Mercy Health Seaway Run Half Marathon, 10K, 5K and Community Fun Walk a Success

Dr. Hyung Kim, President, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s; Race Director Andrew Buikema; Dr. Kristen Brown, President, Mercy Health Physician Partners; Gary Allore, President, Mercy Health Muskegon

On Saturday, June 22, 2019, approximately 2,800 runners and walkers from across West Michigan participated in the Mercy Health Seaway Run, featuring race courses with views of the shorelines of Muskegon Lake and Lake Michigan.

Once again, Mercy Health Muskegon was the title sponsor of this family-friendly event. More than 500 Mercy Health colleagues signed up to run or walk this year. Mercy Health leaders also enjoyed the day by taking part in the 5K, including President Gary Allore, Mercy Health Muskegon; President Hyung Tai Kim, MD, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s; and President Kristen Brown, MD, Mercy Health Physician Partners.

Dr. Hyung Kim at the finish line

“The Seaway Run fits well with Mercy Health’s vision of serving together to improve the health of our community,” said Gary Allore. “Our colleague participation sets a healthy example for our community.”




Gary Allore and Roger Spoelman at the finish line

Byron Varnado, MD, Honored with Mercy Health Golden Staff Award

Team Varnado

The clinical team of Byron Varnado, MD, nominated him for the coveted Golden Staff Award given to physicians. The deserving recipient is celebrated for displaying all-around excellence as a clinician, team player, respectful communicator and compassionate caregiver, and one who adheres to Mercy Health’s Guiding Behaviors. Excerpts from the nomination form appear below:

On a daily basis, Dr. Varnado exemplifies Mercy Health’s Core Values (reverence, commitment to those who are poor, justice, stewardship, integrity) in his relationships with patients, staff, and fellow partners at Mercy Health Physician Partners (MHPP) Harborwood Family Medicine. 

He delivers innovative, excellent, and compassionate care to all the patients he encounters. Dr. Varnado goes above and beyond in the care of his patients by providing house calls to those in need. He constantly is thinking about how we can better serve our patients by providing the best, affordable, quality care to them. 

Dr. Byron Varnado with Chief of Staff Dr. Christopher Marquart

He demonstrates his dedication and advocacy to our community in multiple ways, including as a coach, mentor and sponsor a Little League baseball team. He values his partners and each member of the staff at MHPP Harborwood Family Medicine. Dr. Varnado is always willing to share his experiences by speaking at various functions. He is an inspiration to all through his humility as a physician.

Congratulations, Dr. Varnado.

L-R at top: Dr Christopher Marquart, Chief of Staff; Dr. Byron Varnado; and Dr. Rem Sprague, Chief Medical Officer

Mercy Health Opens New Urgent Care, Workplace Health in Muskegon

Mercy Health has opened a new outpatient facility at 1670 E. Sherman Boulevard, on the corner of US-31, conveniently close to the Mercy Campus in Muskegon. The 9,770-square-foot facility houses an Urgent Care and Workplace Health. This new facility is designed to provide greater access to health care services that are in high demand throughout the Lakeshore region.

“We are proud to offer more convenient and accessible health care close to where our community members work and live,” said Michael Weessies, vice president of Business Health Solutions for Mercy Health. “Workplace Health will now be more centrally-located to businesses whose colleagues use our services. Additionally, this new Urgent Care will be conveniently located near Mercy Campus for patients whose medical conditions do not warrant an Emergency Department visit.”

Workplace Health moved from the Hackley Professional Building to the new location on Sherman and began providing services on May 20. Hours are Monday through Friday 7 a.m. – 5 p.m.

The new Urgent Care, which opened on June 24, allows patients access to a provider when their health care needs are urgent but not life-threatening. Knowing when to choose an Urgent Care versus the Emergency Department can save patients money and provide quicker treatment for injuries or illness. Mercy Health provides a reference guide to determine where to seek treatment.

Urgent Care hours are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. ­– 8 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.

ProgressiveAE was the architect of this project, and Clifford Buck served as the general contractor. The cost of this facility is approximately $2 million.

