Author Archives: erin.keifenheim

German man biking from Pacific to Atlantic oceans visits Minneapolis

German cyclist Jörg Richter is biking from Washington to Connecticut to raise awareness of rare pediatric illnesses.

German cyclist Jörg Richter is biking from Washington to Connecticut to raise awareness of rare pediatric illnesses.

subscribe_blogErin Keifenheim

The Cancer and Blood Disorders Clinic at Children’s – Minneapolis received a special visit today from Jörg Richter, a German cyclist who is biking from Washington to Connecticut to raise awareness of rare pediatric illnesses. Richter, who works for German health care insurance agency AOK, took a leave from his job to make the 4,000-plus mile journey across the country. He set out in early June, marking the start of his journey by dipping the rear wheel of his bike in the Pacific Ocean near Seattle. Throughout the next month, he traveled through Idaho, Montana and North Dakota before reaching the Twin Cities on July 20.

Richter has been an active cyclist for many years and first had the inspiration to cycle around the world when he was 8 years old. Now at age 55, he decided to cross the item off his bucket list when two close friends died unexpectedly.

Children's oncologist Joanna Perkins , MD (left), and Jörg Richter stand outside the Children's Speciality Center in Minneapolis.

Children’s oncologist Joanna Perkins, MD (left), and Jörg Richter stand outside the Children’s Speciality Center in Minneapolis.

“I decided that was the moment to get it done and not put off my dream,” Richter said. “So many kids and adults aren’t able to fulfill their dreams because of their diseases.” Richter said he hopes his trip will help give children with rare diseases a better chance to fulfill their dreams.

Throughout his journey, Richter has enjoyed the scenery and wildlife he has encountered — including a roadside visit from a bear in the Cascade Mountains. But the most enjoyable part of his trip has been the people he has encountered and the hospitality he has been shown.

“I’m always meeting people who welcome me and invite me to stay,” he said. Complete strangers have stopped him along his route to talk about the Bavarian flag on the back of his bike; others have donated to his cause, paid for his meals or helped him find lodging. All have been supportive of his goal to raise $20,000 for the Care-for-Rare Foundation, which reached out to Children’s to arrange the special visit.

Richter expects to make it to his final destination in Connecticut by Sept. 7, with stops along the way in Chicago, along the Great Lakes and Niagara Falls. Once he reaches the East Coast, he’ll mark the end of his journey by dipping the front wheel of his bike in the Atlantic Ocean, completing his West-to-East Coast tour of the United States.

Richter has been documenting his journey on the AOK Facebook page.

Five Question Friday: Meet nurse (and video director) Becky Bogan

five_question_friday111In honor of National Nurses Week, we are introducing you to Becky Bogan, RN, who has worked on our Hematology/Oncology unit in Minneapolis for 14 years. In addition to her day job caring for pediatric cancer patients, Becky recently added video director to her résumé. Over the past few weeks, Becky carried a handy cam around her unit, learned how to edit on the fly and, along with nurses, providers and the entire Hematology/Oncology team, created a video set to the tune “Fight Song” as a show of support for kids battling cancer and blood disorders. Get to know more about Becky and what she loves most about being a nurse.

Becky Bogan, RN, has worked at Children's for 14 years.

Becky Bogan, RN, has worked at Children’s for 14 years.

What is your role and where do you work?

I have been a registered nurse on 7th floor (Hematology/Oncology unit) in Minneapolis for 14 years.

Why did you become a nurse?

  • Cliché answer: because I have always loved kids
  • Funny answer: because kid “messes” are smaller than adult “messes”
  • Sentimental answer: because my mom is a nurse and I saw how she always cared for everyone around her. I truly did (and do) want to be just like her.

What do you love most about your job?

So many things!

  1. The kids! I am amazed, daily, at the strength, resilience and fight in these kids. I really believe they are superheroes disguised in “kid” bodies!
  2. My coworkers. They are some of the best. They make coming to work, even on the tough days, possible. There is nothing better than knowing your teammates are there for you.
  3. The work we do. There is nothing more rewarding than making a difference.

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

The kid quotes. Example: The 4-year-old boy who put on his call light at 2 a.m. one night and asked, “Could you please go turn those babies off?”

subscribe_blogWhat’s one thing you want people to know about nursing?

Nursing is a difficult profession… but also one of the most rewarding! As nurses, we have the privilege of being there for the patients and families 24 hours a day. We are there for them in their times of greatest need and also times of greatest joy. Gaining the trust of a patient and family, and making these amazing connections, is one of those unforgettable rewarding moments of a nurse’s job.

How do you spend your time outside of work?

