Twelve Years and Counting!

Patient Shares Keys to His Long-term Success with Bariatric Surgery

At 165 pounds, Marvin Dunbar, 52, is thrilled to be half the man he used to be.

That’s because he describes being morbidly obese like being in prison. “You’re looking out through your eyes but you can’t do what you want to do. Bariatric surgery opened up life for me. To this day, I carry my picture from ‘before’. I keep it at work too. People still can’t believe that’s me.”

At more than 300 pounds, Marvin was trapped in his overweight body, a condition he struggled with his entire life, except for his time in the Army. “As a child, I was referred to as ‘stocky’ or ‘husky,'” he said.

“I tried everything: low-carb diets, Weight Watchers and other diets that counted points. When I added it up, I had lost and gained three of me — over 900 pounds over the years! When I landed back at about 308 pounds, I gave up,” Marvin shared.

His Tipping Point

At age 32, Marvin was overweight and even had a heart issue. But his tipping point came that fall when he went to deer hunting camp.

On the first day of deer season it snowed, and Marvin got up before daylight and went alone to the place where he liked to hunt, which is a 35 to 40 minute walk from the camp.

“I woke up in the middle of the woods, passed out and covered in snow,” Marvin said. “I got up, picked up my rifle, walked back to my truck and drove home.” That was November 15, 2004.

“I knew there had to be something out there for me, or I wasn’t going to live long. I was sitting in Dr. Brian Gluck’s seminar the very next class.”

Marvin had plenty of red flags beyond his weight — co-morbidities — such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, borderline diabetes, a heart issue and significant joint pain.

“I had a lovely wife, daughter and son. I was worried that I wouldn’t see my son graduate,” Marvin admitted.

He Did His Research

“I didn’t end up at Dr. Gluck’s office because he offered a free seminar. I did my research. I chose Dr. Gluck because I looked at his success rates. He is the best, and his team is second to none,” Marvin asserted.

Gluck’s team helped him understand that you have to make a commitment to follow through after surgery. “They taught me about my body and about the process it would be going through.”

Marvin had Roux-En-Y Gastric Bypass surgery, which restricts the amount of food he can eat. “To this day I don’t get hungry. I have to remind myself to eat.”

The Key to His Success

Dr. Brian Gluck

Long-term success following bariatric surgery is all about a patient’s mindset, Marin insists.

“You need to remember that surgery is a tool, it’s not a cure. Being obese is like being an alcoholic. It doesn’t go away. You have to stay with the program outlined by Dr. Gluck and his team.”

Identifying food triggers is key. “I had to figure out what my triggers were and what helps me to deal with them. For me, one trigger is carbohydrates, like breads and donuts. To this day, it’s that way. I am also a stress eater,” he explained.

“Marv knew early on that he had to stick with the program guidelines to maintain lifelong success. He has been a model patient with his compliance and mindset about the necessary lifestyle changes,” said Brian Gluck, DO, FACOS, FASMBS.

Marvin eats several small, high-protein meals a day. He doesn’t shy away from eating out, but when he does, he makes smart choices. “At a buffet, I go for the protein and a salad or vegetables. I eat slowly, and I always bring a doggie bag home.”

Encouraging Others

Marvin often speaks at Dr. Gluck’s bariatric seminars, which he says will help to remove any fears or barriers concerning surgery that potential bariatric patients may have. He is also a big fan of the entire bariatric team.

“Dr. Gluck’s team has been put together so carefully. They recognize each patient by name. They call you back if you need questions answered. Dr. Gluck and his team support their patients before and after surgery, such as his group that went to DUNEiversity.

To support other bariatric patients, Marvin sometimes does the same two-week liquid fast at the same time that Dr. Gluck’s patients are doing it to prepare for surgery. “I often go up to the unit in the hospital to visit patients who have been through bariatric surgery to offer my encouragement to them too,” he said.

“We appreciate Marvin’s willingness to share his path and journey since he made the decision to have weight-loss surgery. He presents as a terrific example and a valuable resource/mentor for interested patients,” added Gluck.

In the future, Marvin believes that a support group would benefit patients. “It would be great to have a small support group with people who have been on the journey for years out and also include new people.”

