World Breastfeeding Week 2017 Begins August 1, #WBW2017

wbw2017-logoCelebrated from August 1-August 7, 2017, World Breastfeeding Week aims to create awareness and support of breastfeeding.

At Mercy Health, Mother/Baby nursing staff is trained to provide breastfeeding support.

Lactation counselors and consultants are available after hospital discharge, providing ongoing support, including weekly breastfeeding meetings for mothers and babies twice a week at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s. In 2016, more than 900 mothers and babies participated in these meetings for breastfeeding support.

Mercy Health Muskegon offers a free breastfeeding class once per month for parents to learn the basics on how to breastfeed and why it’s important. Lactation Consultants (LC’S)see every breastfeeding mom while they are patients in the hospital and are also available for phone calls or outpatient visits if times of groups are not convenient. These services are offered to our patients as well as our colleagues.
Informal Breastfeeding Support Group Offerings: Free = Walk-Ins Welcome Mondays 5-7 p.m., Thursdays 11 a.m-1 p.m., at the Hackley Campus, North 2, on the Labor and Delivery Unit.

Individual appointments and telephone support are also available by calling 616.685.5602. A prenatal breastfeeding class is offered once a month. Find more information here:>>

At Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, lactation consultants have teamed up with Mercy Health Physician Partners to ensure mothers are educated and prepared to breastfeed prior to coming to the hospital. The team also works to ensure that breastfeeding mothers feel supported in any hospital unit.

If you would like breastfeeding support in the greater Grand Rapids area, please call 616-685-5602. For the Muskegon and lakeshore area, please call 231.727.5548, if they are serving patients, please leave a message and they will return your call.

Support for breastfeeding mothers extends to colleagues as well.

SYMPHONY WITH 2 BOTTLES, 4/9/07, 1:51 PM, 8C, 4932x2951 (150+2815), 88%, Custom, 1/30 s, R39.0, G25.6, B52.3
Symphony 2.0 Medela Pump

At Mercy Health Healthcare Equipment, Colleague Gordy Nicholson cites that approximately 80% of the breast pumps and complementary supplies are purchased by colleagues, who receive a 20% discount.

Healthcare Equipment has two locations:

  • 200 Jefferson Ave., Grand Rapids, near the Main Hospital Lobby. Phone: 616.685.5335.
  • 1150 E. Sherman Blvd., Suite 1300, Muskegon. Phone: 231.672.4711.

Healthcare Equipment also carries connecting parts to the hospital-grade pumps, Symphony 2.0, (shown to the left) which can be found at two colleague lactation rooms at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Campus, one on 7 Main and on Level G of Lacks Center. Shared Services also has a lactation room for colleagues.


Fox, Jen
Jen Fox, Process Excellence colleague who was supported by Lactation Services during her daughter’s nursing strike

Jen Fox, a colleague from Process Excellence, shares her story about lactation support from Mercy Health:
“When I gave birth to my second child, Clara, in September 2016, my goal was to make it six months exclusive for breastfeeding. I breastfed my first baby for eight weeks, and he was supplemented with formula from the beginning, so I set my sights higher this time.

“I was concerned about achieving my goal with Clara, as I was coming back to work after six weeks. I had heard that it was hard to establish a milk supply at six weeks postpartum. However; I was very focused on the task at hand and was able to make it to my initial goal, all the while pumping at work.

“My nursing issues began not with supply, but rather with a nursing strike from my baby at eight months old. It was then that I turned to Lactation Services, who helped me immensely.

“Sarah Vandenberge RN, CLC, and the team had so much knowledge. They assured me that this was a normal phase for babies. She taught me several ways I could try to get the baby to nurse again.

“Since a pump isn’t as effective as the baby nursing, Sarah taught me about the hospital-grade pumps (Symphony 2.0) that we have in the lactation rooms throughout the hospital. I also was shown what supplies I needed and how to use them.

