Category Archives: Staff profiles and news

Meet Children’s new quality and patient safety manager

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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.

Children’s welcomes new neurologist

five_question_friday111In recognition of Brain Injury Awareness Month and our focus on neurology, we’d like you to meet Douglas Hyder, MD, in this edition of Five Question Friday.

Douglas Hyder, MD

Douglas Hyder, MD

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

I am a pediatric neurologist. Pediatric neurology is a medical field focusing on the growth and development of the central nervous system, peripheral nervous system, and muscles. There is significant overlap with developmental pediatrics, psychiatry, psychology, neurosurgery, orthopedics, physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R), ophthalmology, genetics, physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy. My job is similar to a detective. I look for clues in a patient’s history and physical exam to find out why something is happening and what can be done about it. Not all of the symptoms we see are necessarily abnormal.

We’re fortunate that there has been tremendous progress in diagnosis and treatment of neurological conditions over the past few decades. The work is far from complete, but we can offer so much more to patients today than when I first started in neurology 20 years ago.

How long have you worked at Children’s?

I’ve only been here a couple of months, but I’m originally from the Midwest, so the Twin Cities already feels like home.

What do you love most about your job?

I most enjoy teaching. Many of the conditions we diagnose need to be explained well in order for parents to understand what is going on with their child. I try to do that with all of my patients, but those light-bulb moments are especially gratifying.

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

Everything; a cowboy, scuba diver, race-car driver, drummer, police officer, astronaut, president, boxer, baseball player!

I still want to be a race-car driver.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Bicycling. I try to ride every day when it’s not too cold.

Meet a familiar face from Children’s

five_question_friday111If you’ve visited Starz Café at Children’s – Minneapolis, there’s a good chance you’ve seen Latisa Tyus. She and her smile are a Starz staple. Get to know Latisa in this edition of Five Question Friday.

Latisa Tyus has been with Children's for 17 years.

Latisa Tyus has been with Children’s for 17 years.

What is your title? Describe your role.

I’m a dietary aide in Nutrition Services. Currently I work as the cashier in Starz Café.  I ring up customers, set up food and beverages and clean the tables in the café.

How long have you worked at Children’s?

I have worked at Children’s for 17 years.

What do you love most about your job?

The thing I love most of all is putting a smile on people’s faces when they are having a tough day. Whether it’s a patient’s family, staff or a visitor, I love being able to make people smile.

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

subscribe_blogI remember when I started here and had been here only three days. Christine from the lab came in to collect a prize from the café, and I told her I was new and had to find someone to give her the prize. She was just so nice to me, and I still remember what she was wearing. To this day we still talk about how nice it is to work in such a great community here at Children’s.

How do you spend your time outside of work?

I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. I love going to sporting events and love watching them on TV. I enjoy reading thriller books and am a music fanatic. I especially like music from the ’70s-’90s.

Five Question Friday: Meet one of Children’s geeks

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Children’s is fortunate to have an incredible staff of technology experts from Best Buy’s Geek Squad Precinct inside its Minneapolis and St. Paul hospitals. One of those Geek Squaders is the multitalented Jake Beaver. Get to know Jake in this edition of Five Question Friday.

Outside of his work at Children's, Jake Beaver hosts and runs a number of podcasts/radio shows.

Outside of his work at Children’s, Jake Beaver hosts and runs a number of podcasts/radio shows.

What’s your role at the Geek Squad Precinct?

I work on getting the conference rooms set up for all types of meetings and conferences. I make sure that everything is functional with the technology in the room before the meeting starts. If there seems to be any issues with some of the meeting rooms, I am on hand to troubleshoot and make things work. I work on audio-video projects around the hospital such as the Squeezebox radios in the ORs, helping with PowerPoints for meetings, and answering general technology questions throughout the day.

How long have you worked at Children’s?

I started my role at Children’s in July 2012 and have loved every moment of it.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Most days I will have a schedule of meetings to attend. Depending on the meeting, some of them, I will set up and be on call to be able to run over to the room if there are issues, while other meetings I will be in attendance in full to help make the technology run smoothly. I am also in a support role for other technology around the meeting rooms if something breaks or needs to be adjusted.

What do you love most about your job?

