Mercy Health Paves Way for Other West Michigan Employers in Workforce Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Kevin Stotts, president, Talent 2025, with Chana Edmond-Verley, from Doug and Maria DeVos Foundation with Bill Manns, president, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s during a workshop discussing workplace diversity and equity. Mercy Health was asked by Talent 2025 to share its evidence-based hiring selection process with other organizations dedicated to increasing their hiring of diverse individuals.

“What should be important for us as a community, is when individuals come into your door, you start talking to them about their career path,” said Shana Welch, Executive Director of Talent Acquisition, Trinity Health Michigan Region, who addressed a group of West Michigan CEOs and hiring directors during a Talent 2025 workshop hosted by Mercy Health on May 31, 2018.

During the workshop focused on workforce diversity, equity and inclusion, Mercy Health presented its best practices, including its evidence-based hiring process (EBSP). By removing the implicit bias and using a set of measurable standards for all potential job candidates, Mercy Health has increased its diverse hiring from 18 to 38% over a period of three years.

Having experienced much success with workforce development, Mercy Health was asked by Talent 2025, a non-profit dedicated to the ongoing supply of world-class talent for West Michigan, to share the EBSP with other organizations in the community that are also dedicated to hiring diverse individuals.

“Taking a look at that person from day one and telling them ‘you belong here,’ …and helping them figure out what career numbers two and three will look like with you (as an organization) is key,” explained Welch to the group.

Welch, alongside Bill Manns, President, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, and Bill Guest, from Metrics Reporting, Inc., presented Mercy Health data on its hiring process. Also representing Mercy Health and its hiring practices on a panel were Talent Acquisition members Julie MacFarland, Akia Pierce and Krystine Noble, as well as the managers and directors who supervise colleagues, such as Stacie Strong, Kent Miller and Jill Good.

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Also in attendance were members representing the Doug and Maria DeVos Foundation, West Michigan Works!, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, just to name a few.

Thanks to the work of Talent 2025 for this workshop and our community partners and local employers that are also dedicated to workforce diversity, equity and inclusion.

“Best and Most Compassionate Doctor” Jamie Caughran Receives Brilliance Award

Jamie Caughran, MD, FACS

Described by one of her patients and nominator as the “best and most compassionate doctor I have ever encountered,” Jamie Caughran, MD, FACS, Medical Director of Oncologic Surgical Subspecialties, Comprehensive Breast Center in Grand Rapids, is honored with the Brilliance Award from West Michigan Woman under the category of Team Player. Caughran received the award on April 25, 2018, at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel during West Michigan Woman’s second annual Brilliance Awards ceremony.

West Michigan Woman describes the Brilliance Awards as an opportunity to “shine a light on the dynamic talent, spirit and intellect of local women; it celebrates the brilliant and meaningful impact they have on our careers and communities…The WMW Brilliance Awards recognizes those who tackle the issues facing professional women and blaze trails for the rest of us.”

Nominated by a patient, an excerpt of Caughran’s nomination form is below:

“There are so many things that make Dr. Jamie Caughran an amazing woman. She is the best and most compassionate doctor I’ve ever encountered. When I first met her, she took great care of me at that time, and I remember thinking, ‘I wish all doctors were like her.’ She listens to you, she empathizes with you and she is an amazingly talented surgeon. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, she navigated my family and me through this horrible experience with grace and compassion.

“I know firsthand how hard Jamie works to make the Comprehensive Breast Center the best in the state. She and her surgical partner Dr. Jessica Keto work tirelessly to make the breast center a place for women to feel cared for. As a result of her hard work and dedication, the Comprehensive Breast Center has won many awards and is sought out by many women from across Michigan.”

Congratulations to Caughran on her impact on her patients and women throughout Michigan. For more information on the Brilliance Awards, please click here:

“Best Friends of Nursing” – Entire Respiratory Therapy Team Named as Friends of Nursing for May 2018

Members of the Respiratory Therapy team were nominated as “Best Friends of Nursing” by several nurses from around Mercy Health Saint Mary’s and in turn, received the Friends of Nursing Award from nursing leadership.

Rather than simply listing an individual, Critical Care Nurse Kari Feringa and many others nominated an entire department, the respiratory therapy team, as Friends of Nursing. The Respiratory Therapy team was honored by nursing leadership at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s in May 2018. An excerpt from the nomination is below:

“I nominate our Respiratory Therapist patient care team, because to me they are the BEST FRIENDS of nursing.

