Author Archives: Brady.Gervais

Five Question Friday: Jeanine Schweiss

Jeanine Schweiss

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Curry-glazed carrots

A Quick Braise & Glaze
By Andrew Zimmern

Trying a healthier diet in 2014? This simple recipe is a good place to start. The flavor combination of carrots, curry, orange and ginger is amazing, not to mention incredibly nutritious.

Ingredient List

  • 2 pounds carrots
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 golfball size piece of fresh ginger, sliced
  • a pinch of red chile flakes

Instructions

Servings: about 6, as a side dish
Total Time: 30 min

Peel the carrots and slice about 1/3-inch thick on a 45-degree bias.

Combine all ingredients in a sauté pan over high heat.

When simmering, turn heat down to medium. Cover with a lid and cook for 3 minutes.

Remove lid and, while tossing regularly, reduce liquids to a tight glaze.

Season with sea salt and serve.

 

 

 

 

Photograph by Madeleine Hill.

Children’s Youth Advisory Council celebrates 10 years

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Influenza is now widespread in Minnesota. Here’s what you need to know.

By Patsy Stinchfield, MS, CPNP

Patsy is a pediatric nurse practitioner in infectious disease and the director of infection prevention and The Children’s Immunization Project at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

Update

Influenza is now “widespread” in 35 states, including Minnesota.

There is still time to get vaccinated if you and your family have not yet done so.

To learn more about how Children’s is helping prevent the spread of influenza in the community, click on over to www.childrensMN.org/flu.

This post originally appeared on the Mighty Blog on Jan. 2.

As of Jan. 2, 2014, the Minnesota Department of Health has declared influenza “widespread” across the state, the highest designation level. Over the past two weeks, influenza cases at Children’s have more than doubled, however they still remain below where they were at this time last year. Now that influenza has arrived, it’s likely that it will remain in full swing in Minnesota for the next two months.

So what can you do? The No. 1 way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated. And it’s not too late. Anyone 6 months of age and older who has not received their flu vaccine should do so now. Most clinics and pharmacies are still vaccinating and have a good supply of vaccine. The most common influenza strain we’re seeing is the H1N1 strain which is contained in this year’s vaccine. In addition to getting the vaccine, we also recommend frequent hand washing and avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth prior to washing your hands to help prevent the spread of illness.

If the flu has already reached your house, here are few helpful tips for caring for your child while they’re ill.

What’s the difference between the cold and the flu and how can I tell?

Sometimes it’s hard to know whether a child has a cold or the flu because she may cough, have a runny nose, sore throat and fatigue with both. However with the flu, a child tends to have a high fever which comes on more suddenly and may include severe fatigue and body aches. Colds tend to come on more gradually, and many kids may feel well enough to keep playing and going to school with a cold. Clinics may use a rapid nose swab test to determine if someone has influenza.

What should I do if I suspect influenza?

Most cases of influenza are mild and can be managed at home with rest, plenty of fluids, and fever-reducing medicines. Tender-loving care is good medicine, too. Most over-the-counter “cough and cold” medicines do not help a sick child get better faster and won’t have much effect on influenza. Sometimes, the flu can make a child very ill and a visit to the clinic or emergency room is necessary.

When should I take my child to the emergency department?

Take your child to be checked if they have difficulty breathing (fast, grunt-sounding, noisy breathing or small breaths), if their color looks bad (pale or bluish), if they aren’t drinking fluids often or urinating at least once every eight hours, or if they just aren’t themselves and you’re worried. Signs of dehydration are dry lips, sunken eyes, sleepiness or crankiness. Children who seem like they’re getting better and then suddenly get worse should be taken to the Emergency Department immediately. This could mean they have another infection such as pneumonia in addition to the flu.

What are the best ways to get my child’s fever down when she has the flu?

Fever is one of the tools our immune system uses to kill germs. However, children with high fever can feel quite miserable, get crabby, have trouble waking up and may drink less fluids causing dehydration. If you can’t keep the fever down with a fever-reducing medicine such as Tylenol or ibuprofen, then the child should be taken to the clinic or emergency department.

