Divine Mercy Chapel Blessed by Bishop of Grand Rapids on Mercy Health Muskegon Campus

The Divine Mercy sculpture, created by Grand Rapids artist John Warner, in the narthex of the Divine Mercy Chapel

During a Rite of Blessing and Mass on October 29, 2018, Most Reverend David J. Walkowiak, Bishop of Grand Rapids, blessed the new Divine Mercy Chapel space, altar, and tabernacle in the new medical center on the Mercy Health Mercy Campus.

Approximately 75 people attended the invitation-only Chapel Blessing and Mass, including four major donors, Robert L. and Donna J. Chandonnet and John and Kathleen Workman. The fifth donor, Deborah DeVoursney was unable to attend. Several Sisters of Mercy, including Sr. Naomi Holysko, former president of Mercy Health, were present, as well as Trinity Health Michigan’s CEO, Rob Casalou, and members of Mercy Health Muskegon’s board, senior leadership team, and Mission Services Committee.

Bishop Walkowiak saying Mass

The Rite of Blessing always occurs within the context of a Roman Catholic mass and includes formal rituals for blessing the space, altar and tabernacle. A Roman Catholic church or chapel may only be blessed by a Bishop. Early in the Mass, Bishop Walkowiak sprinkled the people with holy water as a sign of repentance and as a reminder of their baptism, and to purify the walls of the new chapel.

Immediately before the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the Bishop offered a series of prayers to bless the altar. Three Mercy Health colleagues — Sister Myra Bergman, RSM; Christopher Marquart, MD; and Cindy Schulist, RN — then prepared the altar, dressing it for the first time with an ivory linen altar cloth, placing white orchids at its base, and adorning it with candles, symbolizing the light of Christ.

After communion, the Bishop, assisted by two deacons, inaugurated the tabernacle, blessing it as a sacred sanctuary for the reservation of the holy Eucharist, which is brought daily to the sick by Mercy Health’s Eucharistic Ministers.

Jack Morris, DO, Named Medical Director of Surgery for Mercy Health Saint Mary’s

John (Jack) Morris, DO, vascular surgeon, has been named as the medical director of Surgery for Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, effective October 1, 2018. This followed a search process conducted by medical staff leaders, administration and staff in surgical services.

In the medical director role, Morris will collaborate with Laurie Bergfeld, clinical service director, and Chip Rosenbaum, medical director of anesthesia at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s to improve clinical quality, patient satisfaction and efficient operations of surgical services. In addition, he will coordinate activities with the elected Service Chiefs of the Surgical Specialties.

As a leading vascular surgeon at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, Morris has also served on both the Affinia Health Network Board and the Mercy Health Physician Partners Board. He is currently the medical director of the Saint Mary’s Wound Care Center where he has been instrumental in developing the hyperbaric oxygen treatment program.

Mercy Health Prepares for Phase 1 Opening of New Medical Center in Muskegon

Mercy Health Muskegon new medical center main entrance

Just two years since breaking ground on the $291 million, 10-story, 267-bed medical center, Mercy Health is nearing the completion of the first of three phases on the Mercy Campus at 1500 East Sherman Boulevard in Muskegon. Opening in mid-November are the surgical suites, main lobby, chapel, coffee shop, Gift Shoppe and the Fazakerley Family Emergency Center.

Mercy Health colleagues and early campaign supporters were invited to tour the space at a private open house on Oct. 29. Additionally, the Most Reverend David J. Walkowiak, Bishop of Grand Rapids, blessed the Catholic health ministry’s new Divine Mercy Chapel. In keeping with its faith-based mission to heal mind, body and spirit, the Chapel will offer people of all faith traditions a dedicated space where they can experience the merciful and healing love of Jesus.

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“This milestone represents years of careful design, logistical planning and collaboration that will create the highest-quality patient care experience for the Muskegon community,” said Gary Allore, president of Mercy Health Muskegon. “The patient remained at the center of every feature designed for the new medical center and now we’re finally able to see those aspects come to fruition.”

The new tower is set to open in three phases: Phase one is the most intricate, involving two of the hospital’s critically important departments – Emergency Medicine and Surgical Intervention. Phase two will open in the spring, with the third and final phase following in late 2019. This phase will include completion of the 10-story medical tower and renovation of the existing structure. During all phases of construction, the Mercy Campus remains open for emergency care, surgery, inpatient and additional health care services.

The Hackley Campus remains open and fully functional, and will continue to operate as the community’s main trauma center until late 2019 when all hospital services will move to the Mercy Campus. “If patients are experiencing an emergency, they should dial 911 and allow our experienced EMS colleagues to determine where their treatment should be performed,” said Tom Schmiedeknecht, president of ProMed.