“Unfortunately, Clara never went back to nursing, but with the help of the Lactation Services team, I know that we tried everything, and I felt so supported throughout the process.

“The lactation consultants pointed out that I had achieved my initial goal of six months, and that I should be very proud of myself for making it that far.

“I definitely recommend anyone who is breastfeeding or pumping, that they can turn to the Lactation Services for support and guidance.”

For patients who may struggle with supply, since April 2016, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s has had a human donor milk program to provide babies with the safest donated human milk.

“Our NICU nurses are able to ensure that the donated milk is unaltered with consistent safety standards,” said Dr. Mariel Poortenga, MD, medical director of Lactation Services, Mercy Health. “As a neonatologist, I personally did extensive research to find the right program for our patients; one that was of the highest safety standards. Our vendor uses all human milk, without any added cow’s milk supplements and uses a thorough donor screening and pasteurizing process.”

Patient Gabie Zobel, pictured with her son Garrison, who stayed at the NICU for several weeks earlier in 2017. Gabie is grateful for the donor milk program and the lactation consultants who guided her through her breastfeeding journey.

Patient Gabie can attest to the safety standards of the human donor milk program. Gabie had many barriers when it came to breastfeeding. When her son Garrison was born at 29 weeks in March 2017, Gabie was sent to the ICU due to her own health issues, and was hospitalized for two weeks postpartum.

“It was a journey,” is how Gabie described Garrison’s entry into this world and discharge from the NICU at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s.

“I was very adamant that I wanted Garrison to be fed only breastmilk. The doctors and nurses listened to me,” said Gabie.

Due to her critical health issues, expressing milk was extremely difficult, but Gabie was determined to attempt expression.

“The lactation team supported me in so many ways,” said Gabie. “They lined up everything I needed from the Mercy Health Healthcare Equipment, including a hospital-grade pump, so that I could express milk to give to Garrison. I expressed milk with a hospital-grade pump every two hours. I often would ‘power-pump,’ where you pump every few minutes off and on.”

Despite her valiant efforts, Gabie was unable to produce much milk on her own, and Lactation Services were able to provide donated human milk for Garrison.

“The neonatologists assured me the safety of their human donor milk program,” said Gabie. “They informed me of the difference between formula and the donated milk, and we talked through the process and the need for it, especially since Garrison’s gut was very immature, requiring the use of donated human milk.”

Gabie is very appreciative of the care she and her son received: “The neonatologist and nurse would come to my hospital room after rounds to keep me informed of everything,” said Gabie.

“They supported me in so many ways; I was a part of his care.” Gabie is grateful for the care she and Garrison received. They are both now happy at home.

If you would like breastfeeding support, in the greater Grand Rapids area, please call 616-685-5602. For the Muskegon and lakeshore area, please call 231.727.5548.


Promotion Underway for Muskegon County AED Scavenger Hunt


Jerry Evans, MD, Chief of Emergency Medicine at Mercy Health Muskegon, along with fourth-year ED resident, Amanda Paden, DO and the West Michigan Regional Medical Control (WMRMC) are spearheading efforts to locate each and every AED (Automated External Defibrillator) device in Muskegon County. Dr. Evans and the Coalition are on a mission to make sure that cardiac response times are lowered by proactively locating every AED in our county, and urging everyone to become trained in bystander CPR. In order to promote this effort, and make it more fun for participants, they’re offering cash prizes for participating.

This effort hits close to home, as earlier this year, Mercy Health patient, Michael Thaler’s life was saved after a cardiac incident by three Mercy Health Muskegon off-duty nurses who sent bystanders running in search for an AED. The nurses started CPR immediately until the AED was located nearby, which is what ultimately saved his life.

Dr. Evans and the Coalition are on a mission to make sure that cardiac response times are lowered by proactively locating every AED in our county, and urging everyone to become trained in bystander CPR. In order to promote this effort, and make it more fun for participants, they’re offering cash prizes for participating. Now through the end of August, community members are encouraged to scour local establishments in true scavenger-hunt style, and when one is located, register the device on the group’s website.