I really love the interaction with the staff at Children’s. Everyone has been so personable and kind that it makes coming to work fun. I look forward to see what challenges are going to be brought to me; makes every day a little different.

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

I always wanted to be an entertainer of sorts. I had dreams of working as a music video director (yes, there were such things as music videos once). As time went on, I wanted to have a career in radio and television, so why not go to the next best thing — Best Buy. They sell a lot of TVs, so it was the closest I thought I would get to it.

subscribe_blogWhat do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Outside of work I spend a good portion of my time with my 5-year-old son, Teddy. He is one of the coolest kids ever, and I’m not just saying that because he is my boy. He has tendency to surprise me every day with something new. I work on/own a live podcast network where we run 11 different talk shows a week. I produce a total of five different shows, and I’m an on-air host of two shows. One of those shows plays host to bar trivia twice a week where myself and two other hosts bring 60 questions each week to patrons who have a chance to win a lot of cool prizes. It definitely keeps me busy, which is good; keeps me out of trouble… sometimes.

Five Question Friday: Meet clinical educator Song Khang

five_question_friday111For Five Question Friday, we’d like you to meet Song Khang. She’s a clinical educator on the sixth floor at Children’s – St. Paul.

Song Khang is a clinical educator at Children's – St. Paul.

Song Khang is a clinical educator at Children’s – St. Paul.

How long have you worked at Children’s?

I have been at Children’s for about nine years.

What do you love most about your job?

First and foremost, I enjoy taking care of patients and families. I like that every day is a different experience, even if I am taking care of the same set of patients. I like that I am helping my patient and families and knowing that I always try to provide the best care I can every time I am working. I enjoy learning, and with this job I learn something new every day. Lastly, I enjoy precepting and orienting nurses. I feel that good orientations are important for nurses and have a long-lasting impact on their nursing careers.

Why did you go into nursing?

There is such a variety of work that you can do when you go into nursing. Nurses are needed in so many settings. You can be in the hospitals, clinics, homes, schools, parishes, corporations, etc. I went into nursing because I like with working with people, especially kids. I like that nursing focus on a holistic approach and so we are not just caring for our patients’ bodies, but their mind and soul, too. And I like working at Children’s because I get to do both of those things.

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

My most-favorite memory is a funny one. One evening, one of our patients was sad and we just could not get her out that mood. So another nurse, one of our certified surgical assistants (CSA), and I decided we were going to make her laugh. We decided to surprise her and dance to “Gangnam Style” in her room. It worked because she laughed and afterwards told us she thought we were silly. But she said that with a smile on her face.

How do you spend your time outside of work?

When I am not working, I spend time with my husband and my two little dogs.

Five Question Friday: Mignon Miller

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

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

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

How long have you worked at Children’s?

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

What does a typical day look like for you?

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

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

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

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

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

How do you spend your time outside of work?

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

Five Question Friday: Dr. Stefan Friedrichsdorf

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

Stefan Friedrichsdorf, MD

Stefan Friedrichsdorf, MD

How long have you worked at Children’s?

In August 2015, it will be 10 years.

Describe your role.

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

What are some of the conditions you treat?

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

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

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

What’s one interesting fact about you?

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

Five Question Friday: Meet our Interpreter Services team

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

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

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

Max Barquero-Salazar, Interpreter Services Manager

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

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

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

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

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

Sheila Rojas, Spanish interpreter

How long have you been interpreting?

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

Touayim Thoj

Touayim Thoj

Touayim Thoj, Hmong interpreter

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

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

 

 

Katie Nielsen

Katie Nielsen

Katie Nielsen, scheduler

What is the best thing about Interpreter Services?

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

 

Safiya Jama

Safiya Jama

Safiya Jama, Somali interpreter

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

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

Five Question Friday: Ellen Wade

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

Ellen Wade

Ellen Wade, MEd, RD, LD has worked

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

How long have you worked at Children’s?

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

What does a typical day look like for you?

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

How did you decide to go into pediatrics?

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

Q4_mighty_buttonWhat do you love most about your job?

The top 5 reasons I love my job:

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

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

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

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

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

What is one interesting fact about you?

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

Five Question Friday: Dr. M. Jennifer Abuzzahab

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

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

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

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

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

How did you decide to go into pediatrics?

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

What are some of the conditions you treat?

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

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

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

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

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