Health Project Announces Community Benefit Board Initiative Grantees in Muskegon

Funds support initiatives that address health needs identified in recent Community Health Needs Assessment

The Health Project’s Advisory Board of Directors announced their grantee recipients of the Community Benefit Initiative Grant Program. Grantees will be able to utilize their funds starting August 2016 through June 2017.

A total $125,000 has been granted to this year’s grantees: Catholic Charities West Michigan’s substance abuse counseling program, Christians for Healthcare’s community outreach and screening program, Salvation Army’s food pantry, Montague Public School’s food service program, Volunteer for Dental’s dental access program, Boys and Girls Club children’s health and well-being programs, Kids’ Food Basket expansion of the Sack Supper program, Oceana Hispanic Center’s family nutrition education program, and Senior Resources home-based services.

The Community Benefit Initiative Grant program was created to facilitate the investment of community benefit funds by the Health Project’s Board of Directors into the community. This fund supports initiatives that address health needs identified in Mercy Health’s most recent Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA). To view the full CHNA report, please visit www.MercyHealth.comCHNA

Stevi Riel, executive director of the Health Project, feels strongly that community partnerships are critical to making progress in the improvement of health behaviors in Muskegon and Oceana Counties. “The Community Benefit Initiative Grant program is an opportunity for us to invest in our community and put our Community Health Needs Assessment into action. Improving the health of the population isn’t a task that can be accomplished by one entity or group – we all have to commit to recognizing our place and moving forward together.  The best investment for Mercy Health Muskegon is in the organizations that have experience – and the outcomes – doing  the work that drives change at the community level.”

Grants are awarded once a year. Applications for the next round will be available March 2017. Visit our website for announcements and upcoming grant opportunities.

Mercy Health Tour de Rapids – Fun Ride, Great Cause

With nearly 100 people participating as cyclists, the second annual Mercy Health Tour de Rapids proved again to be a fun ride on Saturday, August 27, with the proceeds benefiting the ALS program at Mercy Health, which recently earned designation as a Center of Excellence by the ALS Association.

Including several bike runs and an after-party complete with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Mercy Health Tour de Rapids held something for everyone. Funds raised through Tour de Rapids will help those with ALS and their families, with certain programs like the “Lend a Voice” program and others that help fulfill the specialized needs that those with ALS face.

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Special accolades go to Ross Mast, whose story was showcased from an ALS caregiver’s perspective. Mast was presented with the ALS Caring Heart by Mercy Health during the post-race presentation. The ALS Caring Heart is a designation given to any person who has served as a caregiver for someone with ALS, thus, all caregivers who identify themselves as such were given a “caring heart” at the Mercy Health Tour de Rapids.

Mast was nominated by fellow ALS caregiver, Julie Snelling, who wrote the following about Mast:

“Ross Mast was a dedicated and loving caregiver to his wife Susan Mast who died of ALS in November 2014. Susan lived with ALS for four years and Ross was her primary caregiver during her ALS journey.
“I strongly feel all primary caregivers who care for loved ones with ALS deserve an award. What makes Ross stand out as a strong candidate are his significant contributions and actions after Susan passed away.
“Ross is the first to admit he faced caregiver burnout while caring for his wife. He was both physically and mentally exhausted while taking care of Susan’s needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. When people offered to help, he politely declined, as he felt no one could care for Susan like he did. In hindsight, Ross realized he needed relief. If he had respite, it would have allowed him to re-energize, making him a better caregiver.
“As a result from his lessons learned, Ross decided to donate a significant amount of money to start an ALS respite fund. Since its inception in 2015, the fund has helped many caregivers. As if that was not enough, Ross decided to expand his ‘respite fund’ and create a nonprofit organization to serve all the needs of ALS families in West Michigan including: respite, loan closet, support groups, home visits, etc. This significant undertaking is replacing his retirement.
“Ross’ wife Susan was the Executive Director at Faith Hospice, where she assisted those in their time of need. Her favorite saying was, ‘It is through serving others that your greatness will be felt.’ In closing, I would like to say – Ross Mast is serving others and his greatness is felt by so many living with ALS in West Michigan.”