Once devices are registered, a database will be made available through Muskegon County Dispatch 9-1-1, of all active AED locations, so that when someone calls during an emergency —the dispatcher will be able to direct the called to the nearest AED location. Currently, this resource does not exist. There is a strong correlation between the time from collapse due to cardiac arrest, defibrillation and survival. More than half of all patients defibrillated in less than 3 minutes will survive, compared to just 1 in 5 defibrillated after 10 minutes, which is often how long it takes for EMS to be called, respond and deliver the life-saving shock. So having a publicly accessible AED could truly mean the difference between life and death.

Mercy Health Colleagues Pitch in to Beautify Sherman Boulevard Corridor

Trio of ColleaguesLast week, regional colleagues from Mercy Health West Michigan volunteered to help clean up targeted areas of Sherman Boulevard in an effort to help promote the #WatchMuskegon campaign through the Muskegon Chamber of Commerce. The campaign, based on the results of a local beautification study is centered around the enhancement of Sherman Boulevard specifically, because it is one of Muskegon’s busiest corridors. The goal of the study was to create a plan to enhance the area, increase residential pride, encourage business growth and provide a beautiful gateway for guests to visit our community.




rakingVolunteers from Mercy Health, including our very own Marketing and PR team members (pictured here in blue), raked leaves, removed brush, painted fences, mowed grass and picked weeds at the corner of Superior Street and Ray. The progress is encouraging, and will continue throughout the fall with a County-Wide Cleanup taking place on October 14, 2017.


Sendoff to Deacon and Seminarians Who Served Mercy Health Saint Mary’s in Summer 2017

Thanks to Deacon Michael Steffes, and Seminarians, Christopher Nowak and Matthew Federico, who served the patients and their families and colleagues of Mercy Health Saint Mary’s for ten weeks in the summer of 2017.

For their final day on July 28, Most Rev. David Walkowiak celebrated Mass at the Chapel of our Lady of Mercy, the second level of Lacks Center.

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During the Mass, Deacon Michael Steffes gave the homily, “Before I came here, I knew in my head that this hospital is a holy ground. But while serving here and forming relationships with staff, patients and their families, I came to understand in my heart that this is holy ground. Matt, Chris and I experienced so much love and concern for patients from the staff.  Christ’s work doesn’t only come from the chaplains, but rather from the entire care team. My prayer is that Mercy Health Saint Mary’s continues to be the place that bears good fruit.”

Mass was followed by a luncheon with the deacon and seminarians, and “alumni” who also served as deacons for Mercy Health Saint Mary’s as a part of their journey to ordination.

The seminarians and deacon each share a brief takeaway and message of thanks to the staff and patients of Mercy Health Saint Mary’s below:

Christopher Nowak, seminarian, and a native of southern New Jersey, is studying for the Diocese of Gaylord, hoping for ordination in 2019.

Nowak says, “While there are many memories I will take away from this experience —both of trials and blessings — the interaction with the care team on 4 Lacks was a particular highlight.  As I spent most of my time on that floor, I was able to get to know the nurses, PCAs, and interdisciplinary team members and be truly part of the team helping to comfort patients and support each other in difficult moments.”

Matthew Federico, seminarian, hails from the Diocese of Saginaw, Michigan and is studying for the Diocese of Saginaw. Although he is not yet a Deacon, he will be ordained a transitional deacon in May 2018 and a priest in May 2019. I currently attend Mundelein Seminary which is located in Mundelein, Illinois, about 50 miles north of downtown Chicago.

Frederico says: “These past ten weeks have flown by at Mercy Health, and I have enjoyed every minute of it. Besides getting to know the patients that I have ministered to, I have enjoyed getting to know the staff here at the hospital as well.”

Deacon Michael Steffes is from Portland, Michigan, which is in the Diocese of Grand Rapids, where he will be serving after he is ordained a priest in June 2018.

