Naturally Dissolving Heart Stent Saves 33-year-old Lowell Man

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Stu McLean, 33, takes his first walk on a treadmill at Cardiac Rehab in February 2017 after his heart attack and stent placement at the end of January 2017. McLean is the first person in Grand Rapids to receive a bioresorbable stent that will completely dissolve within three years.

Recently approved by FDA, Absorb bioresorbable vascular scaffold opens clogged arteries to restore blood flow, then gradually dissolves in the bodyreducing the risk of future blockages that can occur with metal stents.

 On January 27, 2017, the interventional cardiology team at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s became the first in West Michigan to offer patients with coronary artery disease a new treatment option that literally disappears over time.

Dr. Kristopher Selke, interventional cardiologist, implanted Stu McLean, 33, from Lowell, with the world’s first FDA-approved dissolving heart stent. The Absorb bioresorbable vascular scaffold is a major advance in the treatment of coronary artery disease, which affects 15 million people in the United States and remains a leading cause of death despite decades of therapeutic advances.

While stents are traditionally made of metal, Abbott’s Absorb stent is made of a naturally dissolving material, similar to dissolving sutures. Absorb disappears completely1 in about three years, after it has done its job of keeping a clogged artery open and promoting healing of the treated artery segment. By contrast, metal stents are permanent implants.

“Absorb is the most revolutionary change in coronary stent technology in 14 years,” Selke said.

To ensure optimal patient selection and implant technique, Mercy Health’s Interventional Cardiology team underwent extensive training on the new device to treat patients such as McLean.

The traditional metal stent on the left compared to the bioresorbable stent on the right.

“I was out for a run when I felt a burning sensation that I thought was just a lower respiratory infection,” said McLean, who leads an active life as an assistant hockey coach for Davenport University. “After being hospitalized, and tested, which led to a catheterization, the interventional cardiology team caught a blood clot and were able to use the Absorb stent. I’m so grateful and blessed the team did what they did. This stent will do its job by keeping my arteries open, and then will go away in a few years after it’s no longer needed.”

Within the first week of having this technology, Mercy Health was able to treat four out of 12 patients needing stents with an Absorb stent.

DAISY Honoree for February 2017 – Ashley Mize, 8 Main, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s

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Ashley Mize, a nurse from 8 Main at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, signs the DAISY banner as the latest honoree.

Congratulations to Ashley Mize, RN, from 8 Main, whose nomination from Kelly Wybenga, said the following:

“I truly feel Ashley saved the life of our patient’s granddaughter that night.

“Ashley Mize exemplified true compassion and exceptional care to family members of a patient who passed away unexpectedly.

“We had a patient who was cared for by her two granddaughters, who were very involved and concerned about their grandmother. One night, this patient took a turn for the worst. Her granddaughters became hysterical, crying and shouting out for their grandma to wake up. Multiple staff members responded promptly and tended to the dying patient.

“Ashley knew from previous conversations that one of the granddaughters suffers from a mental illness and was previously hospitalized for suicide attempt. She saw that this family member was not coping in a healthy fashion and posed a danger to herself. Ashley immediately called interpretation services (as this family member was primarily Spanish-speaking) and had a Spanish interpreter come to the unit right away. She made sure the granddaughter was safe from harm by removing bottles of medication.

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From left to right: Liz Murphy, Ashley Mize, Jill McNamara and Kelly Wybenga, nominator of Ashley Mize.

Ashley comforted this granddaughter and helped her when she was having an anxiety attack and hyperventilating. She comforted the granddaughter by allowing the girl to weep on her shoulder for 45 minutes. Ashley reassured both granddaughters that the patient was no longer suffering or in pain, and how blessed this patient was to have two granddaughters who loved and cared for her so much. Eventually, the granddaughters came to terms with the situation.

Ashley saw the urgency in the family’s state of distress and intervened immediately. She is an exceptional nurse and colleague. She deserves this award because of so many reasons: her compassion, resilience, teamwork, communication and collaboration.”