Thanks to all the volunteers, riders and post-race celebrants who made Mercy Health Tour de Rapids a success once again!

Nearly 150 NICU “Graduates” Celebrate With NICU Staff at Annual Reunion

Taking care of Mercy Health’s smallest patients can reap the biggest rewards for the NICU staff, who were reunited with former patients and families on August 23, 2016, at the annual NICU Reunion.

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Nearly 150 of our NICU graduates attended this year’s reunion at the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum. The Dr. Seuss-themed event featured lots of fun, free-play activities, photo booth, “Packer,” the pet-assisted therapy dog, and a free book for each grad to take home.

Event organizer Lynne Horodyski, NICU nurse, states: “Last year, we were able to reconnect with many of the graduates that we hadn’t seen in many years, including one who is now 10 years old! But even if it has been six months, the babies change so much, and it is awesome to see how they have grown and developed, in a large part due to the excellent care that we gave them while they were in the hospital. The staff really enjoys this event, reconnecting with our parents and graduates. It helps us to feel a sense of accomplishment and knowing that our work has helped them.”

Thanks to the NICU staff for hosting this event for their patients and families! Click here for a full photo gallery on the Mercy Health Facebook page>>

Heartside Back-to-School Bash Gives Away Over 500 Backpacks!

For its second annual Back-to-School Bash, Heartside Health Center, a community benefit ministry of Mercy Health, collaborated with many local organizations and within the hospital ranks to make the program a success.

Focused on educational opportunities and giveaways for local children who need school supplies, Heartside staff held the Back-to-School Bash on Saturday, August 13, 2016.

Thanks to the many colleagues who donated items to make this event a success, and to the many volunteers who helped staff the event.

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  • Special thanks to the community partners:
    Arbor Circle’s Baby Scholar Program
    Car Seat Safety
    Mercy Health Dental Clinic
    Grand Rapids Public Library
    The Rapid
    Sickle Cell Disease Association of America
    The Spoke Folks
    Wellness Champions of America
    Guiding Light
    Kent County Health Department and WIC
    Health Motion Physical Therapy
    Mel Trotter Ministries
    Network 180
    Safe Haven
    Bethany Christian Services
    LaGrave Fire Department

Congratulations to Digital Solutions Group Manager, Lindsey Rodarmer, Social Media Maven of the Year!

At the Grand Rapids Young Professionals 3rd Annual Gala: “Celebrate. Connect. Inspire.” on Thursday, August 18 at McKay Tower, Lindsey Rodarmer, Operations Manager for Digital Solutions Group, Mercy Health, was honored with the Social Media Maven of the Year Award.

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Grand Rapids Young Professionals organization recognizes local young professionals who are using their talents and passion to help our community and to professionally lead change. They stand out as advocates and innovators.

About Social Media Maven Award from the Grand Rapids Young Professionals: It’s obvious that we live in a time that embraces social media. Though it has become ubiquitous, there are some people who really stand out as champions of social media. This award will honor someone who utilizes these tools to increase business, further a worthy cause or build their personal brand.

acceptance speech for Rodarmer
Lindsey Rodarmer, operations manager for Digital Solutions, accepts her Social Media Maven of the Year Award on August 18 at the third annual Grand Rapids Young Professionals gala. During her speech, Rodarmer said: “Social media at Mercy Health is all about collaboration, both within our organization and in this incredible community we’re blessed to live in. Our clinical teams save lives and bring new lives into the community every single day.”

In her acceptance speech, Rodarmer told the crowd: “I’m passionate about social media because I love our mission at Mercy Health, and I believe the best brands and organizations today no longer have a choice to make social media a top priority. Especially in health care, it’s necessary to listen, share information and engage in two-way conversations in this space. For me, this is a team award because social media at Mercy Health is all about collaboration, both within our organization and in this incredible community we’re blessed to live in. Our clinical teams save lives and bring new lives into the community every single day.”

Congratulations again to Rodarmer!

Three New Board Members Join Saint Mary’s Foundation

Three newly appointed trustees, Veverly Austin, President and Founder of Confident Living; Jennifer Crowley, Partner/Owner of Highland Group, and Jeff Towner, Senior Vice President, Wealth Management Advisor, Portfolio Manager at Merrill Lynch, began their three-year term on the Saint Mary’s Foundation board of trustees on July 1, 2016.

