Category Archives: Featured

Give a $5, share a high five for Children’s Minnesota

Donate $5 to Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota at, capture your best high five in a photo or video, share it and tag five friends to do the same, using #givea5. (Photo by Jonathan Matters)

Jimmy Bellamy

Alyse Erickson’s smile is worth a million dollars. Everyone who has met her would agree. What’s amazing is that the 5-year-old has smiled and high-fived her way through every needle poke and procedure during treatment for B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

I don’t have a beautiful smile like Alyse, but I can high-five with the best of ’em. With that in mind, my colleagues at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota and I want these high fives to be worth something, too.

As a non-profit, Children’s Minnesota relies on your generosity to help us continually create better health care for kids. We can continue to give Alyse and all kids the best care possible with your help.

Introducing Give a $5

Participate in Give a $5 by donating $5 to Children’s Minnesota. Or $15. Or $50. Or even $500. All donations are welcome, and every bit helps — plus they’re tax deductible.

How do you Give a $5? It’s easy.

  • Go to to donate.
  • Capture your best high five in a photo or video.
  • Share it on social media and tag five friends to do the same, using the hashtag #givea5.

You also can use our digital toolkit to customize your social sharing experience. Join our movement and help us care for the most amazing people on earth.

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

“Children’s Pedcast”: Giving season begins at Children’s Minnesota

subscribe_blogAnnie Waters, the director of annual giving in the foundation at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, talks about fundraising, philanthropy and how to donate as we head into giving season.

The foundation at Children’s Minnesota raises money, year-round, through signature and third-party events, as well as the generosity of supporters and donors. Philanthropy continues near the end of the year with Give to the Max Day (Nov. 12) and the holiday season.

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

Tips for a safe Halloween trick-or-treating experience


When it comes to trick-or-treating, it’s important to prepare to immerse kids in an environment full of “fake” danger while teaching them to respect real danger.

Dex Tuttle

At 2 years old, it took my daughter, Quinnlyn, exactly one house to figure out how the whole trick-or-treating thing worked. That’s when I fell into a parenting crisis.

After much scrutiny, she chose to be Supergirl for Halloween in 2014. She had no clue who that was — and still doesn’t — but dang it, the costume looked cool. We went out in South Minneapolis with a friend of mine — whose daughter was a dragon — and had, in my biased opinion, the two cutest trick-or-treaters in the neighborhood.

It was fun to watch. We explained what she was going to do and sent her up to the first house. After that, she was in the zone and we had to reel her back in when she tried to approach houses without the front lights on. I was in true parental awe as I watched her embrace this new activity and basked in the glow of the girls’ laughter and smiles as we made our way down the block.

Suddenly, reality set in and I started wondering what I was teaching my daughter: “strangers + candy = AWESOME!” As I wondered how to explain to a 2-year-old that this is only a one-day-a-year thing — even though she didn’t know what a “year” is — and that she shouldn’t take things from strangers, though everyone is a “stranger” to her, I was awoken to the traffic whizzing by on the busy street behind me.

That’s one of many moments where the balance of parenting was woefully tricky; it’s easy to get lost in a child’s joy and happiness. I believe that I have a responsibility to protect Quinnlyn’s sense of imagination, and what better way to explore imagination than pretending to be a superhero for a day? Halloween shifted from just a fun day to an important moment in her development; how quickly I forgot to make sure she had boundaries and understood where risks existed.


(click image to enlarge)

It’s easy to get lost in surprise at how much their young minds understand and, in turn, forget about all the things they don’t. After all, it’s not easy to immerse them in an environment that’s full of “fake” danger — scary creatures hiding in the darkness that light up and move as you approach, or ghoulish costumes designed to turn the strongest of stomachs — while teaching them to respect real danger.

  • Talk to your kids about Halloween before they go out — give them boundaries and teach them that not everything out there is designed to be fun.
  • Wear reflective clothing and make sure everyone has a light with them.
  • Supervise children at all times and monitor interactions with people who answer the door.
  • Cross the street only at intersections and be sure drivers see you.
  • Inspect all candy and “treats” before they eat any and throw away anything that’s opened or looks suspicious.

These and more helpful tips

trick or treating M0297_PSA_MSS_Making Safe Simple Handouts_FA-3

(click image to enlarge)

This year, I’ll be taking my little zebra rider out into the neighborhood, but I’ll make sure our Halloween experience isn’t a total zoo.

Dex Tuttle is the injury prevention program coordinator at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

Sanofi US voluntarily recalls all Auvi-Q epinephrine auto-injectors


Epinephrine injection manufacturer Sanofi US has voluntarily recalled all Auvi-Q (epinephrine injection, USP) products on the market, including 0.15 and 0.3 milligrams strength, because they potentially could deliver an inaccurate dosage. It’s possible that Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota patients or families may have received a prescription for this product.