Heart Attack Symptoms Can be “Different From What You Might Expect”

A patient’s testimony

Rev FosterA burning sensation in his chest was the telltale sign for the Rev. Willie Foster that he had suffered a heart attack, but only in hindsight. Once when he was shoveling snow in January 2015, and the second time when he was mowing his lawn in April that same year.

“It’s not always that pounding in your chest. The symptoms can be different from what you might expect.”

When he went in to be seen for an ear infection in April, Foster described these episodes to his primary care physician, Paul Taylor, MD, of Mercy Westshore Internal Medicine, who automatically referred Foster to have a stress test conducted to see how his heart was performing.  The stress test led to an outpatient heart catheterization procedure, a process that takes images of the heart and vessels to detect any blockages within the heart. If multi-vessel disease were found, open heart surgery would be required to fix Foster’s heart.

Three blockages were found. Foster’s next step was a consultation with Cardiothoracic Surgeon Richard Downey, MD, Assistant Professor, Michigan Medicine, for open heart surgery at Mercy Health Muskegon to bypass the blockages.

“Dr. Downey told me, ‘You should not wait. If you have a heart attack, it won’t be good,'” said Foster.

Foster heeded his advice and scheduled his surgery for a week and a half later.

“Once I was opened up, Dr. Downey found two more blockages, for a total of five,” said Foster. “He was able to repair them, and I remember waking up at 2:30 p.m. that day, in my hospital room.”

Foster describes his care at Mercy Health Muskegon as a difficult experience made “enjoyable” by a caring and expert staff.

Aside from exemplary medical care, laughter was the best medicine for Foster. “I always told my congregation that I if I am ever in the hospital, make me laugh. That’s exactly what the Environmental Services staff did for me. I had a wonderful woman who cleaned and tended to my room. She constantly made me laugh. She knew what I needed!”

Today, after surgery and cardiac rehab, Foster stands as a testament for knowing the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, and for the importance of a relationship with his primary care provider, Dr. Taylor, who detected the warning signs of his heart attack.

Do you know the warning signs of a heart attack?

  • Chest discomfort
  • Pain in arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness

New Cardiothoracic Services Agreement With Michigan Medicine

roger and rem
Pictured from left to right: Dr. Rem Sprague and Roger Spoelman present the news at a conference on Feb. 14, 2017.

Mercy Health Cardiothoracic Surgery and the Department of Cardiac Surgery at Michigan Medicine, the academic medical center of the University of Michigan, announced on February 14, 2017 a professional services agreement that will improve cardiothoracic services for patients throughout West Michigan.

This unique relationship brings together two of the state’s leading health care providers to:
• Provide opportunities for patients to access joint clinical consultations in cardiac surgery
• Allow immediate access to some of the world’s leading protocols in cardiovascular surgery
• Provide physicians options for ongoing case discussions and best practices
• Enhance patient care, including access to innovative clinical care models<!–
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“This collaboration is part of our continued commitment to enter affiliations with key health care providers, such as Michigan Medicine, to bring the best care and access to West Michigan,” said Roger Spoelman, president and CEO, Mercy Health. “Together, we will continue to strengthen the level of health care in this region.”

The professional services agreement includes the appointments of two of our outstanding physicians – Richard S. Downey, M.D. and Nabeel G. El-amir, M.D. – to the Michigan Medicine cardiac surgery faculty. This gives them the ability to collaborate with Michigan Medicine’s heart team on both complex cases and non-complex consultations. The doctors will continue to perform open-heart surgery services at Mercy Health Muskegon. Also, as members of the U-M medical faculty, Drs. Downey and El-amir may participate in U-M medical education opportunities and U-M supported clinical trials.

This collaboration is part of our continued commitment to enter affiliations with key health care providers, such as University of Michigan, to bring the best care and access to West Michigan. Both of our systems share a commitment to excellence and to continue offering care in a complex health care environment.
We are proud of our heart and vascular team, which provides seamless care for West Michigan patients as a West Michigan leader in cardiovascular medicine. We look forward to how this agreement will continue to advance our cardiovascular program.

