People and Places – July 2011

Bernie the Rescue Dog makes debut Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) is speaking about its newest addition, Bernie the Rescue […]

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Bernie the Rescue Dog makes debut

Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) is speaking about its newest addition, Bernie the Rescue Dog. The talented canine joined the ranks of doctors embarking on residency training at the Level I Pediatric Trauma Center in June. He’s already completed his hospital orientation, and can’t wait to begin his official rounds.

When Bernie’s unleashed from his resident duties, Bernie will be boning up on his studies, sniffing around at community events or making tracks to visit the children in the pediatric areas. In fact, HCMC is so impressed with Bernie that they plan to use his paw prints as wayfinding tools to help patients and visitors find various hospital locations. A special event was held in June to welcome Bernie.

Being helpful is what Bernie the St. Bernard is all about. He comes from a long line of rescue dogs committed to helping people—a pedigree that has groomed him for a career in pediatrics.

“We’re so excited to have Bernie on our pediatric care team,” said Chief of Pediatrics Dr. Julie Joseph-Di Caprio. “I’m already impressed with his natural instinct for caring for our young patients. He seems to have a nose for the job, and has quickly adjusted to life at the hospital. I expect it won’t take Bernie very long to be completely hospital-trained.”

To celebrate Bernie’s official arrival, hospital staff  were treated to bone-shaped doggie treats (cookies) in the cafeteria during a meet-and-greet over the noon hours. Thanks to funding from Hennepin Health Foundation, Bernie the Rescue Dog will appear at HCMC clinics and community events to promote HCMC’s pediatric programs during his pediatric residency at the Level I Pediatric Trauma Center.

Inventions judged at state congress

Inventions that could benefit people with disabilities were among the items displayed at the 54th annual Minnesota Inventors Congress invention expo, June 11th in Redwood Falls. Inventors were on hand to test market their latest products. Consultants educated aspiring inventors about how to develop their ideas.

Winner of the Best Health Care of Medical Device Invention award is Fond du Lac resident Gerald A. Schwegels. His invention, the EZ in N Out, provides safe, portable accessibility to high vehicles for people with disabilities. His invention was also awarded a gold medallion.

Expo attendees also had the chance to see the 3M Visiting Wizards and Doug Reuter, the inventor of the family board game Sequence One highlight was a presentation by John Calvert, United States Patent and Trademark Office, will introduce a first-of-its-kind pro bono patent program that is being launched in Minnesota, in conjunction with LegalCORPS.

Read more about this year’s inventors and award winners at

Opportunity Partners relocates West St. Paul brain injury office

Opportunity Partners has relocated its West St. Paul TBI Metro Services office to a new space, 1869 S. Robert Street less than a mile from the former TBI Metro Services location. The move will result in expanded offerings for people with brain injuries and program growth opportunities.

TBI Metro Services, which also has an office in Richfield, expects to expand its footprint in Dakota, Washington and Ramsey counties with this move. The relocation will also allow for expansion of the brain injury program’s employment training program with the addition of a classroom and a work area. In addition to training, TBI Metro Services offers community integration and inclusion, vocational services, and independent living skills for people who have survived brain injury. An open house will be held in the future.

Opportunity Partners currently serves 57 people with brain injury out of the West St. Paul office. For info on the program, contact Calli Kadlec at 651-306-2862 or via e-mail at [email protected]

Disability Viewpoints wins award

The television program Disability Viewpoints has won another Hometown Video Award. Award winners were honored last month at an event in Tucson, during a conference for those who are involved in community media.

The Hometown Video Awards honors and promotes community media, and local cable programs that are distributed on Public, Educational and Governmental (PEG) access cable television channels.

Awards are presented to creative programs that address community needs, develop diverse community involvement, challenge conventional commercial television formats and move viewers to experiences television in a different way.

Disability Viewpoints host Mark Hughes said he and his crew were pleased to win another award. The program, which is distributed throughout the region an cable and is shown statewide on Twin Cities Public Television, won a professional Access-Able award for the April 2010 show. Along with Hughes, Kevin Schmitz and Jo Ann Erbes were also honored.

Another Minnesota winner in the documentary public awareness professional category was Mental Wellness: MN National Guard 2010 by David Schulte and Kevin Schmitz.

Homeless get help bridging digital divide

In a short period, access to the Internet has become a tool that is necessary to function in society. For people who are homeless, their connection to the digital mainstream and having access to the internet is tenuous. Open Access Connections, community partners and sponsors released a new report on community internet space for the homeless. The agency was formerly known as Twin Cities Community Voice Mail.

The report outlines how people who are homeless are marginalized in accessing technology and the Internet—and describes a unique solution. With support from the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) at the University of Minnesota, Open Access Connections was able to do a major research report on providing homeless Twin Citians with the communications tools that they need. Homeless individuals shared their experiences during the gathering.

Anyone needing information on the program can contact Open Access Connections at 651-643-0883 or

Disease forum ends isolation for patients 

Stephanie Layer of Maplewood spent 10 years of her life transitioning from inhaler to inhaler and wondering why none of her asthma medications worked quite right.

