Liz Murphy, Vice President and CNO, Receives CNL Visionary Leader Award

MurphyLiz 2014
Liz Murphy, Vice President, CNO, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s

On January 24, 2017, The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) announced that Elizabeth Murphy, BSN, MSBA, RN, NEA-BC, FACHE, Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, is the recipient of the 2017 CNL Visionary Leader Award.

The highest honor presented by AACN to practice leaders making significant contributions to advancing the Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) initiative, this award will be presented to Murphy at the 2017 CNL Summit in Atlanta, GA on February 22, 2017.

“I am passionate about the role of the CNL and the impact this role can make in health care. If this role had been in place early in my career, I would have pursued this degree,” said Murphy. “This role answers the gaps in health care for understanding not just this patient’s story and addressing their needs — which CNLs do — yet also identifying, assessing and improving the systems of care that drive outcomes.”

The first hospital in Michigan to incorporate CNLs into the care delivery system, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s embedded them into unit-level microsystems and in cross-continuum roles with key patient populations.

Mercy Health Saint Mary’s initially prepared a cohort of 17 CNLs through University of Detroit Michigan under the leadership of one of this year’s Vanguard awardees, Dr. Patricia Thomas. Thomas now serves as Associate Dean for Professional Practice at Grand Valley State University and is one of the authors of the key textbook for CNLs across the country, in its third edition.

“Today, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s has 12 CNLs in practice, and we look forward to expanding this role as a key role in achieving the quadruple aim,” said Murphy. “These CNLs serve as clinical preceptors, and virtual mentors for CNL students across multiple programs across the United States and including an international joint program with a school in Japan, whom we have hosted twice and will host again in 2017.” See past story here>>

In addition, the hospital staff has completed Phase I of a research study that showed statistically significant improvement in multiple outcomes with implementation of this new role and team, and the staff is currently gathering the data for the Phase II project.

For the announcement, please click here>>

Congrats Mercy Health Muskegon President Greg Loomis — Grand Rapids Business Journal 2016 Health Care Newsmaker of the Year

Greg Loomis Newsmaker Group Shot 2On January 25, 2017, Greg Loomis, President, Mercy Health Muskegon, was named Grand Rapids Business Journal’s 2016 Newsmaker of the Year in its Health Care category. At the event, held at Frederik Meijer Gardens, Greg was among 52 finalists in 16 categories honored as a leader who could have a long-term effect in the West Michigan regional economy or beyond. Greg was recognized for his ongoing leadership of the construction of Mercy Health Muskegon’s new medical center.

“This award is great recognition of our new medical center being built in Muskegon,” said Greg. “The real recognition goes out to our dedicated colleagues, who live Mercy Health’s mission every day — to be a transforming and healing presence in our community. Our colleagues go above and beyond for the patients in our region, and I am grateful for the care and compassion they provide to our patients.”

Greg was joined by the following leaders from Mercy Health, as seen in the photo (L-R):

Claudine Weber, Chief Philanthropy Officer, Mercy Health Muskegon

Lisa Rose, Service Line Leader Orthopedics / Neurosurgery / Rehabilitation, Mercy Health Muskegon

Greg Loomis, President, Mercy Health Muskegon

Randall Smith, Counsel, Mercy Health Muskegon/Associate Counsel, Trinity Health John Schwartz, Regional Vice President and CHRO, Mercy Health

Mary Boyd, Executive Vice President of Regional Operations, Mercy Health

Not Pictured: Roger Spoelman, President & CEO, Mercy Health; Scott Musselman, Mercy Health Muskegon Board President

Bill Manns, President, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, received the same honor for 2015.


DAISY Award Winners Holly Sircher and Elyssa Bassow

December 2016 DAISY Award winners Holly Sircher, RN, and Elyssa Bassow, RN from ICU at the Mercy Health Mercy Campus. Holly and Elyssa were nominated by a former patient, Lindsey Armstrong.

