6 months, after a couple in-and-out stays, Kathryn was ready to go home for good. She continued to go to Children’s for follow-up visits until she and family moved to Beavercreek, Ore., when she was 8 years old.

Kathryn has competitively ridden horses since age 9 and took her horse to the U.S. nationals for Arabians and dressage.

Kathryn has competitively ridden horses since age 9 and took her horse to the U.S. nationals for Arabians and dressage.

Sight and double vision has been a hurdle through the years – her left eye is 20/70 while there isn’t much visibility in her right – but it hasn’t plagued her existence; she refuses to allow it to stop her. Kathryn enjoys the outdoors, including hiking and rock climbing. She has competitively ridden horses since age 9 and took her horse to the U.S. nationals for Arabians and dressage.

Kathryn received a master's of science in occupational therapy from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash., in May.

Kathryn received a master’s of science in occupational therapy from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash., in May.

In college, Kathryn received a bachelor’s degree from Colorado State University in equine science and master’s of science in occupational therapy from University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash. She began her internship at Children’s rehabilitation clinics in September.

She also speaks to groups of high school students with disabilities and other organizations, sharing her unique story, challenges and positive, optimistic view.

“At first, I was pretty embarrassed of my story and not as comfortable sharing it,” Kathryn said. “As I grew up and got more comfortable and familiar with it, I started to realize the power of those experiences as a premature infant, even though I don’t remember them. I can connect with people through my story and provide hope.”

When she was a kid, Kathryn didn’t want to be different and refused to use magnifiers to help her sight. It wasn’t until a low-vision high school teacher told her she could be even more successful with the right tools. Kathryn realized she could do just as well as others, if not better, and that built confidence.

Her difficult start to life, she said, helped her become brave; it’s what she credits with landing her a teaching-assistant position under famed animal scientist Dr. Temple Grandin at Colorado State and her internship at Children’s.

“It’s one of those things where if you don’t ask, you don’t know,” Kathryn said. “If there’s something I want to go do, I just ask the questions that I need to ask.”

Kathryn as a child

Kathryn as a child

Some of Kathryn’s highlights as an intern include observing occupational therapists at the NICU follow-up clinic, where she got a chance to speak with Dr. Hoekstra and Lois Gilmore, who cared for Kathryn as a preemie, and walking into the waiting room on her first day to see brochures for and work done with the animal-assisted therapy program.

She has a strong interest in working as an OT in the NICU.

“It would be awesome to be at Children’s to bring things even more full circle if I held a position in the NICU, but I could see myself doing that anywhere,” Kathryn said. “That’s my long-term goal; it takes quite a bit of continuing education because it’s an advanced area of practice.”

Kathryn said having the perspective of a patient can be used to help others in a similar position.

“I realize how my story and experiences can provide that hope for the families going through that,” she said. “I can tell them, ‘You guys will overcome this.’ ”

Jimmy Bellamy is the social media specialist at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

Meet Julia

When Julia grows up, she wants to be a veterinarian so she can take care of cute animals.

When Julia grows up, she wants to be a veterinarian so she can take care of cute animals.

When exploring the impact of supporting a child’s tomorrow, we went straight to the source: our patients. We asked several to share how Children’s has played a role in their life today, and what they look forward to in their tomorrow. This is what we learned.

Q4_mighty_buttonName: Julia

Age: 8

Hometown: Elk River

When she was 5 years old, Julia was taken to Children’s after her mom discovered she was turning blue and feeling extra-tired. He lungs collapsed, and doctors discovered that Julia has a rare asthma, triggered by viruses.

When Julia grows up, she wants to be a veterinarian so she can take care of cute animals.

She likes practically everything about Children’s, so she’s raising $1,000 annually for the next five years to help other kids.

Mother of Children’s heart patient writes book

Charlie was born in 2005 with a congenital heart defect. (Photo courtesy of Mindy Lynn)

Charlie was born in 2005 with a congenital heart defect. (Photos courtesy of Mindy Lynn)

 

Charlie and Mindy Lynn

Charlie and Mindy Lynn

Embracing Charlie, a book by Minneapolis author Mindy Lynn about her son, a young Children’s patient born with a congenital heart defect, was named a finalist in the Christian Inspirational category of the 2014 USA Best Book Awards.

In the book, Mindy Lynn writes about her family’s emotional journey since Charlie’s birth in 2005.

Embracing Charlie is available in paperback; for the Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook and at Smashwords.

