Firefighters for Healing Gift Donation, Ice Foot Challenge warm hearts (and feet)

On Tuesday, December 17, 2019 Firefighters for Healing will ring in the holiday season with their annual Gift Drop to patients in Hennepin Healthcare’s Burn Center. The excitement begins when the firefighters and gifts arrive on a Minneapolis Fire Department truck at Hennepin Healthcare’s 717 S. Sixth St. entrance between 10:45 and 11:45am.

“This is the 8th year Firefighters for Healing has brought gifts to our patients,” explains Dr. Ryan Fey, Burn and Critical Care Specialist at the Burn Center. “Their generosity and dedication is simply overwhelming, and our entire staff is uplifted by seeing the joy experienced by our patients. We cannot thank them enough.”

The Hennepin Healthcare Burn Center provides intensive, acute and rehabilitative burn care to children and adults from the Twin Cities and surrounding states who have sustained burn injuries and other complex wounds, including frostbite. In fact, they care for an average of 25 patients with frostbite each year requiring hospitalization. Many of these injuries are to the toes and feet.

Dr. Fey describes how this happens: “From the heart, these body parts are the last in line for blood supply. So they’re more likely to freeze up quickly – literally forming ice crystals inside the tissues – and cause blood flow to cease. Depending on how long the tissue is without blood, this process can lead to unrecoverable tissue death and amputation.”

Ice Foot Challenge
Icy FeetMaking sure those extremities are protected from the cold is essential. That’s why Hennepin EMS in partnership with the Hennepin Healthcare Employee Advisory Council is having an Ice Foot Challenge to raise awareness of their Hennepin EMS Holiday Sock Drive. Two groups will participate at 12:20 and 12:40pm and photo opportunities will be available immediately following the Firefighters for Healing Gift Drop event. Participants will experience what patients may feel when they don’t have adequate footwear to keep their feet warm and dry.

“Hennepin EMS frequently treats individuals with inadequate footwear and socks,” explains John Sylvester, Hennepin EMS paramedic and event organizer. “In the winter this can cause serious problems that can affect the whole body. One solution is high-quality, wool winter socks which are great insulators and moisture absorbers.”

To emphasize this point, Sylvester has invited Ice Foot Challenge participants to put on plastic “foot bags” and then submerge their feet into buckets of icy water for a goal time of 2 minutes. After the 2-minute Ice Foot Challenge, participants will be given warm socks to put on so they can experience what a difference high-quality winter socks can make in extreme cold conditions.

“Taking this challenge to really understand what it’s like to ‘walk in our patients’ shoes’ will hopefully raise awareness of this important need,” said Sylvester. “If we can prevent even one person from experiencing the pain of frostbite, then this campaign will have been a success.”

Firefighters for Healing is also making a generous donation of new socks for this effort today that will be given to patients in need served through Hennepin EMS and HCMC’s Emergency Department. New wool sock donations are welcomed and can be brought to the collection bin on the Skyway Level of HCMC’s Red Building. The Hennepin EMS Sock Drive runs through January 3, 2020.

HCMC’s transplant program marks World Kidney Day


On Thursday, March 9, 2017 Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) will partner with the National Kidney Foundation to raise awareness about kidney transplant as part of World Kidney Day. The event is one of many taking place during March, which is National Kidney Month.

Bodner, Jennifer#304
Jenny Bodner, RN

“Chronic kidney disease is described as diminishing kidney function that can be from mild to severe.” explains Jenny Bodner, RN, Certified Clinical Transplant Coordinator at HCMC. “It’s so important to keep these organs healthy. That’s why we’re happy for the opportunity to partner with the National Kidney Foundation to focus on kidney disease prevention as well as providing information about transplant.”

Bodner will answer questions about kidney disease and transplant at the skyway level of AT&T Tower in Minneapolis on Thursday.

Who:   Hennepin County Medical Center’s Kidney Transplant Program

What: Kidney transplant awareness activities, Bernie the Rescue Dog

Where: AT&T Tower, 901 Marquette Ave. Minneapolis, Skyway Level

When: 11AM – 1 PM

Why:   World Kidney Day events sponsored by the National Kidney Foundation

“Kidneys are busy organs, performing many functions that are essential to life- from cleaning out the toxins that build up in our bodies, regulating electrolytes and playing a role in stabilizing blood pressure,” said Bodner.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, in Minnesota alone there are an estimated 400,000 people living with kidney disease, and nearly 9,000 of these are on either dialysis or on the transplant wait list.

HCMC was the first transplant program in the Upper Midwest. Established in 1963, the transplant program has played a vital role in the treatment of chronic kidney disease with kidney transplantation. For more information, go to

The National Kidney Foundation is the leading organization in the U.S. dedicated to the awareness, prevention, and treatment of kidney disease. For more information, visit


Burn Center Taps interest of Rock Bottom Brewery

Tuesday, February 26 from 6-8 pm
Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery
800 LaSalle Plaza, Minneapolis

Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery in Minneapolis will be hot tonight (Tuesday, February 26) when they host a party from 6-8 pm to raise awareness and support for Hennepin County Medical Center’s (HCMC) Burn Unit.

At its locations across the country, the restaurant and brewery  releases their seasonal Fire Chief Ale each year by recognizing the contributions of local fire departments and related charities like HCMC’s Burn Center. This is the sixth year they’ve selected the Burn Center, and it’s also the sole beneficiary of tonight’s charitable party in Minneapolis.

Representatives from HCMC, some burn victims,  and local firefighters will be present at the party selling donation slips for $1, $5 and $10. In addition, HCMC’s Burn Center will also receive .25 cents from every pint of Fire Chief Ale purchased. The party is open to the public and attendees can sample the beer and taste some of the new menu items offered by Rock Bottom.

