October 2017 DAISY Award Recipient Terri McPheron

The October 2017 DAISY Award recipient is Terri McPheron, RN from the 3rd floor on the Mercy Health Mercy Campus. Terri was nominated by her peer, Nichole Lamb, RN, as well as Holly Knowles, PAC, from Specialists in Hospital Medicine. The following is an excerpt from her nomination form:

Terri was recently taking care of a cancer patient who was depressed because his hair was falling out in clumps. On her day off, and during a holiday weekend, Terri came in with her clippers to give this patient a haircut. During a discharge phone call, he said that Terri went above and beyond to make him feel comfortable. He couldn’t believe that she came in on a Saturday to take care of him. He was very grateful.

Terri was honored with a surprise celebration on her unit before her leaders and peers. To nominate a well deserving nurse, please complete this nomination form.

The Mercy Health Muskegon Care of Colleagues Team: Living Our Values Behind the Scenes

Mercy Health Muskegon Care of Colleagues Team

At Mercy Health in Muskegon, the Care of Colleagues team is the committee on campus responsible for coordinating many free events dedicated to helping us remember the importance of self-care. You may have attended a few, such as the Colleague Cookout, the Scooby Back to School Carnival, Beat the Heat Ice Cream Social, or maybe you’ve received a free piece of cake for various observances like Veteran’s Day and Mercy Day.

What you might not know is that the members of this team are Living Our Values each and every day by volunteering their own time – focusing on good stewardship and giving back to our work community.

“I joined the Care of Colleagues team because I really wanted to help show the colleagues how important they are to Mercy Health. The events are extremely rewarding because I get to see the colleagues feeling appreciated,” said Holly Pease, who chairs the Care of Colleagues team.

“The Care of Colleagues team is just a small piece of the Relationship Based Care model and I have seen firsthand just how beneficial this is for our organization,” said Pease.

The team also targets groups in need throughout our community. Most recently, the Mercy Health Muskegon Care of Colleagues team collected many much needed items to send to military men and women that are stationed on the USS Roosevelt, through an event called, “Navy Moms.”

The group is also coordinating the upcoming Bright Lights colleague giving program for those staff members in need of a little help this holiday season. This annual program allows colleagues to submit an anonymous application in order to request items that would make the holidays a little brighter for their children and families. The Care of Colleagues team members then distribute the gifts to the recipients prior to Christmas.

Being a part of Mercy Health means that we are called to do work that is rewarding because it’s genuinely centered on caring for other people, but we are truly at our best when we’re taking proper care of ourselves.

The committee is always interested in welcoming new members. If you’re interested in joining the Care of Colleagues committee, please contact Holly Pease, committee chair, or Linda Dunmore, committee co-chair.











Continuing to Bloom

Patient with Pharyngeal Cancer Continues to Thrive

Nancy Cool in her backyard garden in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

If you were to strike up a conversation with Nancy Cool in a grocery store check-out line, you would probably describe her as a type-A, energetic, enthusiastic go-getter. You’d notice that this petite woman with a firmly positive attitude might even have been an athlete. And you’d be right. In her youth, she was a gymnast for an American team that competed overseas.

What you wouldn’t know immediately is that Nancy has endured a year of medical treatment—including multiple surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation—for stage 4 pharyngeal cancer, which is incurable. She doesn’t look ill. She has her hair and a tan. She seems fit, and she smiles a lot.

In light of her “new normal,” Nancy hesitantly made the difficult decision to retire from the job she loved—teaching children with autism.

Cancer leaves each patient with a unique version of new normal. Nancy’s involves changes to many aspects of her life: an inability to taste or produce saliva; a constant need for water to lubricate her throat; disturbed sleep from “cotton mouth,” reduced energy and thyroid problems, as well as stomach and digestion issues from scar tissue from her previous feeding tubes.

Despite all she has endured, Nancy delights in having become a grandmother and working part-time as a gardening specialist at a local store. Her backyard looks is a park-like setting with colorful, beautiful flowers.

Editor’s Note: What follows is Nancy’s story in her own words.

