Thanking the Deacons for Their Service to Patients and Staff

On Friday, July 29, 2016, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s said goodbye to its three deacons from the Grand Rapids Diocese, Stephen Durkee, Kyle Kilpatrick and Steve Geerling, who spent the past ten weeks serving our patients’ spiritual care needs and assisting with weekday Mass at the Chapel on the second level of Lacks Cancer Center.

As a goodbye to the three deacons, Most Rev. David Walkowiak, bishop of the Diocese of Grand Rapids, celebrated Mass onsite in the Chapel, attended by members of Senior Leadership, volunteers, the Spiritual Care department and other colleagues and members of the community.

After Mass, volunteers brought prayer blankets to be blessed by Bishop Walkowiak. Started ten years ago by volunteer Kathy Robinson, prayer blankets are given to provide warmth and comfort for our patients. Special blankets are even made for our NICU patients.

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Materials are donated by the parish of St. Andrew’s Cathedral, and women of all faiths stitch the blankets to prepare them for patients of Mercy Health Saint Mary’s.

“Our patients simply love them,” said Kathy Robinson. “I was inspired to start this after my own health scare 12 years ago, with just two blankets a month. Now we have 30 blankets that we donate each week to the hospital.”

The deacons enjoyed a special lunch hosted by Bill Manns, president of Mercy Health Saint Mary’s. We wish the deacons well as they continue their studies at University of Saint Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary, as part of their journey to being ordained as priests in June 2017.

Mercy Health Ludington Grand Opening – August 11, 2016

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4:30–7:30 p.m.


  • Weight and BMI
  • Blood Pressure
  • Glucometer
  • Face painting for the kids
  • Light refreshments will be provided – come out and try our “Mercy Health” cookie!
  • Meet our providers and tour our brand new facility



Ice Cream and Cookie Socials to Celebrate High Response Rate for Culture of Safety and Engagement Survey

On Wednesday, July 20, 2016, 1,000 colleagues celebrated the achievement of a high response rate with ice cream, while 1,100 offsite colleagues celebrated with the infamous Mercy Health cookie! Achieving a response rate of 86% for the Culture of Safety and Engagement Survey, Mercy Health has much to celebrate! Click through for some photos of the celebrations!

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Rick Gilfillan, DO, President of Trinity Health, Visits West Michigan

Eager to hear and learn of the work happening at Mercy Health in West Michigan, Trinity Health President, Rick Gilfillan, DO, came onsite to the Innovation Hub on Wednesday, July 20, 2016. Touring the Innovation Hub led by members of the Innovation team, Ben Look and Spencer Covey, as well as Mercy Health President and CEO, Roger Spoelman, Gilfillan learned of the rationale behind the Innovation Hub and who uses the space to think differently to solve old problems.

Click below for photos of the event:

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Honoring Colleague Award Winners – Summer 2016!

Each quarter, colleagues nominate dozens of their peers for the esteemed Colleagues Award, which honors those who embody the mission, vision and values of Mercy Health. Only a few are selected by a panel of clinical and non-clinical colleagues. Below are excerpts from the nomination forms of each of the winners:

Pent Matthew
Matthew Pent, Environmentalist

Matthew Pent, Environmentalist, Mercy Health Lacks Cancer Center 
Matthew Pent cleans Mercy Health Lacks Cancer Center with great passion for his work and with a smile on his face. Matthew is often asked to clean beyond his duties and always complies with his great attitude.

Matthew is a proud man with a kind heart for all. Several patients have commented what a nice man he is who takes pride in his cleaning. He supports Mercy Health with any decision made beyond his ability or expected.

He exemplifies communicating directly and respectfully, as he keeps front desk colleagues at Lacks Cancer Center informed of any concerns needing to be addressed.
Matthew has the trust of his colleagues and respect from supervisor, manager and director of environmental services. He has the best intentions for patients and colleagues. Matthew is a great listener, seeking to understand before speaking, and is very respectful to colleagues and patients.

If something gets missed, Matthew is the first to take responsibility and take care of what is needed done. Matthew speaks out at department meetings when equipment needs fixed, even though it might not pertain to him or his area. Matthew encourages his fellow colleagues to achieve excellence on cleaning that serves good hygiene to our patients. Matthew is a true Mercy Health Saint Mary’s success story, due to his accountability and great service in everything he does.


Triezenberg Beth
Beth Triezenberg, CNL

Beth Triezenberg, CNL, 7 Main
In her role as CNL, Beth has been an integral part of working with many very complex patient situations within the last several months on 7 Main. She demonstrates our Guiding Behaviors daily. In each complex situation, Beth meets with patients to build working relationships that involved great compassion for their situations and needs. Beth maintains patience and poise to convey her genuine caring to have their needs met and then worked diligently to come up with solutions.