When complete, the system’s health care model will be transformed through a new and unique, 74-bed Universal Care Unit. The Universal Care Unit is a patient-centered care model that will provide private rooms for outpatients who do not require inpatient hospitalization but who need care for several hours.

“At Mercy Health, our goal is to offer the most compassionate, personalized and accessible high-quality health care for the Muskegon community,” said Frank Bednarek, board chairperson for Mercy Health in Muskegon. “Coming together in this new space is certainly a milestone to celebrate.”

In 2017, Mercy Health announced adding a tenth floor (the project originally called for nine) for future use as a medical/surgical floor and to create additional bed capacity to accommodate increasing patient volumes. The venture was made possible through an investment by Mercy Health’s parent organization, Trinity Health, which is the second-largest Catholic health care system in the United States.

At the groundbreaking ceremony in 2016, a significant philanthropic campaign effort was announced. The “imagine. build. TRANSFORM” campaign is seeking to secure $12.5 million to support the new medical center. “Through the generosity of our early campaign supporters, to date, we have secured more than $10.6 million in gifts and pledges, and are well on our way to meeting our goal,” said Claudine Weber, chief philanthropy officer for Mercy Health Muskegon.

“As a not-for-profit health care organization, Mercy Health’s medical teams stand ready to provide life-saving care 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year—for every person in our community, regardless of their ability to pay. This is why my wife Christine and I are proud to support this campaign,” said Mark Fazakerley, co-owner of Eagle Alloy, Inc., board member and Philanthropy Council chair. The Fazakerley’s lead gift helped build the new facility and the Fazakerley Family Emergency Center is named in their honor.

The public campaign rollout phase will be announced in mid-November and will run through 2019.

Reluctant Patient Grateful for New Technology

Retired deputy sheriff Kevin Patrick is an advocate for early detection of prostate cancer

Western medicine doesn’t hold much appeal to Kevin Patrick, 55, so he never scheduled regular checkups. As a deputy sheriff working in corrections, he has always tried to stay fit and eat healthy, and only went to see his doctor when something was wrong. Three years ago, though, Kevin thought he might need to be screened for prostate cancer because his father had it.

“I was visiting my doctor, and he asked if I had prostate cancer in my family,” Kevin recalls. “When I said yes, he wanted to examine my prostate, even though he was younger than the age recommended by national guidelines.


“At that point I wasn’t aware of how doctors examine the prostate, so when my doctor started to get ready and explained how it’s done, I said, ‘You know, let’s wait until I’m the age the guidelines recommend a first checkup.'”

A year later, Kevin returned for his regular checkup and had a prostate exam. The exam went fine.

“What troubled my doctor were the numbers from my blood test. He said they were higher from the previous year, so he sent me to urologist Dr. David Thompson.”

David Thompson, MD, wasn’t concerned about Kevin based on the prostate exam he conducted, but he was concerned about the results of Kevin’s blood test. Dr. Thompson performed a prostate biopsy, which confirmed prostate cancer.

A diagnosis of cancer can be alarming and life-changing, yet Kevin’s reaction was inspiring. “I’m a Christian, so even when I was diagnosed with cancer, I wasn’t afraid to die. I just appreciate life more now. There are conflicts I still want to resolve, things I want to say to people, and things I want to accomplish.”

After monitoring Kevin’s cancer for a while and discussing various treatment options, Dr. Thompson  referred Kevin to Mercy Health radiation oncologist James Kane, MD. Kevin chose treatment with CyberKnife, which delivers high doses of radiation to the prostate with pinpoint accuracy. It targets only the prostate, sparing nearby normal tissues.

“This new technology, CyberKnife, is a better option than most that I was aware of in the past. I don’t like the name, though. I want people to know that there is no surgery or use of a knife. CyberKnife is unobtrusive. You’re in and out of treatment in less time than it takes to go through a fast-food, drive-through window.”

Due to Kevin’s early detection, he only had five treatments with CyberKnife. He also agreed to proceed with SpaceOAR placement, a special hydrogel that spares tissue during radiation treatment and helps to reduce the side effects of the treatment.

“Modern technology has been a blessing for me, but I give God the credit for creating it and making it possible to help heal diseases like cancer.”

Kevin underwent CyberKnife treatment at Mercy Health Lacks Cancer Center’s Radiation Oncology unit. “Every person I met at Mercy Health wanted to help. From the doctors and nurses to the receptionists and technicians, I found people to be courteous and friendly. They seemed genuinely concerned.”

