HMR Program Helps Patient Lose and Keep off 70 Pounds Over 18-month Period

Breck Adkins in June 2017, 20 months with ongoing participation in HMR.

A program offered by Mercy Health Weight Management and created by HMR Weight Management Services (HMR) was not only named a #1 Best Fast Weight Loss Diet in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Diets of 2017 rankings for a second year,  but also helped 54-year-old Breck Adkins lose 70 pounds.

Adkins began the program in October 2015 at a weight of 293 pounds and has lost more than 70 pounds as of June 2017. He decided not to go it alone after decades of losing weight and gaining it back. “I could successfully lose some weight in the summer, but in the winter it would creep back up, plus some more!”

Fast forward to today: Adkins works out every day, with the elliptical being his choice of equipment, combined with weightlifting. “I just had to find something that worked for me. This diet and a good lifestyle have helped me shed this weight and keep it off.”

Carrie Kelly, Operations Supervisor, Weight Management, Mercy Health, applauds Adkins’ healthier lifestyle, saying, “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.”

HMR’s highly structured diet and lifestyle change program is designed to help people lose weight quickly while learning the skills they need to maintain weight loss.

“Many people think losing weight quickly is not healthy or sustainable; that it will just lead to future weight re-gain,” Kelly said . “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.”


Breck Adkins, before his weight loss journey with HMR.

Adkins even joined The Ride in March to support Mercy Health Heart and Vascular Center’s programs, including Student Heart Screenings. He biked 14.41 miles in 25 minutes, which is an average of 32 miles per hour on the stationery bike.

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

Mercy Health Recognized by Health Care Leader Organization, CareerSTAT, for Developing Frontline Workers

John Schwartz and Kelly Wilczak
John Schwartz, CHRO, and Kelly Wilczak accept the award from CareerSTAT on behalf of Mercy Health for advancing the frontline worker on June 19, 2017 in Philadelphia.

Mercy Health is among 11 health care employers to receive an award given by CareerSTAT’s Recognition Committee, which selected four health care employers as 2017 Frontline Healthcare Worker Champions and seven organizations — one being Mercy Health — as Emerging Champions. CareerSTAT’s recognition program showcases health care organizations making exemplary investments in their frontline workforce.

Mercy Health is one of seven recognized Emerging Champions that is investing in their frontline employees, and striving to expand, sustain or evaluate their programs. Motivated to meet the increased demand for a sizable and healthy workforce since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Mercy Health has made it a strategic priority to grow regional pipelines of talent and develop employees who come into the organization.

Mercy Health fosters frontline workers through the Medical Assistant (MA) Apprenticeship program, where colleagues receive the clinical training and education to become certified medical assistants, while also earning a paycheck from Mercy Health. Many of these program’s participants have experienced barriers to receiving an education or when trying to transfer into their desired field of health care.



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Teresa Beltran, MA

Teresa Beltran, MA, one of the first MA Apprenticeship graduates, knew she wanted to make a move to a career in nursing but had no clear idea of how to get there, until she heard of the MA Apprenticeship program. After graduating from the program in December 2016, Beltran was selected by one of the physician offices where she had apprenticed and now works full-time at Mercy Health as a medical assistant.

Another example of elevating frontline colleagues is the CHEST (Certified healthcare Environmental Services Technician) Certification process. Aimed at colleagues who have worked in Environmental Services at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s for longer than six months, and funded by the Saint Mary’s Foundation, CHEST certification consists of online exams based on several modules built around a typical day in the life of an environmental services colleague. As of June 2017, 28 colleagues have undergone this certification in the past twelve months.





Katelyn Vos Greg Kolenda Tim Wilson
Environmental Services colleagues, from left to right: Katelyn Vos, Greg Kolenda and Tim Wilson.

“This certification process demonstrates to our Environmental Services colleagues the ‘why’ behind what they do, and how they contribute to elevating patient satisfaction and reducing healthcare-associated infections on a daily basis at our organization,” said Kent Miller, MHA, FAHE, CHESP, T-CHEST director of Environmental Services/Sustainability Officer.