In each of these scenarios, Beth built collaborative relationships with numerous disciplines to ensure patient needs were met. Beth has been the single instrumental team member to ensure that all involved are communicating, sharing knowledge and brainstorming solutions to difficult problems.

The barriers motivated Beth to focus on solutions to very complex problems. Not once did she project blame onto the patients or on any other members of the team, nor did she complain about how frustrating these patients had become. She identified next steps that she and other team members could take to come closer to determining solutions and encouraged those around her to do the same.

Once decisions were made with the interdisciplinary teams regarding patient care, Beth supported these decisions by communicating them to other floor staff and by supporting positive attitudes toward the accomplishment of these goals.

Since the opening of 7 Main, the unit has found itself as home to a significant number of challenging patients that may not always have treated staff respectfully during their stays. When patients have complaints or need to be heard regarding their concerns, Beth will meet with them to ensure that they are listened to. Beth does not shy away from having difficult conversations and will often discuss topics with patients that other staff feel uncomfortable talking about, despite that they need to be addressed. Because of her ability to address difficult conversations, she has built positive working relationships with patients unlike any other staff members, which has had a positive impact on the hospital’s ability to provide good care and health outcomes.
Beth has encouraged others around her to use this type of communication as well because she demonstrates it so frequently in her interactions.

Beth consistently builds positive working relationships with other colleagues as well as patients and their families, even when the situation is stressful, emotional, and easier left undone. Beth never takes the “easy way out” and addresses problems directly in order to facilitate a better work environment and better patient care.

Zimmerman Jason
Jason Zimmerman, RN, Infusion Services

Jason Zimmerman, RN, Infusion Services
In December 2015, Jason took on the role of charge nurse for the new Mercy Health Infusion Services, demonstrating exceptional leadership this past year as a key person in the opening of the new service. He has worked hard to assure patient safety and satisfaction in this new clinic.

The transition caused a lot of anxiety for patients who were experiencing a great change from their usual space and the nurses they had known–some for years. The transition was hard, but Jason was there to listen to their concerns, comfort them in the transition and gain their confidence.

Jason was able to make the adjustment for the patients more positive by being present with them, listening to their concerns, and making the environment more comfortable. He has built a trusting relationship with the patients, their family and the physicians. Jason focused on what he could do rather than what we could not accomplish. He kept the patients first and has made them comfortable in our temporary space. He listened each and every day to patients and kept calm, professional, and compassionate. He has brought his concerns to the nursing leadership to help improve the situation. Jason has remained very positive through this transition.

Jason has spent many hours listening to patients express their concerns about the change. He has remained positive and professional, kind, and does the little extra for patients making them feel heard. Jason has been a leader with the nurses as well to teach them how we care for patients in this different environment. He leads by example as well.
His humor has helped to make this situation a little lighter and keep others positive.

Jason embraced the change and took on the challenge keeping his eye on what is best for the patients.
Jason’s ability to keep calm in crisis, lead others to see what needs to be done and does it and maintain his sense of humor through all of it make him great to work with!

Rapid Improvement with Early Morning Lab Draws – Hackley Campus

Last January, a Rapid Improvement Event (RIE) took place with the Hackley Campus Lab Assistants. Laura Juhnke (Lab Assistant), Romana Fusik (Lab Assistant), and Chevonne Robbins (Manager) worked on the problem of morning blood draws not  be completed by the goal of 6:30 a.m.  Draws need to be complete by 6:30 a.m. so that results can be available to providers for patient care at 7:00 a.m.  Thirty percent of draws were occurring after 6:30 a.m., and draws were taking 10 minutes per patient.

The team looked at the current process, and found quite a bit of waste. All supplies and one computer for all lab assistants were on one large cart. The cart took a great deal of time to stock, and there was often a delay while staff waited for other colleagues to get the supplies they needed, or finish their documentation of the specimens. The single cart also led to extra motion as each colleague traveled from the individual patient rooms back to the cart. Also, lab assistants waited to send all specimen tubes down to the lab at one time after each unit was drawn. This led to delays in getting results to providers.

After taking the time to fully understand the current state and all of the waste, a future state was considered. The team had countless ideas to eliminate the different kinds of waste.  One of the solutions was to add the software access needed by Lab Assistants to the existing computers in each nursing unit.  This helped to decrease waiting for use of one computer and motion of the Lab Assistant.

Another solution was to get rid of the supply cart, and stock everything needed for the morning rounds directly on individual trays. This change decreased the practice of stocking more than what was needed on the large cart, waiting around the cart, motion of walking to the cart, and worked on rightsizing the inventory.