Wisconsin native Liz Brigham was walking to lunch with friends when she found that she couldn’t walk and talk at the same time. “I felt like I had run a marathon,” she said. “I went to the doctor and they tried to tell me it was the stress of my job.”

Doctors at the Mayo Clinic eventually diagnosed both women with pulmonary hypertension, a life-threatening illness in which the vessels in the lungs thicken and constrict, leading to heart failure. Without treatment, the average lifespan for a patient with pulmonary hypertension is 2.8 years. Nine treatments are now available, but the symptoms often mimic those of less serious conditions such as asthma. That can lead to a delayed diagnosis and poor prognosis for the patients. People who are diagnosed with this condition often have to seek out support and information for themselves and their families. On June 18, Layer and Brigham attended PH on the Road: A Pulmonary Hypertension Patients and Families Education Forum at the Minneapolis Marriott Southwest in Minnetonka. This was a free full-day forum organized by the Pulmonary Hypertension Association and is one in a series of ongoing forums. The forum and others like it provide educational opportunities for pulmonary hypertension patients and their families, bringing them together with the leading medical professionals in the field. The Minneapolis forum is one of four forums that took place around the country in June.

Layer, whose pulmonary hypertension is now treated at the University of Minnesota, remembers how isolating a diagnosis can be. “I will never forget how I felt the first few months after I was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension. It was the loneliest feeling of my life.”

She added, “I am attending so I will have the opportunity to meet new patients and their caregiver or family members and hope I can give them some hope for their future.”

Brigham adds this advice for newly diagnosed pulmonary hypertension patients, “Go to the event! At the first pulmonary hypertension event I ever went to as a patient, I learned all about pulmonary hypertension.

I learned about local support groups and I learned that I wasn’t alone. It was an awesome experience and I would urge all pulmonary patients in the area to attend.”

PH on the Road offers a unique opportunity for patients and their families to interact with medical professionals who are experts in the pulmonary hypertension field. The host committee for the Minneapolis forum included Drs. Colvin Adams and Marc Pritzker from the University of Minnesota and Drs. Bob Frantz and Mike McGoon from the Mayo Clinic.

Information for this article was provided by the Pulmonary Hypertension Association.

Many Minnesota athletes on U.S. team

The 2001 Special Olympics Summer Games in Athens, Greece began June 25. The delegation from the United States included several members from Minnesota.

Minnesotans on the teams include Blaine Cox, North Mankato, bowling; Tyler Devries, Underwood, bocce ball; Amy Holty, Rochester, aquatics/swimming; Richard Martin, Hibbing, tennis; Jake Sawyer, Champlin, aquatics/swimming; Matthew Schoenbauer, New Prague, equestrian and Katie Vandenbosch, Farmington, tennis.

Connie Schattscheider of Perham is one of the track and field coaches. Nancy Schwindel is one of the golf coaches. Schwindel’s city of residence wasn’t listed. Special Olympics World Summer Games 2011 kicked off with a grand opening ceremony featuring performances by music legends Stevie Wonder and Vanessa Williams, a speech by Tim Shriver and many more memorable moments. Its setting was the Panathenaic Stadium, home of the very first Olympic Games. The two-week event is the world’s largest sporting event this year and concluded after two weeks of competition July 4.

This amazing event had more 7,000 athletes overall including over 300 from Team USA, competing in 22 Olympic sports. This the first Special Olympics World Games since its founder, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, passed away. All of the Shriver children were planning to be in Greece for this amazing event, along with celebrity supporters including Brooklyn Decker, Nadia Comenici, Michelle Kwan, Maria Menounos and many more.

Athletes came to Athens from more than 180 countries— notably including Japan, Haiti, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Pakistan and Morocco.

Special Olympics a success

The Special Olympics Minnesota’s 2011 Summer Games wrapped up June 26, capping an exciting and fun weekend for participants. Events were held at Twin Cities sites including the University of Minnesota. 

Highlights included the singing of the national anthem by Miss Minnesota USA 2011 Brittany Theleman. Participants and fans also enjoyed entertainment by the Amy and Josh Countryman and Brad Nelson Band, Rince Na Chroi Irish Dancers, The Smarts Band and Miss Minnesota’s Outstanding Teen 2011 signer Alexis Houle. Athletes enjoyed carnival games in Olympic Town and other fun activities. One popular stop was the Healthy Athletes Village, where athletes participated in a number of free health screenings and activities, including Opening Eyes (vision screenings) and other tests designed to increase the health and fitness of people with intellectual disabilities, a medically underserved population. The Healthy Athletes program works to improve access to health care by providing free screenings, making referrals to local health practitioners and training health professionals and students about the needs of people with intellectual disabilities.

Special Olympics Minnesota offers children and adults with intellectual disabilities year-round sports training and competition. Through Special Olympics’athletic, health and leadership programs, people with intellectual disabilities transform themselves, their communities and the world.


  • Work with your care provider to stay healthy. Protect yourself. Vaccines are your best protection against being sick.
  • Wash your hands! Hands that look can still have icky germs!

You are not alone. Minnesota Autism Resource Portal.