Lasting Benefits

Marvin has always been active, and he walks a lot at work, but now he is out and about in news ways. For example, he has participated in bicycle races, with his best result being 50 miles in 3 hours.

Last summer, Marvin and his wife completed a roundtrip journey from Michigan to Yellowstone Park on his motorcycle. “Before surgery, I wouldn’t have been able to ride my Harley with my wife hundreds of miles each day like we did on that trip.”

He has also been rock climbing and bungee jumping, two activities that were out of reach before. Marvin also credits his weight loss for his ability to go on mission trips in Nicaragua.

Other benefits have been social and emotional. “You feel more attractive, and it boosts your ego for everything in life. I also have more energy. My life has improved a hundredfold.”

Maintaining Good Prenatal Care Key to Healthy Pregnancy

Are you, or someone you know, expecting or planning to get pregnant? If so, it’s important to remember that having a healthy pregnancy is one of the best ways to have a healthy baby. Getting early and regular prenatal care improves the chances of a healthy pregnancy.

It is essential to maintain regular medical care during pregnancy (including regular check-ups and prenatal testing).

Most women visit their health care providers once a month for the first 28 weeks and then every two to three weeks until week 37. After that, you will most likely have weekly appointments until the baby is born. However, the schedule may vary depending on the preferences of your individual health care provider and medical needs.

Prenatal visits with your health care provider may include:

  • Review of medical history
  • Completion of various blood tests, urine analysis and lab work
  • Taking your blood pressure and listening to the baby’s heartbeat
  • Suggestions for a nutritional plan, including prenatal vitamins
  • Developing an exercise strategy

Good prenatal care can help keep you and your baby healthy, as well as alert your health care provider of any potential health concerns. Early detection and treatment can remedy many problems and prevent others. Contact your health plan to see if they have any special programs for expectant mothers.

Additionally, the Live Your Whole Life initiative offers Journeys that guide you in having a healthy pregnancy. Journey modules include:

  • Plan Well for a Well Child
  • Trimester 1: Get a Healthy Start
  • Trimester 2: Grow Better Habits
  • Trimester 3: Get Ready for Baby

Mercy Health is committed to helping you live a healthy life by nurturing well-being through body, mind and spirit.

Mercy Health Muskegon DAISY Award Recipient Mari Jean Mollett

The most recent Mercy Health Muskegon DAISY Award recipient is Mari Jean Mollett, RN, from the Hackley Floats Department.  Mari Jean was nominated by a colleague and patient’s family member.

“Mari Jean was my father-in-laws nurse during his stay after knee replacement.  She was extremely kind and caring. She assisted with Meds to Go, so we didn’t have to make an additional trip on our way home. The day of his discharge was horrible weather so my mother-in-law was unable to drive to pick him up. Mari Jean arranged for my father-in-law to be in the lobby when we arrive so we didn’t have to park and enter the building. It was very seamless, and I appreciate her willingness and helpfulness to go above and beyond on his discharge.”

Mari Jean was honored with a surprise celebration on the North 3 unit before her leaders and fellow colleagues. Congratulations Mari Jean!

Mercy Health Prepares for Opening of Second Phase of 10-story Medical Center on May 4

View heading into the new medical center at Mercy Health, taken in April 2019.

The Intermediate, Intensive Care and Medical/Surgical Units – all part of the second phase of the $291 million, 10-story medical center on the Mercy Campus – will open on May 4, 2019. Throughout that day, current inpatients will be transferred internally from the existing building into the new units on levels five through nine of the new tower.

A significant feature of this phase is private patient rooms, designed with patient comfort and safety in mind.

“These comfortable rooms will have enough space for the patient, the medical staff, the family, and state-of-the-art technology to come to the bedside,” said F. Remington Sprague, MD, chief medical officer of Mercy Health Muskegon. “Each room features more monitoring equipment and patient lifts, as well as a view of the outdoors through windows that let in plenty of natural light.”

View into a private patient room in the new medical center.

Patient rooms also feature pass-through cabinets, accessible from the outside of the room, which allow staff to restock supplies and remove linens and meal trays without entering the room and disrupting the patient.

A warm and inviting space welcomes loved ones in the new medical center.