One more solution was to divide the labels in the morning so everyone got close to the same amount of patients to draw. Each Lab Assistant then sends down specimen in individual, smaller batches rather than collecting all the tubes into one bag.  These solutions led to less waiting, and decreased the confusion of who was responsible for what work.

By working with those that do the work to change the work, the following results were achieved:

  • 2 minutes 23 seconds saved per patient draw (10 minutes to 7 minutes 37 seconds)
  • 66% improvement on decreasing draws greater than 6:30 a.m. (30% to 10%)
  • 83% improvement on being staffed as planned (29% to 53%)
  • Proven increase in colleague satisfaction

Following the event, all the first shift Lab Assistants got involved, continued to offer solutions, and helped to implement the ideas that came forth. They are continually encouraged by their manager to solve problems since they are the closest to the patient care.

Great job to Laura, Romana, Chevonne, and the entire 1st shift Hackley Campus Lab Assistant team!

Introducing Vascular Access Specialist Team!

Mercy Health Saint Mary’s is proud to introduce a dedicated RN Vascular Access Specialist Team (VAST), as of June 2016. This special team ensures the highest quality care for patients who require vascular access through a peripheral or central intravenous (IV) line for infusion therapy.

Through the new team of Jonathan Bradd, BA, RN, CCRN and Michelle Demey, BSN, RN, RN-BC, SANE-A, SANE-P, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s raises the bar in the specialty of infusion nursing through evidenced- based practice, advanced technical skills and advocacy to ensure that patient’s receive the most appropriate type of IV line and that the lines are cared for appropriately.

During the months of July, August and September, VAST will focus on two patient care initiatives:

1) Central Line Care, which will be achieved through unit-based education of staff in the emergency department and inpatient units and VAST daily rounding of all inpatients at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s with central lines. The VAST is currently rounding on approximately 34 central lines a day.

2) Early Vascular Access Assessment, which focuses on “the right line at the right time,” for each patient, meaning the patient proactively receives the most appropriate vascular device for their course of treatment. VAST should be consulted by page to review all orders for central line access, such as PICC and CVC.

“These types of specialized teams are recognized as best practice and have been shown to be safe, cost-effective and quality care when it comes to securing and placing appropriate vascular access devices at the patient’s bedside,” said the VAST Clinical Nurse Specialist Amy Kyes, MSN, RN, CRNI. “Available evidence shows that the introduction of vascular access teams reduces rates of infection (CLABSI), saves costs, and improves the patient experience of vascular access.”

Post on-boarding and orientation, the VAST will be available seven days a week with variable hours, accessible by pager 616.397.0041. Clinicians, please use IntelliWeb: Include your name, call back number, patient room number and reason for consult.

For additional information, contact Kyes at 685.4841 or

SHAPE Program Introduces 50 Students to Health Care; Stops at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s for Hands-on Activities

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Students from the SHAPE program work with Endoscopy tools, finding marshmallows during simulations.

For its fourth straight year, the SHAPE program made a stop at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s to learn hands-on about potential careers in health care on Wednesday, July 13, 2016. Sponsored in collaboration with Grand Valley State University School of Public Health and Grand Rapids Public Schools, the SHAPE Program introduces about 50 children who are heading into the 8th and 9th grades to health care careers.

At Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, representatives of the following six departments participated in the SHAPE program:
Surgical Services
Sterile Processing
Nutrition Services
Environmental Services and
Sous Chef.

“Our colleagues are phenomenal, developing 20-minute-long hands-on activities for the students, so they can physically touch some of the equipment used in Sterile Processing, simulate what it means to the senior adult who might have neuropathy and cataracts, or they can practice ‘suturing’ spaghetti,” said Maria Alvarez de Lopez, Manager of Community Benefit Programs. “Mercy Health Saint Mary’s leads six workshops, each one introducing the students to different services of health care to plant that seed of considering a health care career, and secondly, that they can consider Mercy Health as a potential future employer. It brings tremendous value to the community and to the next generation of students, and we are thrilled to support this program.”

eric christopherson, sterile processing
Eric Christopherson, holding an orthopedic tray from Sterile Processing, likes the variety of his work and demonstrating to the students from the SHAPE Program how intense the job can get. “It’s very demanding, yet rewarding. I like to emphasize to the students that West Michigan has many accredited programs to choose from where they could continue their education and work in Sterile Processing.”


