New Grand Rapids Location for Mercy Health Infusion Services on July 11

Mercy Health Infusion Services Moves to Second Floor of Lacks Cancer Center on July 11

[g-slider gid=”210″ width=”100%” height=”55%” random=”0″ watermark=”0″]With capacity for 13 infusion chairs and three private rooms with space for beds and chairs, Mercy Health Infusion Services moves to the second floor of Mercy Health Lacks Cancer Center on July 11, in the former space of the Warren Reynolds Library. The library was de-centralized in the spring of 2016 in order to disperse the information in more accessible areas of the cancer center and throughout Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, which means patients now have easier access to timely and reliable cancer-related materials. This new Infusion Services location on the second level replaces the Mercy Health Infusion Services located on the first floor.

A core group of six experienced certified chemotherapy and biotherapy nurses will continue provide infusion services to patients of Mercy Health.

In addition to the space for the 13 infusion chairs and three private rooms, amenities of the new Mercy Health Infusion Services space include (photos of the new space will be forthcoming after construction is complete):

  • a family lounge,
  • three separate pods, each with four or five infusion chairs,
  • a private work area for staff,
  • a self-serve beverage station,
  • and a private bathroom located within the area.Referring physicians can call Mercy Health Infusion at 616.685.5040 or fax 616.685.3035 for infusion services. Its operating hours are Monday-Friday, from 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m.

Julie Haveman, Volunteer, Friend of Nursing – June 2016

David Thomas, Julie Haveman and April Brady
David Thomas, nurse on 3 Lacks, Julie Haveman, volunteer on 3 Lacks, and April Brady, nurse on 3 Lacks. Thomas and Brady nominated Haveman for Friend of Nursing Award for her exemplary compassion with a patient and his sister.

Congratulations to Julie Haveman, Volunteer on 3 Lacks, who has been named as Friend of Nursing Award Recipient for June 2016!

Nominated by two staff nurses, David Thomas and April Brady, on the unit of 3 Lacks, Julie Haveman, a volunteer for the past year and a half, was selected to be the Friend of Nursing Award recipient for June 2016.

When surprised by the 3 Lacks staff, nursing leadership and the Saint Mary’s Foundation with the award on June 21, 2016, Haveman said to the crowd:

“When my husband was diagnosed with cancer, he was cared for at Mercy Health. I felt that the staff was excellent, and I was so impressed with how well he was cared for. I vowed that when I retired, I would come back here and volunteer. I have not been disappointed. It has been a privilege to serve alongside this staff, who have been so encouraging and so accepting of me.”

Her nomination reads below:

“The staff on 3 Lacks was caring for a patient who was actively dying. His sister was at his bedside and was at peace with the realization that her brother was dying, but was distraught at how long he had been suffering.
“His nurse asked her if she would like to have the priest come and sit with her. She declined because she felt that the last rites had been enough. Our volunteer Julie was on the unit, so I asked her if she would be comfortable with stopping in and visiting with the sister to offer some moral support as her brother was taking his last breaths.

Without hesitation, Julie went to the patient’s room and sat at the bedside. Julie was very supportive of our patient’s sister. The patient’s sister was thankful for the kind words and caring that Julie expressed to both her brother and to her. Because Julie found the time to connect with them, she was able to have a little more comfort during a very difficult time for them.

group shot
Julie Haveman poses with Nursing Leadership, members of 3 Lacks staff and Volunteer Services staff from Saint Mary’s Foundation after she is surprised with the Friend of Nursing Award on June 21, 2016.

“I am so grateful and blessed to work with Julie.
“Thank you for helping our nurses to provide excellent nursing care to those entrusted to them.”

Cancer Survivors Day – Celebrating the Survivors

Mercy Health celebrated National Cancer Survivors Day on Tuesday, June 14, on 5 Lacks. The event honors survivors and their loved ones and had nearly 200 people in attendance. Mercy Health staff asked survivors what they are celebrating most throughout their journey. Click through the photos below for their inspiring messages:[g-slider gid=”181″ width=”100%” height=”55%” random=”0″ watermark=”0″]

Mercy Health Muskegon’s Hep C Clinic Introduces FibroScan Services

(Excerpts taken from FOX17 WXMI)

Dr. Elaine Leigh, a nurse practitioner at Mercy Health Muskegon’s Hep C Clinic, recently participated in an interview with FOX17’s Erica Francis to talk about the new diagnostic tool, FibroScan — an ultrasound technology to determine if a patient has liver scarring or fibrosis. The test takes only a few minutes, is non-invasive and often replaces the need for a liver biopsy.

Mercy Health’s Hepatitis C Clinic in Muskegon is fortunate to offer FibroScan in West Michigan. There are only six FibroScans in the entire state of Michigan. Wait times for FibroScan appointments in other parts of the country (mainly rural) average eight to 10 months. The Mercy Health Hep C Clinic can offer appointments to patients within weeks of a referral.

