Monthly Archives: April 2012

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.

Hello from Brazil: Strong leadership with a focus on quality care

Patsy Stinchfield, a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner from Children’s, is in San Jose Rio Preto, Brazil to help the Hospital de Base better control their post-operative infection rates. The following is Patsy’s third update from Brazil.



It is hard to believe we have been here just four days and three days in the Hospital de Base.  I write this late in the day after a 16 hour day with the amazing CV ICU team at the hospital (that’s what everyone does on their vacation in Brazil, right?!).  The Children’s Heartlink program has a beautiful vision to bring the best cardiovascular care to children and our time here proves that many strides have already been made.

The passion and leadership of Dr. Ulisses Croti, the solo pediatric CV surgeon, is driving best practice in this hospital and the region on many fronts. The multidisciplinary team in this unit loves their work and it shows.  They do have more infections than they should — and we are leaving no stone unturned in trying to find out why — but as usual, there is no smoking gun, but many “fixable” issues.

Our focus this week on infection prevention in the CV ICU and pain management has been so fulfilling.  Dr. Kurachek and I have developed a subtle look we give each other when we realize they are doing a process better than we do in the US.

For example, each patient has a poster up of individual goals for the next shift on where to maintain the blood pressure, etc.  We admire their openness and willingness to take all advice on behalf of patient improvements.  There is no defensiveness or resistance to change.  The focus is clearly on quality care for tiny patients with big heart defects.

The complexities of the surgical procedures and the post-op care are like a great ballet–everyone knows their part and plays it elegantly. There are a number of fine tunings we will offer to get them from good to great but their culture of attention to quality will get them there faster.

Today, Dr. Kurachek provided a formal lecture on pain and sedation and I presented a formal lecture on blood stream infection prevention. We have been hammering the importance of hand hygiene all week and have appreciated the amount of time their ID doc and Infection Control nurse have given us.

We have had numerous conversations with small groups of staff with everything from considering a hospital acquired infection an emergency, to when do you stop antibiotics, to what is Empiric precautions, to what are the Fentanyl versus Morphine considerations (clearly that last one was Kurachek’s!).

What is impressive is the multi-disciplinary turn out for our talks.  My talk had 15 in attendance on the unit including intensivists, cardiologists, housekeeping staff, nursing, techs, therapists, students and infection control specialists.  They were very interested and able to learn together.  I was able to observe in the micro lab as well as the entire sterilization process, which is done well–bar coded and everything!

Dr. Kurachek was able to do morning rounds, meet with a vascular surgeon about non-surgical lymphedema treatment, do his pain talk twice, role play with me on how one points out a potential patient safety risk to a colleague and end the day with our team doing Safety rounds–and that was before dinner!

It has been a great day once again.  Big day tomorrow as we tour the new children’s hospital and help them prepare to prevent risks there.

Ciao for now (that rhymes!)


More than just a playground: Nathan’s story

The following is a guest post from Kristen Spielman, the mother of a patient at the Woodwinds Clinic in Woodbury, MN.

Our son, Nathan, has had quite the journey since he was born 3 years ago. Many of you have walked a similar road. Just like us, you’ve cried, prayed, and rejoiced over your little one. I’d like to share our story with you and ask you to join us in helping Nathan, and other children with similar challenges, make even bigger strides than they are currently making in Physical, Occupational, and Speech Therapies.

The day Nathan was born 3 years ago, the doctors told us that there was something different about him. His high palate, droopy eyelids, adducted thumbs, and perhaps most significant, his extremely low muscle tone, were all indicators that Nathan had a genetic syndrome. He has logged many hours with the special education department of our school district and has endured numerous blood draws and brace- and helmet-fitting appointments.

Most important to his development, Nathan has worked consistently in physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy three times each week at Children’s Woodwinds Clinic in Woodbury, MN.

Last August, just before his third birthday, Nathan finally received a diagnosis. He has Multiminicore Disease, a rare genetic muscle condition in which his muscle cells will always only perform at a small percentage of normal function. As you can imagine, this affects EVERYTHING he does, from talking and chewing to gross motor skills. Nathan’s life will always be more difficult because of his disease, but his ability to communicate and perform daily tasks, quality of life, risk for falls, and movement is greatly improved through the therapies he learns and does at Children’s Woodwinds Clinic.

A unique opportunity has arisen at the Woodbury Clinic. An adjoining property right out the front door recently became available to Children’s. It was formerly the outdoor play area for a daycare. The current vision is for this area to be developed into a therapy playground.

For obvious reasons, one might think that such a playground would only be useful for Physical Therapy.  However, as the mom of a recipient of physical, occupational, and speech therapy, I can say with confidence, that it would benefit children receiving therapy in any of the 3 disciplines.