After retiring from the sheriff’s job before diagnosis, Patrick began working another job, which he soon left after the news from Dr. Thompson.

“After my diagnosis, I asked myself: ‘What’s more important, money or time?’ By retiring for good, I enjoy life and appreciate it more. I feel like I have a long life to go, work to do, and service to serve.”

Along with maintaining a healthy lifestyle, Kevin passionately offers this message to all men: “If you get screened for prostate cancer and catch it early, you’ll have less invasive treatment options.”



Live Healthier and Lower Your Risk for Type 2 Diabetes

Did you know that by simply living a healthier lifestyle, you could dramatically reduce the possibility of developing type 2 diabetes?

In fact, recent studies by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) report that by engaging in physical activity, eating a healthier diet, maintaining an appropriate body weight, limiting alcohol consumption and not smoking you can cut your risk of diabetes by as much as 80 percent.

November is American Diabetes Month, and Mercy Health would like to take this opportunity to encourage you to care for yourself, and your loved ones, by reminding you of the importance of preventive care.

NIH studies show that having a body weight appropriate for your height and age by itself reduced the risk of developing diabetes by 60 to 70 percent. Eating a healthier diet reduced the risk by about 15 percent and not smoking lowered the risk by about 20 percent.

Here are some tips from the NIH and the National Diabetes Education Program to help you make gradual lifestyle changes that can help you prevent type 2 diabetes:

If you are overweight, set a weight loss goal you can meet (check with your doctor before starting any weight loss plan).

  • Aim to lose about 5 to 7 percent of your current weight and keep it off.
  • Keep track of your daily food intake and physical activity in a logbook and review it daily.
  • For support, invite family and friends to get involved.

Make healthier food choices every day.

  • Keep healthier snacks, such as fruit and vegetables, at home and at work.
  • Pack healthier lunches for you and your family.
  • Choose low-fat dairy products.
  • Eat whole-grain cereals, breads, crackers, brown rice, pasta or oatmeal.
  • Select lean meats and poultry.
  • Choose more fish, beans, peas, nuts and seeds as protein sources.

Strive to become more physically active. It’s easy to build physical activity into your day:

  • Take a brisk walk during lunchtime.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator or park farther away from your office.
  • Join a community program like the YMCA as a family and choose activities that everyone can enjoy.

Restrict alcohol consumption. Your risk of developing type 2 diabetes rises with an increase in alcohol consumption. Limit yourself to no more than one drink a day.

If you smoke, quit (and don’t quit quitting). Smokefree.gov offers some great tips and a step-by-step guide on how to begin.

Be sure to embrace a healthy spirit. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), high levels of stress can have negative effects on your blood sugar levels. That’s why it’s important to practice good relaxation techniques. The ADA recommends the following:

  • Breathing exercises: Sit or lie down and uncross your legs and arms. Take in a deep breath. Then push out as much air as you can then relax your muscles. Do these exercises for a minimum of five minutes at least once a day.
  • Replace negative thoughts with positive ones: If a negative thought is going through your mind, replace it with something that makes you happy or peaceful. You may also visualize a favorite nature scene to lessen anxiety and promote more serenity.
  • Last, but not least, getting annual physicals and tests from your doctor is key in sustaining your health and helping prevent diseases like diabetes. Having a primary care physician (PCP) who can coordinate your care is vital to your good health. A PCP typically specializes in Family Medicine, Internal Medicine or General Practice.
  • If you don’t have a PCP, finding one is easy! 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.

Look to Mercy Health Physician Partners to find a provider here>>

Trinity Health is a Catholic health care facility that is firmly committed to maintaining fidelity to its Catholic identity by closely conforming to the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (ERDs).

Smokefree.gov and the links it provides are independent sites and have no obligation to provide information that is always congruent with the ERDs. Trinity Health cannot guarantee their content and ask your discretion when using information from this site.

Providing Remarkable Care and Flu Vaccines to Those in Transitional Housing

Mercy Health Heartside Health Center colleague Jen Amos administers a flu shot to Joe, a current resident at Mel Trotter Ministries.

When you think of a typical flu clinic, you may envision it hosted in a community hall or a doctor’s office.

But for people who are currently residing in three transitional housing facilities in Grand Rapids, the staff of Mercy Health Heartside Health Center come to them to provide influenza vaccination clinics. Partnering with local schools of nursing, University of Detroit Mercy and Calvin College, each fall Heartside colleagues provide free flu vaccines to dozens of residents at Exodus Place, Degage Ministries and Mel Trotter Ministries. This proactive approach ensures that these residents who face additional barriers, like reliable transportation or access to health care, can still receive an annual flu vaccine.