Elyssa Bassow, RN; former patient Lindsey Armstrong and son Porter; Holly Sircher, RN
Elyssa Bassow, RN; former patient Lindsey Armstrong and son Porter; Holly Sircher, RN

“I was in the ICU after suffering a stroke and then underwent open heart surgery. My nurses were Holly and Elyse. I was still trying to wrap my head around what happened within the previous four days and these two nurses were not only amazing to me, but also to my entire family.

“Holly and Elyse were very open and clear to me with what they were doing every time they came into the room. They also made sure that my family knew what they were doing, what they were checking for and when they would be back to check on me next. They never left the room without making sure both my family and I were okay and asked if we needed anything. The love, compassion and generosity they showed, again, not only to me but also to my family during this difficult time was beyond anything I’ve seen or felt before.

“They were there cheering me on when I didn’t want to get up or walk. At night I needed to get up and move around, Holly was so enthusiastic and cheerful telling me that I could do it, and she had confidence in me and that she was right there and not going to let me fall or anything happen to me.

“I have a hard time trusting others, but with Holly I had no doubts. I knew that she wasn’t going to let me fall or get hurt. She was right there with me the whole time. I had taken maybe 10-15 steps and she was telling me how proud she was of me and that she knew I could walk farther, and she would follow me the entire way. She hung out in the room with my family to see some of the Kentucky basketball game.

“When you are 30 years old, engaged to be married in seven months, have a 4-year-old, and then you not only have a stroke but open heart surgery, you can’t help but be scared and upset — although it wasn’t like that because of Holly and Elyse.

“They allowed me to be sad, upset or mad but then were right there to push me through it and help me understand what I had been through and what I needed to do for the future. They made me see the good side of things and truly made my stay in the ICU that much better. I don’t know that my experience with such a tough situation would have been so positive if it hadn’t been for them.

“Elyse was pregnant while I was there, so I know that some things could have been harder for her to do (such as helping me sit up to move out of the bed) yet she was right there, more worried about me than anything else. I honestly could go on about both of these women. They were angels sent to help me through this time, and I don’t know that I could have done it without them.”

Holly and Elyssa were honored with a surprise ceremony on their unit in front of her leaders and peers, as well as with Lindsey and her family. To nominate a well-deserving nurse, please complete the nomination form located on the Mercy Health Muskegon Intranet. 




New Program Helps Seniors Stay at Home Longer

By Dr. Aruna Josyula and Dr. Oluwatoyin Thomas

senior2“There is no place like home,” professed Dorothy in the 1936 film “The Wizard of Oz.” For most seniors, at home is where they long to be, and a local program is helping seniors stay home longer.

Q: What is the name of this new program?

A: The Let’s Stay Home program is a collaborative pilot project of Senior Resources and the medical practice of Mercy Health Physician Partners (MHPP) Geriatrics. The program is focused on serving seniors with complex medical and social needs who have recently been hospitalized or had an Emergency Department visit and may not be able to stay in their own homes.

 Q: Who is running the new Let’s Stay Home program?

A: Leading the pilot program are Senior Resources Community Services Director Amy Florea and Access Services Supervisor Kimberly Vazquez, along with MHPP Geriatrics physicians and staff led by Dr. Oluwatoyin Thomas and Dr. Aruna Josyula.

seniorQ: Who is funding this pilot program?

 A: The project recently received the endorsement of the members of the Mercy Health Muskegon women’s giving club, Women for Health, who have awarded the Let’s Stay Home program a $34,000 grant. Due to the additional funding, the program will be provided to more seniors who without it would be at risk of placement in an assisted living facility or a nursing home.


Q: What is the primary purpose of Let’s Stay Home?

A: According to Dr. Oluwatoyin Thomas, the goal of the Let’s Stay Home program is to help seniors stay in their own homes as long as possible. In-home care services are not the focus. Rather, Let’s Stay Home seeks out gaps that, if not addressed, could place a senior at risk.

Q: What kinds of gaps?

A: “There are many times when seniors are admitted to the hospital because something fell through for them. For example, they may have been in need of food, medicine or housekeeping services. Medical care is just one of many factors that affect health,” said Dr. Aruna Josyula.