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The new trustees are warmly received by the following newly appointed officers:

  • Chair – Rachel P. Mraz
  • Vice Chair – Craig Datema
  • Treasurer – Jeffrey Dixon
  • Secretary – Kim Clarke
  • At Large Officer – Deb Bailey
  • At Large Officer – Karen Custer
  • At Large Officer – Robert C. Woodhouse, Jr.
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Rachel Mraz, Board Chair, Saint Mary’s Foundation

The goal of the Saint Mary’s Foundation is to assist Mercy Health Saint Mary’s in continuing to achieve its mission towards providing quality health care. From July 2015 to June 2016, the Saint Mary’s Foundation awarded more than $1.1 million in support of various Mercy Health Saint Mary’s programs including the cancer center, the ALS program, Clinica Santa Maria and nursing education.

The trustees of the Saint Mary’s Foundation play a key leadership role in overseeing the philanthropic and community engagement plans to support this important work.

“We are thrilled about the new trustees and their unique abilities to contribute to our already diverse and engaged board,” said Rachel Mraz, Board Chair, Saint Mary’s Foundation. “Saint Mary’s Foundation is well positioned to continue supporting the important initiatives and programs of Mercy Health Saint Mary’s. Our board members increase awareness of Mercy Health Saint Mary’s vital services and their positive impact on the health and well-being of our community.”

Multidisciplinary Neuro Team Earns Certified Treatment Center of Excellence Status

The ALS Team at Mercy Health: (l - r) Matt Gonzalez, CRTS, ATP; Brad Norg, LRT, RRT; Barb Snow, LMSW; Elizabeth Glisson, PA-C; Kim Paszkowski, CCC-SLP; Marie DeWildt, RN; Kathyrn Dabkowski, PT; Jennifer Fillenworth, RD; and Melanie Taylor, MD Not pictured: John Mulder, MD and Joel Phillips, MD (new team member) of Mercy Health and Melissa Hoffman of Mary Free Bed
The ALS Team at Mercy Health: (l – r) Matt Gonzalez, CRTS, ATP; Brad Norg, LRT, RRT; Barb Snow, LMSW; Elizabeth Glisson, PA-C; Kim Paszkowski, CCC-SLP; Marie DeWildt, RN; Kathyrn Dabkowski, PT; Jennifer Fillenworth, RD; and Melanie Taylor, MD. Not pictured: John Mulder, MD and Joel Phillips, MD (new team member) of Mercy Health and Melissa Hoffman of Mary Free Bed.

Anyone who has a friend or family member — or who has cared for a patient — with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) can attest to its devastating grip.

On any given day, an average of 12,000 people across the U.S. suffer from this neurological disease, which progressively attacks the motor neurons in the brain and spinal column that control a person’s voluntary muscles. Most patients are hit randomly with ALS; relatively few cases are considered familial — from an inherited gene. ALS affects people of all races and ethnicities, although men are diagnosed with it more often than women.

It takes a special person to devote a career to caring for patients with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. It’s no less remarkable when a medical center or team is singled out for exceptional, compassionate care for patients living with this horrific, fatal disease.

Melanie Taylor, MD, medical director, and her multidisciplinary clinical care team at Mercy Health Hauenstein Neurosciences have done just that.

In May 2016, the Mercy Health Hauenstein Neuroscience Center earned a designation that distinguishes it from other neurological care providers in West Michigan: ALS Association Certified Treatment Center of Excellence — the only Certified Center in West Michigan, according to Paula Morning, CEO of the ALS Association. Patients come from all over Michigan and even out of state to seek care with Mercy Health’s remarkable ALS team.

To qualify as a Center of Excellence, the ALS Association looks for a team that provides outstanding clinical care, active research and ongoing process improvement. Mercy Health’s ALS team demonstrated excellence in providing comprehensive, multidisciplinary clinical care to their patients and so much more.
The ALS team consists of an array of medical professionals from Mercy Health, Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, the ALS Association and the private sector who collaborate to deliver outstanding service to patients and their families.