Please contact your health care provider for a replacement prescription. In the event of a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), patients should only use their Auvi-Q device if another epinephrine auto-injector isn’t available, and then call 911.

Go to for a list of frequently asked questions and more information regarding the recall. Call 1 (877) 319-8963 or 1 (866) 726-6340 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday for information about how to return Auvi-Q devices. Sanofi US will reimburse out-of-pocket costs to those with proof of purchase of epinephrine auto-injectors.


FDA: Information on Sanofi US voluntary recall


EpiPen Auto-Injector manufacturer Mylan has confirmed it has additional products available for those affected by the Auvi-Q recall.

Five Question Friday: Get to know Children’s – Minnetonka patient care manager

five_question_friday111Our Children’s – Minnetonka campus offers a wide range of services, including surgery, radiology/diagnostic imaging, endocrinology/diabetes, ENT, gynecology, neurosurgery, audiology, and physical, occupational and speech therapies for families in the west metro. Erin Curtis, RN, BSN, is the patient care manager for the surgery center in Minnetonka, where teams perform more than 3,200 outpatient surgeries each year. Erin tells us more about her role and her amazing team in this week’s Five Question Friday.


Erin Curtis, RN, BSN, enjoys spending time at the cabin with her kids.

How long have you worked at Children’s Minnesota?

I have been at Children’s for 10 months; it will be one year in January.

What do you love most about your job?

The part of my job I love the most is rounding on the families after their children have had surgery. They are usually very satisfied with their services here and have great things to say about the staff. It really makes me smile that the staff do such a great job to impact these families and children’s lives with such a great experience when surgery is not always ideal.

What do you think makes kids amazing?

I think kids make themselves amazing. They are each such unique individuals with their own little personalities. I love their innocence and great view of the world. Their amazingness also pushes me further to be the best I can be for them, because often times we are their advocate.

subscribe_blogWhat was an example of a time you saw a Children’s Minnesota team or team member living out our values?

I feel that our team members really advocate for the child. I have seen the team go above and beyond multiple times to arrange for a history and physical to be completed so the child can go ahead with surgery. The doctor or anesthesiologist doesn’t have to do this, but I love when they do and put the needs of the child first. When rounding on a family recently, they expressed how satisfied they were with their nurse and how she explained everything to them and they really felt well-prepared through the whole process — so glad to have remarkable staff living the values every day!

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

The cabin; it’s always my happy place where my kids love to be.

13 water safety tips for kids

A common misconception is that kids only drown in deep water. A child can actually drown in only a few inches of water. Always keep children within arm’s reach. (iStock photo)

Manu Madhok, MD

Manu Madhok, MD

Every summer, we read and hear about children who die due to accidental drowning. Sadly, this summer has been no exception in Minnesota.

Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death among children ages 1-4. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most drownings among children ages 1-4 occur in the pool at home. Drowning remains the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death behind motor vehicle crashes among children 1-14.

While drowning is a tragedy, it’s one that can be prevented. I’ve compiled a list of tips I commonly share with parents and caregivers to make sure their kids are safe in and near the water.

Children ages 1-5

A common misconception is that kids only drown in deep water. A child can actually drown in only a few inches of water.

  • Always keep children within arm’s reach.
  • Inflatable aids are not substitutes for adult supervision.
  • Enforce pool safety rules. That means no running or pushing.

Children ages 5-12

  • Don’t allow horseplay.
  • Make sure your child never swims alone and always is within view of an adult.
  • Children should receive swimming lessons from a qualified instructor.

subscribe_blogOpen water

  • Never allow a child to dive in without first checking the depth.
  • Choose a swimming area that is under a lifeguard’s supervision.
  • A child always should wear a life jacket while riding in a boat.

Backyard pool

  • The pool needs to have a 4-foot-tall fence surrounding it on all sides.
  • Use a rigid cover for the pool.
  • Install compliant, anti-entrapment drain covers.
  • Pool owners should know CPR.

Children’s has one of the busiest pediatric emergency programs in the country, with about 90,000 visits each year. We love kids here at Children’s, but we’d rather see them safe at home. With warm weather upon us, we compiled a list of basic tips, with help from our injury prevention experts, to keep kids safe all summer. Together, we can make safe simple.

Additional resources

Manu Madhok, MD, specializes in pediatric emergency medicine at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

5 things you may not know about music therapy

Erinn Frees (right), a music therapist at Children’s, tells us five things you may not know about music therapy. At left is music therapist Kim Arter.