Steffes said, “It has been a great experience being here at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, and it has made me more comfortable in the hospital setting. It has also given me a new appreciation for the medical team and what they do on a daily basis.”

Thank you to the deacon and seminarians who have served us this summer, and we wish them the best on their journey to ordination.

International Guests Learn From CNLs at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s

Mercy Health Saint Mary’s hosted five graduate students and doctoral students from Japan on Monday, July 24 and Tuesday, July 25, 2017. This is the second meeting in 2017 with nurses from Japan, and the fourth to date, due to our strong clinical nurse leader (CNL) presence and visionary nursing leadership.

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This most recent international exchange is the latest in a series that marks the strong collaboration of nursing expertise with Kyoto University, located in Japan, and Saint Anthony College of Nursing, a member of OSF Health Care in Rockford, Illinois.

Clinical Nurse Leaders from Mercy Health paired with a nurse from Japan for half a day to demonstrate what the duties and role of a CNL entailed. The visitors traveled the thousands of miles to learn from Mercy Health CNL experts.

group shot of CNLs with Visitors from Japan







Thanks to the nurses from Japan who were eager to learn what the role of a CNL is at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s:

  • Minoru Ishizaki, RN MSN, University of Tsukuba
  • Yuki Kimura, RN MSN, Hiroshima Red Cross Hospital
  • Yukiko Oshimo, RN, Kyoto University Hospital
  • Hanae Miura, PhD, RN, Japanese Red Cross College of Nursing
  • Kiyoko Abe, RN, PHN, PhD, Japanese Red Cross College of Nursing


June 2017 DAISY Award Winner, Omeka Jackson

Jackson, June 2017 1The June 2017 DAISY Award winner in Muskegon was Omeka Jackson, RN, from the 3rd floor on the Mercy Campus. Jackson was nominated by her peer, Ashley Valero, as well as a patient family member.

From colleague Ashley Valero:

“Omeka’s patient was ready to be discharged when he told Omeka that he had locked his apartment and did not have his keys. Omeka took the extra time to personally call the apartment complex and got the number for the on-call maintenance man. She spoke to him and was able to find a way to get the patient’s apartment unlocked. She is always going above and beyond for her patients!”

From the patient’s family member:

Omeka is an excellent communicator, fabulous nurse and a compassionate RN. She assisted in advocating for my family member with medication orders. She also assisted me in terms of resources and overall empathy for our situation.”

Omeka Jackson was honored with a surprise celebration on her unit in front of her leaders, peers and patient family member. To nominate a well deserving nurse, please complete the nomination form.

Mercy Health New Medical Center – Exterior Finishes Preview


Exterior of new medical centerThis is your chance to see a preview of the exterior finishes of the new Mercy Health Muskegon medical center (minus the blue painter’s tape on the windows!).

Using the Muskegon lakeshore and surrounding natural landscape for inspiration, the mocked up exterior of the new Mercy Health medical center blends wood-like finishes, metal and natural stone to create an inviting and calming environment for our patients.

In addition to beautiful aesthetic design, the new medical center in Muskegon will be an energy efficient, “green” building, and for a while during construction, our building exterior will actually be green due to a layer of protective paneling.

The green metal panel (a “sandwich panel”) will serve as insulation between the interior and exterior of the building, Installation of the green-panel system with windows will make the building watertight to the elements.

