Monthly Archives: April 2012

Families As Partners

Guest blog contributor Tessa Billman is Children’s Family Coordinator, and leads the Families As Partners program.

Families As Partners promotes, coordinates, and supports family involvement throughout Children’s organization.  Those who are involved are current or former patient families.  Opportunities include the Family-to-Family program, Family Advisory Council, Family Advocates, Family Advisors, and the Youth Advisory Council.

Here are a few insights into the program through volunteers’ eyes!

Veronica with newborn daughter, Kate

“I find so much joy in visiting with parents at their children’s bedsides and discussing the concerns that are on their minds.  We count ourselves extremely fortunate to be able to provide a strong, living testimony of the excellent work done at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.”

Veronica, NICU Pizza Break Host, Peer Mentor and Family Rounding Partner

Renee with her children

“As Chair of the Family Advisory Council, I have seen firsthand the partnership shared between families and Children’s staff.  The council, which is made up of families and staff, works together to provide input and influence on policies, programs and practices throughout the hospital to ensure that Patient and Family-Centered Care is achieved.”

Renee, Family Advisory Council Chairperson

Jody and kids

“Participating on the Cystic Fibrosis Family Council (CFFC) has been a great opportunity as a parent to partner with my daughter’s care team to enhance our life experiences as well as other patients and families living with Cystic Fibrosis (CF).   In an effort to support these families, the team developed a brochure, Traveling with CF, to help families prepare for and enjoy traveling.”

Jody, Cystic Fibrosis Family Council

Kate with family

“Our family story may be hard to share and sometimes hard to hear; nonetheless, it is even more gratifying to feel understood. It is fulfilling to know that our daughters’ experiences could possibly influence our legislators’ abilities to represent children, families and our local hospitals, and have better outcomes because of it.”

Kate, Family Advocate who met with Senator Al Franken

Thank you, family volunteers, for your dedication to improving patient & family experiences here at Children’s!

Thank You, Association Volunteers!

As a part of National Volunteer Recognition Week, we are highlighting volunteers who serve in many different capacities to benefit the patients and families at Children’s Hospital. The Children’s Association in Minneapolis, and the Children’s Hospital Association in St. Paul volunteer to provide fundraising support to the mission of Children’s Hospital.

The Children’s Association – Minneapolis was founded in 1958 with the mission of providing fundraising and service support for  Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.  Through the dedicated efforts of its volunteer membership, the Association has raised over $10,000,000 to benefit a variety of programs and projects at Children’s.

Children's Association volunteers assist in the Gift Shop

“I  joined the Children’s Association – Minneapolis 24 years ago in a desperate attempt to meet people after my move to Minnesota!  It didn’t take me long to realize that this was an organization of sincere, dedicated,  determined and friendly women who have one goal in mind: to work hard “For the Love of Children.”   That enthusiasm was contagious, and I instantly became “hooked” on the spirit and goals of the Association.  Over the years, I have been involved in many diverse opportunities to serve Children’s, such as creating items for the annual Craft Bazaar, working at the PGA concessions, helping at home tours,  golf tournaments, luncheons, and rummage sales,  volunteering in the Storybook Gift Shop, and now fulfilling my current role as Association President.  It is such a gratifying and proud feeling to walk through the halls at Children’s and see the many places, programs, and people that have benefitted from the hard work by my friends in the Association.”

-Carol Evans, 2012 President

Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) is composed of deeply committed individuals who volunteer their time and talent on behalf of children and families who, at the time of their visit, may be facing a need unlike any they have ever faced. CHA is a strong volunteer organization that uses a variety of fundraising ideas to achieve success such as Table Talk, a unique gathering of dynamic and diverse women in a format that encourages conversation and new connections, held August 1st at the Town and Country Club, and our 63rd Annual Benefit, the Storyland Ball, held October 27th at the Saint Paul RiverCentre.

CHA members at a garden tea party fundraiser

CHA has 16 guilds located throughout the metro area that fundraise through Holiday Home Tours, rummage sales, fashion shows, garden teas and tours, plant sales, Lobster Fests and so much more!  Through CHA’s volunteer efforts, $658,500,000 has been pledged to Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota for 2012.

