Category Archives: Five Question Friday

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.

Children’s nurse’s work picture perfect

Jonathan Matters is a registered nurse at Children's cancer and blood disorders clinic.

Jonathan Matters is a registered nurse at Children’s cancer and blood disorders clinic.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and all month long we’ve been sharing photos of some of our shining stars from our cancer and blood disorders program on our social media channels. These beautiful photos are the work of Jonathan Matters, a registered nurse who works in our cancer and blood disorders clinic. Get to know more about Jonathan and what inspired his photography project in this week’s Five Question Friday.

five_question_friday111What is your role at Children’s?

I am a registered nurse working at the cancer and blood disorders clinic in the infusion center. I spend a lot of time administering various infusions like chemotherapy, blood products and antibiotics as well as assisting with sedated procedures like lumbar punctures and bone marrow biopsies. I work closely with a large group of professionals dedicated to helping people affected by these horrible diseases. It takes an army of nurses, doctors, child life specialists, social workers, therapists, clinic assistants, volunteers and many more to support children and their families through treatment. I am extremely proud to be part of that team.

How long have you worked at Children’s?

I have worked at Children’s since 2007 when I started as an inpatient nurse on eighth floor, which was the hematology/oncology unit back then. I began in the clinic in 2012.

How do you spend your time outside of work?

I spend my time outside work with my family. My wife and I have 2-year-old and 4-month-old daughters who make our lives rich beyond belief as well as very, very busy. I love photography, which mixes well with our beautiful daughters. I also photograph various hematology/oncology charity events such as Camp VIP, St. Baldrick’s, Pine Tree Apple Tennis Classic, Shine Bright Bash and the CureSearch Walk.

You created a moving photography series of patients from our cancer and blood disorders program. Can you tell us more about this project and what inspired you?

In late August I approached our hematology/oncongology medical director, Dr. Susan Sencer, about an idea for a project for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. I was inspired by a powerful image of a patient with her mother that was burned into my mind. That mental picture had everything: innocence, strength, beauty, love. Anyone who works with these kids sees this kind of thing often. I wanted to take a photo for each day of the month to show people on the outside what childhood cancer really looks like. Most people don’t really know, and many simply don’t want to know. I thought if I could capture even a fraction of the beauty and strength of these children it would go a long way making people more aware and perhaps even encouraging them to donate to the cause. It happened that Dr. Sencer was meeting with Jimmy Bellamy, Children’s social media specialist, that very afternoon and could relay the idea. He had a parallel project called Shining Stars that was meant to raise money and promote Shine Bright Bash. It was a perfect match. I spent the next several weeks bringing my gear to the clinic and working quick portrait sessions into busy infusion days.

subscribe_blogWhat do you think makes kids amazing?

One thing that consistently amazes me about these kids is their resilience. Treatment puts massive physical and mental strain on these children. Both the disease and the cure assault their minds, bodies and spirits and yet they remain largely intact. All the different personalities also amaze me. No one child is the same but each one is incredibly complex and interesting. They have so much character despite their young age and the fact that they are undergoing a process that would bring a strong adult crashing to their knees. Some are hilarious, some are serious, some are quiet, and some are chatty. You get to know them and their parents very well because you see them at regular intervals over a period of years. You learn how to work with their unique personalities. It is both challenging and rewarding on a scale that few people can appreciate. When I tell people what I do for a living, the No. 1 response is “I couldn’t do that.” They don’t know how amazing these kids are and how rewarding it is to work with them. They don’t understand what it is like to go home with absolutely no doubt that your work meant something to someone.

Children’s employee has worn many hats in 20 years

five_question_friday111Desiree Wallace is a familiar face at Children’s. She’s celebrating her 20-year anniversary with the organization this year and has worked in a variety of roles — as a child life specialist, a family relations liaison, an organizational development consultant, a Lean consultant and currently as a human resources business partner. Get to know Des in this edition of Five Question Friday.

Desiree Wallace has worked in a variety of roles in the past 20 years at Children's.

Desiree Wallace has worked in a variety of roles in the past 20 years at Children’s.

What is your role at Children’s?

I am a human resources business partner. My primary role is to support leaders of various divisions and help them achieve their goals, specifically when it comes to people management. I am successful when my areas attract and retain the best talent on their teams, when teams feel they have skills and tools to do their best work, and when leaders feel confident they have the information and competencies to be high-performing managers and directors.

What’s an example of a time you saw a Children’s team member or team living our values?

I didn’t have the pleasure witnessing this example but was copied on an acknowledgment to a manger about his employee. The message came from Bieta, a unit operations coordinator in pre-op, who is REMARKABLE and works hard every day to collaborate and coordinate volunteers and interpreters for families in the waiting room. She sent this message: “It had been a particularly busy day on our unit and Osman (interpreter) was a tremendous help. He was troubleshooting printer issues, directing patient traffic, filling in until another interpreter arrived — all on top of his own duties. He goes above and beyond the call of duty with each and every family.” My thanks to them both for JOINING TOGETHER to meet our patient and family needs.

subscribe_blogWhat do you love most about your job?