Rock Bottom’s menu, which features “hot” items like fire-grilled chicken, smoked red pepper sauce and blackened seasonings, kicks off the restaurant’s national promotion that includes Tapping Parties the week of February 24.  A portion of sales from its new menu goes to local fire departments and related charities during this time, adding to the more than 2 million dollars the restaurant has already raised.

Rock Bottom Restaurant & Breweries are polished,  casual dining establishments featuring guest-focused service, high-quality food and a unique selection of handcrafted, brewed on-site beers. The Rock Bottom menu features a wide variety of items including starters, house favorites, burgers and pizzas. Rock Bottom operates in 17 states from coast to coast. For additional details about Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery please visit:

The Burn Center at Hennepin County Medical Center
Serving Minnesota and the Upper Midwest for more than 30 years, HCMC’s Burn Center is one of 57 centers across the country designated by the American Burn Association as Verified Burn Centers. Comprised of an 17-bed inpatient unit and the Acute Burn and Wound Clinic, the Burn Center occupies a 16,000-square-foot space on HCMC’s downtown Minneapolis campus.  The highly trained, multidisciplinary Burn Center team works closely with patients and families in a supportive, state-of-the-art environment to meet their unique needs and achieve the highest level of functioning. Treating an average of 10 inpatients per day and 20+ patients per day in the clinic, HCMC’s Burn Center is one of the busiest centers in the nation. 

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Organ donors remembered in flag-raising ceremony

The decision to become an organ donor is one of the most thoughtful ways someone can continue their giving spirit after they’ve passed away. At a flag-raising ceremony at Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) on Monday, April 2, the families of Kandyce Bryanna Stoffel and Christopher Lee Spears were joined by doctors, nurses, administrative staff, and other caregivers and friends to remember patients and loved ones who made the decision to donate organs  after death.

Shining on… 

Stoffel, a graduate of Mankato West High School, was a student at the University of Minnesota who was walking with some friends around a construction barricade when the group was struck by a vehicle. She was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center, but was unable to survive due to her multiple traumatic injuries. She passed away on October 24, 2010.

Her mom and stepdad, Patty and Randy Appel, and her sister and brother-in-law, Karissa and Christopher Baukol attended the flag-raising ceremony.

“Kandyce had her entire life ahead of her. She was only one class shy of graduating from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities in kinesiology,” explains Patty Appel. “But unfortunately a drunk driver took all those dreams away from a precious 23-year-old and her family.”

Stoffel was able to donate five life-saving organs – her heart, liver, kidneys and pancreas, as well as her eyes and other tissues — thanks to her decision to be an organ donor.

Appel has been in contact with some of the recipients of her daughter’s organs, including “Jennifer,” who received her heart.  Appel attended Jennifer’s wedding last year. “I knew that would be the only wedding I’d see that heart in,” she said.

“During the reception, the groom’s father said a prayer for Kandyce and our family and asked us to stand. The guests gave a standing ovation — what an emotional time for everyone. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the entire ballroom. If we could have picked a person to receive Kandyce’s heart, it would have been Jennifer.”

Spears, an 18-year-old Senior at Hutchinson High School, was also in a car crash. He passed away on March 2, 2010.

“He chose to be an organ donor because it fit his personality and drive to help others out,” explained his mom, Luann Spears. “He didn’t think twice about it.  In fact,  ‘Well, duh!’ was his response when he passed his driver’s test and was answering questions about organ donation.”

Prior to the removal of Spears’ organs, the family asked the operating room staff involved in the organ procurement if they would sing “You are My Sunshine” during the surgery.  The OR staff honored this wish and sang to him during the procedure.

“When my kids were babies, I used to always sing ‘You are My Sunshine’ to them,” says Luann Spears, who attended the flag-raising ceremony with her surviving children Tiffany, Jennifer and Jamey.  “When Christopher was on life support, I just started singing it again and told him he would continue to shine through all of the people who would be helped because of his donation.”

Like Stoffel, his corneas, kidneys and liver tissue and heart valve are now “shining” through the lives of others.

Stoffel’s mom, Patty Appel and Spears’ mom, Luann raised the flag in honor of their children and all of the other organ donors in celebration of Donate Life month.

There are currently more than 110,000 men, women, and children in the United States waiting for a life-saving transplant. More than 3,000 of these individuals live in the Upper Midwest.

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Burn patients win when St. Louis Park Firefighters play softball

Firefighter Sean McKenna, Dr. George Peltier, Alison Schramm, Margaret Brunner

On Friday, September 23, St. Louis Park firefighters Captain Mark Nelson and Sean McKenna arrived at Hennepin County Medical Center for a special delivery – a donation from their annual softball charity event played on September 10 at Dakota Park. Dr. George Peltier, Margaret Brunner, Alison Schramm, Steve Omodt and John O’Malley met the firefighters and accepted the donation on behalf of the Burn Center. Continue reading “Burn patients win when St. Louis Park Firefighters play softball”

HCMC receives Crystal Award for support of organ donation

Hennepin receives Crystal Award for support of organ donation

HCMC received the Crystal Award from the Minnesota Hospital Association for outstanding support of the Donate Life Minnesota campaign.

Susan Weese, Hennepin’s hospital coordinator from LifeSource, nominated Hennepin for the award for being “a strong partner and team member in the LifeSource service area and embracing the campaign.” Hennepin’s support of organ donation this year included promotion of the Take 5 campaign from hospital leadership, providing a personal letter from the hospital to families of designated donors, and active promotion of Donate Life Month again this April.