CHA's Annual Rummage Sale Fundraiser

Thank you to the many volunteers who make both of these organizations so successful. The work that you do to raise funds and spread awareness for Children’s is incredible!

Corporate Volunteers at Children’s

Corporate volunteers at Children’s help with everything from providing meals for patients and families to staffing the many events that we have throughout the year. Oh, and they sure know how to throw a great party!

Kohl's Associates in Action at the Children's booth at the Minnesota State Fair

Already in 2012, UnitedHealth Group has hosted a winter carnival, RJF Agencies has provided & served a pizza lunch to patients and families, Famous Dave’s has provided multiple meals on both campuses, and Walgreen’s has continued to provide an ice cream social for patients, families and staff on both campuses each month! In addition, corporate teams from Target, Optum and others have volunteered a portion of their team meeting time to put together and donate craft kits and comfort items – this is a great way for large groups to volunteer their time at their own offices.

Children’s greatly appreciates the time and talents of these wonderful volunteers and the comfort, care and ease that their generosity provides for the families that we serve. To learn more about what companies are doing to support Children’s, visit the Corporate Partner page on Children’s website–and to learn more about corporate volunteerism, contact Kiirsten at [email protected]!

UnitedHealth Group volunteers at the "Winter Carnival" they hosted at Children's-Minneapolis

Volunteer Profile: Tom Hayden

Tom Hayden

Tom Hayden has been volunteering on the inpatient units at Children’s-Minneapolis since 2009.  His warm smile, positive energy, and good humor are always great to see on Thursday mornings!  Here is a bit about Tom, in his own words:

“I was born and raised on a farm six miles east of LeSueur, the second of eleven children.  After high school, I spent two years in the Navy on the East Coast.  After the service, I received my first job at an advertising agency, where I met my wife, Kathy.  We just celebrated our 51st wedding anniversary, and have two children, Kevin & Mika.  I find great enjoyment in our six grandchildren’s sports activities, band & choir concerts, plays, etc.  Since Kathy and I were restricted from working at the same firm, I moved to Northwestern National Bank of Minneapolis.  After 21 years, I started a new career at Allison-Williams Company, sold tax-free municipal bonds to individuals and institutions for ten years, then moved to Smith-Barney and worked as a broker for 19 years. My goal was to work for 50 years in downtown Minneapolis:  I did 49!  After my stroke on October 15th, 2007, I decided to retire on May 1, 2008.  

After retirement, I decided to apply to volunteer at Children’s Hospital.  I always worked toward goals in my career, and am continuing to do so as a volunteer.  I have 365 hours as a volunteer here thus far; my current goal is 400 hours by the end of 2012.  My next goal will be 500 hours, to be completed in 2013.

I enjoy being a volunteer:  the interaction with nursing staff, helping children, and allowing families to have a break.  I feel privileged to work with the staff in the volunteer office.  It’s a special honor to volunteer.”

Thank you, Tom, for your wonderful volunteer work here at Children’s!  WE are honored to have you on our team!

Volunteer Profile: Annika Johanson

 What would our department do without Annika Johanson?  From covering the desk in the Surgery Family Waiting Room to distributing flyers for Star Studio, she does it all!  Read on to learn more about this amazing young lady, who has already donated 230 hours of service in 2012!

Annika Johanson, hard at work in the Star Studio!


Where do you volunteer, and how long have you been volunteering?

“I started volunteering at Children’s in June 2011. Currently, I volunteer on Mondays on the inpatient units and in Star Studio (Bingo), and Tuesdays with Star Studio (Kids’ Clubhouse) and the Surgery Family Waiting Room. Last summer, I volunteered in both the Surgery Family Waiting Room and the Pre-Surgery Program for child life. This past January, I did a little bit of everything for a career exploration credit through my college.”

What is your educational background & future career interest?

“I just received my B.A. in Psychology from Gustavus, and want to become a Child Life Specialist!”

What brought you to Children’s?