Our colleagues enjoy the exchange with the students as well. “It’s fun to see their excitement, as people don’t often know what we do,” said Eric Christopherson, who works in Sterile Processing, who brought a tray of surgical equipment used in orthopedic cases to show the students. “It’s a joy for me to explain to the students how equipment is rendered sterile, and how important it is for the hospital to have sterile equipment. We treat each tray like we are preparing them for our own family to be operated on.”

How do the students react? “In past years, we have had some students so excited by the program, they have asked me, ‘How old do you have to be to work here?'” laughs Alvarez de Lopez.

Want to find out how old you really are?

Click here to take the RealAge® test and find out how to be healthier (and younger!).

As part of the national Trinity Health system, we have the opportunity to bolster our online presence in West Michigan. We are excited to announce Mercy Health’s participation in Sharecare (, the leading health and wellness online engagement platform. Mercy Health is one of eight Trinity Health Regional Health Ministries to participate, with all Regional Health Ministries slated to join Sharecare at future dates.

A key feature of Sharecare is the RealAge® test, a free, scientifically accurate test that considers over 100 different factors — from eating, exercise and sleep habits to family health history, behaviors and existing conditions – to pinpoint the true biological age of your body.

RealAge helps you go beyond your calendar age to get a deeper understanding of your well-being and longevity.

RealAge was developed in the late 1990s by a team of medical and scientific experts, including Dr. Keith Roach and Dr. Michael Roizen. The original idea came from a journal article on the shortened lifespan of smokers: A patient who smokes will live, on average, around eight years less than a non-smoking patient. Therefore, a 50-year-old smoker and a 58-year-old nonsmoker would have the same risk of death — or the same biological age.

After reviewing thousands of published, peer-reviewed medical and scientific studies and collaborating with a mathematician from the University of Chicago to develop an algorithm, they debuted the RealAge test.

The test is updated regularly as new scientific studies are confirmed and older research is reconsidered. For example, having health insurance was proven to increase longevity, so it was added as a RealAge question.

In early 2014, a landmark study was conducted at the University of California, San Diego and published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE. The study validated RealAge as a more accurate predictor of mortality than the widely used Framingham ATP-III test. It also proved that since RealAge considers multiple areas of health, patient-entered data could be reliably used to determine overall well-being of the body.

RealAge delivers more than just a number. Once a person has completed the test, they receive a personalized plan to increase their energy, sleep better, and create a healthier life —one with more active, happy years.

Apprentices Mark Halfway Point to New Careers in Health Care

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The 16 Grand Rapids Community College participants in the Medical Assistant Registered Apprenticeship Program mark their halfway point through the program. This program is the first of its kind in the nation.

Twenty-four aspiring medical assistants recently took a break from their classwork to celebrate the halfway point in the MA Registered Apprenticeship Program (MARAP). Program partners Grand Rapids Community College, Muskegon Community College, West Michigan Works!, Mercy Health, Cherry Health and Spectrum Health were there to share in the milestone celebration and hear about the students’ journeys-to-date.

The students are the first cohort of MARAP apprentices. The program, a U.S. Department of Labor registered apprenticeship and the first-of-its-kind in the nation, combines rigorous coursework with clinical application. The program was created to meet local healthcare providers’ critical need for qualified Medical Assistants (MAs) and provide an entry point for individuals to grow into a variety of careers in the industry.

Jamie Noeker, an apprentice studying at Grand Rapids Community College and working at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, was a stay-at-home mom for nine years. While she had previously worked in healthcare administration, she wanted to work with patients. “I love that we take what we learn in the classroom and immediately apply it in a work setting,” said Noeker. “The preceptors [physicians who supervise the apprentices] and our instructors have noticed that we are more prepared than students following a more traditional path.”

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The eight Muskegon Community College Medical Assistant Apprenticeship Program participants. “This program changed my life,” says Teresa Beltran, one of the participants.

Teresa Beltran was taking general courses at Muskegon Community College. She was just about to give up on her studies when she saw a flyer for the MA Apprenticeship program. She applied, was accepted and is now working for Mercy Health in Muskegon. “This program has changed my life,” said Beltran. “I’m a hands-on kind of person, so being able to immediately apply what I’m learning in the clinical setting is perfect for me. I can’t imagine doing anything else. ”

MARAP is currently recruiting individuals and healthcare providers for its second program cycle. In addition to GRCC and Muskegon Community College, Montcalm Community College hopes to offer course work for the next round of apprentices. Interested individuals can fill out an application of interest at Healthcare providers can call Kristie Scarffe at (616) 336-3261.

According to West Michigan Works!, the Medical Assistant Registered Apprenticeship Program (MARAP) provides consistent quality standards, greater access to federal funding and a national, industry-recognized credential for graduates. MARAP is administered by West Michigan Works!. More information can be found at