“Our Respiratory Therapists, or RTS, are a vital part of the patient care team. Much of what they do is behind the scenes, and it’s this work that makes them an intricate and valued part of the team. From going on NICU transports from Mercy Health Muskegon to managing the ventilators on the Critical Care Unit, these little things add to their worth to make them a special and very important part of our patient care team.

The education they provide to staff, families and patients is invaluable. Our RTs want to make sure that the patient understands what’s going on with their care. When I am precepting a new nurse, I make a point to ensure they know who the RTs are, and the knowledge they have. They are always willing to help and be a part of the team!

“As nurses, we thank them for their role on our patient care team and commend the job they are doing, as we nurses couldn’t do ours without them! Keep up the great work, my RT friends!”

Lifestyle Improvements and Self-Care Help Both Go a Long Way in Preventing Disease

June is Men’s Health Month and Mercy Health would like to take this opportunity to encourage you to care for yourself, and your loved ones, by reminding you, or the men in your life, of the importance of taking the necessary steps to jump-start positive lifestyle changes that will improve all aspects of well-being:  body, mind and spirit.

Trying to “do it all” and “have it all” and the hyper competitive means some use to achieve those goals can leave many of us burned out physically, mentally and spiritually. So look upon self-care and well-being habits as investments in yourself – investments with a high rate of return in the form of a happier, healthier more productive you.

Lifestyle modification can consist of a variety of strategies such as healthier eating, exercise and physical activity, getting adequate sleep, reducing stress and spiritual fulfillment. However, it’s important to remember that no two men are the same and you should tailor whatever strategies you use to your own life and goals.

Ensuring that you get enough physical activity will go a long way toward improving your overall quality of life. Although the benefits of physical activity far outweigh the possibility of adverse outcomes, you should still start gradually and perform the types of physical activity that are appropriate for your current fitness level. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommends the following activities for adults:

  • Do at least 150 minutes (two hours and 30 minutes) per week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (one hour and 15 minutes) per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity.
  • Perform muscle-strengthening activities that are moderate or high intensity and involve all major muscle groups on two or more days a week.
  • Do activities that you enjoy, be it weightlifting, walking, yoga, swimming and biking because almost any exercise is helpful.

Men’s busy schedules can sometimes make it difficult to eat correctly. Proper nutrition is a key component of any strategy to live healthier. Keep these guidelines in mind when planning your meals:

  • Eat three meals a day. Meals should consist primarily of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts.
  • Control portion sizes. Take time to enjoy smaller amounts of food.
  • Limit foods high in salt, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and added sugar.
  • If you drink alcohol, drink it in moderation.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking enough water.

While it’s important to know the physical aspects of disease prevention, knowing how to maintain a healthier spirit is important as well. Keep these things in mind:

  • Remain optimistic. Research shows that happiness and a positive attitude are associated with lower rates of disease. Focus on your thoughts — stop negative ones and replace them with positive ones.
  • Control stress. Stress relievers like deep breathing and muscle relaxation exercises, and keeping a journal, can be helpful in controlling the impact stress has on your body.
  • Do everything in moderation. Don’t try to do too much at one time – make sure to have time for proper nutrition, sleep, work and play.
  • Create a network. Maintaining a close circle of family and friends can provide you with support when you need it.

Last, getting annual screening tests from your primary care physician (PCP) is vital to sustaining your health and helping prevent or control health conditions. Having a PCP who can coordinate your care is vital to your good health. If you don’t have a PCP, just visit your insurance carrier’s website, look for the “find a doctor” area and follow the instructions.

Mercy Health is committed to providing resources that promote well-being though body, mind and spirit and is dedicated to helping you live a healthy life.


Farm-to-Table: Helpful Questions to Ask at the Farmer’s Market

Liz Weber, RD, CNSC, provides guidance just in time for the summer on how to approach purchasing produce at farmers markets.

Who doesn’t love going to a farmer’s market on a Saturday morning and returning home with delicious local fruits and vegetables?

  • But are you sure they’re local?
  • Are you sure you got the best “bang for your buck” when it comes to cost, freshness and flavor?

Mercy Health Lacks Cancer Center Oncology Dietician Liz Weber, MS, RD, CNSC, says there’s no better way to find out everything you need to know about the produce (or meat) you’re buying at the farmer’s market than directly from the farmer.

“Don’t be shy. You can learn more about the produce by asking the farmer or vendor some of these questions to guide you to the best purchases of fruits and vegetables,” said Weber. What follows is her advice about asking questions when visiting a farmer’s market.