Speaking of color, did you notice that bright pink exterior elevator in the background? Metro Elevator—one of the many excellent vendors we work with— is a Midwest-based company that uses pink construction elevators on their projects for breast cancer awareness in October.


imagine. build. TRANSFORM Medical Center Campaign Update: Our Office of Philanthropy staff and the Philanthropy Council members continue their efforts on behalf of the imagine. build. TRANSFORM campaign for the medical center. To date, $7.8 million in gifts and pledges has been secured toward the $10 million goal. This includes gifts from lead donors and our own colleagues who are giving to the We Imagine! Team Club, which now has over 600 colleague and volunteer members. The physician & provider campaign was recently launched and, in 2018, the community-wide campaign will be rolled out. Thank you to everyone who is stepping up to support our new medical center. For additional information, contact the Office of Philanthropy at 231-672-4814 or email



3 Generations Receive Kidney Transplants at Mercy Health Kidney Transplant Center

Third-generation kidney recipient Travis Crittendon gets kidney from cousin Kevin Crittendon
Within most families an inherited trait is benign, such as a distinctive nose or detached earlobes. For one family, the Crittendons/Burggraafs, their inherited trait is polycystic kidney disease. This disease has caused three generations of its family members to seek kidney donations at Mercy Health Kidney Transplant Center.

  • The first patient was grandmother Marlys Burggraaf, who received a kidney transplant from a deceased donor in 1991 at Mercy Health. She was kidney #483 in the program.
  • The second-generation patient to receive a kidney from a deceased donor was Burggraaf’s daughter, Sharon Crittendon, in January 2014. Sharon was the 2,023rd transplant in the history of Mercy Health Saint Mary’s.
  • Fast forward to today: Sharon’s son, Travis Crittendon, 44, received his kidney transplant on Monday, July 17, 2017, making him the third generation to receive a kidney transplant at Mercy Health. Travis was #2,395 in the program.

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Due to the extent of his kidney disease, which causes cysts to grow on his kidneys, Travis has had both kidneys removed. To survive, he relied on kidney dialysis, a grueling ritual that he endured three days a week, for four and a half hours at a time. But he had much hope, as he was not waiting on the transplant list for a deceased donor. His cousin, Kevin Crittendon, agreed to donate him his left kidney.

Being the third generation to undergo a kidney transplant, Travis knew what to expect.

“I watched my grandmother, my mom and many of my other family members undergo this same procedure,” said Travis. “I am really excited to get back to my life.”

Once actively playing sports, such as golf, Travis has had to hang up his clubs as he slowly became sicker and sicker. “It’s been hard; I haven’t been able to play golf in five or six years. I would love to just get back to normal. ”

Getting back to normal is something that his mother and his donor cousin Kevin hope for him as well.

“I am super excited for Travis,” Sharon says, whose transplanted kidney from three and a half years ago is still doing very well.

Although his cousin Kevin was a match when he was tested to become a donor, his health excluded him from becoming a donor, as he had kidney stones that were sodium-based. “It was just amazing, when he was called by the Mercy Health Kidney Donor Coordinator to tell him that his health wasn’t where it needed to be to qualify to donate, Kevin immediately asked, ‘What do I have to do to get better, so that I can become a donor?'” recalled Travis.

To get healthy enough, Kevin made a few alterations to his diet, including more fluid intake and less sodium. Within three months, his health had improved to where he could be a kidney donor for his cousin. As a side benefit, he has also lost 13 pounds over the course of the year.

“I’m just really focused on Travis, and his getting better,” said Kevin. “For him to be able to go back to living a normal life, that will just be great.” Although there is always the fear that his kidney may get rejected by Travis’s body, Kevin says he has confidence in the Mercy Health Kidney Transplant Center, given its history and great outcomes.

Described as analytical by his mother, Travis researched into kidney transplant, the process and recovery, and like those before him, also decided on Mercy Health, saying: “Since my mom and all my family has had such good outcomes with their kidneys, I knew I wanted to come to Mercy Health for my transplant.”

Sharon Crittendon’s story

More than 30 years ago, Sharon’s aunt — her mother’s sister — was in need of a kidney transplant, due to the polycystic kidney disease. Sharon decided, “‘Why not me? I can look into becoming a donor.'”

It was discovered through the donor testing that Sharon had also inherited the same kidney disease. This news not only disqualified her from becoming a donor, but would also mean that she would very likely need a kidney transplant in the future.