My story began with a sore throat and swelling…and then a biopsy…and then a diagnosis of cancer that originated in the base of my tongue and spread to my lymph nodes. I was in the hospital quite a few times during a year of treatment, and that’s where I met all of these wonderful people and teams of specialists at Mercy Health.

Most people have a church family that helps during cancer. It was my school that helped out. They started a campaign called “Feed Poor Mark” to provide meals for my husband—my rock. I didn’t need meals because I was being fed through a tube, but the staff took care of Mark, who gained 25 pounds!

The other people who took special care of us as a couple were members of Mercy Health’s Palliative and Supportive Care Team at Lacks Cancer Center. They were our angels. They sincerely cared for me as a human being…you could tell by their face and body language. They gave me hugs and physical contact, which I craved. They understand how hellish the treatment for cancer can be and that each patient is an individual, with specific needs.

Whenever I called them, even if they were busy, they’d get back to me immediately. I never felt alone. If a pain medication didn’t work, they’d do research to find something else to ease my pain. During a particularly difficult two-week period, I was curled up in a ball in intense pain from the feeding tube. The team members found a way to provide relief.

Even my Mercy Health primary care doctor and his wife came to visit me in the hospital. He came as a friend, and we talked for two hours enjoying our time together. Who does that?

Cancer teaches you to rely on others. There is a lot of follow-up care. At this time, everything looks good—my scans are clear. I have regular appointments with my surgeons and oncologists. A speech therapist has helped me to learn to swallow again, and my dentist is keeping on top of  my oral health. I choose not to take pain medication right now, but I know I can get help from the Palliative and Supportive Care team at Mercy Health if I need it.

Time each day goes so quickly. Sometimes I get mad if I sleep too long. There is so much still for me to do. I will join a gym so I can stay active when I can’t be outdoors.  I will continue to plant my garden. My husband and I will go somewhere warm in the winter for a break.

Yes, I have cancer, but I am continuing to live my life. I’m in full bloom and grateful that I’m here.

J. Stephen Ebrom, MD, Retiring After Long, Rewarding Career

J. Stephen Ebrom, MD, is retiring from the Mercy Health Department of Pathology, after a long, rewarding career.

Dr. Ebrom was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. His high school was Notre Dame school for Boys; he would take a bus for most of the journey, and then hitchhike the last mile to school! He remained a Chicagoan for both College and Medical school, attending Loyola University.

He learned a love for music from his father, and Dr. Ebrom learned to play the saxophone, playing in the Loyola Jazz band and even in some polka bands!

In 1979, he had an internal medicine residency in Grand Rapids, working at both Saint Mary’s and Blodgett Hospitals. After his residency was completed, he realized that his real interest was Anatomic Pathology, so he went to Boston to get his training. He then studied at the University of Connecticut under F. William Sunderman, Jr, who was nationally recognized as a major influencer in the field of Laboratory Medicine.

After completing his studies at U Conn, he worked for one year in New Jersey, and then in 1982 he moved back to Grand Rapids, a city that he had grown to love. He has served the patients and physicians of Saint Mary’s for 35 years. Dr. Ebrom says that he always remembers that he is “A physician first and a pathologist second, and people recognize that.”

Now that he is leaving the pathology department, he will look for ways to stay involved in teaching, both with younger students considering medical careers and with new physicians.

Steve and his wife Rosalind have been major supporters and very involved with the Saint Mary’s Foundation, and plan to continue that relationship. They have one son, Pierson, who has followed his father’s footsteps into a career in medicine.

Mercy Health thanks Dr. Ebrom for his many years of service and wishes him the best during his retirement.

November 2017 DAISY Award Recipient Anna Neveau, RN, 3 Lacks

Congratulations to the November 2017 DAISY Award recipient, Anna Neveau, RN, from Mercy Health Lacks Cancer Center. Neveau was nominated by the family of a patient and by D’Anna Springer, her clinical services manager. Neveau was honored with a celebration on her unit before her leaders and peers.