The patient move on May 4 will allow for the renovation of the existing structure, which will be completed in the third and final phase of the medical center in spring of 2020. The first phase of the new tower opened in December 2018 and included the surgical suites, main lobby, chapel, coffee shop, Gift Shoppe and the Fazakerley Family Emergency Center.

During all phases of construction, the Mercy Campus remains open for emergency care, surgery, inpatient and additional health care services. The Hackley Campus also remains open and fully functional, and will continue to operate as the community’s main trauma center until spring 2020 when all hospital services will move to the Mercy Campus. If patients are experiencing an emergency, they should dial 911 and allow EMS providers to determine where their treatment should be performed.

Learn more about the new Mercy Health medical center at

Surprised by Hope

An Easter Reflection by Jennifer Haworth, PhD, MDiv

Director, Mission Integration, Mercy Health Muskegon

When were you last surprised by an encounter with hope?

My visit occurred a few weeks ago, when I was rounding as a Eucharistic Minister on our patients. Eager to head home at the end of a long week, I knocked on the door of the last patient on my list, only to discover that the patient was sleeping. Her caregiver nonetheless waved me in, and within minutes I was offering a short prayer of healing for the patient. As I began to take my leave, the caregiver told me that the patient was a former student of hers, whom she had begun teaching in fourth grade. She then added, “Her parents had no interest in caring for a child with Down’s Syndrome. So I stepped in. We’ve been together now for more than 50 years.”

Over the next 15 minutes I learned that this diminutive, retired special education schoolteacher had cared for many former students, opening her home and heart to them whenever they were in need. “I really never knew when they would show up on my doorstep,” she said, “but they knew that my home was their home. I never married but somehow God gave me all of these beautiful children. Some of them have now passed on…and I know in my heart we will be reunited someday.  ”

Moved by her hope, I took the caregiver’s hands into by own and gently offered, “Thank you for sharing your story with me. I feel as though I am in the presence of a living saint, someone who lives her life true to who she is and offers it freely as a gift in service to others. I’m so grateful for the love and light you’ve brought into your students’ lives and, now, my own. How fascinating that I came here to offer communion to one in need of God’s healing, and here you are, living out Eucharist with me! How can I not share your hope, your conviction, that nothing — not even death — can destroy the power of a life lived with so much love?”

What happened then even surprised me. Fighting back tears, the caregiver looked deep into my eyes and spoke these words: “I am surely not a saint, but I have tried to live my life as one fully committed to love.    Thank you for seeing that, and for standing with me solidly in hope.  ”

Brother David Steindl-Rast, a German Benedictine monk, writes that, “Hope is something very different from our hopes. Hopes are something we can imagine…but hope, in a truly spiritual sense, is openness for surprise.  ”

Put simply, there is a real difference between “having hopes” for ourselves — which are most often reflected in our dreams and visions — and “living hope” with a heart that is open to surprise.

Christians across the globe celebrated Easter this past Sunday. In John’s gospel, we hear the story of Mary of Magdala’s visit to Jesus’s tomb early on the third day after his death, and the distress she feels upon discovering that the stone has been rolled away from it. Her hopes crushed, she laments out loud, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and I do not know where they have put him.” Soon a voice surprises Mary, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it that you are looking for?” Mary turns toward the man and, in her heartbroken state, begs him for any information he might have about the location of Jesus’s body. Yet before she can complete her plea, the man speaks her name. Dumbfounded, Mary takes a closer look and, with an open heart, rejoices at the sight of her friend, the risen Christ, her “Teacher!”

In my experience, this “God of Surprises” (as South African Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu names God), most frequently visits when our future feels uncertain, our dreams dashed, our hearts broken or betrayed by the messiness of life. It is in these unexpected, unplanned, and often unscripted spaces where God taps on our hearts and surprises us — whether through an unforeseen conversation with a friend or stranger (remember the story above?!), an unanticipated encounter with the breathless beauty of God’s creation, or the long forgotten recollection of a lost memory that, in its resurrection, heals our hearts in loving hope.

As we move into these next 40 days of Eastertide, I invite you to reflect on those times in your life where you have experienced an openness to surprise. How did this openness heal you? How did it help you to become more whole? And what might an awareness of these graces inspire as you move forward in living hope as a compassionate, transforming healing presence in our health ministry?