My dad is a pediatrician and my mom used to be a pediatric nurse, so, growing up, I was familiar with and felt comfortable in the hospital setting. As I began to consider different pediatric healthcare careers in college (Child Life, in particular), I decided to start volunteering to help myself figure out what direction I should take. I wanted not just to be around kids, but to be with kids – and to do something to help others while also learning more about myself. ”

What kinds of things do you enjoy doing when you’re not volunteering?

“Outside of volunteering at Children’s, I enjoy painting, origami, cooking/baking, jetskiing, being outdoors, and just spending quality time with my friends and family. During the summer, I love being a nanny to two very awesome little girls!”

What do you enjoy most about volunteering?

“My experience at Children’s has been more than I had ever expected it to be! The best part by far is the kids – being able to make that little connection that makes a big difference, even when you can’t see it right away. I’ve come to understand the value of a simple smile when it seems like everything else in the child’s world is going wrong. I get to be a kid again when I go to Children’s…who could ask for anything more?” :)

Thank you, Annika, for being such an incredible asset to our volunteer program!   We’re lucky to have you!

Volunteer Profile: Anthony Brown

Anthony Brown

Anthony Brown is a Normandale nursing student who has been a volunteer on the inpatient units at Children’s-Minneapolis since November 2011.  He is currently on a leave of absence to care for his infant son:  as you’ll see from the pictures above, we’re sure that Anthony has all the right “kid skills!”

What is your educational background & future career objective?

“I am currently in my final year of nursing school.  My goal is to become a full-time children’s nurse.  I enjoy helping kids recover and feel better.”

What brought you to Children’s?

“I decided to volunteer in order to gain experience in the hospital setting.  I also wanted to influence and help children’s recovery.   I think that children need to have fun and play, despite the fact that they are in the hospital.”

What kinds of things do you enjoy doing when you’re not volunteering?

“I love to travel.  In fact, I have traveled to 30 countries on all populated continents (never quite made it to Antarctica).  I enjoy learning about other cultures, and experiencing different ways of life.  At home, I enjoy outdoor activities such as softball, fishing, and hiking.  My two favorite sports are baseball and football.” 

What do you enjoy most about volunteering?

“I really like helping kids have fun.  I like seeing them smile and laugh, and forget about their ailments for the time being.  I also enjoy allowing parents to have time to rest and relax while I care for their child.

P.S.  A special perk is that I get to make fun of Ingrid and Jenna…they could always use a little provoking!”

Thank you, Anthony, for your fun-loving spirit and good humor! 

Volunteer Profile: Erik Mendoza-Riveros

Erik Mendoza-Riveros is one of the most motivated high-schoolers that you will ever meet!  For the past year, he has committed to volunteering on weekends (Saturday/Sunday shifts), in addition to a busy school schedule!  Erik describes his motivations for volunteering below:
“Hi!  My name is Erik Mendoza-Riveros.  I have been volunteering for a year at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis.  I am very optimistic about life:  my motto is to make the best out of any and every situation.  My intentions are always to help others, and to treat everyone the way that I want to be treated.

I am a student at Roosevelt High School.  Before coming to Children’s, I thought, “Well…I need sixty volunteer hours for school; why not try Children’s Hospital?”  I am a very busy man, and try to be as involved as possible with as many things as I can: consider me a “multitasker!” My inspiration to be the person that I am today is my friend, Samuel Joaquin Flores:  I look up to him, and he is my role model.

As I started to volunteer more and more, trying to adapt my tough schedule at the same time, I felt more involved in the hospital.  I now feel truly connected to these kids’ perspectives: I, myself, have gotten very sick, and spending only a couple of days in the hospital makes me feel like I need the outdoors.

I cannot express my gratitude for being a volunteer at Children’s, I don’t get paid, and don’t wish to volunteer for hours anymore, either.  I simply want to make children smile. I believe that, on a personal level, I get more from volunteering than the mere hours that I put in: I get to make a child’s day at Children’s Hospitals & Clinics of Minnesota!”