Other factors that affect a person’s health are social (income, education, employment, support and culture), physical (urban design, clean air and water), genetic and behavioral. “No single health-care organization can address all of these factors so partnerships like this, among health organizations and our community resources, are critical,” said Dr. Josyula.

Q: How will this program help to improve the health of seniors?

A: Amy Florea of Senior Resources anticipates the program will result in reduced Emergency Department visits and readmissions for seniors, eliminate missed medical appointments, increase program participants’ knowledge of their health condition and ensure that caregiver support is available.

“Experience has taught us that elders who are most likely to stay in their own homes have a support system to help them improve and manage their health conditions. The Let’s Stay Home program addresses these concerns,” said Florea.

Q: In what way does Let’s Stay Home go beyond in-home care?

A: The Let’s Stay Home program also provides case management services, health education, home-delivered meals, medical and non-medical transportation and other services that are provided during a period when the senior needs them most.

For example, after a discharge from the hospital, medications can be reconciled by a pharmacist, transportation to doctor appointments can be arranged, depression issues can be addressed and a social worker can be engaged to help with cognitive behavior therapy.

“We are we wrapping our arms around every aspect of the patient,” said Dr. Oluwatoyin Thomas. “If there are medication concerns or other issues to be addressed, they can be caught early. Concerns are brought to the physician’s attention and services that are already available can be deployed.”

Q: How does a senior qualify for this program?  

A: Participants must be 60 years or older and have social barriers to care, such as caregiver burnout, lack of transportation, housing needs, in-home care needs or financial needs. In addition, participants must have had a recent hospitalization or Emergency Department visit. There is no cost to the participant and referrals can be made by requesting a consultation through MHPP Geriatrics by calling 231.672.6740.

Q: How long will these services be available for the average participant?

A: Once referred, a support coach will conduct a home visit and provide case management services for at least 30 days. With interventions in place, the participant will have weekly visits to monitor the progress of the interventions.

“This is only the beginning. We are always looking for ways to grow services to meet needs and improve life for seniors in our community,” said Dr. Thomas. “We are excited about this program because our seniors are correct; there is absolutely no place like home.”

Seniors are referred through the Mercy Health Physician Partners Geriatrics office and do not have to be a patient of that office to be referred. Call 231.672.6740 for more information.



Mercy Health Physician Partners Lakeshore Medical Shelby Office Says Farewell to Steven R. Lessens, MD

Dr. Lessens (seated) pictured with current and former staff
Dr. Lessens (seated) pictured with current and former staff

Forty years ago, when Steven R. Lessens graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School, he could not have imagined what a positive impact his life and career would have on the people of Shelby, Michigan. After serving the families of Shelby through his family practice for more than 36 years, Dr. Lessens retired from Mercy Health Physician Partners Lakeshore Medical Shelby in December 2016.

As a husband and father of two adult children — both of whom are involved in the health field — he discovered early on how to balance the needs of his medical practice, his family and the community at large.


Dr. Lessens (c) with his first RN, Dorothy Bucher and his first PA, Tim Freye
Dr. Lessens (c) with his first RN, Dorothy Bucher and his first PA, Tim Freye

During his distinguished career, Dr. Lessens not only delivered more than 1,500 babies, but he benefitted the Shelby community by serving as Chief of Staff at Lakeshore Hospital for two years and on the Lakeshore Hospital Board of Medical Directors for 20 years. In fact, he hired the first physician assistant in Ocean County in 1985.










Dr. Lessens (r) with Martin Anderson, former hospital administrator
Dr. Lessens (r) with Martin Anderson, former hospital administrator

Beloved for touching so many lives through his medical practice, Dr. Shelby also served eight years on the West Michigan Symphony Board of Directors, eight years as an elected trustee of the Shelby Village Council and is currently a trustee of Temple B’nai Israel in Muskegon.