The following are excerpts from both of Neveau’s nomination forms:

“What can we say, Anna is amazing. We were overwhelmed with the diagnosis. It was so unexpected. Anna was with us through our three days at Mercy Health, and she calmed us and taught us so much. We feel confident going home to our new routine of managing diabetes. Thank you, Anna, for your support, care and knowledge!” – Family member of patient

“Anna was so patient, compassionate and dedicated to this patient and his family. As a diabetes champion on 3 Lacks, Anna made sure they fully understood everything they needed to know so the patient could safely manage his diabetes at home. Anna was so thorough that she even collaborated with the outpatient diabetes office to make sure the information she was providing about the patient’s glucose machine was accurate. She takes such great care of her patients and involves the family. She rocks!” – D’Anna Springer

Neveau’s commitment to supporting and educating patients can serve as an example for all Mercy Health colleagues that treating a medical diagnosis is a team effort.

To nominate a well-deserving nurse, click here.


“Never in This Alone.” Simulations of Real-life Medical Events Prepare Entire Units

Morgan LePoire speaks with “Bob” as part of the simulation directly in the 3 Lacks unit.

“Perform the role you normally do while at work” is the first instruction for 3 Lacks staff at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s as they begin a simulation exercise in which a manikin is “coding,” (having his heart stop).

Building on a successful simulation lab program of more than six years, comprehensive inpatient care teams are now performing simulated exercises right on their units at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, thanks to a two-year grant from Trinity Health. In September 2017, the Trinity Assurance LTD Grant began to fund I-PEACE, a project in which the simulation lab—which includes a manikin and other monitoring and tracking equipment— is transported directly to departments within Mercy Health Saint Mary’s.

I-PEACE, which stands for improving communication through Inter-professional Education Across Care Environments, will allow multidisciplinary teams an opportunity to improve collaboration, thereby improving patient outcomes.

At the bedside, inpatient teams perform simulated health care scenarios focused on specific conditions that the grant is focused on, such as:

  • Sepsis,
  • Chronic Obstructed Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and
  • Congestive Heart Failure (CHF).
LePoire checks the vitals of her patient Bob during a simulation exercise. LePoire is a newly graduated bedside nurse who works on 3 Lacks.

These simulations are planned for Hauenstein 2, Hauenstein 3, 3 Lacks and 8 Main, as these teams care for the largest number of patients with these conditions.

The I-PEACE team consists of:
Nursing leaders Kristy Perez, BSN, RN, CEN, Professional Development Specialist and Simulation Coordinator, and Vicki Swendroski, RN, Professional Development Specialist, Sepsis and Simulation and medical education leadership, such as John VanSchagen, Michael Bishop and Mark Spoolstra.

“Truly, if we can impact the quality of care for our patients through improved communications within the staff of the unit, that would be the ultimate goal,” said Swendroski. “With improved communications and preparedness, we hope to enhance the patient experience and improve quality of care.”


Other nurses and members of the Rapid Response Team rush in during the simulation while LePoire performs CPR on Bob.

Witness a Simulation:

During the simulation, newly graduated registered nurse Morgan LePoire is the bedside nurse on 3 Lacks assigned to care for the manikin, named Bob, who is a 71-year-old male. LaPoire acts as if the manikin is a real patient, talking to him and checking his vitals.

The patient and scenario might not be real, but the steps and processes are very real, as the “patient” stops breathing, and the Rapid Response team is called, the physician-on-call is paged, and all nurses rush to the scene to assist with the simulated code. Even the social worker on 3 Lacks checks in. Nurses and rapid responders take turns performing hands-only CPR and using the defibrillator to attempt resuscitation.

After the few minutes of simulation is over, the team debriefs to see what they learned. The I-PEACE Team evaluates how the team performed and gives honest feedback about how the unit responds to the exercise, and the teams share learnings with each other.

“You’re never in this alone,” explains Swendroski to the 3 Lacks staff, especially to LePoire, during the debriefing. “You always have your other team members for assistance and guidance.”

Vicki Swendroski leads the debriefing with the 3 Lacks staff after the simulation exercise.

Advice that LePoire takes to heart: “Going into the simulation, I was definitely overwhelmed, but as the simulation went on, I realized that I had a lot of resources. It was encouraging to see the multidisciplinary team there for the patient’s benefit, and we are all working toward the same goal of healing and helping.”