Tammy Rogers of Ludington was diagnosed with Hepatitis C in 2005 and has never been treated. She describes the Fibroscan as ‘a godsend’ and something that could very well save her life. Rogers underwent a liver biopsy in 2009 and says it was completely different than what she experienced with Fibroscan.

Tammy Rogers

“This was a piece of cake, a walk in the park,” Rogers said.

“I had to have somebody with me (during the biopsy), because I couldn’t drive afterward, and it is a fairly long needle.”

“We have not had good options for how to determine fibrosis up until the time we got our Fibroscan,” said Dr.Leigh. “Liver biopsy has always been known as the gold standard for determining how much fibrosis someone has. The problem is you can even have error with a liver biopsy.”

Although a liver biopsy is still an option, experts say it’s risky, somewhat painful and pricey.

Once FibroScan identifies how much liver scarring a patient has, the patient will be notified about eligibility for the direct-acting, anti-viral drugs through Medicaid.

Speaking of direct-acting, anti-viral drugs, Rogers said, “These drugs are opening the door for so many people like me; never had any symptoms, never gone through any treatment.” The drugs she is referring to came out in fall of 2014 and have been used to treat 200 people with Hepatitis C. “Of course, my hope is that this drug is a fit for me, and when it’s all over and done with, I won’t have that weighing on my mind because it’s going to be gone,” said Rogers.

To receive the FibroScan procedure, patients must be referred by their primary doctor.

To see the full story from FOX17 WXMI:

Mercy Health and the Health Project Collaborative Recognized by White House for Community Benefit


drug takeback photo - MU - EDITEDMercy Health and the Health Project were recognized by the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy as a community benefit success story for drug prevention initiatives. The Health Project’s Coalition for a Drug Free Muskegon County facilitates six different teams with over 80 members from public health, law enforcement, substance abuse agencies, health care, school districts and student organizations.

DFMC’s action teams include the Muskegon Alcohol Liability Initiative, KnowSmoke, the Alliance for Marijuana Prevention, and the Muskegon Area Medication Disposal Program (MAMDP), which was specifically featured for their success.

To date, the team has properly disposed over 21,000 pounds of medications, conducted multiple physician and community education efforts in an effort to reduce the availability of prescription drugs in community.

Multiple Mercy Health departments were involved in this group with leaders provided marketing, communications, supplies, policy review, leadership on take-back events, resource development. For more information on the Health Project visit More information about MAMDP can be found at

Read full article:

Nationally Recognized Asthma Care in West Michigan

Karen Meyerson, Nationally Recognized Asthma Expert
Karen Meyerson, Nationally Recognized Asthma Expert

Formed in 1994, the Asthma Network of West Michigan is believed to be the first grassroots asthma coalition in the nation to receive reimbursement for asthma education and case management services from health insurance plans. Located on the campus of Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, today its services have expanded to adults as well as children younger than school age, and five of Michigan’s largest payers now reimburse for home-based education and environmental assessments. To reach and improve the lives of the nearly 121,000 people in Western Michigan (Kent, Ottawa, and Muskegon counties) who have asthma — 24 percent of whom are children — the Asthma Network of West Michigan (ANWM) created a direct service arm of its coalition and implemented a home-based asthma case management program for school-aged children who had uncontrolled asthma. This independent nonprofit organization primarily serves low-income children and adults with moderate to severe asthma. As a community collaborative, ANWM is funded by six major contributing organizations*, including Trinity Health and Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, which is the network’s employer of record.

Never Tried Before

Their first pilot program in 1996 included the following comprehensive services:

  • Home visits
  • In-services for school staff regarding asthma awareness
  • Physician care conferences to create a written asthma action plan
  • Medical social worker visits to assist families with psychosocial barriers to asthma management

By delivering this type of intensive, personal care, ANWM was able to demonstrate success in controlling asthma and reducing emergency department visits and hospital admissions due to asthma. Three years after the initial pilot program was launched, a local health plan began to reimburse for ANWM’s services.

Over the years, Karen Meyerson, MSN, RN, FNP-C, AE-C, Director of the Asthma Network of West Michigan, and this nonprofit’s staff have conducted other pilot programs that have ultimately led to stable funding sources and cooperation from local government agencies that now refer patients to ANWM.

Meyerson explains how her work is funded. “We get reimbursed by Medicaid managed care plans, Medicare, and other commercial insurers. We have also been successful in raising grant funds and community benefit funds from local hospitals. It takes a lot of different funding streams to support our program, even with the insurance reimbursement.”