(L-R) Coleen Johnson, Director of NSPCN; Dr. R. Lessens; Carolyn Rombach, office coordinator; Jay Bryan, Mercy Health Lakeshore Campus CEO; and Mary Welsh, Quality Manager
(L-R) Coleen Johnson, Director of NSPCN; Dr. R. Lessens; Carolyn Rombach, office coordinator; Jay Bryan, Mercy Health Lakeshore Campus CEO; and Mary Welsh, Quality Manager

Patients, staff, colleagues and community leaders gathered at the Lakeshore Hospital’s conference room on Thursday, January 19 to bid Dr. Lessens farewell. He and his wife Sherry will be moving to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where his decades of devotion to health and community began.




Congratulations Quarterly Colleague Award Winners

Join President Bill Manns on Tuesday, January 24, at 3 p.m. on 5 Lacks for a ceremony that will honor the following Colleague Award Winners:

Every three months, colleagues nominate dozens of their peers for the prestigious Colleagues Award, honoring those who embody the mission, vision and values of Mercy Health. A panel of clinical and non-clinical colleagues selects only a few winners.

  • Alicia Martinez, Community Health Worker; Outreach Clinic
  • Sandie Pent, Business Office Supervisor; WCHL Specialty Residency
  • Mary Rosser, Senior Organizational Development Consultant; Regional Organizational Development
  • Beth Vandam, Clinical Nurse Leader; 4 Lacks

Excerpts from the recipients’ nominations follow:

martinez-alicia-1Alicia Martinez, Community Health Worker, Outreach Clinic: Alicia has a soft spirit, is kind, respectful and tenacious, and treats everyone with dignity. She is most deserving of this award and is a model colleague of Mercy Health’s mission. She is a high performer who exceeds expectations, such as meeting program goals and documentation. Alicia consistently goes above and beyond for Mercy Health patients and colleagues. She is positive and energetic, and she motivates others to do their best. It is relevant that Alicia’s colleagues are responsible for her nomination. Alicia’s work ethic is something her colleagues aspire to emulate.



pent-sandie-1Sandie Pent, Business Office Supervisor, WCHL Specialty Residency: What stands out to me the most about Sandie is her knowledge. Sandie is very helpful to everyone in our office because she has the   skills and desire to teach us what we need to know  to do our jobs. This holds true for everyone from the front office staff to the physicians. She is an all-around great person who is very approachable, and she genuinely cares about others. A natural leader and coach, Sandie speaks to colleagues and patients with sincere compassion and is an amazing problem solver. During morning huddles, she always encourages others to speak their minds and to raise any concerns so that we may make improvements.


rosser-mary-1Mary Rosser, Senior Organizational Development Consultant, Regional Organizational Development: Mary’s caring ways are a natural part of who she is. I often see her putting the needs of others before her own needs. Mary is known to build collaborative relationships throughout Mercy Health. On the one hand, it is a natural part of her role to share knowledge, skills and resources. On the other hand, she is a master at this, easily identifying needs and going above and beyond to ensure these needs are met. I am do not think I have ever heard Mary complain, and I am positive that I have never heard her blame others. I have observed Mary speaking positively and objectively about decisions being made as part of the Strategic Margin Improvement initiative. She operates with utmost professionalism in all situations, and I notice Mary making efforts to support leadership decisions by keeping her comments general and positive.


vandam-beth-1Beth Vandam, Clinical Nurse Leader, 4 Lacks: Patients love coming to Mercy Health because of people like Beth. She is a positive, caring, professional, solution-oriented team player, and it shows! When patients or staff have concerns, Beth listens attentively and respectively and takes ownership of the concerns while working diligently to find resolution. She is always focused on finding solutions and working with colleagues. Beth is a supportive and caring person, and she takes the time to look at the big picture. She is easy to communicate with and holds the mission and vision of Mercy Health St. Mary’s close to her heart. Beth has been instrumental in rounds and bedside report on 4 Lacks. Every day when we round, we hear from patients about how impressed they are with the positive, caring attitude of staff. This is a reflection of Beth’s leadership, guidance and support.

Mercy Health Colleagues Raise Funds for Reflection Room on Lakeshore Campus

interior view of the Reflection Room
Interior view of the Reflection Room

It’s one thing to talk about providing compassionate care, and it’s another to actually make it a priority.