While the simulation exercise only lasts a few minutes, the positive effects of the experience will last a lifetime for clinical staff: “As a new nurse, I knew the experience would be beneficial, and having a safe space to make mistakes and ask questions opened up a lot of opportunities for growth in confidence and knowledge,” recalled LePoire.

Would LePoire recommend the experience to others? “Yes, I highly recommend having simulations on the unit because it made sure that I had familiar faces and used the resources that I have on a daily basis at work! Despite the nerves and a little anxiety during the simulation, I learned a lot and gained new resources.”

The next step for this project will be to move from working on transitions in care related to a change in condition to working with the team on discharge planning for patients with sepsis, COPD and CHF.




National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers Awards Three-Year Accreditation to Mercy Health Comprehensive Breast Center

Mercy Health’s Comprehensive Breast Center (CBC) in Grand Rapids has once again achieved Three-Year Full Accreditation from the American College of Surgeons, which acknowledges our commitment to providing the highest quality evaluation and management of our patients with breast disease. This is our second re-accreditation survey since 2011 and is based on compliance with 29 standards.

To give you an idea of what accreditation requires, our comprehensive breast center provides a single place where patients can receive the full continuum of breast care including screening mammography, diagnostic mammography, ultrasound and stereotactic biopsy and surgical evaluation, progressing to the more involved services as they advance along the care continuum. Navigation and patient resources, along with tumor conferences are in the same location, allowing for easier communication. Imaging and pathology are presented by breast focused specialists, operating suites are on the same floor, Mercy Health Lacks Cancer Center is connected to the main hospital, so that other areas can be accessed without going outside. The fifth floor healing environment includes our outdoor garden area for use in the warmer months and an indoor arboretum for colder months, with space for walking exercise. Care is provided by a complete team of physicians, nurses and allied health professionals whose credentials have all been verified.

Residents Use Improvisation Exercises to Enhance Communication Skills With Patients

Dr. John Cavacace leads an improv activity.

“We don’t always know the direction of our patient conversations,” said Justin Blaauwendraat, Family Medicine Service Chief Resident, Mercy Health Grand Rapids.

To help prepare our health care providers to navigate the direction of patient conversations, Mercy Health led 30 of its medical residents through several improvisation, or “improv,” exercises during the Medical Residency Fall Retreat for 2017.

Leading the exercises were established improv artist Debra Rockey, regional director of Organizational Development and Talent Management, Mercy Health, and Consultant Becky Cesario, Provider Development, along with several physician leaders.

Cesario regularly works with the Mercy Health Physician Partners offices on improvisation exercises as a way for clinical professionals to develop and enhance their non-clinical communications.

“When our clinicians walk into a room, they may know the patient’s medical history, but not what the patient is going to say or how the patient will react. Improv helps the provider roll with the unexpected and keeps the conversation moving forward in a positive manner,” said Cesario.

Performing improv was a very positive experience, according to the residents.

“Aside from all the laughs, I think the improv exercises challenged the residents to step outside their comfort zone and explore different ways of expression,” said Blaauwendraat. “It also made us realize the importance of being present in the moment and the role of active listening when engaging with our patients.”

Residents act out a conversation with “someone they haven’t seen in 20 years.”

Some of the activities included act as “if you just met someone on the street after not seeing them for 20 years,” and acting out a phone message without any words, performances that Blaaewendraat found useful.

“We don’t always know the direction the conversations we have with our patients is going to go, so learning a few basic skills that allow us to observe body language and pay close attention to the emotional context of our dialogue with patients will hopefully transfer to improved patient care and communication.”

Thanks to Rockey and Cesario for sharing their skills with our medical residents as they performed this wellness activity.

Epilepsy Patient Finalist in National Art Competition to Promote Brain Awareness Week

Kailey Russell, patient at Mercy Health Hauenstein Neurosciences, has a finalist entry in a national competition for artwork to promote Brain Awareness Week 2018.

Congratulations to Kailey Russell, 23, an epilepsy patient at the Hauenstein Center, who is a finalist in the 2018 Brain Awareness Week (BAW) sticker contest. The first-place design will represent Brain Awareness Week in March 2018 as the new art for the Brain Awareness Week sticker. BAW is the global campaign to increase public awareness of the progress and benefits of brain research.

