Category Archives: Staff profiles and news

Meet Sandy Bergeron, director of Volunteer Services

five_question_friday111We continue to celebrate National Volunteer Recognition Week by highlighting Sandy Bergeron, the director of Volunteer Services at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, in this edition of Five Question Friday.

Sandy Bergeron has worked at Children's for 23 years.

Sandy Bergeron has worked at Children’s for 23 years.

What is your role and title?

My role is director of the Volunteer Services department. We connect volunteers to Children’s mission through rewarding, mutually beneficial and defined opportunities that positively impact the patients, families and staff, while offering supportive and rewarding experiences to volunteers.

How long have you worked at Children’s? 

I have worked at Children’s for 23 years.

What do you love most about your job?

Knowing volunteers really do make a difference at Children’s. Every day, volunteers donate their time and talents, sharing their busy lives, to help the patients and families journey at Children’s. We get to know so many people, with a different team of volunteers each day of the week, all bringing unique backgrounds and stories to their volunteer.

Nurses call regularly to let us know where help is needed, and volunteers rise to the call, willing to go where the need exists. It is humbling being surrounded by so many fabulous people, with such great passion for children, who come each day with a smile to do the best they can, and they do it free!

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

subscribe_blogOh, yes; it’s very vivid, and I tell it a lot! I was taking a new volunteer who was about 23 years old on a tour for his first shift. We got on the elevator, and a nurse was escorting a patient up to his room. The patient was about 12. His eyes lit up when he saw the red vest, he sat up in his wheelchair and said brightly, “Hey, can you come up to my room and play video games? Now?” And then gave his room number and wanted the volunteer to go with him right away. I knew right then and there that the volunteers were an integral part of the Children’s team. It stills makes me smile to this day thinking about that elevator encounter.

How do you spend your time outside of work?

I love the outdoors. I canoe, kayak, bike, garden, walk my dogs, travel and try my hand at arts and crafts.

“Children’s Pedcast”: Dr. Maurice Sholas on physiatry, rehab services

subscribe_blogDr. Maurice Sholas, senior medical director of rehab services at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, discusses how rehabilitation is connected to every aspect of care at Children’s. Dr. Sholas shares his experiences of providing care in New Orleans and Atlanta and his vision for Children’s in its pursuit of helping kids get better from start to finish through personalized, innovative care and treatment.

“Children’s Pedcast” can be heard on iTunes, Podbean, Stitcher, YouTube and Vimeo.

Health and wellness are her emphasis

five_question_friday111Alexa Ernst has a passion for health and wellness, which makes her an excellent fit as Children’s Be Well program coordinator. Get to know her in this edition of Five Question Friday.

Alexa Ernst is Children's Be Well program coordinator.

Alexa Ernst is Children’s Be Well program coordinator.

What is your role and title?

I am Children’s Be Well program coordinator. The Be Well program is devoted to bringing you a culture with an emphasis on health and wellness. Your wellness matters to Children’s, and it matters to me. I am committed and eager to provide you with a healthy work environment!

How long have you worked in employee wellness?

I have been working in employee wellness for more than three years. I began working in employee wellness after graduating from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in 2011 when I completed an internship supervising the Wellness Center at Boston Scientific in Arden Hills. I then worked with HealthFitness Corporation, initiating health and fitness initiatives at two multitenant buildings in Bloomington. Just recently, I had the experience to be the Health and Fitness Program Manager for GE Capital Fleet Services, where I developed wellness initiatives and administered and evaluated health and wellness programs.

What excites you most about this new role?

Everything! I am so excited to be a part of such a wonderful organization and to be a part of something that will truly make a difference in the lives of Children’s employees. I am thrilled to engage with you as we begin to build on programs, challenges and seminars, giving you the tools that you need for your personal health and wellness.

subscribe_blogWhy did you go into wellness?

The importance of health has been a part of my entire life, and I hope that I can inspire the employees at Children’s to do the same! I was a gymnast for 14 years and truly feel that it instilled a life of health and well-being in me from a young age. I have three years of corporate wellness experience and had the opportunity to help others make lifestyle changes to improve their overall health. A person’s health is an individualized experience, each having his or her own unique story and journey; I am so excited to be a part of Children’s journey!

What experience has been most rewarding to you in your career so far?