Congratulations to Elaine Engelsman, DNP, Nurse Practitioner of the Year

Elaine Engelsman, DNP, named as Nurse Practitioner of the Year by Michigan Council of Nurse Practitioners.

Elaine Engelsman, DNP, was honored as Michigan’s Council of Nurse Practitioners’ 2019 Nurse Practitioner of the Year during a recent conference. Engelsman helped found and helps run the Hepatitis C Clinic at Mercy Health Muskegon. 

Below is an excerpt from her nomination form:

“Elaine Engelsman, DNP, is an excellent example of a nurse practitioner making an impact on a community.

“While completing her Doctorate of Nurse Practice at Grand Valley State University, Elaine demonstrated innovation by opening Michigan’s first dedicated, community-based Hepatitis C Clinic in Muskegon, Michigan.

“Run as a nurse practitioner-led clinic, Elaine consults with a prominent Infectious Disease physician to provide evidence-based, high quality, accessible care to produce outstanding patient outcomes.

“The Hepatitis C clinic’s efforts have resulted in 600 patients being cured in West Michigan in its first seven years, with a cure rate of 37%. This far exceeds the national average cure rate of only nine percent.”

For more information on Engelsman’s work at the clinic, please visit the Hepatitis C clinic website>>


Thomas Foster, MD, Named Chief Medical Officer of MHPP

Mercy Health Physician Partners is pleased to announce that Thomas (Tom) Foster, MD, FAAP, FACP, CPE, MMM, has accepted the position of Mercy Health Physician Partners (MHPP) Chief Medical Officer (CMO), effective immediately.

During the past 14 years at MHPP, Dr. Foster has served as medical director of Regional Provider Development, Regional Palliative Care and Regional Neonatology Services, while also caring for patients as a Med-Peds physician.

Dr. Foster earned his medical degree from University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria, completed his residency in Medicine-Pediatrics at University of Louisville, and earned his master’s degree in Medical Management from Tulane University.

As CMO, Dr. Foster will lead and implement the clinical and quality direction of Mercy Health Physician Partners with a consistent focus on improved performance, provider engagement and safe environment.

With a strong history of successful leadership within the medical group, he brings experience and extensive knowledge of both ambulatory and acute care, as well as relationships across the West Michigan region. His demonstrated strengths in communication, organizational design, talent development and accountability will be invaluable as we work to solidify our culture of a mission-focused, provider-led, and professionally managed medical group.

Congratulation, Dr. Foster.

Mercy Health Muskegon Recognized as One of the Top 10 Percent of Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities in the United States

Cited for care that is effective, efficient, timely and patient-centered

Of 868 inpatient rehabilitation facilities (IRFs) nationwide, Mercy Health Muskegon qualified to be ranked in the IRF database of Uniform Data System for Medical Rehabilitation (UDSmr) in 2018.

“This recognition truly signifies the type of care all of our patients receive on the acute rehab unit. This multidisciplinary team does an outstanding job of always putting the patients and their families at the center of their care. They work hard to provide the right care at the right time, which results in outcomes that exceed national benchmarking. We are very proud of this recognition,” said Lisa Rose, senior director for orthopedics, neurosurgery and rehabilitation.

The rankings were determined by using UDSmr’s program evaluation model (PEM), a case mix-adjusted and severity-adjusted tool that provides facilities with a composite performance score and percentile ranking drawn from nearly three-quarters of all IRFs in the country.

UDSmr’s PEM Report Card uses the indicators of efficiency and effectiveness contained in the Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility Patient Assessment Instrument (IRF-PAI), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ reporting tool for the Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility Prospective Payment System (IRF PPS). The data used for this report was based on 12 months of 2018 data, drawn from both Medicare and non-Medicare patients.

Congratulations to the team from Mercy Health Muskegon’s Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit.

Interdisciplinary Team Earns 2019 Collaborative Practice Award from the American Nurses Association-Michigan

Chris Olree stands in the middle, between Paul Crittenden, RN, and Aaron Agrusa, BSN, RN, and two representatives from the American Nurses Association-Michigan after receiving 2019 Collaborative Practice Award.

Congratulations to 4 Lacks and the Vascular Access Team (VAST) of Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, who have earned the ANA-Michigan 2019 Collaborative Practice Award in March 2019.