An employer-led initiative of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, CareerSTAT is a network of almost 200 healthcare and workforce leaders promoting investment in the skills and careers of frontline workers. They support healthcare organizations in developing, scaling and sustaining development programs by:

  • Engaging healthcare leaders in peer-learning.
  • Documenting effective workforce development programs and
  • Studying the business impact of workforce
  • Providing technical assistance on program
  • Recognizing Champion organizations.

Detailed profiles of all 11 Champions along with further information on their skill and career development programs are available on the CareerSTAT website.


Browning Claytor Health Center Receives Health and Equity Award

Karen Kennedy and Herm Sullivan
Karen Kennedy, MD, who accepted the Health and Equity award on behalf of the organization from Herm Sullivan, MD, during the awards ceremony at the Black & White Gala, June 16, 2017.

Browning Claytor Health Center Receives Edward and Harriet Jones Trailblazer in Health and Equity Award

Congratulations to Browning Claytor Health Center, who received the Edward and Harriet Jones Trailblazer in Health and Equity Award by the Grand Rapids African-American Health Institute (GRAAHI). The award is named after two individuals who helped pave the way for the health and equity work necessary to reduce disparities in our community.

Browning Claytor Health Center was selected by GRAAHI based on the staff’s work and dedication within the local community. Karen Kennedy, MD, medical director of Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Browning Claytor Health Center, pictured with Herman Sullivan, MD, accepted the award on behalf of the organization at the “Black and White Gala,” hosted by GRAAHI, on Friday, June 16, 2017.

A little history about the award’s legacy: Dr. Edward A. Jones, Jr., was a dedicated physician who practiced in the Grand Rapids community for over 45 years. Born in Atlanta, GA, Dr. Jones was a graduate of Morehouse College and Meharry Medical College, and was on staff at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, Blodgett Hospital and Butterworth Hospital. Dr. Jones received many awards for his community work and was a renowned teacher of medical students. Dr. Jones was married to the love of his life, Harriet Sims Jones, for 51 years.

Harriet Sims Jones worked for 20 years as the State of Michigan’s Director of Nursing at Riverside Psychiatric Hospital. During this time, she served on many community boards She received several community awards, such as Woman of the Year and a Grand Rapids GIANT. Award. Harriet and Edward Jones had three children and three grandchildren.

Final Reflections From Retiring Mercy Health Muskegon President Greg Loomis

Greg Reflecting on His CareerAs I embark on my last week as president of Mercy Health Muskegon, what I am most thankful for — and what’s helped me grow as a leader — is the dedicated group of colleagues I’ve had the privilege to work with during the past 48 years.

Many of you know this story, but for those of you who don’t, my journey with Mercy Health began in 1969 when I was hired through my high school’s co-op program to work as a stock boy at Hackley Hospital. During this first glimpse into health care, I had a boss who shared a sentiment with me that I have never forgotten. He said, “Everything you do here has an impact on patients.” I thought to myself, “Why would he say that to me? I am just a stockroom worker. What impact will I have on patients?” Read More

But, as it turns out — each and every one of you, no matter your title — has the unique opportunity to change our patients lives in some way.

I am so proud of the impact you make on the patients that trust us with their most important asset: their health. It’s been an honor to work with you, and I look forward to seeing you the next time I pick up a prescription, see my family doctor or have lab work done. Certainly, it’s been all of my interactions with you that has kept me here for 48 years. My wish for you is that you’ll find the purpose in our mission to keep you here for years to come.

Thank you.

Update: Man Reunites With 3 Off-Duty Mercy Health Nurses Who Saved His Life

On March 2, you learned on our news blog about three off-duty Mercy Health Muskegon nurses – Rose Emmons, Cindra Bringedahl and Martha Tutak – who resuscitated a man who had collapsed in downtown Muskegon at a local restaurant.