What is selling for the best price?

Have you come home from a farmer’s market with far too much produce and spent more money than you intended? If you’re working on a budget, ask the vendor which produce is selling for the best price. They’re running a business so they should give you a truthful answer.

When was the fruit or vegetable picked?

You want the freshest of the fresh produce. If it was harvested more than 48 hours ago, you may want to shop around and ask other farmers if they have harvested within the last 24 hours.

What produce are you spraying with pesticides or chemicals? Is this produce organic?

Have pesticides and/or chemicals been used on the produce? Does it matter to you if the food has been certified as organic? If so, ask. For example, you may gear more toward fruits or vegetables that don’t have edible skin if standard pesticides are used (e.g., bananas or oranges).

How can I cook this?

Variety in consumption of fruits and vegetables is key to great health. But often we’re hesitant to try something new — or perhaps we have no idea how to cook or prepare it. If you’re willing to try a new fruit or vegetable, ask the farmer how to prepare it.

Where is your farm located or are you a wholesale market?

Many of us shop at farmer’s markets because we love the idea of supporting local farmers and businesses. However, just because someone is standing behind a table selling produce, doesn’t always mean they’re a local farmer. Vendors can be just as knowledgeable, but some travel for larger wholesale companies selling other people’s produce, which does not equate to supporting local business.

Do you need an extra hand?

If you’re really eager to find out more about farming or how their farming is done, ask the farmer if he or she needs a free hand sometime. This may be an invaluable experience for truly understanding farm-to-table in West Michigan.


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We Welcome Three Deacons and Seminarian to Mercy Health Saint Mary’s for Summer Program

Seminarian and three deacons will spend ten weeks at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, serving our patients and colleagues. From left to right: Jacob McDaniel, Andrew Ayers, Michael Goodwin and Rob Mulderink.

For its fourth consecutive year, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s welcomes deacons and a seminarian as part of a ten-week summer program to minister to patients hospitalized at Mercy Health.

Andrew Ayers, Robert Mulderink and Michael Goodwin, all from the Grand Rapids Diocese, were ordained by Bishop David J. Walkowiak earlier in May to transitional deaconate, which is a major step toward ordination to the full priesthood. Participating alongside the deacons this summer is Jacob McDaniel, a seminarian from the diocese in Gary, Indiana.

As a significant part of their ongoing seminary formation, this ministry experience at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s will help prepare the deacons and the seminarian to become more effective pastoral ministers to the sick and dying as parish priests, as none has ever worked in a health care setting before.

“I’m looking forward to learning more about ministering and working with those who are hospitalized,” said Mulderink, whose home parish while growing up is St. Luke University Parish, in Allendale, Michigan. The other deacons and seminarians cited an increased comfort level working with those who are ill and suffering as a pivotal learning opportunity for them this summer.

This internship experience has proven to be a very positive experience for the participants, for the Mercy Health Saint Mary’s community, and for the Diocese’s seminary formation goals, according to Sister Myra Bergman, regional vice president of Mission Integration, Mercy Health.

Please welcome these four men to Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, who will be on campus from May 21, through July 27, 2018.

Congratulations to May 2018 DAISY Awardee, Tim Petersen, Nurse from Hauenstein 2

Tim Peterson, RN, who works on Hauenstein 2, was honored with a DAISY Award for May 2018 at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s by CNO Liz Murphy.

Tim Petersen, RN, from the Intensive Care Unit, Hauenstein 2, at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, was nominated for the DAISY Award by a patient’s family member from earlier in 2018. What made Petersen’s ceremony even more special was the presence of Barnes family, who founded the DAISY Foundation and DAISY Award. The Barnes family and their business partners were spending the entire Nurses Week 2018 traveling to hospitals across Michigan, and stopped at both Mercy Health Saint Mary’s and Mercy Health Muskegon. Below is an excerpt from Tim’s nomination form:

“When my mother was admitted to the ICU, things began to escalate quickly to where she was intubated at 4 a.m. Although everyone was helpful and comforting, Tim stood out. We were fortunate to have him as our night nurse for three nights in a row. Over that time, he repeatedly demonstrated knowledge, preparedness, attention to detail, quick response and empathy.

Tim flanked by DAISY Award Founders, Mark and Bonnie Barnes, DAISY Foundation business reps and Liz Murphy

“I truly felt that my mom was a priority and he was well-equipped to do it well. That is his job. He does it well. Beyond treating his patients with kindness, he made sure that as a family member, I knew what was happening. Anything he did, he filled me in and asked if I had any questions. When I did, he answered them simply and completely.