“We just love getting out in the community and meeting patients where they live,” said Jen Amos, LPN, clinical lead at Mercy Health Heartside Health Center. “The annual flu clinic gives us a chance to not only provide them with a flu shot, but it also gives us a chance to assist those in transitional housing with other health care needs.”

A provider from Heartside is on hand during each flu clinic to answer questions the residents may have. Other Heartside colleagues, like the client service coordinators, Mindy Farrish and Salman Shafi, help with financial assistance and help connect residents to needed services and resources.

The practice of onsite flu clinics at Degage Ministries, Exodus Place and Mel Trotter has been a long-standing tradition, dating back several years.

“It’s really great to help with this community need,” said Amos. “Helping this patient population is truly at the heart of our mission, and it lets our community know we care about them.”

Make sure to get your flu shot this year by visiting your primary care office or your pharmacy. To help support the great work of Mercy Health Heartside Health Center, please visit www.saintmarysfoundationgr.com.

“Nothing Short of Extraordinary Experience” for 17 Cohort 11 RN Residents at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s

Mercy Health Saint Mary’s RN Cohort 11 Graduates

To celebrate the year-long residency of newly hired registered nurses, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s 11th Cohort presented its evidence-based practice projects to members of Senior Leadership, Nursing Leadership and other nurses at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s on October 16, 2018.

For more than three years, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, and more recently, Mercy Health Muskegon and Mercy Health Physician Partners, have worked with newly hired registered nurses during their first year on the job to promote learning in a safe environment, where other new nurses may have similar questions and experiences.

“My experience in the residency program has been nothing short of extraordinary,” said Claire Spoelhof, RN, a Cohort 11 graduate who works on Hauenstein 3. “Learning from this organization has been a blessing and has shaped me into the nurse I became in my first year. I am looking forward to seeing how Mercy Health Saint Mary’s continues to shape me in my future practice.”

Another Cohort 11 grad from 4 Lacks, Kaylee Case, realized how daunting it is to work as a first-year nurse, until she came to join the program: “From the very beginning of my orientation, I remember distinctly thinking: ‘How am I possibly going to learn, remember, and implement all of the tasks that are expected of me?” As I watched many of the seasoned nurses on my floor advocate for their patients, collaborate with doctors and other staff, and expertly perform skills, I felt that I had an almost insurmountable amount of things to learn. Yet, I found that through the residency this first year I have been thoroughly prepared through expert nurses on 4 Lacks, through classes on topics I was to see commonly in practice, and through ample practical skill training.”

RN Residents in Cohort 11 represented eight different units and departments throughout Mercy Health Saint Mary’s. The new nurses within each unit worked together on their evidence-based projects that relate to their specific patient and staff needs for their department.

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Residents in Cohort 11:

Birth Center

  • Elise Veurink

Psych Med Unit

  • Becca Waligorski

7 Main

  • Rachel Hoegmoed
  • Amy Owens
  • Mariana Perez

8 Main

  • Yawa Chokpellah
  • Haley Stroven

4 Lacks

  • Kaylee Case
  • Jessica Nequist
  • Katelyn O’Hagan
  • Anna Streng


  • Leslie Rauschert

Hauenstein 2

  • Alison Tran

Hauenstein 3

  • Kathryn Mannes
  • Cecilia Mendoza-Jeronimo
  • Claire Spoelhof
  • Megan Wiltsie

To learn more about becoming a nurse at Mercy Health, please visit http://www.mercyhealth.com/careers.

“Godsend” to Patient, Friend of Nursing Award Recipient, Johari Curry

Johari Curry, Radiology, is surprised by CNO Liz Murphy as the Friend of Nursing Award Honoree in the fall of 2018.

As the registrar for Radiology at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s downtown campus, Johari Curry encounters and helps numerous patients, often those who are sick or not feeling well, coming for tests each day at the hospital.

Curry is noted for her exceptional service that she provided to a colleague’s husband. The colleague nominated her for a Friend of Nursing Award, which she received on October 8, 2018:

“My husband was scheduled for a stress test over the summer.  He is not well and has many health issues.  This was the second attempt to get his test done. The first was at another hospital system and not able to be performed due to a lack of communication between the cardiology office at and the radiology department at the other system. This time, we requested the test to be done at Mercy Health.  When we arrived, Johari informed me the test was canceled by mistake by the other system’s employee at the cardiology department.

Johari Curry signs the Friend of Nursing Award banner.