Mercy Health Welcomes Seminarians for Summer Chaplain Ministry Experience in Grand Rapids

Seminarian Michael Lingaur, Deacon Dominic Couturier, Sister Myra Bergman and Deacon Daniel Orris

It all began with Fr. Tom Cavera who, in 2013 as a seminarian, was seeking an alternative to a program — Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) — that prepares individuals for professional chaplain hospital ministry. To that point in history the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids had been sending seminarians to various CPE programs as part of their formation.

Cavera asked Myra Bergman, RSM, if she could create an experience-based program that would help him to care for the sick and dying in a hospital setting, desiring an experience more focused upon formation for parish priest ministry.

That was five summers and 15 seminarians ago. Today, the academic program at Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Ill, requires seminarians to have a hospital experience during one of their summers in preparation for the priesthood. “It is part of our seminary curriculum and priestly formation. Deacon Dominic Couturier, of Grand Rapids. “I’ve been looking forward to it.”

“The goal of this summer program is to give seminarians experiences in a clinical setting and to, perhaps, develop skills to serve as parish priests who will care for the sick in the hospital and in other settings,” said Sister Myra Bergman, Mission Integration consultant, Michigan Region. “What I hear from those who have been through our program is that this summer experience was of value and that it has guided them in their own parish ministry,”

This year, two of the program participants are from the Diocese of Grand Rapids, and one is from the Diocese of Gaylord. “Over time, we’ve had two seminarians from Gaylord and one from Gary, Indiana, and they bring a blessing to this program by coming from different dioceses,” added Sister Myra.

“Sister Myra is excellent; she knows what she is doing and what we need to know — what will be beneficial to us,” said Deacon Daniel Orris, of Grand Rapids. “Bishop David Walkowiak speaks very highly of her and of this program.”

The seminarians are assigned to particular units in the hospital, but during the course of the summer, they gain experience in other units besides their primary assignment.

“Both at the seminary and from bishops in various dioceses, this summer program has earned a strong reputation, under Sister Myra’s leadership,” said Seminarian Michael Lingaur from Gaylord.

Now at week five of 10 in the program, the seminarians are able to reflect on significant takeaways from their experience.

Seminarian Michael Lingaur: “Initially, I had reluctance to cross the threshold into a patient’s room. A benefit of this program already is my level of comfort in knowing that when I cross that threshold, I do not have to be afraid. I realize that I have something to offer the patient and family, and they have something to offer me. Despite the uncertainty of the situation, knowing that ‘exchange’ is possible gives me courage to take that first step.”

Deacon Dominic Couturier: “My takeaway would be better listening…and allowing myself to be vulnerable in the situation; learning how to enter into the person’s situation and suffering. From the listening perspective, I think this program will help me with confessions.”

Deacon Daniel Orris: “This experience has shown me what ministry actually is. As an ordained deacon, I represent the Church when I visit a patient…I am bringing the presence of Christ to the patient. This program gives us a good opportunity to learn what ‘bringing the presence of Christ’ means on a practical level and to internalize it before we get to the parish level.”

These seminarians are learning from the best! The other chaplains at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s serve as mentors to them. “It’s also a blessing to have Father Joachim here, as well,” added Seminarian Lingaur. “It is beautiful to see him administer the sacraments, especially the anointing of the sick,”

“And I want the nurses to know how much we admire what they do and how much we appreciate their work,” said Deacon Couturier.

Welcome to Mercy Health, Michael, Deacon Dominic and Deacon Daniel.










Michigan Academy of Family Physicians Names James Applegate as Family Medicine Physician of Year

Congratulations to James Applegate, MD, FAAFP, for being named Family Medicine Physician of the Year for 2019 by the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians. This annual award is presented to a family physician who exemplifies the ongoing contributions of the Family Physician to the citizens of Michigan.

Applegate will be honored on August 3, 2019, at the 71st Annual Family Medicine Physician Celebration Dinner, held during the annual Michigan Family Medicine Expo and Conference.