“When I thanked him in person, he humbly said, ‘I just treat you how I would want my family and me to be treated.’

“Tim is a most deserving candidate for the DAISY Award.”

Congratulations to Petersen and to the Intensive Care Unit!

Stroke Patients Now Have 24-Hour Window for Neurointervention Care at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s for Acute Stroke Treatment

Patients who experience acute strokes can now be treated through neurointervention treatment up to 24 hours after their last known well time at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, which includes the use of RAPID software. RAPID (Ischemaview) is a software package that helps clinicians determine if neurointervention is a viable option for that patient. This technology expands the window for neurointerventional treatment for acute strokes from six hours to 24 hours, based on updated clinical practice guidelines from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, released earlier in 2018.

Stephen Rupp, MD, Neurointerventional Radiologist, joins the Mercy Health Saint Mary’s team, allowing for 24/7 coverage.

Mercy Health Saint Mary’s has also announced 24/7 neurointerventional coverage, thanks to the addition of Stephen B. Rupp, MD, who joins Baljit Deol, MD. An interventional radiologist who is fellowship-trained in Interventional Radiology, Body Imaging-CT and Ultrasound, Rupp completed his residency in Diagnostic Radiology and earned his medical degree from Wayne State University. He has undergone additional training within neurointervention.

Rupp will be performing the following for acute stroke care with neurointerventional procedures:

  • Mechanical thrombectomies, which are the removal of blood clots from vessels,
  • Balloon angioplasties, where a balloon catheter is inflated inside of an artery to allow for more blood flow and
  • Intra-arterial treatment of vasospasm, which treats the sudden constriction of a blood vessel within an artery.

If clinicians have any questions about RAPID or the new process, please contact Amy Groenhout, Stroke/Neurointervention Nurse Navigator at or 616.685.5144.





Mercy Health Executive Chef Bryan Nader, CEC, Presents Delicious Summer Recipes

Quinoa Salad


2 cups, cooked quinoa

1 cup diced mango

½ cup diced red pepper

½ cup shelled edamame

1/3 cup chopped red onion

¼ cup coconut

¼ cup sliced toasted almonds

¼ cup raisins

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro


¼ cup balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp. lime juice

Zest of 1 lime

1 Tbsp. honey


  1. Combine quinoa, mango, red bell pepper, edamame, red onion, coconut, almonds and raisins in a large bowl.
  2. Mix ingredients for the dressing until combined. Pour over the quinoa mixture and stir to combine.
  3. Refrigerate until ready to use.


Watermelon and Feta Salad


1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 cup minced shallots

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

6 cups baby arugula

3 cups seedless watermelon, rind removed, and cut in 1-inch cubes

12 ounces feta cheese

1 cup (4 ounces) whole fresh mint leaves, julienned


Whisk together the orange juice, lemon juice, shallots, honey, salt, and pepper. Slowly pour in the olive oil, whisking constantly, to form an emulsion. If not using within an hour, store the vinaigrette covered in the refrigerator.

Place the arugula, watermelon, feta, and mint in a large bowl. Drizzle with enough vinaigrette to coat the greens lightly and toss well. Serve.


Strawberry Smoothie

1 cup apple juice
1 cup frozen strawberries
½ banana
1 cup Greek yogurt
½ cup ice

1. Place all ingredients into a blender and combine. Serve.


Mango Smoothie

2 cups orange juice
1 cup pineapple
1 banana
2 cups diced mango
½ cup Greek yogurt

Place all ingredients into a blender and combine. Serve.


Green Smoothie

½ banana
½ cup mango
½ cup frozen peaches
¼ cup apple juice
1 cup favorite green juice (V8 or Tropicana)
¼ cup strawberries
1 cup ice
½ cup Greek yogurt

Place all ingredients into a blender and combine. Serve.

Part Two: Someone Who Speaks Their Language

Mercy Health’s Language Services Provides Language Assistance for Every Patient in Every Setting

Editor’s note: Mercy Health News has developed a two-part series on the important work our certified interpreters provide to our patients and colleagues. (Read Part One)

Together with the advanced technology of Video Remote Interpretation (VRI) and access to 200 more vendor interpreters, Mercy Health’s Language Services team plays a key role in hundreds of patient encounters each week across West Michigan.

Mercy Health colleagues and patients rely on this dynamic team in various settings — from inpatient departments in hospitals to various outpatient settings, such as labs, pharmacies, urgent care facilities and Mercy Health Physician Partners (MHPP) offices.

