Category Archives: Staff Profiles and News

Getting enough Vitamin D, all year long

By Molly Martyn, MD

Getting enough Vitamin D is an important part of staying healthy. Vitamin D helps with calcium absorption, and thus is a critical part of how our bodies make and maintain strong bones. Research shows that it also plays a role in keeping our immune systems healthy and may help to prevent certain chronic diseases.

Many of us get our Vitamin D from the sun and from drinking milk, but families often wonder how to help their children get enough Vitamin D to meet daily requirements.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants receive 400 International Units (IU’s) per day of Vitamin D. For children older than one year, the recommended amount is 600 IU’s per day.

Vitamin D is found in a number of foods, some naturally and some through fortification. Foods that are naturally high in Vitamin D include oily fish (such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel), beef liver, egg yolks, mushrooms, and cheese. Below are some estimates of Vitamin D levels (per serving) of a variety of foods.

Salmon, 3.5 ounces 360 IU’s
Tuna Fish (canned), 1.75 ounces 200 IU’s
Shrimp, 4 ounces 162 IU’s
Orange Juice (Vitamin D fortified), 1 cup 137 IU’s
Milk (Vitamin D fortified), 1 cup 100 IU’s
Egg, 1 large 41 IU’s
Cereal (Vitamin D fortified), ¾ cup 40 IU’s
Shitake mushrooms, 1 cup 29 IU’s

All infants who are breast fed (and even many who are formula fed) should receive a daily Vitamin D supplement.

In addition, the majority of children do not eat diets high in foods containing Vitamin D. Thus, a Vitamin D supplement or multivitamin may be an important part of helping them meet their daily requirements. Talk to your child’s health care provider about recommendations.

The National Institutes of Health have more information on Vitamin D on their website, including Vitamin D recommendations for all age groups. 

Five Question Friday: Tanya Bailey, MD

Tanya Bailey, MD, has had some interesting jobs before she became a pediatrician at Children’s. Learn more about how she found her calling to become a doctor in this week’s Five Question Friday profile.

Describe your role. I have been a pediatrician in the Minneapolis General Pediatric Clinic since July 2012. I work full time in the clinic and also see newborn infants at the Mother Baby Center.

What drew you to Children’s? I didn’t come into medicine via a traditional path. In fact, it wasn’t even on my radar until I was almost 30 years old. Neither of my parents went to college and I don’t think a lot was expected of me academically, though the expectation that I work hard was always there. I had my first job at age 12, was employed most of the time after that, and supported myself in my late teens. I had many different jobs in my life before becoming a doctor: berry picker, cook, office assistant, accountant, gardener, Zamboni driver, resident assistant, personal care attendant, teacher’s aide and lab tech, to name a few. I was really proud at one point to say that I had a license to drive both a Zamboni and a Bobcat skid steer loader. I’ve lived in four different states across the northern part of the U.S. and my most unusual living situation was when I lived in a cabin with no running water and an outhouse when I was in college in Alaska.

What do you love most about your job? When I began looking for a job after my pediatric residency, I knew I wanted to work in a city with a diverse patient population and to have the opportunity to take care of patients in both inpatient and outpatient settings. I was initially looking to move back to the West Coast where I grew up, but told myself that if a position ever opened up at Children’s I would apply. I had enjoyed my time here as a Child Life volunteer before I started medical school and also had two wonderful rotations at the hospital as a medical student. I very much admired and was inspired by the physicians I worked with as a student and always thought they’d make great colleagues (I was right, by the way). I enjoyed the general environment at the hospital with the focus on children and their families and the diversity of the patients and the community. Now that I’m here, I love the variety that every day brings. I am never bored and I get to work with great colleagues, patients, and families. I enjoy developing relationships with families, watching their children grow up, and taking care of subsequent children.

How do you spend your time outside of work? Outside of work I enjoy working on home improvement projects both in the house and in the yard, reading (I love young adult and teen novels and get many great recommendations from my patients), cooking, and I’ve recently taken up soccer.

If you weren’t working in medicine, what do you think you’d be doing? If I wasn’t in medicine, I think I would be doing something involving gardening or cooking. I’m not sure, though. That’s what I’d do now because those are things I enjoy as hobbies. I’m not certain what I’d be doing if I’d never pursued medicine. I’d need a job that kept me busy, was challenging, and didn’t involve spending too much time sitting in one place or in too many meetings.