I feel that there are rewarding opportunities every day in this career. It is so inspiring to see the impact you can make on somebody’s life each and every day. All of my experiences have led me to be here today at Children’s, and I feel that taking on this role as the Be Well program coordinator is the most rewarding experience that I could have landed. It truly is a dream job, and I couldn’t imagine a better organization with which to work. I feel grateful for the opportunity to be able to strive while working with Children’s employees as the Be Well Program continues to grow.

(Bonus question) How do you spend your time outside of work?

I enjoy spending my time being as active as possible but also love my down time reading, watching movies and eating chocolate. My favorite activities include yoga, being a part of the Twin Cities River Rats water ski show team; snowboarding, personal training, group fitness instruction, and gymnastics. You also can find me rooting on all Wisconsin sports teams!

Five Question Friday: Meet Kirsten Granberg

five_question_friday111As Child Life Week nears a close, we want to introduce you to Kirsten Granberg, one of our child life specialists, in this edition of Five Question Friday.

Child life specialist Kirsten Granberg has worked at Children's for two years.

Child life specialist Kirsten Granberg has worked at Children’s for two years.

What is your job at Children’s? Describe your role.

I am a child life specialist that works in Sedation and Procedural Services (SPS) at Children’s – Minneapolis. My role in this department is to provide developmentally appropriate education and procedural support to patients needing some type of sedation (or no sedation, if applicable), and hopefully help minimize their stress and increase their understanding of their medical experience. I work directly with the patient and family to find out how I can best offer support for his or her procedure, whether it be with the use of distraction (iSpy or sound books, iPad, guided imagery, bubbles, etc.) or parental coaching. The staff and I work closely to determine how we can all support the child and family in the best possible way as one cohesive team, and hopefully have the patient’s and family’s experience be a positive one.

How long have you worked at Children’s?

I have been at Children’s for two years. When I was hired, I worked as casual staff and at a contracted emergency department in Plymouth. I began working in SPS in fall 2014 when the Child Life position was created.

What do you love most about your job?

There are many aspects that I love about my job, but the one that always makes my heart happy is when I have the chance to do medical play with a patient before a procedure or scan. I love having a variety of medical items all over the floor where the child has the time to explore and manipulate the materials, ask questions and hopefully make sense of what is going to happen. Play is the universal language for children, so by incorporating something they are familiar with and tying in the medical aspect, children begin to gain mastery and a sense of control over the situation. How empowering for the child!

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

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a teacher, nurse or veterinarian. All my dolls and stuffed animals had many visits to the “hospital,” where I would treat them and nurse them back to health. We went through lots of Band-Aids in my house. One of my favorite gifts was getting a cast and crutches for my doll!

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

I probably shouldn’t admit that I watch way too much Netflix, so besides that, I love activities outdoors, singing in my car, finding new restaurants, attending different sports events and cheering for my beloved Green Bay Packers!

Five Question Friday: Psychologist works to help children, families

five_question_friday111Don Brunnquell, LP, has a number of stories and memories from his time at Children’s. We’d like you to get to know the Children’s mainstay in this edition of Five Question Friday.

Don Brunnquell, LP, has worked at Children's for 35 years.

Don Brunnquell, LP, has worked at Children’s for 35 years.

What is your title? Describe your role.

My formal title is resident ethicist and director of the office of ethics. I am a psychologist with additional training in ethics. This means I am the first responder and coordinate the work of the ethics committee in bioethics education, policy and consultation. On a day-to-day basis, that means things like talking with family and staff about complex decisions for a patient such as choosing an invasive surgery for a child with a life-threatening disease, and working on education such as grand rounds or unit in-services around moral dilemmas and distress, and working on policies that clarify how we deal with complex values issues such as “Do Not Attempt Resuscitation.”

How long have you worked at Children’s?

I’ve worked at Children’s for 35 years, although I was a psychology intern for one year prior to becoming an employee. I started at Children’s – Minneapolis when there were about 450 employees. I continue to work here because I work with a lot of wonderful and dedicated people.

subscribe_blogWhat do you love most about your job?

I love being with children and their families, and working to help them have as good a life as they can. Helping people sort through, make sense of and make peace with decisions that are intellectually and emotionally tough is very rewarding. No two days are the same.

