NASA Astronaut Kjell Lindgren, MD to visit patients, colleagues at HCMC

NASA Astronaut Kjell Lindgren, MD

NASA Astronaut Kjell Lindgren, MD returned from his mission to the International Space Station in December, and now he’s returning to Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) for a visit – the Level I Trauma Center where he completed his emergency medicine residency. The NASA astronaut will meet with patients and staff on Wednesday, May 25, 2016.

Dr. Lindgren is a member of Expedition 44/45 and served as flight engineer aboard the International Space Station from July-December 2015. He has many colleagues and fans at HCMC who felt immense pride at seeing their colleague and friend fulfill his dreams of space travel – many who watched the launch live at the hospital on NASA TV on July 22, 2015.

“It was truly amazing,” says Dr. Douglas Brunette, who supervised Dr. Lindgren’s medical training in the Emergency Department where Dr. Lindgren was also Chief Resident. “Words can’t even describe how exciting it was to watch the launch, and then to follow Kjell’s experience while he worked on the Space Station. He’s an inspiration to us all.”

Dr. Brunette was invited by Dr. Lindgren to be his guest to watch the launch from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, and he chronicled the trip on

“We are all eagerly anticipating his return ‘home’ to HCMC to tour his old stomping grounds and reconnect with friends,” Dr. Brunette explains. “Obviously we may think Minnesota is not as interesting as some of the other places he’s visited, but he’s so literally down-to-earth and appreciative of his training here at HCMC that he would probably disagree. We’re very proud of Kjell and look forward to the opportunity to see him again and learn about his experiences.”

He has a full schedule when he returns to Minnesota, but Dr. Lindgren will be available for photo opportunities and questions on Wednesday, May 25 from 2-3:30 PM while he visits areas in HCMC. Please contact Christine Hill, Sr. Media Relations Specialist at 612.873.5719 for more information.

Sim Center revolutionizes medical education


Join us for an Open House from 2-4 PM on Monday, January 7

Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC), already a nationally recognized teaching hospital, is opening a brand new, state-of-the art medical simulation facility. The Interdisciplinary Simulation and Education Center (“Sim Center”), opening January 7, 2013, will support education programs that train more than 20,000 caregivers each year.

Located in the lower level of the state’s first Level I Trauma Center, the 10,000 square foot  Sim Center area provides a safe environment for health care professionals to practice real-life medical situations and procedures in rooms with the equipment found in operating rooms, emergency departments or other treatment areas – including the electronic health record. Continue reading “Sim Center revolutionizes medical education”

HCMC NETWORK FEATURE: Patient’s chest opened to save life; MDs credit HCMC medical training

“My residency training made all the difference.”

Photo 1: Drs. Eric Haug and Tom Wyatt (seated, left to right) recently returned to HCMC's Emergency Department to discuss dramatic save (back row, left to right, Dr. Ernie Ruiz, Dr. Joe Clinton, Dr. Rob Reardon, and Dr. Doug Brunette)

Although cracking open a chest in the Emergency Department makes for dramatic television, it does not happen every day. In fact, it was only recently reported that the procedure was used for the first time to treat post-ablation tamponade, which occurs when blood and fluid collect in the pericardial sac surrounding the heart and prevent it from pumping. In emergency situations, it’s critical that physicians are prepared to quickly assess, treat and stabilize patients. For emergency physicians Dr. Tom Wyatt and Dr. Eric Haug, their HCMC Emergency Medicine residency training prepared them with the clinical skills, the mental “checklists” and decision-making to opt for and successfully adapt a “go-for-broke” life-saving procedure.

Dr.  Wyatt and Dr. Haug graduated together in 2003 and now practice at Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids.  Annals of Emergency Medicine issued a press release about their dramatic save, announcing the “First-Ever Emergency Department Thoracotomy for Post-Ablation Tamponade Reported.”  The patient, a 42-year old woman, had collapsed and gone into shock.  Dr. Wyatt described the case in the press release: “She was dying in front of us and we had exhausted every option in standard procedures…cracking someone’s chest open is a go-for-broke move that is normally only performed on patients with penetrating trauma, like gunshot wounds or stabbings.”

Drs. Wyatt and Haug were on duty at Mercy Hospital when the patient was brought in, unconscious. Using cardiac ultrasound, Dr. Haug quickly identified a large amount of blood around the heart. Due to clot, an ultrasound-guided procedure was unsuccessful in removing the blood and the patient became pulseless. Dr. Wyatt opened her chest, made a small incision into the pericardial sac and removed blood and clot; the patient’s pulse immediately returned.  Due to the risk of uncontrollable hemorrhage, Dr. Wyatt and Dr. Haug stabilized the patient with repeated suctioning of blood and clot through the small incision and initiated massive transfusion to replace blood loss.  After 65 minutes in the stabilization room, the patient was taken to surgery.  She recovered and is doing well to this day.

Dr. Wyatt and Dr. Haug credited teamwork with highly skilled colleagues at Mercy Hospital as being critical for the successful outcome.  Key assistance was provided by the cardiologist, echocardiography technician, resource nurse, pathologist, and others, until the cardiothoracic surgeon arrived and successfully repaired the patient’s heart.

“Emergency physicians do what we have to do to save a life, even if it’s unconventional,” explains Dr. Wyatt. “This patient had her chest open to the world for more than an hour, but she lived. My residency training made all the difference.”

What was it about their HCMC residency training that “made all the difference” that day?  Dr. Wyatt explained that, “in a case like this, your training takes over because so many things are going on at one time.  It’s almost like a reflexive nature, going down a checklist from our training of what to do next.”  Innovative training in life-saving procedures began with Dr. Ernie Ruiz, who started the HCMC Emergency Department and was the first Residency Director, followed by Dr. Joe Clinton (now Department Chair) and Dr. Doug Brunette, who directed the residency program when Dr. Haug and Dr. Wyatt trained at HCMC (see Photo 2).

Dr. Haug also noted the importance of their extensive training in the use of bedside Emergency Department (ED) ultrasound, which was key for the rapid diagnosis.  HCMC physicians were among the first in the world to utilize bedside ED ultrasound, starting in 1984 (see Photo 2).  Since then, HCMC emergency physicians Dr. Dave Plummer, Dr. Rob Reardon (Photo 1) and others have pioneered in the use, research, and teaching of ED ultrasound diagnosis and ultrasound-guided procedures.  Instruction has extended beyond HCMC to broad outreach training through curriculum development, textbooks, presentations at national and international conferences, and the Emergency Department’s educational website,

Photo 2: First ultrasound machine used in the HCMC Emergency Department, 1984

Impacts of this case continue as word of the procedure, the case report, and the HCMC ED residency have been posted on websites around the world.   An Australian website that focuses on resuscitation posted a November 20 entry on their “Inspiration” page reporting “Emergency physicians from Minnesota (and graduates of the amazing Hennepin Emergency Medicine Residency) describe a patient who developed cardiac tamponade after an ablation procedure for dysrhythmia…” (see Photo 3).

Photo 3: Home page of RESUS.ME (Resuscitation Medicine Education), website by Dr. Cliff Reid, in Sydney Australia.

For more detail, see the next HCMC NETWORK FEATURE: Emergency Department Pioneered in Emergency Ultrasound Use and Continues to Lead Todayand check out the News page of, to read about the statewide mission and services of HCMC.