Category Archives: Featured

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 Pedcast”: How Make-A-Wish Minnesota grants wishes

subscribe_blogDr. Joanna Perkins, an oncologist at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, and Carleen Crouse, program manager at Make-A-Wish Minnesota, join the show to talk about Make-A-Wish Minnesota, its relationship with Children’s Minnesota, the wish-granting process and the hospital’s role in a patient’s wish. Crouse also talks about how many wishes are granted each year and shares a variety of wishes Make-A-Wish Minnesota has granted.

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

Supporters to walk at Mall of America for hydrocephalus awareness

sur_lfs_appointment_20140311_ch_075In summer 2016, the Twin Cities will be the center of the hydrocephalus universe when it hosts the Hydrocephalus Association’s biennial national conference in Minneapolis. But on Saturday and Sunday they get a head start.

subscribe_blogThe Minnesota-Twin Cities Walk and Networking Weekend for hydrocephalus, a chronic condition caused by an excessive buildup of cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) in the brain, takes place Sunday at the Mall of America in Bloomington. Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota and its neurosurgery program are sponsors of the event.

Check-in for the walk is 7 a.m., kickoff is at 8 and the walk starts on the first floor at 8:15. There is a pre-walk networking event from 5-9 p.m. Saturday on the fourth floor in the Mall of America’s Executive Suites near the Skydeck.

11 facts about hydrocephalus (from the Hydrocephalus Association):

  • One million Americans live with hydrocephalus.
  • Brain surgery related to hydrocephalus is performed every 15 minutes.
  • Each year, hydrocephalus is the cause of more than 39,000 brain surgeries.
  • For people living with hydrocephalus, the only cure for a headache is brain surgery.
  • Anyone at any age can develop hydrocephalus.
  • The only treatment for hydrocephalus is brain surgery.
  • Hydrocephalus is the most common reason for brain surgery in kids.
  • NPH (normal pressure hydrocephalus), usually developed later in life, often is misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Many troops who suffer a traumatic brain injury while serving eventually develop hydrocephalus.
  • Hydrocephalus is a lifelong condition; it can’t “go into remission.”
  • There is no cure for hydrocephalus.

M0521_AMB_SUR_Hydrocephalus handout_Print_Page_2How you can help

September is Hydrocephalus Awareness Month. This year the Hydrocephalus Association launched a campaign called “Turn the Country Hydrocephalus Blue!” to help raise awareness.


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!

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.

Children’s, Twin Cities Moms Blog host #MNvaxchat

Subscribe to MightyAugust is National Immunization Awareness Month, and Minnesota’s new immunization requirements take effect Sept. 1. With that and back-to-school mode under way, we’ll be co-hosting a Twitter chat with our friends at Twin Cities Moms Blog.

Join us for the live chat, using #MNvaxchat from 8-9 p.m. Monday, that will feature Patsy Stinchfield, PNP, director of Infection Prevention and Control and the Children’s Immunization Project at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. Children’s and Twin Cities Moms Blog will be there, too. Participants who use #MNvaxchat in tweets during the live chat qualify for a chance to win a $50 Target gift card.

ALSO: Read the Children’s vaccinations blog archive on Mighty.

UPDATE: Participation strong, informative on #MNvaxchat