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

There are so many! One of my favorites was receiving a letter from a parent whose child had died, who had struggled with decision-making, and at times was very suspicious and angry; she thanked us for how we had stood by her and helped her face something that is unimaginable for a parent. Another happened recently when a new employee approached me and said that I had worked with her family about 20 years ago when her sister was ill, and the good experience here in a terrible time helped guide her choice to work in health care.

How do you spend your time outside of work?

Balance is important. It used to be with my kids, but now that they are grown it’s music (I play every week with two friends in an acoustic folk band called Stealin’ Home), writing poetry, fantasy baseball (in the same league for more than 20 years), and cycling or cross-country skiing. Also, I am a huge Gopher basketball and Twins fan.

Meet Children’s new quality and patient safety manager

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Diane Nalezny is Children's quality and patient safety manager.

Diane Nalezny is Children’s quality and patient safety manager.

It’s National Patient Safety Awareness Week — United in Safety — and we’ve joined forces with children’s hospitals around the U.S. to affirm the critical role patient families play in making hospital stays as safe as possible for their children. And in recognition of Patient Safety Week, we’d like to introduce Diane Nalezny in this edition of Five Question Friday.

What is your title?

I’m the quality and patient safety manager.

How long have you worked at Children’s?

I have been at Children’s for six weeks.

What do you love most about your job?

I love working with a great team and using data to help demonstrate and ensure our patients and families get safe, effective care every day. I also love problem solving and finding new ways to do better.

Why did you go into nursing?

I wanted a career that I could help people and always have a job almost anywhere I wanted to go.

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

So far, going on the hospital tours with Marcy McCraken and seeing all of the amazing places where care is delivered on both campuses at Children’s have been great.

(Bonus question) How do you spend your time outside of work?

I love to cook, spend time with my husband, family and friends, at my sister’s cabin, paddle boarding, cycling and traveling.

Children’s welcomes new neurologist

five_question_friday111In recognition of Brain Injury Awareness Month and our focus on neurology, we’d like you to meet Douglas Hyder, MD, in this edition of Five Question Friday.

Douglas Hyder, MD

Douglas Hyder, MD

What is your job at Children’s? Describe your role.

I am a pediatric neurologist. Pediatric neurology is a medical field focusing on the growth and development of the central nervous system, peripheral nervous system, and muscles. There is significant overlap with developmental pediatrics, psychiatry, psychology, neurosurgery, orthopedics, physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R), ophthalmology, genetics, physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy. My job is similar to a detective. I look for clues in a patient’s history and physical exam to find out why something is happening and what can be done about it. Not all of the symptoms we see are necessarily abnormal.

We’re fortunate that there has been tremendous progress in diagnosis and treatment of neurological conditions over the past few decades. The work is far from complete, but we can offer so much more to patients today than when I first started in neurology 20 years ago.

How long have you worked at Children’s?

I’ve only been here a couple of months, but I’m originally from the Midwest, so the Twin Cities already feels like home.

What do you love most about your job?

I most enjoy teaching. Many of the conditions we diagnose need to be explained well in order for parents to understand what is going on with their child. I try to do that with all of my patients, but those light-bulb moments are especially gratifying.

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

Everything; a cowboy, scuba diver, race-car driver, drummer, police officer, astronaut, president, boxer, baseball player!

I still want to be a race-car driver.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Bicycling. I try to ride every day when it’s not too cold.

Meet a familiar face from Children’s

five_question_friday111If you’ve visited Starz Café at Children’s – Minneapolis, there’s a good chance you’ve seen Latisa Tyus. She and her smile are a Starz staple. Get to know Latisa in this edition of Five Question Friday.

Latisa Tyus has been with Children's for 17 years.

Latisa Tyus has been with Children’s for 17 years.

What is your title? Describe your role.

I’m a dietary aide in Nutrition Services. Currently I work as the cashier in Starz Café.  I ring up customers, set up food and beverages and clean the tables in the café.

How long have you worked at Children’s?

I have worked at Children’s for 17 years.

What do you love most about your job?

The thing I love most of all is putting a smile on people’s faces when they are having a tough day. Whether it’s a patient’s family, staff or a visitor, I love being able to make people smile.

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

subscribe_blogI remember when I started here and had been here only three days. Christine from the lab came in to collect a prize from the café, and I told her I was new and had to find someone to give her the prize. She was just so nice to me, and I still remember what she was wearing. To this day we still talk about how nice it is to work in such a great community here at Children’s.