Five Question Friday: Dr. Chris Carter

It’s Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week, so we want to use this Five Question Friday to feature one of our cardiologists, Dr. Chris Carter, who works at the Children’s Heart Clinic at our Minneapolis campus.

Why did you go into cardiology? I went into cardiology because I enjoy the complex and varied anatomies that we see in pediatrics. The physiology and complex repairs are fascinating. I also specialize in heart rhythms (electrophysiology) because I think the rhythm disorders that often accompany a repair are also interesting. I love working with kids and their families, which is a great part of the job.

What are some of the conditions you treat? I focus more on rhythm-related issues, so I help take care of patients with things like supraventricular tachycardia (hearts that beat faster than they should). I also follow kids with congenital arrhythmia disorders – or irregular heartbeats – like long QT syndrome, Brugada syndrome, Catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (CPVT), etc., who sometimes have implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs). I work with kids who have devices like pacemakers for acquired and congenital heart block. I also see some general cardiology patients and am involved in our adult congenital heart disease clinic.

It’s Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week. If you could make families aware about anything about heart defects, what would it be? Children born with congenital disease are now living long and productive lives. As a matter of fact, there are now more adults alive with congenital heart disease than there are kids!

Do you have a favorite memory from working at Children’s? It is hard to pick a favorite memory because there are many. I’d say one of the best was when we removed a large cardiac tumor from a patient after he had a sudden arrest at home. He left the hospital after his tumor was removed without any significant side effects. Today he is a lovely and very active young man.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? I actually have wanted to be a doctor since I was 5 years old. To this day I am not sure why as there are no other doctors in my family.


Five Question Friday: Pat McPherson

Meet Pat McPherson, an RN and the manager of the Special Care Nursery at The Mother Baby Center.

How long have you worked at Children’s?
I will have been a nurse for 40 years in June. I’ve spent more than half of that time at Children’s, working here for 20 years.

What drew you to pediatrics?
When I was in nursing school I was unsure where I wanted to work. When I arrived on an OB unit, it was clear to me. Going into the nursery, I fell in love with the babies and knew I really wanted to take care of them. I graduated at a time that I may not have been able to get into the nursery so I worked on OB in Duluth for one year. A year later I came back home, to Minneapolis, and worked in the nursery at North Memorial. This was when neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) were just beginning and I had the pleasure of working with John Fangman, MD, and Ron Hoekstra, MD, there. In 1980, when they came to Children’s, I also made the move and began working in the NICU.

It’s been one year since the Special Care Nursery opened in The Mother Baby Center. What’s been the best part of being in the new space?
One year ago on Feb. 4 we moved to our new unit. We now have private rooms for all families, and we love having our families be able to stay in the rooms with their babies. We also made the switch to an electronic medical record and saw a 25 percent increase in patients, which has been challenging and fun at the same time. Now that we’re a year into it, things are settling down and the nurses are enjoying the quiet space, for families and nurses, and feel more like a part of Children’s and all they provide.

Do you have a favorite memory from working at Children’s?
I have so many wonderful memories from Children’s. The families have always been so grateful for the care they received. Recently, in the hallway near the Special Care Nursery, I ran into a mom and her now 16-year-old son whom I cared for when he was a baby. The times I spent getting to know families and caring for them are memories I will always have.

How do you spend your time outside of work?
I currently have a BSN and am (after this semester) three classes away from my Masters in Nursing, so outside of work I spend quite a bit of time doing school work. I do love to quilt and do it for relaxation whenever I can. I have met many wonderful friends through quilting and enjoy spending time with them.

Five Question Friday: Amy Swanson

Meet Amy Swanson, a registered medical assistant, who works at our Partners in Pediatrics clinics in Maple Grove and Rogers.

Describe your role. I am an RMA (registered medical assistant) and one of the lead support staff for evening hours. I am the medical support staff at Partners in Pediatrics and work at our Maple Grove and Rogers offices. I would be the person who rooms you, does your immunizations and lab procedures, takes your X-ray and gives you triage advice.

What do you love most about your job? The thing I love most about my job is working with kids, getting to know them and watching them grow throughout the years.

Why did you decide to go into pediatrics? I decided to work in pediatrics because I love working with kids, interacting with them and getting to hear their reaction to things. Helping people is one of my passions. I am going on a mission trip to Haiti with a group of doctors and support staff from Partners in Pediatrics in April.