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According to Damian Omness, regional manager of Language Services, the busiest inpatient and acute-care setting for his team is Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Hospital. However, the most requests for language assistance at an MHPP office come from Lakeshore Family Medicine in Shelby.

Of Mercy Health’s 1,300 medical staff physicians, only a relative handful (less than 30) is fluent in other languages that they also use in their practices. Elizabeth Tree-LeVasseur, MD, is an exception to the rule.

For 20 years, Tree-LeVasseur has incorporated her fluency with Spanish into her practice. As the only provider in Oceana County who delivers babies for mothers who live there, a large percentage of her pregnant patients come from the migrant population.

“I maintain an MHPP office in Whitehall and Shelby but deliver most babies at Mercy Health Hackley in Muskegon.” She is on call 24/7, except when she takes a vacation.

Tree-LeVasseur’s language skills are a huge draw to the seasonal worker population. “The importance of the work we are doing is that we are helping an entire population, including the underserved migrant workers and poor and people living in rural areas, so they may have access to quality health care.”

Unable to practice medicine and serve as interpreter for her medical colleagues along the lakeshore, Tree-LeVasseur speaks highly of the Language Services team:

“I’m the only doctor in our practice who speaks Spanish fluently, but I can’t attend every Spanish-speaking patient’s appointment with our other providers. It’s been great that Mercy Health steps up and provides that service for our patients.” (Read Dr. Tree-LeVasseur’s full story here)

MHPP Cardiovascular in Grand Rapids    

As cardiac director of Congestive Heart Failure at MHPP Cardiovascular, Roger Shammas, MD, FACC, relies on Language Services as much as 10 times per month for reliable communication with his patients. Because he deals with complex issues, two-way communication is essential.

“Being able to communicate with the patient and get a clear and concise history — and being able to explain to the patient everything from educational information to results of tests to setting up procedures in the hospital — is extremely important.”

Family members often attend appointments with non-English speaking patients, so they can hear what the interpreter is saying and later discuss what was said after the appointment. However, it takes a trained medical interpreter to help with complex communication and to obtain pre-procedural or pre-operative consent.

About 75 percent of Shammas’ patients who require language assistance are Spanish-speaking. When other languages are needed, his office depends on VRI technology.

Shammas relies on members of the Language Services team in both office and hospital settings, especially during procedures.

“It’s not uncommon to have interpreters with us during a heart catheterization, wearing lead aprons just like the physicians and nurses, as the interpreters explain to the patients what is happening.”

Interpreters make quality care possible for many patients who might otherwise be marginalized.

“Mercy Health’s mission is to treat all patients with respect and dignity, regardless of their circumstances. The Language Services team gives non-English speaking patients access to the same quality care as our patients who speak English,” said Shammas.

The bottom line: Shammas describes Language Services as “top-notch. They are very punctual, helpful and respectful to patients. I have never had a bad experience with them. The team is easy to work with, and I encourage all of my colleagues to utilize them.”

Mercy Health Urgent Care in Whitehall

On average, Sceone M. Kraai, PA-C — who works at Mercy Health Urgent Care, MHPP Lakeshore Medical in Whitehall, and also in Ludington — relies on Language Services twice a day.

“I can speak a little Spanish, but it’s not that great. I can usually say hello and ask the patient where their pain is and to open their mouth, but that’s about it.”

In the urgent care setting, Kraai typically sees acute patients with urinary tract infections, lacerations, sore throats or belly pain. “When we call for interpreters with acute-care patients, the team members come quickly. We don’t have to wait long.”

She also schedules visits with patients for regular follow-ups and annual physicals. In those cases, she plans ahead for an interpreter to attend the appointments, which gives her peace of mind.

“Without the help of the Language Services team, visits with many patients would be a disaster. We might misdiagnose patients or overlook things, and I’m sure that patients would be less happy.”

Kraai has been a physician’s assistant for 10 years and at Mercy Health for one year. In her previous work settings, she felt that visits took much longer when an interpreter was present. Not so with Mercy Health’s team.

“I’ve used other interpretive services before, and this one is the best. I don’t know why that is, but I can tell you that they’re professional, helpful and always available. Patients love them, and I’ve never had a complaint.”

Delivering expert medical care each year to thousands of patients whose first language in NOT English is possible thanks to Mercy Health’s dynamic team of 26 trained, tested and certified interpreters. Language Services is just one of many visible ways that Mercy Health remains true to its mission.