According to Russell, her entry is a “modern take on the brain, with the brightened colors of the brain that would appeal to a variety of age groups,” and is one of only five entries up for public vote on the Brain Awareness Week website, open until November 30, 2017.



Kailey Russell’s entry for the Brain Awareness Week contest.



A Mercy Health patient since 2013, Russell has been participating in the monthly Art Therapy program for epilepsy for the past three years at Mercy Health. The Art Therapy Program grew out of Studio E Art Therapy Program, funded by the Epilepsy Foundation.

A talented artist and graphic designer by nature, Russell finds the art therapy group helpful to relate to others who may be undergoing the same issues she is facing.

“It’s been incredibly helpful, as much as my sister and boyfriend can be support for me, they just can’t understand everything I go through, where this art therapy group does,” Russell said. “It’s been nice to know that I am not alone.”


Kailey Russell with Bill, her boyfriend and emotional support dog, Shiloh.

Russell learned of the Brain Awareness Week sticker competition through Susan Woolner, CPXP, Neurosciences Patient Support & Community Partner Coordinator at Mercy Health. “She knows I have an interest in graphic design and in art and encouraged me to apply.”

Russell is excited about the competition. “It’s such an honor to even make it to this point. Using art has been incredibly helpful as you work through your problems and issues with having epilepsy.”

To vote on Russell’s entry, please click here>>

Everyone is invited to vote from November 7-30, and the top three designs will be announced on December 13.

Brain Awareness Week is celebrated locally at the Grand Rapids Public Museum each year. Partnering with Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, clinical experts from Mercy Health Hauenstein Neurosciences present a variety of topics to children about the importance of brain health, including:

Kailey Russell works on a holiday craft project in the Epilepsy Art Therapy Program. The program meets monthly, typically every fourth Friday afternoon at Mercy Health Hauenstein Center.
  • the need for sleep
  • strokes and
  • concussion awareness.

Mercy Health Muskegon Partners with Local and National Agencies to Raise Awareness About Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Invisible and odorless, carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning has proven to be a dangerous threat to American families with 400 people killed and 21,000 sent to emergency rooms due to unintentional poisonings every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children are at even greater risk, accounting for nearly a quarter of all CO-related calls to poison control centers in 2015.

To raise awareness about this issue and encourage families to be prepared, Safe Kids West Michigan – led by Mercy Health, has joined Fruitport Fire Department, Muskegon Fire Department, Muskegon Heights Fire Department, Norton Shores Fire Department, Safe Kids Worldwide, Kidde, the National Association of State Fire Marshalls and other experts to create a National CO Awareness movement.

“There’s a reason carbon monoxide is called the ‘invisible killer,’ and we want to make sure parents understand the risks,” said Holly Alway, injury prevention coordinator at Mercy Health. “With the winter months approaching, now’s the perfect time to make sure your alarms are all working so you can sleep peacefully at night.”

This marks the first year that these organizations have brought carbon monoxide awareness to light on a national scale, including a Senate resolution sponsored by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Hoeven (R-ND). The group of partners are also working together to share simple tips and tools for families, including:

  • Make sure there’s a working CO alarm on every level of your house and near every bedroom. Test them every month to make sure they’re working correctly, and replace them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • If you need to turn on your vehicle to warm it up, make sure to take it out of the garage right away. Even if the door is open, don’t leave it sitting in the garage while the engine’s running.
  • Check the vents for the dryer, furnace, stove and fireplace outside your home to make sure they’re clear of any snow or other debris.
  • If the CO alarm sounds, leave the house immediately. Call 911 or the fire department after you are in a location with fresh air. Remain outside or by an open window until emergency personnel arrive.

For more information about National CO Awareness, visit http://www.carbonmonoxideinfo.com.

Safe Kids West Michigan

Safe Kids West Michigan works to prevent unintentional childhood injury, the number one cause of death for children in the United States. Safe Kids West Michigan is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations dedicated to prevent­ing unintentional injury. Safe Kids West Michigan was founded in 2001 and is led by Mercy Health.  For more information, visit safekids.org or http://www.facebook.com/safekidswestmichigan