On clinic days (once each week), patients remain in one room and team members go to them (Universal Care model of health care delivery). It’s a form of “one-stop shopping” that saves patients precious time. After each clinic, the team meets in one large room and discusses each patient from each provider’s perspective.
Taylor, medical director for neuromuscular programs, summarizes the benefit of this patient-centered, holistic approach:
“I feel blessed to work with this experienced team. Because ALS is so complex, we need a multidisciplinary team to meet the needs of our patients and treat them individually rather than like a number.”
Although there is no cure for ALS, Taylor believes there will be effective treatments — or even a cure — within her lifetime. In the meantime, there is much her team can do to optimize the quality of life for their patients. “We look at what we can do right now to help patients feel hopeful, supported and understood,” she says.

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Achieving Excellence
In addition to excellent clinical care and collaboration among providers, other components led to the honor this team has received, including the following:

• Through funding from the Saint Mary’s Foundation, the “Lend-A-Voice” program provides patients who have lost their ability to speak receive free use of iPads and other alternative and augmentative technology to help them communicate.
• Caregiver support groups meet monthly.
• Select team members visit patients’ homes.
• The ALS Association provides:
o A Loan Locker, with durable medical equipment patients can borrow.
o Volunteers who provide respite for caregivers.
• The team participates in fundraisers that help to financially support the clinic: Tour de Rapids and Nana’s Run.
• Research Efforts:
o Patients have participated in medication trials.
o As part of ongoing research, the team gathers patient demographic information to identify patterns that may indicate increased risk for ALS.
• Future Goals:
o Communicating with patients via telemedicine.
o Providing home ramps for patients with mobility issues.


To learn more about our ALS program, please click here>>

Clean Outcomes: Environmental Services (EVS) Colleagues Tackle Problem Solving on Multiple Campuses

IMG_0413 evsThe EVS (environmental services) colleagues on the Mercy Health Hackley and Mercy Campuses operate as a single team, seamlessly training and onboarding staff so that their standards and processes are consistent. They have successfully worked, problem solved and improved — together — even with the team being located among separate campuses. How do they do it?

Keys to Their Success

Their ongoing, unified success is due largely to a philosophy of shared leadership that originates with the Relationship-Based Care (RBC) model. RBC centers on building healthy, balanced relationships with fellow colleagues, patients and families, and by caring for oneself.

This way of thinking is fundamental to the way the more than 170 EVS staff have been hired, trained and coached while working at Mercy Health. With so many team members, thinking and working as one isn’t easy.

An innovative solution (pictured above, left): The EVS team tackled the problem of how to keep the floors in patient rooms clean with so many visitor chairs to lift and move. Their solution was simple but effective — store the chairs on the walls. Pictured top right – Chanell Lardie and Tammy Sherwood

“It takes a commitment to our co-workers,” said Tammy Sherwood, EVS Shared Leadership Council President and Mercy Health guest services representative. “Working as one is about direct communication and respect for each other. Our commitment to colleagues includes honesty and trust. Whenever possible, we solve our problems by speaking directly with each other rather than IMG_0415getting a supervisor involved.”

Each EVS team member receives a laminated card with a list of reminders — written as pledges — about how to care for each other. Here are two examples of their commitment to each other:

  • “I will not complain about another team member and if I hear you doing so, I will ask you to talk to that person.”
  • “I will talk with you right away if I have a problem with you or, if necessary, take a 24 hour grace period to reflect before proceeding.”

If Relationship-Based Care is the fuel for this dynamic team, then the EVS Shared Leadership Council is the machine that keeps the team running smoothly. The Council was started in 2011 and is still going strong today.

“The idea behind a Shared Leadership Council is that we, who do the work, are best qualified to identify problems and find solutions by working together,” said Chanell Lardie, vice president of the EVS Shared Leadership Council and guest services representative.

“A lot of our success is due to our leader, Lee Ann Tencate, who backs our council’s decisions 100 percent. She trusts the process and believes in what we are doing. She knows that if all 12 council members don’t agree, we don’t make a decision.”

Elected by peers every two years, 12 members of the EVS Shared Leadership Council meet monthly to tackle problems and find ways to make improvements. They review their team data every three months. Council members come from both campuses and serve as liaisons to other team members.