Is there anything else I can do to help make my child more comfortable?

You can keep your child home from day care, school, sports or other activities and have them rest early in their illness until they show signs of getting back to “their normal.” If your child doesn’t want to eat regular meals, don’t insist, but do make sure they drink small amounts of fluids every hour to prevent dehydration.

Is there anything I can do to help my child recover more quickly?

There is an anti-viral medicine called Tamiflu that can be given to children as young as 2 weeks of age. This is used if the child is hospitalized with moderate or severe influenza or if the child is outpatient but at higher risk for complications from influenza. These would be children with immune system problems or neurological, pulmonary, or metabolic underlying conditions. Tamiflu works best if given in the first two days of illness which can cut the severity and number of days of illness in half.

How long will my child be contagious?

Influenza is most contagious the day before symptoms present through about day four of illness. Your child should stay home from school during this time. After viral illnesses, kids can have lingering muscle or body aches and really do need time to rest and recover before rushing back to school. They can often pick up other viruses easily and may have a lingering cough as their airway heals. Depending on the severity of the flu, this may be a few days to a few weeks. Most kids recover within a week. Remember that many schools require that your child be fever-free (without the help of medicines) for one to two days before returning to school or day care.

Staying safe on the go: winter travel tips

Here in Minnesota, Gov. Mark Dayton just announced that all of Minnesota’s public schools would be closed Monday, Jan. 6. Why? The coldest temperatures in a decade are forecast to descend on much of Minnesota. Lows are expected to reach minus 30 degrees with wind chills predicted as low as minus 50 degrees in some parts of the state.

If you and your family have to venture out into the cold over the next few days, here are some great tips, compiled by Children’s Injury Prevention team.

Before You Go:

Pack a winter survival kit.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety recommends keeping the following items in your car at all times during the winter months:

  • Metal coffee can, candles, and matches to melt snow for drinking water
  • Brightly-colored bandana or fabric and/or a whistle to alert others of your location
  • Pencil/Paper – or even some crayons and games to keep kids occupied
  • First Aid Kit
  • A battery-powered or crank-powered light; replace batteries yearly
  • Large plastic bags and safety pins to keep your feet dry and insulated
  • Snacks such as energy bars or other non-perishable foods

When possible, drivers should also make room in their vehicles for a shovel, extra warm clothes, jumper cables, tow chains, blanket or sleeping bag, and a container of sand, salt, or cat litter for traction.

Dial 511, visit www.511mn.org, or download MN DOT’s 511 app to your smart phone to check road conditions before you go, and always call ahead to your destination so someone knows when to expect you.

If you do get stranded, don’t panic. Stay with your car and don’t keep it running if your exhaust pipe isn’t totally clear of snow.  If you do keep the car running, open a window slightly to reduce your family’s risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Lastly, COMPLETELY clean off all of your windows of snow and ice before you drive.

On the Road:

Keeping your family safe while on the road in icy and wet conditions takes a little extra planning. The Minnesota Department of Transportation recommends the following tips when you’re behind the wheel:

  • Turn on your headlights and ALWAYS wear your seat belt
  • Turn off your cruise control – if you hit a patch of ice, your cruise control will cause your wheels to spin faster, putting you in higher danger of losing control of your vehicle
  • Stay at least 5 car lengths back, and be aware of snow plows as they turn frequently, sometimes with little or no warning
  • Be comfortable with your vehicle’s braking system; never pump anti-lock brakes; instead, apply firm pressure and steer in the direction you want to go
  • Using a lower gear can help slow your car down
  • Make turns as square as possible; reducing the length of the arc on turns can prevent your car from sliding around corners

At your Destination:

As you and your family get out of the car, be aware of traffic passing nearby and be aware of the conditions under your feet. Assume there’s ice underneath the snow and take precautions so you don’t fall.