How do you spend your time outside of work? I work a lot so when I do have a little spare time I love hanging out with family and friends. Traveling to warm places and spending time in the sun. I love going out and trying new places to eat. I love going shopping and I might have a problem!

What’s one interesting fact about you? I was born in Seoul, South Korea, and I was adopted at 3 months old. I am hoping that I will someday be able to go back there.

Five Question Friday: Karen Johnson

Meet Karen Johnson, a nurse practitioner in our Sleep Center.

How long have you worked at Children’s? I started as a nurse in the infant apnea program/pediatric sleep program in 2006. In 2008, I decided to go back to school and become a nurse practitioner (NP). I am so glad I did because now I am working in the Children’s Sleep Center as a nurse practitioner! Feeling happy!

Describe your role. I am the pediatric nurse practitioner in the Children’s Sleep Center. I work full-time, meeting with parents about their child’s sleep issues such as insomnia, snoring, obstructive sleep apnea, night terrors and other sleep problems. I am also trained in biofeedback, which is used to help treat children relax who have insomnia. I teach them special skills such as diaphragmatic breathing, and guided imagery to assist them in relaxing so they can fall asleep. We use a special computer program that the kids find really fun and gives them feedback how they are doing learning the techniques.

What do you love most about your job? Biofeedback is a really fun part of the day for me because when children become mindful of how to calm themselves, they see the value in the skills they have learned, and then they are in charge of their sleep. As an NP, I enjoy helping parents create a sleep plan that will fit the needs of the child and the family. I enjoy educating the family. It’s important to educate the family, because being informed parents will increase their understanding and ability to make changes that improve the child and the parents’ quality and quantity of sleep. When the entire family sleeps well, we have a happier family that can enjoy each other and a healthier family overall.

How do you spend your time outside of work? I like to be with family and friends, float on my pontoon on a lazy summer day, ride bike, and sing when no one is around. Being outdoors brings me my peace and calm so that I can recharge. I would like to learn how to line dance, play the guitar and volunteer in my community. But on Monday mornings I become a pediatric nurse practitioner at the Children’s Sleep Center, and I LOVE it!

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why? I would like to go back to Hawaii someday, but anywhere that is warm is where I want to be on vacation.

Five Question Friday: Jeanine Schweiss

Jeanine Schweiss

This week, we introduce you to Jeanine Schweiss, a speech-language pathologist at Children’s!

How long have you worked at Children’s? Almost eleven years.

You’re a speech-language pathologist. What’s a typical day like for you? Every day is very different. Throughout the week, I work with outpatients and inpatients with feeding difficulties, dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), and/or speech/language delays. I also perform video swallow studies and I work with a multi-disciplinary team in our Feeding Clinic. My role as a speech-language pathologist at Children’s is very dynamic and every day brings a new learning experience.

What do you love most about your job? Being able to consistently witness a child perform a new skill and seeing the amazing impact it has on his/her life, whether it be saying/signing a new word, eating a new food item or being able to be given a bottle from a parent for the first time. Observing parents’ reactions while the children perform new skills is equally incredible and very rewarding.

How do you spend your time outside of work? I enjoy hiking, camping, and doing a lot of other outdoor activities with my husband and two young children. We also spend time traveling and visiting our family cabin whenever we have a chance.

What’s one fun fact about you? I lived in a castle in England for four months while studying abroad in college.


Children’s Youth Advisory Council celebrates 10 years

They conceive new, innovative music carts, design teen lounges and visit the state Legislature to advocate on behalf of other kids in Minnesota.

They’re the Youth Advisory Council and for the 10th year running, this group of patients and patient siblings have dedicated their time to making Children’s a better place.

“Children’s is very fortunate to have one of the first, and I think one of the best, Youth Advisory Council’s in the country. Our YAC members take their job very seriously, and work hard to make the hospital experience better for all children,” said Alan L. Goldbloom, MD, CEO of Children’s. “I think the ideas and suggestions that have come from our YAC have made us a better children’s hospital, and I appreciate all of their work.”

The mission of YAC is three-fold: to help Children’s staff, leaders, doctors and parents understand what is important during hospital stays, clinic visits and emergency care; discuss and give feedback on issues that are important to kids and teens having to do with their health care; and develop a group that has a voice and active participation in thinking about health care services for pediatric and young adult patients.

“They really want to bring Children’s from good to great,” said Christi Dady, a child life specialist and one of the group facilitators.