The council has developed the following effective communication practices that have benefitted the EVS team:

  • Posting photos of council members on the EVS bulletin board so members are easily recognizedIMG_0414
  • Open door policy by all council members
  • Frequent celebrations for jobs well done, including potlucks and prize drawings
  • Monthly huddles for sharing ideas and concerns

Tangible Results

Recently, a council member brought an issue to the EVS Council about the supply closets, as some team members said they couldn’t make it through a shift without having to restock their supplies.

“Tammy assessed the problem and came up with a solution that the council approved,” said Lardie. “Feedback from the team has been good. Most colleagues prefer the organized, labeled shelving that improves efficiency and makes it easier to notice shortages…but it’s still a change, and people generally don’t like change.”

Explaining how and why this new process would benefit the team and, ultimately, the patients, shows respect and is an important part of maintaining a healthy relationship with colleagues.

The Bottom Line

Sherwood summarizes the sacred nature of EVS work: “What we do is important, and we take our work seriously. We know that what we do can save lives or hurt lives. That’s why we work closely with infection control.

“Our reward comes especially when patients and families let us know they appreciate us. But it works both ways: To feel appreciated you have to give appreciation…to patients and to each other. You need to be a team player.”

Over 500 Guests Turn out for the Mercy Health Ludington Grand Opening

Mercy Health hosted a ribbonImage4 cutting ceremony and open house at the newly completed $3.9 million, 15,000-square-foot health care facility at 5656 U.S.10 on August 11, 2016.

The new facility’s design was developed by Mercy Health colleagues, including physicians, nurses and support staff, and patients, who collaborated with the developer and architect to ensure that the new office is patient focused.  The facility is already offering primary care services, lab, imaging and rehabilitation. It will also bring neurosurgery services to Ludington and house the current cardiology clinic, which has been serving the Ludington region for more than 30 years.

Greg Loomis – President of Mercy Health Muskegon, Mary Boyd – Executive VP of Regional Operations, Joe Montambo – Senior Project Manager, Jay Bryan – President of Mercy Health Lakeshore, and Dr. Cooney – Provider at the new facility all assisted in the ribbon-cutting ceremony. The program, which kicked off with Mercy Health leaders thanking the community for their support, was later blessed by Father Wheeler from Saint Simon of Ludington.

Over 500 people were in attendance and enjoyed refreshments, BMI screenings, blood pressure checks, face painting, and exhibits from the Ludington Library and the Sandcastles Museum. Guests mentioned that they were “very excited to see such an extensive Mercy Health facility in their community – it’s nice to have a choice.”

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Browning Claytor Back-to-School Celebration Sees Nearly 1,000 People!

Back to school shopping can be a budget buster for many families. To help alleviate the high cost, Browning Claytor Health Center hosted its first Back-to-School Celebration, by providing free backpacks and school supplies, and some healthy snacks for the kids to take home. Thanks to all the staff who volunteered their time to make the Browning Claytor Back-to-School Celebration a Success!

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Although final numbers are not in yet, it is estimated that nearly 1,000 people, including children and parents, showed up to the inaugural event held at Browning Claytor Health Center, 1246 Madison Ave., on Thursday, August 4.

Five hundred backpacks were given away to event attendees, as well as other school supplies, bikes and helmets and even a portable DVD player.

“There were many appreciation notes left on surveys that the attendees filled out,” said Rocio Sanchez, site manager for Browning Claytor, about the reaction from the event attendees. “Staff thoroughly enjoyed participating in the event. We were excited to have our providers performing meet and greets with the families – Dr. Willenbring, Dr. Bender, Dr. Kennedy, and Marybeth Adyniec, who dressed as ‘Ms. Frizzle’ of ‘The Magic School Bus.'”

Thanks to the community partners who participated, many of whom are already talking about and preparing for next year!

• Creative Youth Center
• Grand Rapids Public Library
• The Grand Rapids Urban League
• Grand Rapids Urban League
• Hispanic Center of West Michigan
• The Rapid
• Simply a Loving Touch
• Bethany Youth Build
• Information about Browning Claytor
• Healthy Homes Coalition
• Dean’s Transportation- Buster the Bus