Spending time with my husband and two boys (ages 2 and 4). Since my 2-year-old wakes up at 4:30 a.m. EVERY DAY, our days are long and full of excitement. If anyone has any sleep training tips, please help! I definitely will never write a book on that subject.

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.

Five Question Friday: Mignon Miller

five_question_friday111

For this week’s edition of Five Question Friday, we are pleased to introduce Mignon Miller, a speech-language pathologist and part of our cochlear-implant team who generally practices at Children’s – Woodbury clinic.

Mignon Miller has worked for Children's for eight years.

Mignon Miller has worked for Children’s for eight years.

How long have you worked at Children’s?

While I have worked for Children’s over the past eight years, my pediatric background spans the past 15 years. Before coming to Children’s, I worked at the Northern Voices Oral School for the Deaf in Roseville and Lifetrack Resources as an audiologist and a speech-language pathologist. It also was my privilege to serve as the president of the Minnesota chapter of the Alexander Graham Bell Association (AGBell), a national organization serving deaf and hard-of-hearing children and adults who use oral communication.

What does a typical day look like for you?

In my role as a speech therapist, I work with children who have speech difficulties so that they can talk to and be understood by others, including children with Down syndrome, autism, deafness/hearing impairments and brain injuries. My expertise includes the use of devices to communicate such as iPads, Dynavox (a synthetic speech-generating device), and Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS). Finally, I am trained to assist children who struggle to process auditory information through a specialized program called Fast ForWord. Every day is something different, and I love the variety of kids.

You work with cochlear-implant patients. Tell us more about the rehab offerings you provide for these patients.

At this time, we have three sites (St. Paul, Minneapolis and Woodbury) that provide speech, language and auditory rehabilitation for children using cochlear implants. At these sites, we provide parents with a speech-language pathologist specifically trained in working with children using cochlear implants and hearing aids. We provide services using a variety of communication methods, including spoken language and sign language. We empower families on how to work with their child at home, guiding them through the cochlear-implant process, communication choices and educational placements.

subscribe_blogIf you weren’t working in pediatrics, what do you think you would be doing?

I would probably be a teacher or a professional student (I love to learn new things).

How do you spend your time outside of work?

I love to be outside! I enjoy all sports, but I especially love swimming, biking, hiking and skiing with my family. I serve on the board for the Hands and Voices Advisory Committee that represents the diverse community of families with children who are deaf, deaf-blind or hard of hearing in Minnesota.

Five Question Friday: Dr. Stefan Friedrichsdorf

Five Question FridayNo parent wants to see his or her child in pain. Our interdisciplinary pain program is one of the largest of its kind in the U.S., combining drug and integrative (nondrug) therapies to ease pain in babies, children and teens. Stefan Friedrichsdorf, MD, the medical director of Children’s Department of Pain Medicine, Palliative Care and Integrative Medicine, tells us more about this unique program and how we’re expanding to care for more children in pain in this week’s Five Question Friday.

Stefan Friedrichsdorf, MD

Stefan Friedrichsdorf, MD

How long have you worked at Children’s?

In August 2015, it will be 10 years.

Describe your role.

I work with the groovy and outstanding interdisciplinary team from the department of Pain Medicine, Palliative Care and Integrative Medicine at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics in Minnesota — one of the largest and most comprehensive programs of its kind in the country. The pain and palliative care program is devoted to control acute, chronic/complex and procedural pain in all inpatients and outpatients in close collaboration with all pediatric subspecialties at Children’s. The team also provides holistic, interdisciplinary care for children and teens with life-limiting or terminal diseases and their families. Integrative medicine provides and teaches integrative, nonpharmacological therapies (such as massage, acupuncture/acupressure, biofeedback, aromatherapy, self hypnosis) to provide care that promotes optimal health and supports the highest level of functioning in all individual child’s activities. I see pediatric patients as inpatients, in the interdisciplinary pain clinic, in the palliative care clinic, or in the community/at home.

What are some of the conditions you treat?

We are committed to fulfilling the “Children’s Comfort Promise” — we will do everything possible to prevent and treat pain. This includes managing acute pain (e.g., postoperative, cancer), chronic pain (headaches, functional abdominal pain, fibromyalgia, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome) and/or procedural pain (e.g., needle pain caused by vaccinations, lab draws or intravenous access). In addition, if children have a life-threatening disease, we help to make sure that children can live as long as possible, as well as possible.

Children’s recently celebrated the opening of the Kiran Stordalen and Horst Rechelbacher Pediatric Pain, Palliative and Integrative Medicine Clinic. What are some of the unique features of this new space and how do they benefit our patients?

subscribe_blogThis spectacular clinic is the first one of its kind in North America providing a “healing environment” specifically designed for children and teenagers. It uses natural materials, such as wood floors and rocks, and eliminates environmental stressors such as noise, glare, lack of privacy and poor air quality. The clinic connects children and their families to nature with views of the outdoors, nature sound, interactive 3-D water elements and natural lighting. The space engenders feelings of peace, hope, reflection and spiritual connection and provides opportunities for relaxation, education, humor and whimsy. The space will contribute to heal patients and their families, who are often at a difficult point in their lives. This holistic space shows a first glance of the future in health care in America.