Read a patient testimony about the great cardiac care at Mercy Health Muskegon>>

Mercy Health Transplant Center Receives Gift of Life Award for Performing 137 Kidney Transplants in 2016

photo of Brenda, resized
Brenda Barr, kidney transplant recipient in January 2016, with her family after her life-saving procedure.

During the Mardi Gras Ball on February 11, 2017, hosted by the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan, the Mercy Health Kidney Transplant Center team was honored with the Gift of Life Award, largely due to the center’s 137 kidney transplants in 2016, a record-breaking year.

Mercy Health Saint Mary’s President Bill Manns accepted the award on behalf of the organization.

“Mercy Health Kidney Transplant Center is thrilled to have broken several records in 2016, all while keeping our patients’ needs and health at the forefront,” said Jill Lampen, outreach coordinator, Mercy Health Kidney Transplant Center. “We performed 137 kidney transplants in a single year 40 more than in any other year — and five of them were performed in a single 24-hour period in January 2016. Our center continues to see phenomenal growth with our Living Donor Program, as well as our Altruistic Donor Program.”

Other notable facts about Mercy Health Kidney Transplant Program:


    • Mercy Health Kidney Transplant Center typically performs 80-90 kidney transplants each year.
    • From January 1-January 28, 2016, the Kidney Transplant Center performed 20 kidney transplants; five of those in the span of a record-breaking 19 hours.
    • The record-breaking five kidney transplants at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s occurred from January 26-January 27, 2016.
    • As of January 2017, there are more than 2,800 people on the kidney transplant list in Michigan.

For more information, visit the Kidney Transplant Center’s website>>


Bob and Merle Scolnik Achieve Success with HMR Program Offered Through Mercy Health Weight Management

Scolnik Bob & Merle NYE 2016 123116 3Weight loss.

For most people, it becomes an issue at some point in life. Imagine having access to one of the most successful weight loss plans in the country right at your fingertips, according to U.S. News & World Report.

What if the cost were similar to your usual weekly grocery shopping bill, and what if you could see results quickly? Would you go for it?

Bob Scolnik did, and he and his wife Merle have a lot of positive comments about the HMR program offered through Mercy Health Weight Management. Together they have lost more than 62 pounds and are still going strong.

For Bob, the motivating factor to begin a weight-loss program in 2015 was when he stepped on the scale and discovered he weighed 200 pounds.

“I’m five foot four, and it was getting to the point that I couldn’t find clothes that fit right. I am a county commissioner, and I like to look right.” Even finding a sport coat to fit was difficult for Bob at that time.


The HMR program has a three-pronged approach: You buy the prepackaged food — which includes breakfast, shakes, snacks, and lunch and dinner entrees; you attend weekly educational/coaching classes; and you exercise.

“I actually like the food, and it makes meals a lot easier,” said Bob. “The oatmeal is really good! Before this diet I never ate oatmeal.”

Having weekly support and accountability is another integral factor in the program. “I hit it off great with Donna, our instructor/coach, and I tracked my food and calories like she taught us.”

To help monitor his daily exercise, Bob bought a Fitbit that he continues to rely on each day. Bob lost an amazing 37½ pounds in about four months.

“My BMI has moved from ‘obese’ to ‘normal.’ What surprised me was that once you start following the program, the weight just comes off. We haven’t done anything extraordinary,” Bob said.

Merle has struggled with her weight due to diabetes, neuropathy and painful arthritis, which limit her ability to exercise as Bob does. “I’ve been on multiple kinds of diets that didn’t work,” said Merle. “I start out with a diet, and then it goes downhill. I haven’t found that to be the case with the HMR program.”

Her motivating factor to try another program was Bob, who told her that he doubted she could do what he was doing with HMR.

“Bob gave me a challenge. No one is going to say I can’t do something,” said Merle. So in the summer of 2016, Merle joined the HMR program.

Merle has lost 25 pounds, despite her spending some of that time with a cast on her foot. She looks forward to continuing to lose more weight and to the camaraderie she experiences at the HMR classes each week.

“I really enjoy going to them. Sometimes our instructor gives us a homework project. We talk a lot about different vegetables, portion control and healthy snacks.”