In honor of Music Therapy Week, music therapist Erinn Frees gives us a look at her job at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.subscribe_blog

Stepping onto the Children’s elevators each day, guitars on our backs and instruments in hand, we tend to draw comments from fellow riders. They range from the typical “You must be the entertainment” to “Do you actually play all those instruments?” to “I wish I had your job.”

Although explaining the ins and outs of music therapy isn’t always possible by the time one of us gets off on the fourth floor, we do usually manage to smile and say, “I’m one of the music therapists.” After being in this field for almost seven years, I find that this doesn’t always provide a lot of clarification. So in no particular order, here are five things that you might not know about music therapy:

1. Music therapy isn’t just for fun. Don’t get me wrong, music therapy usually is funWhat kid or teen doesn’t enjoy music, especially when they get to play along on a shaker or fancy electronic drum set?  However, a casual observer may not notice that a music therapist has goals for each patient he/she works with, ranging from giving a 3-year-old an effective means of emotional expression when he doesn’t have the words, to giving a 15-year-old relaxation strategies using music during a procedure, to motivating a 10-year-old to get out of bed.  The point of music therapy is that we are using the musical experience as a means of reaching a non-musical goal.

2. A child doesn’t need to be a musician or have musical experience to benefit from music therapy. Our goal as music therapists is not to teach kids how to play an instrument, or sing better, or dazzle everyone with their harmonica stylings. Therefore, the child doesn’t need to be musical to benefit from music therapy. Even patients who are sedated can benefit from music therapy, as music therapy can lower heart rate and blood pressure, as well as increase oxygen saturations. Patients who are able to participate on a more active level can play drums, shakers, xylophones and even a special type of harp with little to no previous musical experience.  A music therapist may use teaching the guitar as a way to improve the child’s fine motor skills, or having a child blow through the harmonica as a way to encourage deep breathing, but learning skills on these instruments is never the goal of the session.

3. We always use patient-preferred music. Music therapists use music from all genres to effect positive changes in the patients we work with.  We wouldn’t use “Old MacDonald” in a session with a 16-year-old (unless he or she requested it!) and we probably wouldn’t use a song from the 1920s with a 5-year-old. One of the first things music therapists ask when getting to know a new patient is what kind of music the he or she prefers.  We then work to accomplish our goals using this or similar music. We can’t promise to know every song, (we’re not human jukeboxes!) but we can always use recorded music or find a similar song if need be.

4. Music therapists are not just musicians waiting to make our big break on “American Idol.” Across the board, the music therapists I know went into the field because they want to use their passion for music to make a difference in people’s lives. We went to school for four or six years to do exactly what we do: music therapy. We spent six full months doing an unpaid music therapy internship and worked hard for the jobs we have. Although some music therapists perform outside of their day jobs, we are not performing when we are working with patients. Just listening to us sing is not likely to accomplish very many therapeutic goals!

5. We don’t just sing and play instruments. We do a lot of singing and instrument play with kids, this is true. However, we also work with kids doing songwriting (for emotional expression, processing, or a way to “tell your story”), lyric discussion (again to process emotions, facilitate coping, or put a new perspective on problems), music-assisted relaxation, procedural support, recording, and CD compilation.

So let’s go back to the elevator, so we can finish those conversations:

“You must be the entertainment!” – No, I’m not a performer. I do get to spend the day making great music with courageous, insightful and amazing kids, though!

“Do you actually play all those instruments?” Yes, I can… but I’d rather have the kids playing them!

“I wish I had your job!” – Yes, it is a wonderful and rewarding profession, and I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else!

Meet Katie

What Katie loves most about Children’s is the music therapy program.

What Katie loves most about Children’s is the music therapy program.

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

Q4_mighty_buttonName: Katie

Age: 5

Hometown: Eden Prairie

Katie was rushed from Abbott Northwestern Hospital to Children’s after she was born 15 weeks early. She only weighed a pound and had to stay in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for 99 days. According to her mom, she is now happy, healthy and doing wonderfully.

When Katie grows up, she wants to be a dancer. She loves to dance.

What Katie loves most about Children’s is the music therapy program. Her brother, a member of our Youth Advisory Council (YAC), even helped to design a music cart for the music therapists at Children’s.

Five Question Friday: Terrance Davis

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

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

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

How long have you worked at Children’s?

I have worked here for 25 years.

Describe your role.

I clean surgery rooms between cases and stock supplies.

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

I have a few favorites:

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

What do you think make kids great?

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

What is one interesting fact about you?

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

Five Question Friday: Kelly Patnode

Five Question Friday

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

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

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

How long have you worked at Children’s?

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

What drew you to Children’s?

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

Subscribe to MightyWhat is a typical day like for you?

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

What do you love most about your job?

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

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

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