Second Annual Meeting and State Conference

Such a Grand Day!

Highlights from mgMN’s Second Annual Meeting and State Conference

Another year to celebrate!  mgMN’s Second Annual Meeting and State Conference was held on Sunday, September 24, 2017 at the Best Western Hotel and Conference Center in Shoreview, MN.  Several people were heard to remark, “This is the best conference ever.” Registration began at 9:00 am, as pastries and coffee were served.  mgMN Board Chair, Diane Tower bid a cheery good morning to everyone and opened the business meeting.  Formal minutes as well as the financial report were presented, amended and approved.  People were directed to look at the formal committee reports as well as reports from the support groups in their conference packets.  The business meeting was adjourned.  

A special time was spent honoring Lianne Anderson, a long-time member with MG, board member and support group leader for her outstanding service and superior leadership over the years.  In a small ceremony led by Barb Corner, Lianne was awarded a beautiful, inscribed table clock in recognition of her contributions.  Lianne was unable to attend this year’s conference due to illness, so a video was made of the ceremony.  It will be given to her along with the clock, and our thanks and appreciation of her dedication at a later time.

Our first speaker, Karen Peterson, the Executive Director of Honoring Choices Minnesota was remarkable.  Her organization reaches out to groups and individuals interested in learning about health care choices and health care directives.  Every conference participant received a blank copy of a health care directive.  In a very clear, practical and compassionate manner Karen explained the reason and purpose of every section and question.  She spent a lot of time discussing with the group the importance of choosing their health care agent wisely.  Karen emphasized how critical this was to insuring that the choices you desired would be carried out. Another thought Karen shared was that when thinking about what direction you would like to take, think about a general path and use that as a guideline.  This organization is an excellent resource. (Insert Pop-Up Door Prizes!)

 A new brunch (or should we say lunch) menu was served this year - a sandwich bar! Yummy! (Insert Pop-Up Door Prizes!) 

Teri Kiresuk, DNP was our afternoon speaker.  Teri is an associate professor, a doctorate level nurse practioner, works for LIVIO Health Group an on-site health care partner providing medical assessments and services in the home, as well as a mom of a young woman with refractory MG.  Teri talked about MG and it’s relationship to other autoimmune disorders in general. Her comprehensive presentation covered technical aspects of MG as well as the day-to-day realities and challenges of living with the condition.  When one uses the word fatigue when describing the symptoms of MG, Teri explored the question - what does fatigue really mean? What does it look like?  What is it’s impact? Teri has a unique and compassionate way of blending her technical knowledge with her nursing perspective to present a holistic picture of MG.

Auction Time!  This year it was accompanied by coffee and chocolate chip cookies!  Ooh la la!  We had great auction items.  Ticket sales were up! There were wonderful baskets; a beautiful coffee basket, a Kowalski’s Fruit and Gift Certificate basket, The Bee’s Knees Honey basket, some $50 gift certificate bags, a lottery ticket basket, a mystery money envelope, even an Irish Soiree event to attend.  Dave Schlief once again performed the honors, ably assisted by Shirley Kramer.  An entertaining pair. This year’s winners seemed to fall into a unique pattern as they sat throughout the room, what are the odds of that? So much fun to watch.  (Insert Pop-Up Door Prizes!) Thanks everyone for the great time.  See you next year.  We’ll have even more fun!

Shirley Kramer

Attendees enjoy first annual conference

mgMN's First Annual Meeting and State Conference was well attended and fun! Following a welcome by Diane Tower, mgMN board chair, the annual business portion of the meeting took place. Then the first of several door prize drawings began.

Support group leaders Lianne Anderson, Ellen Walle and Barb Corner updated attendees about their groups in an informal panel discussion. This was followed by a presentation titled "Who's On Your Medical Team?" Dianne Willer-Sly, a doctorate level nurse practitioner, presented a warm, engaging and thoughtful study of the various physicians, therapists, specialists, community members and others who might be brought together to diagnose, treat and care for people who have myasthenia gravis or other complex chronic diseases. She encouraged the audience to add to her list, which they readily did. Dianne's experience as a clinician and as a professor at the University of Minnesota enabled her to share a breadth of experience that was both genuine and insightful.

Following that, Vicki Engelen introduced the new website, which—if you are reading this article—you have discovered for yourself. 

After brunch, Dr. Gaurav Guliani, a neurologist and director of the new HealthPartners Neurology Center in St. Paul, Minn., gave a comprehensive overview of myasthenia gravis and current research, and outlined treatment options. Dr. Guliani fielded many questions and was very responsive to people's concerns.

Part of the purpose of the annual conference is to raise funds for mgMN. Fundraising took place in the form of a "bucket auction." Individuals donated more than 35 themed baskets or items, including a tabletop gas grill, a Minnesota apple basket, a margarita basket, a lottery ticket basket, gift boxes of 3M products, and a slow cooker stew basket. Attendees bought tickets (or chances) to win items and placed them in the jars in front of the items they wanted to win. At the close of the auction, a winning ticket was drawn from each jar, and the winner announced. 

Participants enjoyed the auction, as well as the programming, brunch and opportunity to socialize with one another. It was a great way to start a new year for this new organization. The conference planning team hopes to build on the success of this year's conference for next year. Details about the 2017 conference will begin to be revealed next summer.