In 2010, 15 colleagues at the Mercy Health Lakeshore Campus in Shelby began to raise funds to benefit the hospital through the Lakeshore Campus Team Club. The staff wanted to donate to a project that would deem beneficial for patients and families.

Colleagues considered several ideas and ultimately they decided that the funds would go toward the building of a non-denominational Reflection Room for families and visitors to use when a tragedy or death occurs.






Inspiring Artwork
Inspiring Artwork

Prior to the installation of the Reflection Room in the lobby of the hospital, families in crisis were shown to a conference room for privacy.

In 2016, Jay Bryan, president, Mercy Health Lakeshore Campus, was able to bring the plans to fruition by obtaining additional funds from the Mercy Health Lakeshore Campus Advisory Board.

“We were given $30,000 to complete this important project for our community,” said Bryan. “Together with the funds raised by our colleagues, Mercy Health has been able to build this room for our visitors and families.”








Stained Glass windows close upIn keeping with the rural setting of the campus, the Reflection Room has a pastoral, country feel. Visitors will soon be able to sit on wooden pews resembling those of an old-fashioned country church. Two stained glass windows obtained from the chapel on Mercy Health General Campus were repurposed for this new room. In addition, comforting artwork from Todd & Brad Reed Photography in Ludington adds to the peaceful setting.





Inspiring artwork
Inspiring Artwork

“The gospels are replete with examples of how Jesus retreated to quiet spaces for prayer, reflection, and healing,” said Jennifer Hayworth, director of mission integration, Mercy Health Muskegon. “Congruent with our mission, Lakeshore’s new reflection room provides patients, their families, and our colleagues with a sacred space in which they can connect intimately with a transcendent source of healing in their lives. It is a visible symbol of who we are as a faith-based health ministry — one committed to the care of the whole person mind, body, and spirit.”

The dedication of the new Reflection Room will take place on Wednesday, January 18 at the Mercy Health Lakeshore Campus from 1-2 p.m.


Friends of Nursing Award Winner Dayna Gerkin

Making the Difference

Dayna signs the banner while Kimberly Hughes, patient access supervisor and Theresa McGuire, magnet program director hold the banner and look on
Dayna signs the banner while Kimberly Hughes, patient access supervisor (r) and Theresa McGuire, magnet program director (l) hold the banner and look on

The skill and compassionate care exemplified by Dayna to our patients, their families, and our staff make her an outstanding role model. The Work Environment Council is proud to offer this month’s Friend of Nursing Award to Dayna.

It was an early morning. Mercy Health Urgent Care was not officially open for business, and Dayna was the opening registration staff.

A 32-year-old male entered who was presenting with stroke-like symptoms — Dayna noted he had left side weakness and speech difficulties. Recognizing the symptoms, Dayna understood that this young man needed immediate care, so she called upstairs to the Mercy Health Physician Partners East Beltline office and asked for a doctor to look at this patient right away.

Theresa McGuire, MSN, RN-BC, MPD and Brooke Von Linsowe, Coordinator Patient Access, Dayna award recipient, Kimberly Hughes, Supervisor Patient access and Liz Murphy, CNO
Theresa McGuire, MSN, RN-BC, MPD; Brooke Von Linsowe, Coordinator Patient Access; Dayna award recipient; Kimberly Hughes, Supervisor Patient Access, and Liz Murphy, CNO

Dr. Christian Vanderkaay immediately came downstairs to evaluate the patient and to expedite care for this man. The patient needed to be transferred to Mercy Health Emergency. Dayna collaborated with the ED staff to ensure the patient was efficiently cared for by notifying the RNs on staff that the patient was presenting with stroke-like symptoms. As it turns out, the patient was having an acute stroke. Dayna did a terrific job making sure this patient received immediate care.

Thank you for being a great colleague, Dayna!

White House Commissioned Report Features Mercy Health West Michigan

Mercy Health hiring process, 11 percent increase in minority hiring helping to establish national model in health care careers

the-advisory-groupMercy Health West Michigan (MHWM) has a prominent place in a recently released report, Paving Health Career Pathways to the Middle Class, authored by the Health Career Pathways Task Force. The Task Force is part of a larger Pathways initiative by the White House’s National Economic Council, Hope Street Group and The Advisory Board Company, to boost pathways to middle class jobs.