“It was really difficult to get my husband here to complete the test because he felt so weak and tired.  Johari was extremely helpful!  She made phone calls to those in her department who could help get him in for his test.  She also spoke with the other system’s cardiology office to let them know of the error.

“I can’t tell you what a Godsend Johari was that morning.  She went so far beyond expectations to assure we were well taken care of.  I am so thankful I work for Mercy Health where staff does all they can for our customers.”

Congratulations to Curry, who was selected by the Work Environment Council of nurses.




Fifty Years Later, Nurses Continue to Fondly Recall their Days at Hackley Hospital School of Nursing

It was 50 years ago — when 33 women from the 1968 graduating class of the Hackley Hospital School of Nursing celebrated their achievement of becoming nurses.

Fifty young women began the three-year program, but only 35 graduated in 1968, indicating how challenging the program was for its time. And a notable achievement it was. These nurses could stand tall because their coursework, clinical training and weekend duties more than prepared them for the work they were about to encounter.

Five decades later, in September 2018, 33 of the original 35 graduates from that class gathered in Muskegon for a 50 Year Anniversary celebrating an event that seems like a lifetime ago. Long gone is the home for student nurses next to the hospital, where these ladies lived during their training, but their recollections were clear as they shared memories from some of the best years of their lives.

Hackley Hospital Nursing pin

These student nurses received “room, board and laundry service” along with their training, and practically ran the hospital on weekends. There was plenty to keep them busy. They enjoyed monthly teas, looked forward to their half-way ceremony and even formed a choir. At Christmastime, they recalled the “Hanging of the Greens,” but nothing could outweigh the importance of their “Capping Ceremony.”

These nurses came to Muskegon from far and wide for their reunion: North Carolina, the Upper Peninsula, Florida, Nebraska and even Grand Rapids. Although the Hackley Hospital School of Nursing closed in 1982, it re-emerged as Muskegon Community College’s Associates Degree of Nursing in the same year.

Kim Maguire, CNO, expressed her admiration for these nursing trailblazers: “It was an honor to meet and speak with these nurses and give them a tour of Hackley today. It was touching to hear them speak so fondly of their time here. What a wonderful legacy they are for this institution.”

The leadership of Mercy Health Muskegon thanks House Supervisor Malinda Simons and Will Hignite, from staffing, who assisted in the tours. And special thanks go to all of the nurses working that day who took a moment to speak with our honored guests.

Mercy Health New Medical Center: Designed for Accessibility and Convenience

The Mercy Health Muskegon new medical center was designed to allow patients, their family members, our colleagues and volunteers the accessibility needed to safely visit our campus. As part of the community education and outreach prior to the new medical center opening, members of Mercy Health leadership have been visiting various groups to help explain ways in which the new $291M project will have a positive impact on their health care.”We want to take every opportunity we can to keep our community informed about medical center transition, job opportunities and all the great work happening at Mercy Health Muskegon,” said Gary Allore, president of Mercy Health Muskegon.

Last month, Allore along with Lon Morrisson, senior director of facilities and capital projects, held a Town Hall presentation for The Arc – an organization in West Michigan dedicated to serving the intellectually and physically disabled population. The format of the Town Hall included a short presentation, but focused on offering the majority of time for open dialogue. The clients of the Arc were interested in how the new facility was designed with the disabled in mind.

 Accessibility design features of the new medical center include:
  • Two entry points – one main entrance and one emergency entrance
  • Heated sidewalks to provide a safe entry and exit
  • Wheelchairs available onsite
  • Complimentary valet service
  • 24/7 Security escorts

Allore and Morrisson also explained the medical services available at Mercy Health that cater to all different types of patients, such as:

  • The Mercy Health Community Health Project and Community Health Workers who provide referrals for specialty medical services
  • Mercy Health Durable Medical Equipment (DME)
  • Mercy Life Counseling
  • Mercy Health Rehab Services

Additionally, Mercy Health has an experienced Translation Services team to assist the deaf, blind and/or visually impaired with navigating our campuses. The team also works with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to provide interpreters when needed.

Of the persons who attended the Mercy Health Town Hall at The Arc, 100 percent said they would recommend the presentation to other groups interested in learning more about health care in Muskegon.

“We appreciated Mercy Health’s quick response to our invitation to present. The Arc looks forward to further collaboration in the future,” said Margaret O’Toole, executive director of The Arc. “Accessible and high quality health care is paramount to a higher quality of life for people with developmental disabilities.”

If your organization is interested in hosting a Community Ton Hall, please contact Erin Patrick, regional manager of public relations and communications: Erin.Patrick@mercyhealth.com.

For more information on Mercy Health and patient accessibility, click here.