  • Point your feet out slightly like a penguin to increase your center of gravity
  • Bend your legs and walk flat-footed
  • Keep your hands out of your pockets; your arms can be used to help keep your balance
  • If you do fall, try landing on your side or bottom and don’t brace your fall with your knees, wrists, or neck; relax your muscles as you fall to reduce injury

And if you’re planning on going on frozen water, please stay safe and understand the conditions of the ice.  The DNR has great tips on what to consider if you’re headed out on the lakes.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Check out these links on other winter driving and safety tips:

MN Department of Transportation

Minnesota Safety Council

MN Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management

Have an active winter: Stay safe with these tips

Minnesota winters bring with them plenty of opportunity for fun in the snow and on the ice, especially when kids are home from school during winter break.

Follow these tips to help keep you and your family safe during the cold winter months.

Before venturing outside, be aware of conditions that may cause frostbite (freezing of skin exposed to cold temperatures) and hypothermia (dangerously low body temperature).

Wear the right clothes
Wind, moisture and contact with cold surfaces can all contribute to body heat loss, so dressing appropriately is important to avoid frostbite or hypothermia.

  • Waterproof coat, snow pants and boots will help keep moisture out and warmth in.
  • Cover exposed skin as much as possible with gloves, a scarf and long socks, and be sure to wear a hat that covers your ears.
  • Dress in layers and avoid materials like cotton that soak up moisture.

Be sure an adult is nearby when kids are playing outside and make sure everyone goes inside regularly to warm up.

Sledding

  • Never sled in an area where there is traffic.
  • Wear a ski or bike helmet. A light stocking cap can fit under most helmets while still fitting appropriately.
  • Sleds that you can steer tend to be safer than disks, flat or roll-up sleds or toboggans.
  • Choose hills free of trees, ponds, ice, fences, ditches, and large bumps.
  • Take turns; wait for others to sled and get out of the way before following behind.
  • Always go feet first down the hill.

Skiing and snowboarding

  • Wear a helmet approved for skiing, goggles and other appropriate equipment, such as wrist guards.
  • Go on hills appropriate for your skill level.
  • Remember skiing and snowboarding are sports; you should stretch to warm up your muscles beforehand, eat well and stay hydrated.

Skating
Choose to skate on groomed ice rinks like the ones you find at arenas or parks rather than lakes or ponds when possible. If you do go out on open water, check with the Department of Natural Resources to make sure the ice is thick enough. No matter where you skate, follow these tips:

  • Wear a properly-fitting helmet and other safety gear to protect your head and joints from injury if you fall.
  • Make sure your skates fit right and are laced up tight.
  • If you skate outside, avoid ice with cracks, slush, and darker area of ice – these are all indicators that it’s not safe.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety also has information on winter safety, which is available here.

Gavin Pierson to ‘Lead the Team’

Gavin Pierson, 7, and his neurosurgeon, Dr. Joseph Petronio

In April 2012, Gavin Pierson was diagnosed with a brain tumor that he has since nicknamed Joe Bully.

Gavin, 7, has undergone chemo therapy, numerous craniotomies and, most recently, MRI-guided laser surgery to help obliterate the tumor. He also takes numerous drugs, and he is the only child in the country to receive the clinical trial drug, Palbociclib.

He’s in the second grade and loves math. In his spare time, he plays games, watches movies and visits with his family and friends. Before he was diagnosed, he was a gymnast and played T-ball. And, until his recent surgery, he ran and played football. With the help of his care team and loved ones, he’s trying to return to those fun activities.

“Gavin’s nemesis is Joe Bully. He bravely goes into procedures, scans, and surgeries knowing it is part of the fight,” said his mom, Nicole Pierson. “Superheroes have to look fear in the face and overcome it despite the difficulties that arise. Gavin’s journey has not been without complications. Yet every time a new roadblock comes up, he knocks it down. He tells us every day, ‘I will never give up the fight, and I will win.’”

We welcome Gavin and his family as he leads the Vikings onto the field before their Sunday match-up against the Detroit Lions.

Gavin Leads The Vikings Onto The Field   Gavin With Viktor the Viking   Gavin Hi-Fives Viktor the Viking

Five Question Friday: Jennifer Lissick

Jenniefer Lissick - Five Question Friday

Jenniefer Lissick

Meet Jennifer Lissick, a member of our pharmacy team!