Mercy Health West Michigan joined Charlotte, N.C.; Denver, Colo.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Sacramento, Calif.; and the Bronx, Westchester, Hudson Valley and New York City, in N.Y. as HCP founding communities in the initiative.

The work of MHWM, featured as a best practice (pages 35-37 in the report), focuses on the success of Mercy Health’s redesigned evidenced-based hiring process that centers on objective tests for specific skills and standardized interview questions to assess specific competencies. The redesign has resulted in an increase of 11 percent minority hires and reduced time to fill open positions from 37 days to 31 days. First-year turnover rates have dropped from 25.3 percent to 18.7 percent.

Mercy Health has been working to bridge these gaps for more than six years, developing an evidence-based approach to recruiting qualified candidates for hard-to-fill roles in health care, said John Schwartz, Regional Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer for Mercy Health.

“We are honored that our hiring process has drawn the attention of the White House,” Schwartz said. “And even more importantly, the changes we have made to our hiring process are allowing us to bridge the gap between an available labor force here in West Michigan and increasing vacancies in critically needed health care jobs.

“Ultimately, our work toward recruiting and training a larger pool of candidates will help Mercy Health continue to deliver better and more cost-effective health care,” Schwartz added.

Mercy Health West Michigan has committed to partnerships with Grand Rapids, Muskegon, and Montcalm Community Colleges, West Michigan Works, the NAACP and Goodwill to proactively identify and train up to 300 disadvantaged people per year for healthcare professions.










Mercy Health Muskegon DAISY Award Winner, Lynda Schmitt, RN

DAISY Award Winner – Mercy Health Muskegon

The November 2016 DAISY Award winner is Lynda Schmitt, RN from Emergency Department at the Mercy Campus.   Lynda was nominated by one of her peers, Diane Harig.schmitt-november-2016

“I am nominating Lynda for the DAISY Award for the way she has continued through the years to exemplify nursing, as well as her dedication to Mercy Health.  She has shown this though a myriad of ways.  She also has dedicated herself to helping others around the world.  Finally, she remains dedicated to advancing the unit through her devotion.

Lynda has been a nurse for many years.  She has shown her dedication to Mercy in the way she joined committees, and in seeking to better Mercy Health.  She is passionate about decreasing wait times and moving our patients to the floors in a timely manner.  This is one area she has been working to improve since her start date.  She believes this not because of the impact on herself, but for the impact to our patients and their comfort.  She currently is on PNPC, UBC and also volunteers for other projects as they present.  She does this because she wants to make Mercy the place that people come for their care. 

Lynda is a passionate nurse as well.  She has been serving in Haiti for well over 5 years, helping to improve the lives of people who live there.  She does this through mission trips, as well as financially supporting people there.  She is inspirational in how she gives up money she could be making here to go and serve others.  If you talk to Lynda for any period of time, you know that part of her heart is in Haiti.  Through this, she is teaching the younger nurses we work with, the value of service to others for no financial benefit of their own, but for the betterment of others. 

Finally, Lynda is very dedicated to our unit.  She collects pop cans for our unit, and then buys things with that money that we need.  Again, she reaps no personal reward, she does this to help her fellow nurses lives to be better.  It is in those small things that we are all encouraged, whether she is buying ketchup, plates, or a cake, it enriches our lives.  She uses some of the money to assist others, whether it be a donation to assist our staff, staff in the hospital, or paramedics, she finds a cause to give this money to.  She also serves on committees so that the ER has a voice in what happens to us, and through us.  She is very passionate about nursing, even though she is close to retirement. 

Lynda embodies the nurse we all hope to be.  She is dedicated, passionate and proactive.  She works hard not just for how it impacts herself, but how it impacts those around her.  Our world at Mercy is a much better place because of Lynda.”

Lynda was honored with a surprise ceremony on her unit in front of her leaders and peers.  To nominate a well deserving nurse, please complete the nomination form located on the Mercy Health Muskegon Intranet.