What’s one interesting fact about you?

I am trained in clinical hypnosis and teach that to children nearly every day. Also, I have worked as a newspaper delivery boy, factory worker, remotely talented actor, assistant nurse, journalist, paramedic, EMT, lifeguard and youth-group leader. I am happily married to Ruth, and we live in Minneapolis with our three young and very active children.

Five Question Friday: Meet our Interpreter Services team

Five Question FridayLast year, our Interpreter Services team translated more than 72,000 patient encounters in 64 languages. In honor of Interpreter Services week at Children’s, we have a special edition of Five Question Friday, featuring one question from five different interpreters! Get to know these individuals and learn more about the important role they play for patients and families.

Max Barquero-Salazar in the manager of the Interpretive Services team.

Max Barquero-Salazar in the manager of the Interpreter Services team.

Max Barquero-Salazar, Interpreter Services Manager

What’s one thing you’d like people to know about Interpreter Services?

Interpreter Services is composed of a variety of professionals from different fields. There are lawyers, architects, dentists, doctors, social workers, teachers, MBAs, musicians, etc.

The level of professionalism and commitment is extremely high; in fact, I believe any of the interpreters could be trained to perform other roles within the organization.

Sheila Rojas began working formally as a medical interpreter in 2011.

Sheila Rojas began working formally as a medical interpreter in 2011.

Sheila Rojas, Spanish interpreter

How long have you been interpreting?

I started working formally as a medical interpreter in 2011. Previously, as part of my role as a child psychotherapist, I assisted Latino families for 11 years to help them communicate with government agencies, the court system, schools and health care facilities. I am grateful for the opportunity to combine both jobs in the present.

Touayim Thoj

Touayim Thoj

Touayim Thoj, Hmong interpreter

What’s one thing you’d like users of interpreters to know?

I just want them to trust me that I will do a good job.

 

 

Katie Nielsen

Katie Nielsen

Katie Nielsen, scheduler

What is the best thing about Interpreter Services?

Our staff is highly committed to patients and their linguistic needs. They are proactive about educating hospital staff when interpreters have not been used with families who need them.

 

Safiya Jama

Safiya Jama

Safiya Jama, Somali interpreter

What’s one thing you’d like users of interpreters to know?

I would like to remind them not to use family members/minors for interpretation, in order to be consistent and accurate.

Five Question Friday: Ellen Wade

five_question_friday111Many parents would agree that getting kids to eat healthy can be a challenge. Whether a child has general nutrition issues or complex medical needs, a pediatric dietitian can help provide comprehensive nutrition assessments, treatment and follow-up to make sure he or she gets the nutrition needed to grow and develop.

Ellen Wade

Ellen Wade, MEd, RD, LD has worked

Ellen Wade, MEd, RD, LD, a pediatric clinical dietitian for the Minneapolis sixth floor, PICU and Children’s Home Care Pharmacy, tells us about her role and why she loves her job.

How long have you worked at Children’s?

I have worked at Children’s for 13 years, and I have been a dietitian for 30 years.

What does a typical day look like for you?

My electronic medical record task list will profile the patients I need to visit for the day, and then I prioritize my day into tasks. My planned day seldom turns into my actual day as new challenges develop for patient needs and plans change to make things work for the parents.

How did you decide to go into pediatrics?

I have always worked in a teaching hospital with multidisciplinary teams. Once I started my family, pediatric nutrition fit as the next logical step in my career. Being a parent of three children has helped me with compassion for parents in the raising of their children.

Q4_mighty_buttonWhat do you love most about your job?

The top 5 reasons I love my job:

5. I hear a good story of how Children’s helped a parent’s child or the child of a friend, every day.

4. I work with an excellent medical team, every day.

3. I meet one new patient/family, every day.

2. I am able to teach nutrition principles, every day.

1. I help a child in a small way, every day.

What is one interesting fact about you?

My hometown is Deerfield, Ill. I have lived in the Windy City, the Motor City, the Indy City, the Arch City, the Quaker Oats City, and I moved to the Twin Cities the year of the Halloween blizzard.

Five Question Friday: Dr. M. Jennifer Abuzzahab

five_question_friday111November is American Diabetes Month, so we caught up with M. Jennifer Abuzzahab, MD, to learn more about her role at Children’s and what families should know about childhood diabetes.