The Collaborative Practice Award recognizes a health system or individual hospital for a collaborative project demonstrating an interdisciplinary approach to best practices that resulted in improved patient outcomes or cost savings.  The project on 4 Lacks, an inpatient cancer unit, was titled, “Project Zero:  Reduction of Central Line Associated Blood Stream Infections (CLABSI) on an Oncology Unit.” This project involved collaboration between the 4 Lacks nursing staff and VAST to decrease central line infections.

Both groups worked together to increase communication and education among each other to enhance consistency of practice for patient central line care. Thanks to this project and other efforts from the staff, patients on 4 Lacks have not experienced a CLABSI since March 2017.

Congratulations to the health care team!

“I Could, I Would, and I Did!”

For someone who had never even heard of a living kidney donation before July 2018, within five months, Terri Vining, 63, of Coral, Mich., willingly gave her own kidney to a complete stranger.

Terri Vining donated a kidney to a complete stranger in late 2018. Here she is posing with one of her rescued cats, Fred.

“I knew nothing about kidney donation. I thought you had to die before you could donate any of your organs,” said Vining.

Drawing from divine inspiration as well as a family’s plea to save the life of a young woman who desperately needed a kidney transplant, Vining underwent the living donor process at Mercy Health Kidney Transplant Program.

“I remember the date exactly,” said Vining. “It was Sunday, July 17, 2018, and I looked at The Grand Rapids Press, and I saw the story of a young lady in need of a kidney transplant.

“I thought, ‘I will give her mine.'” That prompt decision led her to emailing Andrea Beck-Lundskow, donor coordinator at Mercy Health, who sent her paperwork to begin the process.

A few days later, Vining heard on the news that the young woman who’d inspired her had indeed received a kidney. “It was kind of a letdown that I could no longer give her mine, but after about a half hour, I thought, ‘I will check it out. I wonder if anyone else needs one…maybe I can still give mine.'”

Vining reached back out to the Mercy Health Kidney Transplant team, who told her that she could still donate altruistically if she wanted to, meaning that her kidney would go to someone Vining didn’t know or might not ever meet.

Terri Vining poses with her “new” 1954 Willys truck, purchased the same month that Vining decided to donate a kidney.

“The process to be evaluated as an altruistic donor is basically the same as any other donor with a few exceptions. We encourage altruistic donors, especially, to consider their motivation to go through with donation since the donor process can have ups and downs,” said Beck-Lundskow. “Living kidney donors will tell you that the process is rewarding but takes a lot of dedication and patience.”

Vining began her research about kidney disease. Was she surprised.

“I had no idea so many people needed a kidney.”

In Michigan, as of April 1, 2019, there are more than 2,300 people on the transplant waiting list for a kidney, according to the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan. Mercy Health alone has 325 people who are waiting for a kidney.

What did her husband, Randy, have to say about his wife giving a kidney to someone she has never met, and maybe never will?

“Go for it,” he said, without hesitation. With his support and love, as well as from her four siblings and stepdaughter, Vining chose a date for the surgery in December 2018.

“We tell potential altruistic donors to expect two to three months for the evaluation process, and if they are approved, they can schedule surgery typically two to three months after that,” said Beck-Lundskow.

Terri Vining with her supportive husband, Randy, who encouraged her throughout the kidney donation process.

For someone who had always been really “into health,” Vining’s recovery process from the kidney donation went extremely well.

“It was the best experience I had ever had in a hospital; it was the most rewarding.” Vining was up walking by 4 p.m. the day of surgery and was discharged the following evening.

As a hospice volunteer for 18 years, Vining knows a lot about caring for those at the end of life. Donating her kidney was helping someone at a different stage of their lives, so they could live a longer, more fulfilling one.

“I never had kids of my own, so this kind of feels like I have given someone life,” said Vining.

Does it bother her that she might never meet the person who received her kidney?

“No, all that matters is that this person has a better life. I could give someone that.”

Reflecting back on the months-long process as she performs her daily devotionals, Vining has a mantra she tells herself: “I could, I would, and I did!”

“If someone is considering donating a kidney altruistically, I would encourage them to learn all they can from our website and to call us and ask questions,” said Beck-Lundskow.  “We’re here as a resource for anyone who is even considering it.”