I am passionate about the mission of Children’s. I love my current job, and every position that I’ve had here, because I get to make a difference, and Children’s makes me feel like that contribution is valued.

How do you spend your time outside of work?

I love spending time with friends, trying new restaurants, taking gym classes and playing volleyball. My time to do these things is limited, however, because the other way I get to touch lives and make a difference is by being the full-time night manager at Ronald McDonald House – Oak Street.

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

At which point of my childhood? I wanted to be a detective, then a lawyer, then an engineer (but only because the boy I had a crush on me told me I should because I was good at math and science). I ultimately thought I would be a child psychologist… and kind of am!

Meet Children’s new medical director of anatomic pathology

Megan Dishop, MD, is the medical director of anatomic pathology at Children's.

Megan Dishop, MD, is the medical director of anatomic pathology at Children’s.

Megan Dishop, MD, comes to Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota via Denver. She joined our team in March. Get to know her in this edition of Five Question Friday.

five_question_friday111What is your role and title?

I am a pediatric pathologist and one of five full-time pathologists here at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. My title is medical director of anatomic pathology, which means that I am responsible for the administrative oversight of our histology and immunohistochemistry laboratory, our surgical pathology and cytology services, and the autopsy service. In that role, I work closely with our medical director of laboratories, Dr. Carlos Galliani, our team of pathologists, and our pathologist assistant and histology supervisor, Melissa Turner, as well as our larger team of histotechnologists, laboratory information systems specialists, and administrative leaders in the laboratory and throughout our health system.

How long have you worked at Children’s?

I’ve been here about five months. I started in early March and moved from Denver. A lot of people ask me why I would want to move to Minnesota — especially in light of the milder climate and the mountains — but the answer is pretty simple. I saw a really great opportunity — a chance to be part of a laboratory and an organization that is ambitious and growing, that strives for clinical excellence above all else, and that offered me a chance to work with some truly stellar, hardworking and open-minded people with an obvious commitment to a transformative mission. And the lakes are nice, too.

What do you love most about your job?

I love the challenge of recognizing rare disease. I am a visual person and a problem-solver by nature, so making diagnoses from examining tissues and cells suits my natural abilities and the analytical part of my personality. Just when you think you have “seen it all,” something new comes up that challenges the prior dogmas or challenges me to go to the books or the medical literature to understand what I am seeing. While I don’t often get to meet our patients and families, personally, I have a strong sense of mission as a diagnostician, and my role allows me to have a significant impact on treatment decisions in many different pediatric specialties, and to contribute to the care of some of the sickest kids in the hospital, even if it is at a distance. In particular, my expertise in rare forms of lung disease enables me to see diagnostic lung biopsies from babies and children from all over the world — it’s a great feeling to be able to make recommendations and help physicians who are struggling with difficult diagnoses. There is no limit to what we at Children’s can do for the kids in our community and all over the globe.

subscribe_blogWhat’s your favorite memory from working at Children’s?

Well, I have only been here a short time, but so far my favorite memories are of people reaching out their hands and introducing themselves. Everybody has been very welcoming, and I love it when people initiate conversations and tell me about what they do. It helps me to learn more about the many “niches” of the talented people that work here.

How do you spend your time outside of work?

I spend time outside of work taking walks with my 11-year-old blue merle Great Dane, Samson. He is a wonderful old dog with a lot of presence and a magnetic personality. I find that he is helping me to meet all of my new neighbors, and the kids on my street just love him.

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.

Meet Sandy Bergeron, director of Volunteer Services

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

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

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

What is your role and title?

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

How long have you worked at Children’s? 

I have worked at Children’s for 23 years.

What do you love most about your job?

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

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

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

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

How do you spend your time outside of work?

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

Health and wellness are her emphasis

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

Alexa Ernst is Children's Be Well program coordinator.

Alexa Ernst is Children’s Be Well program coordinator.

What is your role and title?

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

How long have you worked in employee wellness?

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

What excites you most about this new role?

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

subscribe_blogWhy did you go into wellness?

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

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

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

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

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

Five Question Friday: Meet Kirsten Granberg

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

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

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

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

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

How long have you worked at Children’s?

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

What do you love most about your job?

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

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

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

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

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

Five Question Friday: Psychologist works to help children, families

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

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

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

What is your title? Describe your role.

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

How long have you worked at Children’s?

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

subscribe_blogWhat do you love most about your job?

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

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

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

How do you spend your time outside of work?

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

Meet Children’s new quality and patient safety manager


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

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

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

What is your title?

I’m the quality and patient safety manager.

How long have you worked at Children’s?

I have been at Children’s for six weeks.

What do you love most about your job?

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

Why did you go into nursing?

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

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

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

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

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