M. Jennifer Abuzzahab, MD, is a pediatric endocrinologist.

M. Jennifer Abuzzahab, MD, is a pediatric endocrinologist.

What is your role at Children’s and where do you work?

I am a pediatric endocrinologist. This means that I study hormones (the text messages that run around in your blood). My primary clinic is at the St. Paul campus, but I also see patients at the Woodbury location and at the Minneapolis clinic.

How did you decide to go into pediatrics?

I love the resilience of kids and the positive energy that they exude; it helps me get through the busy days. I also really like seeing kids grow up.

What are some of the conditions you treat?

I see kids with conditions such as diabetes (high blood sugar), hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), thyroid problems, multiple hormone deficiencies following cancer treatment, and growth and puberty disorders. Basically anything that would fit into a Dr. Seuss book: “too much,” “too little,” “too tall” or “too small.”

November is American Diabetes Month. What’s one thing you want families to know about childhood diabetes?

Q4_mighty_buttonAlthough there is more type 2 (adult) diabetes in teenagers, the majority of kids still have type 1 diabetes. This means that they have to check their blood sugar several times a day and take a shot of insulin every time they eat – every day, even on vacation. It also means they can have cake and ice cream at birthday parties, but just like everyone else, shouldn’t have cake and ice cream every day.

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

A doctor… family legend is that I wanted to be a “baby doctor” when I was 3. Both my parents stand by this (and their decision to give me the first name of Mary, but never, ever use it).

Five Question Friday: Brian Brooks

Five Question FridayBrian BrooksThis week, Children’s is celebrating our chaplaincy team as part of Spiritual Care Week. We’re pleased to introduce you to Brian Brooks, Children’s chaplaincy and bereavement manager.

How long have you worked at Children’s?

I have been at Children’s for almost 19 years. January will be 19 years.

Describe your role.

In my role, I lead the team of chaplains in providing spiritual care to the patients and families that we serve. I also provide spiritual care directly to patients and families. Chaplains care for patients and families from all faith groups and help patients and families find hope, strength and healing on their journey of illness or injury. Another of my roles is the bereavement coordinator for Children’s. Bereavement services provides bereavement followup for two years to all families who have experienced the death of a child at Children’s. Bereavement services provides hospital memorial services, grief groups and other supportive events for bereaved families.

What do you love most about your job?

I enjoy working with a great team of colleagues, not just the chaplains, but the entire medical team, physicians, nurses, social workers and child life specialists, to name a few. In my role as bereavement coordinator, I recruit employees from many different areas of the hospital to help create and implement the programming that supports bereaved families.

Oct. 20-24 is Spiritual Care Week. What’s one thing you want people to know about chaplaincy at Children’s?

As chaplains, we care for people wherever they are on their journey of life. We don’t require that people be religious. Chaplains meet people on the human level, listening to the hopes and fears of our patients and families (and staff as well) and help them find the inner strength that they need to meet the challenge facing them. We help them explore the spiritual issues that are raised by their illness or injury. We also help people to explore how they might find new spiritual or community resources that will help them on their journey. Our role is support and care for people just as they are.

subscribe_blogWhat is your favorite book or movie?

One of my favorite movies is “The Matrix.” I had a teenage patient who kept telling me about the movie and that I needed to watch it. I really didn’t want to see it, but I finally agreed one day to watch the first half-hour of the movie with him during an infusion in the clinic. I hoped he would quit asking me to see the movie! Needless to say, I was immediately taken in by the spiritual themes of the movie that seemed so overt when I finally watched it. I am grateful that my patient didn’t give up on me!

My favorite book is “The Purpose Driven Life.”

Five Question Friday: Brooke Blaschka

Five Question FridayEvery October, we celebrate National Respiratory Care Week to recognize our respiratory care professionals at Children’s. This week, we introduce you to Brooke Blaschka, a respiratory therapist who has worked at Children’s for just over two years.

Brooke Blaschka

Brooke Blaschka

What is your role? I am registered respiratory therapist. I work in all areas in all units at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota on the Minneapolis campus.

What do you love most about your job? The thing I love most about my job is being able to help the patients. Even if it’s one patient a day, at least I know that I played a role in their recovery process and that they might be one step closer to going home with their families.

What drew you to working in respiratory therapy? I always knew I wanted to take care of kids, so I did some investigating as to what I could do, other than nursing, that would give me the opportunity to work with children. I wasn’t sure what respiratory therapy was until I actually started the program, but when I found out I fell in love, so I stuck with it.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? When I was a kid, I wanted to somehow work with kids of all ages; it just took me sometime to figure out how I was going to do that.

How do you spend your time outside of work? Outside of work, I love to take my dog for a walk, I love to read, and I love to spend time with family “up north” at the cabin.