Years, then decades, passed. Sharon awaited her fate, getting sicker and sicker. She was on dialysis for five and a half years, waiting for a kidney so that she could once again live life.

Finally, that day came in January 2014.

Sharon recalls the early morning that she got exciting news from Mercy Health that she was matched with a deceased donor. “It was 4:30 a.m., but I called all my kids before I drove myself to the hospital. I couldn’t wait to get a new kidney!”

In March 2016, her sister took her on the dream vacation she had been too sick to only be able to dream of: “I wanted to see Mickey Mouse in Disney World.”

Today, Sharon is doing well. Going in for check-ups every six months at the transplant center, Sharon greets people with a smile.

She is so proud and happy for her son, who is finally getting a kidney transplant after nearly two years of being on dialysis.

Sharon’s siblings’ kidney transplants

Sharon’s brother, Jim Burggraaf, received a kidney from a deceased donor in 2001. Jim was #1,036 in the program.

Sharon’s brother, Ron Burggraaf, received a live kidney from his wife, Linda, in 2006. Ron was # 1,400 in the program.

Sharon’s sister, Marvonne Burggraaf, received a live kidney from a friend, Brandi,  in December 2014. Marvonne was 2,101 in the program.

Marlys’ story
Representing the first generation,
Marlys Burggraaf was one of eight children, six of whom inherited the kidney disease.  Awaiting a kidney donor, Marlys underwent kidney dialysis while holding down a job. “Mom tried the in-home kidney dialysis, but that didn’t work very well,” according to her daughter Sharon. Her family describes her as someone who always took care of herself, in addition to caring for her family.

Finally, after nearly five years of dialysis, Marlys received a deceased donor kidney in 1991, becoming the 493rd transplant recipient at Mercy Health. Her kidney lasted for nearly 20 years, when she needed dialysis again. Marlys passed away in 2011, in her 80s.



Amy Stein – Mercy Health Saint Mary’s DAISY Award Recipient for July 2017

Amy Stein works on Hauenstein 2, the critical care/intensive care unit at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, and she was nominated by a fellow nurse because of her compassion in dealing with a patient who was unstable. Her department and nursing leadership presented her with the DAISY Award on July 11, 2017.

According to the fellow nurse, Jeana Wisinski: “The patient was not cooperating with the clinical team until she could put her lipstick on and was worried about her personal appearance.

“Amy assured the patient, ‘If that is what is important to you, than that is what is important to us.’ You could see the relief on the patient’s face.

“We continued to work on stabilizing the patient. Amy quietly told her what she was going to do, and that we would make sure her friends and family did not see her until she ‘looked better.'”

Congratulations to Amy!

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Congratulations to our Cohort 7 Registered Nurse Residents!

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Twenty RN residents comprised the Seventh RN Cohort at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s.

To celebrate the year-long residency of registered nurses, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Seventh Cohort presented their evidence-based practice projects, nine months in the making, to Nursing Leadership and other nurses at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s.

On Tuesday, July 18, 20 nurses showcased nine different research presentations in all, focusing on topics that related to their specific units or departments.




Congratulations to all our Seventh Cohort Residents:

  • Samantha VanDrunen
  • Ashley Dykstra
  • Ashley Chonorby
  • Kelsey Otter
  • Haley Stratton
  • Bre Gerrits
  • Kristi Johnson
  • Amber Haga
    3 Lacks Presentation
    3 Lacks nurses – Amber Haga, Kayley Hulst, Jenna Hulst and Erica Jorstad – focused on appropriate patient fall scales for their patient population.

    Kayley Hulst

  • Jenna Hulst
  • Erica Jorstad
  • Jennifer Brenner
  • Devon Bronkema
  • Jennifer Essenyi
  • Ashleigh VanDeWeg
  • Ellynne Engelsma
  • Grant Heide
  • Alyssa Barritt
  • Katie Cornett
  • Abby Howell