 

Define safe boundaries for kids and play

Encouraging the learning and exploration process will increase your child’s confidence and creativity, and defining safe boundaries and rules will keep you both happy. (iStock photo / Getty Images)

Encouraging the learning and exploration process will increase your child’s confidence and creativity, and defining safe boundaries and rules will keep you both happy. (iStock photo / Getty Images)

By Dex Tuttle

Not long ago, I watched my toddler daughter, Quinnlyn, as she played with her favorite blocks. She picked one up, stacked it carefully on top of another, and repeated until she had a tower four or five blocks high. Without warning, she pummeled the tower while sounding her signature high-pitched battle cry, sending blocks flying in all directions. She immediately seemed to regret not having a tower and ran to pick up the blocks to start the process over.

Young children begin to understand their world by cause-and-effect experimentation. Psychologist Jean Piaget was one of the first to put this concept into organized thought.

This behavior is apparent with my daughter: “If I stick my hand in the dog’s water dish, my shirt gets wet. This pleases me and I must do this each morning, preferably after mommy helps me put on a clean shirt.”

Then, something occurred to me as I watched Quinnlyn build and destroy her tower; there is a trigger missing in her young mind that could change her behavior: She does not understand consequence, the indirect product of an effect.

I began to notice this in her other activities as well. At dinnertime, we give her a plastic fork and spoon so she can work on her motor skills. If she’s unhappy with how dinner is going, she throws her fork and spoon on the floor in a fit of toddler rage. She is then immediately puzzled by how she’ll continue her meal now that her utensils are so far away.

Subscribe to MightyAs frustrating as toddler tantrums can sometimes be for parents, I’d love to be in my daughter’s shoes. Who wouldn’t want the satisfaction of taking all those dirty dishes that have been in the sink for two days and chucking them against the wall? That decision, of course, would be dangerous and reckless and I have no desire to clean up such a mess. And, with no dishes in the house, I’d be forced to take a toddler to the store to shop for breakable things; not a winning combination.

There’s an important lesson here for safety-minded parents: Kids will explore their environment in whatever way they can. It’s like the feeling you get when you find a $20 bill in the pocket of a pair of pants you haven’t worn in months, or when you discover the newest tool, gadget or fashion. For toddlers (and us adults), it’s fun finding new things and learning new skills; it’s motivating and creates a feeling of accomplishment. However, the cognitive skills of a toddler haven’t developed beyond that cause-effect understanding.

This is why we need to consider the environment in which our young children play. I recommend giving them plenty of space and opportunity to experiment without worry of the consequence:

  • Make sure stairs are blocked off securely and unsafe climbing hazards are eliminated; encourage kids to explore the space you define.
  • Create a space to explore free of choking hazards, potential poisons and breakable or valuable items; leave plenty of new objects for children to discover, and change the objects out when the kids seem to grow tired of them.
  • Allow children to fail at certain tasks; be encouraging and positive without intervening as they try again.
  • If possible, discuss their actions and consequences with them to help them understand the reason for your rules.

Encouraging the learning and exploration process will increase your child’s confidence and creativity, and defining safe boundaries and rules will keep you both happy.

At Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, we care for more pediatric emergency and trauma patients than any other health care system in our region, seeing about 90,000 kids each year between our St. Paul and Minneapolis hospitals. Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis is the area’s only Level I pediatric trauma center in a hospital dedicated to only kids, which means we offer the highest level of care to critically injured kids. When it’s critical, so is your choice – Children’s Level I Pediatric Trauma Center, Minneapolis.

Dex Tuttle is the injury prevention program coordinator at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota and the father of a curious and mobile toddler. He has a Master of Education degree from Penn State University.

Five Question Friday: Terrance Davis

Five Question FridayIt’s Friday, and what better way to celebrate the end of the week than with a Five Question Friday profile? Meet Terrance Davis, who works on our Environmental Services team within the Minneapolis Surgery department.

Terrance Davis has worked at Children's for 25 years.

Terrance Davis has worked at Children’s for 25 years.

How long have you worked at Children’s?

I have worked here for 25 years.

Describe your role.

I clean surgery rooms between cases and stock supplies.

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

I have a few favorites:

  • The surgery staff surprised me with a 50th birthday celebration.
  • Each annual craft show, which is so much fun
  • Gathering for the Environmental Services Week events

What do you think make kids great?

I have a couple answers for this one. First, they can smile at you and make your entire day better. Second, they have great energy, which can be contagious.

What is one interesting fact about you?

I was married in Las Vegas at the top of the Stratosphere tower with local TV personality “Fancy Ray” McCloney standing with me as my best man.