How do you spend your time outside of work?

I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. I love going to sporting events and love watching them on TV. I enjoy reading thriller books and am a music fanatic. I especially like music from the ’70s-’90s.

Five Question Friday: Meet one of Children’s geeks

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Children’s is fortunate to have an incredible staff of technology experts from Best Buy’s Geek Squad Precinct inside its Minneapolis and St. Paul hospitals. One of those Geek Squaders is the multitalented Jake Beaver. Get to know Jake in this edition of Five Question Friday.

Outside of his work at Children's, Jake Beaver hosts and runs a number of podcasts/radio shows.

Outside of his work at Children’s, Jake Beaver hosts and runs a number of podcasts/radio shows.

What’s your role at the Geek Squad Precinct?

I work on getting the conference rooms set up for all types of meetings and conferences. I make sure that everything is functional with the technology in the room before the meeting starts. If there seems to be any issues with some of the meeting rooms, I am on hand to troubleshoot and make things work. I work on audio-video projects around the hospital such as the Squeezebox radios in the ORs, helping with PowerPoints for meetings, and answering general technology questions throughout the day.

How long have you worked at Children’s?

I started my role at Children’s in July 2012 and have loved every moment of it.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Most days I will have a schedule of meetings to attend. Depending on the meeting, some of them, I will set up and be on call to be able to run over to the room if there are issues, while other meetings I will be in attendance in full to help make the technology run smoothly. I am also in a support role for other technology around the meeting rooms if something breaks or needs to be adjusted.

What do you love most about your job?

I really love the interaction with the staff at Children’s. Everyone has been so personable and kind that it makes coming to work fun. I look forward to see what challenges are going to be brought to me; makes every day a little different.

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

I always wanted to be an entertainer of sorts. I had dreams of working as a music video director (yes, there were such things as music videos once). As time went on, I wanted to have a career in radio and television, so why not go to the next best thing — Best Buy. They sell a lot of TVs, so it was the closest I thought I would get to it.

subscribe_blogWhat do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Outside of work I spend a good portion of my time with my 5-year-old son, Teddy. He is one of the coolest kids ever, and I’m not just saying that because he is my boy. He has tendency to surprise me every day with something new. I work on/own a live podcast network where we run 11 different talk shows a week. I produce a total of five different shows, and I’m an on-air host of two shows. One of those shows plays host to bar trivia twice a week where myself and two other hosts bring 60 questions each week to patrons who have a chance to win a lot of cool prizes. It definitely keeps me busy, which is good; keeps me out of trouble… sometimes.

Five Question Friday: Meet clinical educator Song Khang

five_question_friday111For Five Question Friday, we’d like you to meet Song Khang. She’s a clinical educator on the sixth floor at Children’s – St. Paul.

Song Khang is a clinical educator at Children's – St. Paul.

Song Khang is a clinical educator at Children’s – St. Paul.

How long have you worked at Children’s?

I have been at Children’s for about nine years.

What do you love most about your job?

First and foremost, I enjoy taking care of patients and families. I like that every day is a different experience, even if I am taking care of the same set of patients. I like that I am helping my patient and families and knowing that I always try to provide the best care I can every time I am working. I enjoy learning, and with this job I learn something new every day. Lastly, I enjoy precepting and orienting nurses. I feel that good orientations are important for nurses and have a long-lasting impact on their nursing careers.

Why did you go into nursing?

There is such a variety of work that you can do when you go into nursing. Nurses are needed in so many settings. You can be in the hospitals, clinics, homes, schools, parishes, corporations, etc. I went into nursing because I like with working with people, especially kids. I like that nursing focus on a holistic approach and so we are not just caring for our patients’ bodies, but their mind and soul, too. And I like working at Children’s because I get to do both of those things.

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

My most-favorite memory is a funny one. One evening, one of our patients was sad and we just could not get her out that mood. So another nurse, one of our certified surgical assistants (CSA), and I decided we were going to make her laugh. We decided to surprise her and dance to “Gangnam Style” in her room. It worked because she laughed and afterwards told us she thought we were silly. But she said that with a smile on her face.

How do you spend your time outside of work?

When I am not working, I spend time with my husband and my two little dogs.