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

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

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

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

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

Mexican Hot Chocolate

This spiced Mexican-style hot chocolate is so easy to make at home, and a thousand times more delicious than pre-packaged Swiss Miss. There’s nothing better than a mug of hot chocolate during the holidays – it’s decadent, rich, comfort in a cup that warms you up from the inside out. You can serve this wintery beverage on its own, or top it with marshmallows or whipped cream. – Andrew Zimmern

Photo by Madeleine Hill

Ingredient list

  • 10 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped fine
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon natural almond extract
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • 1 pinch allspice
  • 1 quart milk

Instructions

Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: Roughly 4 cups

Bring milk to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium low heat.

Whisk in the remaining ingredients until chocolate is melted and milk is frothy.

 

Katie’s story: Kindness can be its own special medicine

By Veronica Stoltz

If you‘ve ever stood by your child’s bedside hoping and praying that he or she will recover, you may have made a few bargains with “The Universe.”  Mine included a vow to pay close attention to the kindness extended to our family during my daughter’s lengthy hospitalization and a pledge to find ways to personally give back. 

My daughter, Katie, was born 15 weeks prematurely, weighing just 1 pound. She was incredibly fragile and her condition was precarious. She was ventilator dependent and developed a blood stream infection. At one point, a doctor warned us, her condition “could quickly become incompatible with life.”

Gratefully, Katie was no more ready to leave this life, than we were ready to part with her. She fought hard and overcame a host of complications. These included bronchopulmonary dysplasia, pulmonary hypertension and chronic lung disease. She also required laser eye surgery for severe retinopathy of prematurity. She needed 21 blood transfusions and was given paralytics with sedation to prevent her from using her precious energy for anything other than sustaining life.

But thanks to the attentive and expert care she received at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, she became stronger each and every day of her 99-day hospitalization. And when she weighed just a whiff over 5 pounds, she was able to come home to our grateful family on Easter Sunday in 2009.

Now, four-and-a-half years later, Katie is a perfectly healthy little girl. She loves all things pink, “Hello Kitty,” and sparkly—and finding all three at once is nirvana! She loves to run, do somersaults, and work on her cartwheel techniques on the sidelines of her big brothers’ football games.

This fall, she will start kindergarten.  She will learn that the letter “X” is for X-ray, and be able to show her class one of her own. She will have an atypical baby picture to put on her “All about Me” poster, and she may bring some interesting hospital stuff for show-and-tell. But she will speak of all of these things in the past tense. Because Children’s helped her conquer challenges and realize her potential.  So now she can focus on more important things….like glitter and finger paint.

During the time when I truly didn’t know if my daughter was going to live or die, I felt like a live electrical wire which had been stripped of all of its insulation. I was ultra-sensitive to everything around me.  I was easily confused, worried, and overwhelmed. But I was also easily touched, amazed, and deeply moved.

Put very simply, I was extremely vulnerable. Most patients and their families are.

That’s why little things make such a big difference.

We are so grateful that our child and our family were not just “treated” at Children’s but “lovingly cared for.” There’s a big difference.

That’s why we’ve found ways to personally give back, and it has been one of the greatest experiences of our lives. It has strengthened and unified our family tremendously.

Giving back has helped us feel like we didn’t just go through a difficult medical experience, but that we allowed that experience to pass through us; transforming who we are and the value we now place on the things that matter most: love, family, life, and health.

Hardship is a great clarifier. So is service.

Compassion is contagious. It is the only thing Children’s infection control efforts can’t touch. Once you have felt its impact, you are smitten. You know that the smile you helped to bring to a child’s face is part of what is helping him or her to feel empowered to heal, and you want to be part of that anyway you can.

I give to Children’s partially because of my immense gratitude for Katie’s presence in our family, and partially because I know first-hand that “kindness” is its own kind of special medicine.

 

Katie is just one of the many fighters that Children’s is proud to care for each year, and we couldn’t do it without your support. Your donation helps us provide Minnesota’s kids with some of the best medical care in the world. From surgeries big and small, to cancer care, to innovative pain management techniques, nobody treats kids like we do. Thank you for your support today, and helping kids just like Katie.