Five Question Friday: Kelly Patnode

Five Question Friday

Meet Kelly Patnode, patient access specialist at our St. Paul hospital, who has a love for the Minnesota State Fair.

When she isn't working in our St. Paul hospital, Kelly Patnode enjoys reading and helping out at the Minnesota State Fair.

When she isn’t working in our St. Paul hospital, Kelly Patnode enjoys reading and helping out at the Minnesota State Fair.

How long have you worked at Children’s?

I have worked at Children’s in St. Paul for 36 years.

What drew you to Children’s?

I started in St. Paul when it was on “the hill” (across the highway from our current location) as a volunteer at the age of 13. I was a volunteer for four years. I went to school for medical office occupations, but there were no openings at that time. When I was talking to someone at Children’s, they said there was an opening for a health unit coordinator. I asked what that person did, and they explained that person works at the main desk on the floors. I asked if that was similar to a ward secretary, and they said yes. I said, “Well, I have done that job for four years, so I think I could do it!”

Subscribe to MightyWhat is a typical day like for you?

My typical day starts with making a coffee. It is just the right way to start of the day. I then clean and restart all the computers, restock supplies and then either sit at the emergency room desk and start answering the phone, make calls for the providers, put together a chart or break down a chart or start with registering patients who come to be seen in the ER.

What do you love most about your job?

Every day is a different day. What I did yesterday at my job may be totally different than the day before or today. If I can get a smile out of a patient and their parents, it just makes the day better.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Usually I read books. But during the summertime I am busy because I also work at the Minnesota State Fair, selling box-office tickets for grandstand shows and pre-fair tickets. I have been working there for 38 years. So when I am not working at the hospital, I am at the fair. I am actually taking vacation from the hospital to work full time at the fair this year.

Children’s, Twin Cities Moms Blog host #MNvaxchat

Subscribe to MightyAugust is National Immunization Awareness Month, and Minnesota’s new immunization requirements take effect Sept. 1. With that and back-to-school mode under way, we’ll be co-hosting a Twitter chat with our friends at Twin Cities Moms Blog.

Join us for the live chat, using #MNvaxchat from 8-9 p.m. Monday, that will feature Patsy Stinchfield, PNP, director of Infection Prevention and Control and the Children’s Immunization Project at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. Children’s and Twin Cities Moms Blog will be there, too. Participants who use #MNvaxchat in tweets during the live chat qualify for a chance to win a $50 Target gift card.

ALSO: Read the Children’s vaccinations blog archive on Mighty.

UPDATE: Participation strong, informative on #MNvaxchat

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!

Stay safe and avoid dehydration in hot weather

Follow these quick tips to keep your kids safe from dehydration when they’re out playing in hot temperatures.

Summertime is definitely here, and what kid can’t wait to get outside and play? But staying safe in the sun, and avoiding dehydration, is important.

Subscribe to MightyWe believe in Making Safe Simple. Here are some quick tips to help your kids avoid dehydration:

  • On hot days, make sure you drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. The human body requires at least one liter of water daily.
  • Dehydration means that a child’s body doesn’t have enough fluid. Dehydration can result from not drinking, vomiting, diarrhea, or any combination of these conditions. Sweating or urinating too much rarely causes it.
  • Thirst is not a good early indicator of dehydration. By the time a child feels thirsty, he or she may already be dehydrated. And thirst can be quenched before the necessary body fluids have been replaced.
  • Signs of dehydration in children include the following: sticky or dry mouth, few or no tears when crying, eyes that look sunken into the head, lack of urine or wet diapers for six to eight hours in an infant (or only a small amount of dark yellow urine), lack of urine for 12 hours in an older child (or only a small amount of dark yellow urine); dry, cool skin; irritability, and fatigue or dizziness in an older child.
  • If you suspect your child is dehydrated, start by replenishing his or her body with fluids. Plain water is the best option for the first hour or two. The child can drink as much as he or she wants. After this, the child might need drinks containing sugar and electrolytes (salts) or regular food. Also, the child should rest in a cool, shaded environment until the lost fluid has been replaced.
  • Call your doctor immediately or take your child to the nearest emergency department if there is no improvement or condition is worsening.

At Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, we care for more pediatric emergency and trauma patients than any other health care system in our region, seeing about 90,000 kids each year between our St. Paul and Minneapolis hospitals. Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis is the area’s only Level I pediatric trauma center in a hospital dedicated to only kids, which means we offer the highest level of care to critically injured kids. From the seriously sick to the critically injured, we’re ready for anything.