As an added bonus, the Scolniks rarely cook. “We’ve changed our eating habits,” said Bob. “We don’t buy bread and desserts. We eat a lot of salads, and the HMR food is really good.”

Bob has Crohn’s disease, but that doesn’t stop him from enjoying salads without lettuce — a vegetable that he cannot eat. “Other than buying fresh vegetables we can eat, we’re not spending much money at the grocery store each week.”

Because of Bob’s position as a county commissioner, the couple eats out rather often. When they know they’re going to eat out, they often drink a shake beforehand, to limit what they eat at the event or restaurant.

“We consciously try to eat healthier when we are out. Drinking a shake ahead of time has worked for me,” said Merle. The lactose-free shakes have made a big difference for Bob.

“If you are careful, you can eat healthy when dining out,” said Bob. “For example, I’ll look for fish on a menu.”

Another benefit of the HMR program for Merle came through her doctor. “I do not take insulin, but I take a tablet for my diabetes,” she said. “My doctor said that in the spring, once I’ve lost more weight, she might take me off the pills altogether.”

Bob and Merle had their photo taken by a friend at a recent community event, and they are thrilled with the results. “Merle is 73, and I’m 72, but we don’t feel that age. We could be fat and floppy, but we look pretty good!”

There’s a lot for the Scolniks to brag about when it comes to their weight loss. Perhaps Bob says it best: “It feels good when clothes fit!”

To learn more about the HMR program through Mercy Health Weight Management, call 231.672.4325 or visit


Mercy Health Muskegon President Greg Loomis Announces Retirement Set for June 2017

Loomis, Greg
Greg Loomis announces his retirement, planned for June 2017.

Mercy Health Muskegon’s President Greg Loomis shares his plans to retire June 30. “Serving as president of Mercy Health Muskegon has been the highlight of my career,” said Loomis.

Loomis has helped lead Mercy Health Muskegon toward regional and national recognition for its high quality of care and programs that rank among the best in the country.

A lifelong resident of Muskegon, Loomis began his career in Hackley Community Hospital’s storeroom at age 17 before serving for four years in the U.S. Navy and attending college. He returned to Hackley in 1975, and in 1979 began his first leadership position at Mercy General Hospital, eventually serving as vice president of professional services.

Loomis’ hospital leadership experience spans more than three decades and the three legacy Muskegon hospitals. He was a member of the local leadership teams that successfully integrated Muskegon General Hospital and Mercy Hospital in 1995 and Hackley Hospital and Mercy General Health Partners in 2008. He was named president of Mercy Health Muskegon on January 1, 2014 and served as interim president for one year prior.

“I take great pride in our colleagues and all that they tirelessly do to transform health care in our community,” said Loomis. “I look forward to continuing this work with my colleagues in the coming months.”

He continues to lead Mercy Health Muskegon in designing and building a new $271-million, 267-bed medical center – Muskegon’s largest construction project in its history – as a step in consolidating the existing three Mercy Health Muskegon hospital campuses. The organization broke ground on the project in September 2016 with a projected completion in June 2019.

“Greg has been through every major development of our health system in Muskegon for nearly four decades,” said Roger Spoelman, president and CEO of Mercy Health. “We became colleagues in 1981 when we were department directors at Mercy General. He’s always been willing to step up no matter how difficult the circumstances, and he has always made anything he’s involved in better. His dedication, expertise and passion will be greatly missed. We are fortunate to have someone with his knowledge and history with our organization, and he will not be easily replaced.”

Harbor Hospice and Mercy Health Hospice Unite Through Joint Venture Agreement

MH HospiceHarbor Hospice and Mercy Health Hospice, both trusted, non-profit organizations providing hospice and palliative care in the lakeshore community, announced the agencies have united as one hospice care organization through a joint venture agreement, effective January 29, 2017.

The strengthened organization will operate as Harbor Hospice. Based at the current Harbor Hospice office in Muskegon, this coming together brings benefits of an expanded team and greater reach throughout the lakeshore area.