Megan Shepherd, a therapist at the Woodwinds Clinic, agrees. “A clinic playground would allow therapists to teach kids how to safely play and fully experience playgrounds at their neighborhood parks.”

The “work of play” is a child’s job. In my opinion, many of those “work hours” should be logged on a playground. Upon a child’s entrance to school, the playground will be an important learning space, second only to the classroom. Social skills, friendships, cooperation, and body awareness are only a few of the lessons that will be obtained there. How much better prepared will our children be for that environment if they know how to use a playground safely, effectively, and without fear?

Would you please join me in making it possible for this “Children’s” playground to be built?  Thank you for considering this opportunity. Your gift will bless Nathan, and in turn our family, and many other children and their families in countless ways for many years to come.

You can find more information about the project and make this playground a reality with a gift at GiveMN.

Hello from Brazil: Open-Heart Observations

Patsy Stinchfield, a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner from Children’s, is in San Jose Rio Preto, Brazil to help the Hospital de Base better control their post-operative infection rates. The following is Patsy’s second update from Brazil.



Our time in Brazil has been wonderful.  We finished our second day in the hospital today.  The surgeons, staff and specialists, including the Infection Control team who have devoted much of their week to being with us, have been outstanding.  They are approachable and interested in improving the quality of care they deliver despite their lack of resources.  They ask significant questions and push themselves to think of new ways to deliver care that is affordable.

Here on behalf of the marvelous Children’s Heartlink program, Dr. Kurachek and I are spending 12-13 hour days in the hospital (and then some serious Brazilian fine dining thereafter!).  I spent most of my day observing open heart surgery in the operating room of Dr. Ulisses Croti, a gifted surgeon and fine human being.

I focused on the process and details of the operating room procedures in relation to infection prevention. They do excellent work and have instituted such things as the pre-op and op “Time Out” on behalf of the safety of the patient and the clear goals of the team.  There are several minor suggestions I can offer, but for the most part feel they are doing great care for very, very sick patients.

Dr. Kurachek has been “holding court” in the ICU with all in attendance eagerly learning from him.  His second Heartlink trip here, he is well-known and well-loved, just like at Children’s.  He worked with the large multidisciplinary team to model rounds and the kinds of questions all should be asking each day: “What concerns you personally most about this patient from your perspective?”, etc.

He provided a long formal class on heart/lung hemodynamics that simplified the complexities of these challenging patients.

We have done many whole team dialogues, small group discussions from our fields and many one on one conversations, including with one amazing young Brazilian mother who is preparing to take her trached baby with Down’s syndrome home for the first time after seven months in the hospital. She said she felt comfortable stopping staff and visitors and asking them to please wash their hands before touching her baby knowing how hard he had fought to get to where he was.  She told me “My son is everything to me” and I told her “And you are everything to him”. Such strength from these moms.


Hello from Brazil: Arriving in San Jose Rio Preto

Children’s very own Patsy Stinchfield, recent recipient of the prestigious Pediatric Nurse Practitioner of the Year Award, is in San Jose Rio Preto, Brazil to help the Hospital de Base better control their post-operative infection rates. The following is Patsy’s first report from Brazil.



I have finished my first day in the Hospital de Base in a small town called San Jose Rio Preto.  It is a city of 400,000 people and is surrounded by beautiful farmland.  We are staying at a hotel called none other than, The Saint Paul Hotel!

I am consulting in the public hospital here called Hospital de Base, an 800 bed hospital with a full pediatric cardiovascular surgery ICU.  They are having trouble with post-operative infections and are seeking help for Infection Control considerations from me and my great traveling companion, Dr. Steven Kurachek, a Harvard trained pulmonologist who is consulting on intensive care management.

It was a marvelous day, filled with observations of wonderful care by smart, compassionate people (pediatric cardiologists, surgeon, anesthesiologists, nurses, nurse technicians and respiratory therapists).  They are a warm and open group, eager to continually take the best care possible of their very vulnerable patients some of whom were so malnourished it was heart-breaking.

We made rounds on their 4 patients in the cardiovascular ICU and 3 patients in their step-down area.  We observed their care, listened, asked questions, engaged the team in dialogue about how they prevent pneumonia in ventilated patients and tried to play CSI with where their systems are breaking down to cause their patients to have more infections than most other hospitals. It was “Magnifico!”  We found some problem areas, but also found some practices better than we do in the US.  As usual, the teachers will come back having learned more than they taught.