There are currently 17 members on the council, and they meet on the second Saturday of each month during the school year. There are approximately 20 councils like this one at pediatric hospitals throughout the country, said Sheila Palm, who oversees child life and YAC at Children’s.

“Being in YAC helps members learn about health care delivery and services and gain a new perspective on taking responsibility for their health,” Palm said. “We encourage them to let their voice be heard and advocate for themselves and others.”

Members are encouraged to articulate their thoughts and be active, thoughtful and respectful listener to others ideas.

“Even though most of these kids have some sort of chronic condition, they are very active in their community. A lot of them are student athletes. They all have busy lives, but they still give to Children’s,” Palm said. “I think for the most part they’re altruistic, and they want to help other children. They really are looking at it as service to others.”

Five Question Friday: Jennifer Lissick

Jenniefer Lissick - Five Question Friday

Jenniefer Lissick

Meet Jennifer Lissick, a member of our pharmacy team!

How long have you worked at Children’s?  I started at Children’s in 2010 as a pharmacy resident and then was hired on as a staff pharmacist in 2011.

Describe your work at Children’s. I recently started a new position as the pharmacist for the Hemophilia Treatment Center.  My role is still evolving but in general I monitor and manage treatment for patients with bleeding or clotting disorders as part of the multidisciplinary team in the clinic.  

Why did you become a pharmacist?I have always liked math and science.  I wanted to be part of the health care team and work with patients as well as other providers.  I also find it fascinating to understand how drugs work in the body to improve disease states and promote wellness.

What do you love most about your job?  Working with kids and the wonderful community of coworkers that strive to improve care for each patient everyday.

How do you spend your time outside of work? I like to enjoy the outdoors, travel to warm places, cheer on Minnesota sports teams and spend quality time with my friends and family.  The last  five and a half months have been pretty busy as my husband and I had our first child, so most of my free time is spent with my adorable baby girl Whitney these days.

Five Question Friday: Susan Dicker

Meet Susan Dicker, a perinatal HIV nurse coordinator at Children’s.

How long have you worked at Children’s?  I’ve been here since this spring, April 5, 2013.  But I actually started my nursing career at Children’s – Minneapolis on the float team for two years from 1998 to 2000 when I just finished nursing school.

Describe your work at Children’s. My working title is Perinatal HIV Nurse Coordinator. In this role I collaborate with OB and HIV medical and support staff to provide nursing care coordination for HIV-infected pregnant women, their HIV-exposed infants and their families in Minnesota.  One of the unique aspects to this work is that my service is accessible across health systems, and I serve as a resource to patients, families, providers and the larger community.  Essentially I can go anywhere in the state to support a client, offer education and work to improve health outcomes for this population of mothers and infants.

World AIDS Day is on Dec. 1. What is Minnesota and Children’s doing to help combat AIDS? Minnesota has many medical care and support services for people living with HIV and AIDS funded by the federal Ryan White CARE Act. The Minnesota Department of Health supports many different prevention programs for those most at risk for acquiring or transmitting HIV. 

At Children’s we provide medical care and specialized support services to over 100 children and adolescents infected with HIV. Children come to us from all over Minnesota and surrounding states and all over the world. Children’s also houses the Minnesota Perinatal HIV Program. We provide nursing care coordination for women and their partners during pregnancy and up to six months following birth, and offer education on the latest treatment and prevention guidelines and consultation to medical providers across the state caring for these women and their families.  We also offer preconception counseling and guidance for couples wishing to conceive safely and prevent HIV transmission.

What do you love most about your job? I get to sit down and really engage with my clients since building trust is a huge piece of this work. The initial intake appointments are typically about 90 minutes to two hours, and I can meet the woman wherever she is comfortable – in her home, the clinic, a library. And then I can meet with her as often as she requests, sometimes it’s every couple of weeks, sometimes it’s checking in by phone, depending on her particular circumstances.  Thirty-nine percent of our clients are just learning about their HIV diagnosis with the pregnancy so you can well imagine the impact it has on them and their ability to take in this information and trust that their newborn has an excellent chance to be healthy and HIV-free. In addition, close to 40 percent of our client population is from Africa, where their experience of living with – or too often dying from- HIV is very different from what is possible in the United States. It’s just an incredible privilege to support these women to have the best outcomes possible for themselves and their newborns at this juncture of their lives.

What is your favorite restaurant? Obento-ya. It’s a great Japanese restaurant in southeast Minneapolis with wonderful food and a nice small atmosphere at a very reasonable price.