“For several decades, Harbor Hospice and Mercy Health Hospice have provided exceptional care to patients and their loved ones throughout the lakeshore community,” said Lisa McMichael, CEO of Harbor Hospice. “We have deep legacies of outstanding, tailored care that meets the unique needs of individual patients. With shared resources, this union enables high-quality care for more people who need us most throughout West Michigan.”

The new Harbor Hospice includes the distinguished 14-bed Poppen Hospice Residence – a legacy made possible through the philanthropic support of Sherm Poppen and Leila Reynolds. The organization also includes the Scolnik Healing Center program, a beloved community resource created with philanthropic support from Merle and Bob Scolnik. Harbor Hospice will continue the Scolnik Healing Center program, offering professional grief counseling, support groups and special events for adults and youth.

“Harbor Hospice and Mercy Health Hospice are driven by a similar mission of providing compassionate care and being a positive resource,” said Erin Denholm, president and CEO of Trinity Health At Home. “Harbor Hospice will remain committed to everyone regardless of their ability to pay and be a healing presence within our communities. Bringing these two organizations together will result in an even stronger organization to benefit those we serve in Muskegon and the lakeshore community.”

Mercy Health VNS and Mercy Health Hospice are part of Trinity Health At Home, a ministry of Trinity Health, one of the largest Catholic health care systems in the United States. Mercy Health VNS, based at its Muskegon office, will continue to operate as West Michigan’s premier provider of home care services.

Annette Beekman Receives Friends of Nursing Award

Beekman, December 2016The December 2016 Friends of Nursing Award winner is Annette Beekman, Polysomnographer at the Muskegon General campus Sleep Center. At the time of this nomination, Annette worked in the Cardiopulmonary Department.  She was nominated by Mary Carlson, RN, from the Service Excellence Department, on behalf of a former patient. 

The former patient writes:

“While I was in Mercy Hospital recovering from a stent implant to open a blocked artery, I received a call informing me that my oldest sister had passed away earlier in the day.  My pastor was visiting me at the time and was a real comfort to me.  Later, in the evening when my visitors were gone and I was alone, the whole day came crashing down on me.  Not wanting to cause my wife worry, I called a friend just to talk.  While I was talking to him, a young lade came in to take an EKG. 

“I hung up the phone, and she said, ‘Are you OK?’  I couldn’t hold back my emotions and told her what was going on.  She leaned over the bed and hugged me and said, ‘Can I pray for you?’ She looked like an angel as she, with tears in her eyes, prayed on my behalf to our Father.  I told her she was my angel of mercy at Mercy Hospital. 

“As she finished her task and was about to leave, once again she gave me a hug, kissed my forehead, and said good night.  I found a special peace and wondered if the EKG was the real reason she was sent to my room.  I will never forget the blessing she brought to me that difficult evening.”

Annette was honored with a surprise ceremony in the Sleep Center among her leaders and peers.  To nominate a well deserving Mercy Health colleague, please complete the Friends of Nursing nomination form.




Program Created by HMR and Offered Mercy Health Weight Management Named #1 “Best Fast Weight Loss Diet” by U.S. News & World Report for Second Year in a Row

FastWeightLoss - PNGA program offered by Mercy Health Weight Management and created by HMR Weight Management Services (HMR) was named a #1 Best Fast Weight Loss Diet in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Diets of 2017 rankings. It’s the second year in a row HMR earned the top spot in the category, which was added to the annual rankings list last year.

HMR’s highly structured diet and lifestyle change program is designed to help people lose weight quickly while learning the skills they need to keep it off. According to Carrie Kelly, Operations Supervisor, Weight Management , “A lot of people think losing weight quickly is not healthy or sustainable, and will just lead to future weight re-gain.  However, numerous clinical studies demonstrate that fast weight loss is just as effective as slow weight loss when it comes to maintaining weight over the long term.”


WeightLoss - PNGKelly says, “HMR programs can help you get fast weight loss, but our true expertise is helping people learn realistic ways to incorporate new healthy behaviors into their everyday lives.”

To learn more about the Mercy Health Weight Management program, call 231.672.4325.