Demonstrated Clinical Outcomes

The data from the past 20 years reveal the story of ANWM’s success. “We find that there have been significant reductions in the number of hospitalizations overall, the number of days children have been hospitalized, and the number of emergency department visits,” Meyerson explains. “And, for low-income children with moderate to severe asthma who remained in the original case management study for at least 1 year, we saw an estimated average savings of $1,625 in hospital charges per patient.”

In total, Meyerson and her team estimate that the program results in approximately $800 in net healthcare savings per child per year, with a return to society — over two years — of $1.53 for every $1 invested. Patients often “graduate” from their program after just 6 to 12 months, when their asthma control has improved.

Recognized Expertise

With such documented success, Meyerson has become a national expert on delivering and funding optimal asthma outcomes. She served as a participant in a roundtable discussion in Washington, D.C. in 2015, sponsored by the Brookings Institution and the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America. The subsequent published report from that gathering features ANWM as a model program for health care delivery.

Also in 2015, the National Governor’s Association’s white paper on asthma celebrated ANWM as a “state success story.” The 2013 asthma reimbursement report by the CDC traces the history of ANWM’s excellent care delivery and innovative development of a funding stream.

Today, other Michigan coalitions have formed and have begun replicating ANWM’s model — and they have also been successful in securing payment for similar services in their respective communities.

As the director of ANWM’s innovative case management model of asthma care for 19 years, Meyerson has been a member of the National Asthma Educator Certification Board, served as the chair of that board, and is now an emeritus member.

Contact Karen Meyerson at 616.685.1432 or

Sidebar: Facts about Asthma**

  • Asthma costs nearly $56 billion a year.
  • Asthma affects nearly 25 million Americans, including 1 in 11 children.
  • In 2009, one in five children with asthma visited the emergency department.
  • Asthma causes nearly 10.5 million missed school days and 14.2 million missed work days per year.

*Major funding sources: Amway, First Steps, Heart of West Michigan United Way, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, Spectrum Health Healthier Communities, and Trinity Health

**Source: Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America





Leading the Way for Caring for Babies Experiencing Opiate Drug Withdrawal

Gelfand, Steven_MD_LC OK to use after 3 1 2015
Steven Gelfand, MD, FAAP

Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Receives 2016 Center of Excellence Designation in Education and Training for Supporting Better Practices for Infants Experiencing Withdrawal

Mercy Health Saint Mary’s is proud to announce it has earned the 2016 Center of Excellence Designation in Education and Training for infants and families impacted by infant opioid drug withdrawal.

Designated by the Vermont Oxford Network, which is a nonprofit voluntary collaboration focused on neonatal care, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s has created quality improvement programs and staff training to more effectively and compassionately educate the families of and treat the babies who are suffering from opioid use withdrawal.

“Skyrocketing opioid use among the general population is a growing concern all over the country, and we are seeing rising numbers of babies born to mothers with opiate addiction,” said Steven Gelfand, MD, FAAP, neonatologist at Mercy Health. “If untreated, babies born with opioid withdrawal can experience symptoms like shaking, inability to sleep, poor feeding, diarrhea and vomiting, respiratory distress, and in rare cases, seizures.”


NICU Nurses
Nurses and other staff from the NICU are proud to have earned the 2016 Center of Excellence Designation in Education and Training for infants and families impacted by infant opioid drug withdrawal.

According to a study published in the Journal of American Medical Association, the number of babies born addicted to opioids increased three-fold in less than a decade to account for 5.63 of every 1,000 births by 2009. As of 2011, 12.9% of pregnant women were prescribed opioids at some point during their pregnancy. Weaning physically addicted mothers off opioids while they are pregnant can increase the risk of stillbirth, according to Gelfand, whose neonatology team at Mercy Health has been developing a plan to help babies who experience drug withdrawal after birth, called Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, (NAS).

Mercy Health formed an interdisciplinary team and, amongst numerous process improvements, kept four main goals in mind:
1) To create a culture of compassion for the families who are experiencing opioid use issues. “Often, there is shame and guilt associated with opioid drug use, and we work with the parents to enhance bonding with their newborn. Whereas these families have historically been treated like criminals, we recognize that substance addiction or abuse is a medical condition deserving of our caring, compassion, and expertise” said Gelfand.
2) To optimize non-pharmaceutical measures where appropriate, including staying ahead of the baby’s symptoms by cautious swaddling, shushing and swaying, and maintaining a low-stimulus environment for the babies. The intimate setting at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s NICU allows the staff to learn what works for each individual baby.
3) To actively promote breastfeeding when appropriate, as the benefits outweigh the risks in many circumstances.
4) To standardize a protocol for the identification, evaluation, treatment, and discharge management of babies with NAS.

In 2015, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s was one of the 110 centers that enrolled in a national multi-center quality improvement collaborative sponsored by Vermont Oxford Network. Only centers that successfully trained at least 85% of their staff were eligible for the Center of Excellence designation.