 Thank you, Erik, for your dedication to brightening patients’ days here at Children’s!  We appreciate you & your commitment!

Volunteer Spotlight: Rehab Department

Volunteers assisting with Rehabilitation Services at Children’s are enrolled in an academic track for Occupational, Physical or Speech Therapy careers. Volunteers assist therapists on a regular basis with appointments, helping to prepare activities and support the work of the therapist during patient sessions.

Occupational Therapist Emily Debreto and Volunteer Mary Testen

What are rehab therapists & volunteers saying about their work together?

“Mary is an extraordinary volunteer and an asset to our department. My patients look forward to seeing Mary each week. She has done an amazing job assisting with new Occupational Therapy projects, and her creative ideas are appreciated. I would not be as efficient with my schedule if it were not for Mary setting up all of the treatment sessions. Mary ALWAYS goes above and beyond. Thank you, Mary!”

-Emily DeBreto, Occupational Therapist (Children’s Rehab-St. Paul)

“Ever since I started volunteering, Emily DeBreto has been so welcoming and open. I’ve learned so much from observing Emily work with her patients and their families/caregivers. She is so good about explaining what she is doing and why:  she shares the OT viewpoint, which is helpful to me since I’d like to go to school for OT. She cares a lot about her patients, and always makes me feel appreciated & valued as a volunteer.”

-Mary Testen, rehab volunteer

Volunteer Beth Steigauf

“It is wonderful to have an extra and competent pair of hands helping me with patients. Beth has a fabulous attitude and is open to doing all of the crazy O.T. things that I do!”

-Katie Gehrz, Occupational Therapist (Children’s Rehab-Roseville)

“As a student, volunteering at Children’s has not only fulfilled my academic requirements, but has helped me to (finally) decide on my career path. I am truly fascinated by the staff and their compassion to help these youngsters. I am so excited to take what I’ve learned and use it in my next step in life. I will continue to volunteer through school (Masters of O.T.) and, one day, hope to join the amazing Children’s team.”

-Beth Steigauf, rehab volunteer

Children’s Hospital Volunteers Honoring Staff

Volunteers succeed at improving the experience of patients and families here at Children’s Hospital because of the involvement and support of staff members! We appreciate the guidance, acknowledgment, and time that staff share with our volunteers to make volunteering a meaningful and rewarding experience, both for our volunteers and for the patients and families that we all serve.

Recently, our department rolled a staff recognition program called VHS (Volunteers Honoring Staff), and asked volunteers to reflect on the staff support they’ve received here at Children’s. The response has been overwhelming!  We want to thank all Children’s staff for the HUGE difference that they make in enhancing the experiences of our volunteers!

Volunteer Laura Mathers (in red vest) with nurses (from left to right) Steph Mysicka, Sydney Pederson and Nadine Schultz

So many recognition forms were completed…read on for a few highlights!

Betsy Brand, Tom Marsolais, & Sarah Magnuson (Child Life) are IT! They plan for children and their needs while they are in the hospital. They write needs on our census sheets, but also talk with us one-on-one if there is time. There are many large group activities planned for the playroom, which are great fun!”

Diane Kastner, inpatient float and Hideaway Library volunteer

“The nurses in the NICU always say, ‘Oh, here’s Grandma! We gotta find her a baby!’ It’s wonderful!”
Mary Ellen Kruger, NICU volunteer

Mary Ayinde is always a pleasure to spend time with during my shift. She is humorous and also feeds/caffeinates me on a regular basis. My time at Children’s has been infinitely better with Mary around.”
Tom Klink, perioperative escort volunteer

Julie Schommer is always super welcoming when Snickers & I visit the PICU. She lets us know which patients we can visit, and her warm and nurturing personality makes our visits at the PICU extra-special!”
Avi Kecman & Snickers, PAWH volunteer team

Katie Gehrz (Roseville O.T.) shows such compassion for each and every child. She always seems to go above and beyond expectations to provide the best care and support for patients.”
-Beth Steigauf, Rehab Volunteer

Charles Lillicrap (Surgery) consistently goes the extra mile to help when I have a question or concern. He checks in on us and always makes me feel genuinely appreciated and important.”
-Kathy Dowd, Surgery Family Waiting Room volunteer

Volunteer Spotlight: PAWH Teams!