Michael Thaler received care from our health system and, on May 17, Thaler was reunited for a news conference with the nurses and the physician who cared for him. Local media were there to cover the reunion. Media coverage for the reunion garnered more than 255,000 views on local television news, a feature story on the front cover of the Muskegon Chronicle, as well as heavy social media engagement.

Click through the photo gallery for a glimpse into the special moments as the nurses are reunited with Michael Thaler.

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This story is a testament to the dedication of our colleagues to being a transforming, healing presence in the communities we serve.

Third Year in a Row: Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Earns Stroke Achievement Award from the AHA

Baljit Deol, Kathie Thomas, Dr. Farooq and Dr. Dan Roper
Baljit Deol, MD, Kathie Thomas, from the AHA, Muhammad Farooq, MD, and Dan Roper, MD, during the awards presentation to Mercy Health Saint Mary’s from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

Mercy Health Saint Mary’s received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines®-Stroke Gold Plus Achievement Award with Target: StrokeSM Honor Roll Elite Plus.

Kathie Thomas from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association presented the award to stroke team leaders and the entire stroke team at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s on June 22, 2017 in the Hauenstein Center lobby. The award recognizes Mercy Health Saint Mary’s commitment to providing the most appropriate stroke treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence.

Hospitals must achieve 85 percent or higher adherence to all Get With The Guidelines-Stroke achievement indicators for two or more consecutive 12-month periods and achieve 75 percent or higher compliance with five of eight Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Quality measures to receive the Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award.

To qualify for the Target: Stroke Honor Roll Elite Plus, hospitals must meet quality measures developed to reduce the time between the patient’s arrival at the hospital and treatment with the clot-buster tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA, the only drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat ischemic stroke. If given intravenously in the first three hours after the start of stroke symptoms, tPA has been shown to significantly reduce the effects of stroke and lessen the chance of permanent disability. Mercy Health Saint Mary’s earned the award by meeting specific quality achievement measures for the diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients at a set level for a designated period.

Large group shot with Stroke Team at Mercy Health Saint Mary's
Mercy Health Saint Mary’s staff who contribute daily to caring for those with strokes during the awards ceremony on June 22, 2017.

These quality measures are designed to help hospital teams follow the most up-to-date, evidence-based guidelines with the goal of speeding recovery and reducing death and disability for stroke patients.

According to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, stroke is the No. 5 cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in the United States. On average, someone in the U.S. suffers a stroke every 40 seconds, someone dies of a stroke every four minutes, and nearly 800,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year.




Mercy Health Colleagues Participate in National Asparagus Festival in Oceana County

Oceana County celebrated its claim to fame on June 9–11 with the National Asparagus Festival. The  44th National Asparagus Festival draws more than 4,000 people every year and is a wonderful way to kick off the summer. Thanks to more than 46 Mercy colleagues who came and supported this festival.

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From Couch to Competitor

How One Woman Lost Weight and Gained an Improved Sense of Self

Before undergoing bariatric surgery, Nikki Thompson, 28, would have to exert so much effort while working out, only to hit a wall. A longtime dancer, she wanted to try something different.

Thompson turned to running 5Ks as a way to get in shape. Beginning with a Couch to 5K program in the fall of 2013, her goal was “just to finish,” she says.

While running several 5Ks over the next year, she kept hitting the proverbial wall, either needing to walk or use her rescue inhaler for her exercise-induced asthma.  “When I would use my inhaler like crazy, I refused to walk. Although I ran 13-minute-mile at times, I was worried if I started walking that I would not start running again.”

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Working for Mercy Health Muskegon as a certified surgical technologist with the bariatric team for the past four years, Thompson has witnessed the attention and support that Brian Gluck, MD, medical director of Bariatric Surgery for Mercy Health Muskegon, and the rest of the bariatric team provided for patients, and was inspired to take the next step. “After helping many patients, I thought, ‘Why am I not taking charge of my health as well?'” Thompson underwent a sleeve gastrectomy performed by Gluck on July 6, 2016.