One unexpected surprise was to tour a beautiful manufacturing facility near the hospital called Braile Biomedica which makes 450 different products mostly for heart surgery. (Think Brazilian Medtronic).  We met with Dr. Domingo Marcolino Braile, the “retired” cardiologist who founded this company with brilliant engineers and his experience doing cardiovascular surgery by knowing there is always a better way to do things.  We watched the staff trim bovine tricuspid valves and hand sew them in preparation for patients needing a valve replacement.  Simply amazing work.

In the evening, our hosts, Dr. Ulisses Croti (pediatric cardiology surgeon) and his wife, Dr. Lilian Beani (a neonatologist) are intent on showing us a good time in Brazil.  Tonight we went with 4 of the cardiology team staff to a traditional Brazilian beef house (think Fogo de Chao X 10) where they bring the hot meats and carve individual slices at the table.  (After a day in the cardiac ICU we all passed on the BBQ chicken hearts…).

They speak Portugese, which has a little similarity to Spanish but is very fast with different accents.  Instead of HOla it is hoLA for hello.  We have 3 medical interpreters who are amazing because they know all the medical technical language and do simultaneous (they prefer we just talk, not pause for them) English to Portugese conversation (we all wear little ear pieces).

After just one day, we have a list of suggestions as well as recognitions for work well done.  We also have a list of things we want to improve back at Children’s based on what we see here and know we can improve at home.  We all deal with the same pathogens and people problems no matter where in the world we work.  It is fascinating!

I will try to write a bit everyday.


Patsy Stinchfield Awarded Prestigious Pediatric Nurse Practitioner of the Year Award

Patsy Stinchfield is a pediatric nurse practitioner and director of Infectious Disease and Immunology at Children’s

The following was written by Dr. Phil Kibort, Vice President of Medical Affairs and Chief Medical Officer at Children’s.

I’m continually humbled by my fellow employees and clinical colleagues who tirelessly support Children’s mission to champion the special health needs of children and their families. It is in this mindset that I am honored to announce that Patsy Stinchfield, a pediatric nurse practitioner and director of Infectious Disease and Immunology at Children’s, was recently bestowed the prestigious Loretta C. Ford Distinguished Fellow Award.

Patsy was honored in front of more than 1,800 of her colleagues at the recent National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP) 33rd Annual Conference in late March. Often referred to as “the pediatric nurse practitioner of the year award,” the award is named in honor of Dr. Loretta C. Ford who pioneered and co-founded the pediatric nurse practitioner role in 1965.

NAPNAP bills the recognition as its most prestigious award, and annually presents it to the individual who has made significant contributions to children’s health and has helped advance the pediatric nurse practitioner profession. Patsy accepted the award from Dr. Ford herself.

Here at Children’s, we know better than anyone that Patsy is an invaluable resource when it comes to advancing the care and health of our young patients. Whether rounding in our hospitals and clinics or guiding quality and safety policy development at the State Capitol, Patsy’s passion shines through.

Her work to educate the greater public on the importance of immunizations and to dispel myths surrounding H1N1 vaccination during its peak have gained her local and national recognition. It is also much in part due to Patsy’s leadership, hard work and commitment to kids, that she, as well as Children’s, is recognized by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as a national model for vaccination and disease treatment.

Patsy is truly an authentic champion for improving vaccination rates and infection prevention. Quite simply, there are few individuals who deserve the Loretta C. Ford Distinguished Fellow Award more than her. On behalf of Children’s, I want to offer congratulations on this remarkable lifetime achievement.

Supporting health research through the National Children’s Study

Children’s is excited to support, and ultimately benefit from, the National Children’s Study. Even though most children grow up healthy and live longer than ever before, the rates of asthma, diabetes, obesity, and other health problems continue to rise.  We still have many questions about how genetics and the environment—the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the communities we live in—affect health, especially our children’s health.

The National Children’s Study (NCS) is the largest research study of genetic and environmental influences on children’s health ever conducted in the United States.  The Study enrolled women before or during pregnancy and will follow their children until they turn 21 years old.

Information learned from the Study could help doctors and other health care providers help children achieve the best health and may prevent health problems in children and adults.

The participation of families from many different racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups across the country is critical for the success of the Study.  More than 100 study locations in the United States were chosen through a selection process than ensures families are enrolled without any bias.  There are currently two active Vanguard (or pilot) NCS locations in Minnesota.

In early 2012 it was determined that sufficient numbers of women had been enrolled in study and enrollment of new participants ended as of March 1, 2012.  Current efforts are focused on retaining enrolled participants and evaluating the pilot phase in preparation for the Main Study which is planned to begin in 2013.

Families and children who participate in the Study are making an important contribution to the health of future generations.  More information about the National Children’s Study can be accessed at