Pets Assisting With Healing (PAWH) volunteers help patients with developmental rehabilitation, and brighten their stay in the hospital by providing pet visits in a variety of patient care areas. Pet and handler teams go through an intensive training and screening process before coming into Children’s to ensure that the dog (or bunny) and handler are well-suited to the hospital environment and visiting role. Currently, Children’s PAWH program includes 27 dog and two bunny teams!

Quick Statistics

-PAWH teams make visits to many different areas of the hospital! Recently, teams have begun making visits to St. Paul’s surgery waiting  area, emergency department, and Short Stay Unit, in addition to ongoing visits made to the inpatient units!

Occupational Therapist Kate Bataglia with PAWH team, Boyd and Kristine Diffley

-In 2011, PAWH teams volunteered a total of 1,537 hours!

-89 PAWH requests from the Rehab department (for PAWH teams to assist with patient appointments) were met in 2011

Staff Comments on the PAWH Program

“It is amazing to see the immediate reaction of not only our patients, but the parents and siblings who are excited to see them. Doctors, Administration, and nurses: everyone has been seen sitting on the floor petting the dogs. They bring out the best in everyone!”- Mary Ayinde, Surgery

“The kids enjoy the dogs just as much as the dogs enjoy the kids!”- Tom Marsolais, Child Life

“To see the smiles and joy on kids’ faces is absolutely priceless when the dogs come to visit!”- Pam Monteiro, RN

“I have been at Children’s for almost 21 years. I enjoy my job, but have to say that my very favorite days are when the canine volunteers and their owners come. They make my day just suddenly seem lighter, and make me smile. My coworkers know how much I enjoy this, so when a PAWH volunteer comes, someone will always announce, “The dog is here–someone find Dolan!”  I am so happy that the kids share them all with us.” -Colleen Dolan, RN

“Being able to utilize our PAWH volunteers for therapy sessions has made a significant impact on the children and families that we work with from week to week. It is very rewarding and exciting, as a therapist, to see a child’s face light up at the sight of their furry therapy friend. Children just seem to be much more engaged and excited about their therapy “work” with the presence and support of a PAWH team. I cannot thank these volunteers enough for the time and enthusiasm that they put into doing what they do best!” -Kate Bataglia, MA, OTR/L

“I am so incredibly grateful for the time and effort that our volunteer handlers put into our program to make it so spectacular. The extra time that goes into making a visit or a rehab treatment session go smoothly is never unnoticed. Karen [Sheahan] and Reba have made such a difference with the children that I treat. Karen comes up with ideas of how to incorporate new games into the therapy session that are games Reba can participate in, but make the goals we work on therapy so much more fun. We would never make the gains that we have made without their teamwork attitude. I am grateful for each and every volunteer handler and their therapy dog. Thank you!!!” -Nicole Iammatteo, OT

Volunteer Thoughts on PAWH

“When I first got interested in doing therapy work with my dog, I had the same picture in my mind as most people:  my dog comforting people by sedately letting them pet her.  The question that I kept asking myself was, “Would my sweet, gentle, but workaholic dog be happy with that?”  Ha!  What we do in Rehab is far from that initial impression–and my dog, Reba, absolutely loves it!

Reba has been able to put all of her talents to work:  obstacle courses, games, treasure hunts, and dress-up parades.  It’s all great fun for Reba, our young friend, and for me–and while we are having fun, our friend is strengthening their motor skills.  It has proved a perfect fit for us.  The children’s delight and enthusiasm at having my dog as a partner in therapy, and playing an active part in their improvement, is truly heartwarming.  It’s a highlight in both my day and Reba’s.”

-Karen Sheahan, PAWH volunteer

“The best part about being on the PAWH team is providing relief to those we meet:  patients, family, and the wonderful staff.  Plus,

Stella loves the treats!”

-John Zabel, PAWH Volunteer