Fast forward to today: Thompson has lost 85 pounds from her heaviest weight, and now cross trains and runs about 2.5 miles per day to train for the Mercy Health Seaway Run 2017 on June 24, 2017.

Thompson regularly runs 5k and 10k races now as a way to train for her first 15k portion of the Seaway Run.

“I don’t need to stop to walk. I don’t even need my inhaler!” Thompson remarked as she trains.

For Thompson, a healthier lifestyle is a family affair.  “I always told my kids, be healthy, make good choices, but it was a ‘do as I say, not as I do,’ scenario. Now I set a better example.”

Thompson’s mother is running the Seaway Run 5K portion with her 5-year-old son, who will be completing his fifth 5k race. He started participating with Thompson a week after he turned 4 years old.

“My kids definitely serve as my inspiration,” says the mother of two. “We talk often about eating healthy food to fuel our bodies, and we play hard to grow big and strong. I want the focus to be on being healthy, not on a certain size or weight.”

“There is so much more possibility for me now,” said Thompson. “I went from attempting to finish the race to placing – I now consider myself a competitor when it comes to running.”

After the Seaway Run, Thompson plans on competing in the Spartan Race Super Michigan in the fall of 2017, and she’s not stopping there. She has plans to complete a half marathon and triathlon in 2018.

“Demo Party” on Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Birth Center

To work on an obstetrics floor in a hospital, a person has to be a special kind of hands-on clinician. At the Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Birth Center, our colleagues are no exception. When given the opportunity to hold a “demo party” during the renovation of the ninth floor, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Birth Center colleagues gladly got their hands dirty!

The Mercy Health Birth Center colleagues took to demolishing walls of the former triage area on the ninth floor on Thursday, June 8, 2017, all the while employing safety precautions and proper personal protection equipment.

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“The Birth Center team wanted to be a part of this extensive project, and that included getting involved with some demolition,” said Linda Foster, manager of the Birth Center . “We were really excited that Elzinga & Volkers’ Scott Wondergem assisted us in this fun occasion. It’s not often that hospital staff gets to flex our muscles alongside a construction crew.”

Since April 2017, the Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Birth Center has been undergoing renovations to create a family-centered experience in a new, relaxing environment. The renovation is expected to last about another year and a half. Click here for some renderings of what the completed department will look like>>



National Cancer Survivors Day Celebration

According to the National Cancer Institute, nearly 14.5 million people today are living past a cancer diagnosis in the United States. Mercy Health celebrated these heroes on National Cancer Survivors Day on June 13, 2017.

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During the afternoon celebration, dozens of cancer survivors and their loved ones roamed the fifth floor of Mercy Health Lacks Cancer Center, where they received nutritional information — including a cooking demonstration led by Executive Sous Chef Bryan Nader—  education, giveaways and refreshments. The Wege Institute for Mind, Body and Spirit led a yoga demonstration, suitable for all levels and The Boutique at Mercy Health displayed wigs, bras and specialty items for cancer survivors. Other key partners, such as Susan G. Komen, Bluebird Cancer Retreats and Michigan Ovarian Cancer Alliance participated to provide educational information.

7-month-survivor Vita attended the celebration with her daughter-in-law. Vita, who faced breast cancer and was treated at Mercy Health Lacks Cancer Center, said of her care team: “Everyone was lovely here!”

Another breast cancer survivor, Earnstine Tolbert, is a retired 30-year colleague of Mercy Health. When she was diagnosed in 2011, Tolbert chose Mercy Health because she knew she could count on receiving excellent care from her former colleagues. “Everyone gave me good care here – I even knew many of the people who treated me!” Tolbert attended the celebration with her daughter Dollie.

Thanks to the colleagues who hosted and serviced booths during this celebration to offer support and education, and congratulations to all our cancer survivors!