Muskegon Stroke Survivors and Mercy Health Colleagues Celebrate Support Group’s One Year Anniversary

Front row Diane Madej, Issa Cook Middle : Donna Pusis, Pam Six, Ming Chu, Betty German, Bernie Berntson Last : Lisa Schanhals, Sally Mack, Sarah Williams, Herb Graupner
Front row Diane Madej, Issa Cook
Middle : Donna Pusis, Pam Six, Ming Chu, Betty German, Bernie Berntson
Last : Lisa Schanhals, Sally Mack, Sarah Williams, Herb Graupner

A year ago, these stroke patients couldn’t have imagined the positive impact a support group would mean for their healing and long-term well-being. Thanks to Becky Toney, Neuro Science Nurse Navigator — whose vision for a support group became a reality a year ago — Mercy Health stroke patients along the lakeshore have a lot to celebrate. Toney describes her time with patients at the support group as “one of the best parts of my job.”

The monthly Stroke Support Group on the Mercy Health Muskegon Mercy Campus offers a way for stroke patients to support one another, learn more about their condition and see their medical care providers outside of the hospital, Mercy Health/Mary Free Bed Acute Rehab Unit and office visits. Family members are welcome, and at the one-year anniversary celebrated on May 9, many caregivers attended the celebration as well.

Amid colorful balloons, delicious food, beverages and cake, this lively group feasted on what they have come to enjoy the most: each other’s company. Here is what several support group members had to say about their experiences:

Issa Cook: “I look forward to this support group because I have made friends here. I made friends with the therapists and the nurses that took care of me at the hospital. Getting reunited with them once a month really feels good for me.”

Pam Six: “I want to thank all of the girls and Becky for all the support they have given us…and the doctors that have come. I didn’t understand what I went through until I came to the support group.”

Sally Mack: “It is amazing…a year ago I didn’t know my name or how to get dressed. I get better all the time. I think probably the most important thing I’ve learned is my ‘new normal.’ I don’t have to go back to being exactly who I was with my ‘old normal.'”

Donna Puisir: “There are people here that I know, and I didn’t realize that stroke was so common. I’m not alone. I always associated stroke with older people.”

Diane Madej: “The stroke support group is a major part of my new lifeline. My life changed six months ago, and this has been a wonderful community…and a chance to see some of the therapists who are absolutely amazing. They gave me my life back.”

Bernie Bernston: “Cathy [his wife] has had more to deal with than I have. I just pretty much hung out and my brain started healing, but she still doing all the work. So I think caregivers deserve a round of applause.”

To learn more about Mercy Health’s free stroke support group, please call 231.672.6501.

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