“What a joy it has been to serve all my patients as a family physician,” said Applegate. “I have been practicing medicine for 50 years and have served as a family physician for more than 35 years.”

This award is bittersweet, as Applegate will retire from Mercy Health Physician Partners Rivertown Office in July 2019. Click here for a review of his announcement>>

Congratulations and thank you to Applegate for his outstanding contributions for so many decades. We wish him well in retirement.

“Connected” Through Their Care: A Family’s Birth Story at Mercy Health

Calvin, Anne and Callum while still at the Birth Center at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s

“We were connected with the staff. They just knew what we needed before we even knew!” said patient Anne, who recently gave birth at the Birth Center at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s.

Although she was already a patient of Mercy Health Physician Partners, when she became pregnant, Anne and husband Calvin researched a couple of local birth centers before deciding to deliver at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, a decision they became more comfortable with as time passed.

“Throughout the entire pregnancy, we continually had super positive interactions with the Mercy Health Downtown OB Office and the birth center,” said Calvin. “From the birthing classes, to the tours of the renovated facility, all these interactions solidified our decision to deliver at Mercy Health.”

Being their first pregnancy, the couple had questions that arose from time to time. “It was great having the 24-hour nurse line that we could call. Everything was new and exciting, but sometimes we had questions,” recalled Calvin.

The most serious question arose one night at midnight when Anne was 38 weeks pregnant. “I didn’t know for sure if my water was breaking, so we called the nurse line, who told us to come to triage in the birth center.”

Upon arrival at the birth center, the couple immediately headed into triage, where they learned she was indeed in labor.

Anne and Callum

“Everyone was open and honest with us,” said Calvin. “Her water had broken, but she wasn’t dilated at all. The staff told us not to expect to have the baby soon.”

That open and honest communication continued throughout their stay.

“Whenever we had questions, they had answers,” said Calvin. “Everyone was professional and consistent with what they were telling us. We could tell they truly cared too. Nurses we had seen in triage would come by later to check on us to see how we were doing.”

During their 48-hour labor, the couple felt comfortable and at ease with the space and people at the birth center.

“Not only was the space modern and up-to-date, we felt completely pampered by the staff, who were the best thing,” said Anne. “We knew they were going to take care of us.”

Her reassurance with the labor and delivery staff helped her through the long labor.

“In labor, your body is going through so much. Your mind is going through so much. And to have staff like at Mercy Health, we couldn’t have done it without them. Especially my nurse, Lucy, who was there while I was pushing; I couldn’t have done it without her,” said Anne.

Birth Center Nurse Lucy Montanaro and Obstetrician Andola Mathis MD, FACOG, helped Anne and Calvin welcome a healthy, six-pound, one-ounce baby boy, Callum.

“We didn’t know what we were having, so it was a surprise to everyone. We had a lot of fun with the staff to see who could guess baby’s birth date, time, weight and length, whether our baby  was a boy or girl,” said Anne.

After Callum arrived, the ongoing support continued for the new family. Nurse Lucy stayed beyond her shift to make sure the new family had answers to their questions and was comfortable.

“It’s so scary. The baby is here, but what do I do now?” wondered thrilled and exhausted new mom Anne.

Breastfeeding was “super important to me,” according to Anne. As a Baby-Friendly® designated hospital, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s is part of a global program created and sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to recognize hospitals that offer optimal levels of care for infant feeding and mother-baby.

To Anne, it seemed like whenever she was trying to get Callum to latch on, or initiate breastfeeding, “Someone, like a nurse or lactation counselor would show up at my hospital room, and ask, ‘Do you need any help? Do you have any questions?’ And they were there to help me whenever I needed them.

“We were so connected with the staff. It’s like they could sense when we needed help before we even knew!”

For an online tour or to schedule your own tour of the Birth Center at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, please visit our website>>

Callum yawning

Diane (Dee) Cook Named the May 2019 DAISY Award Recipient

A registered nurse in the Clinical Procedure Unit, Dee Cook exemplifies the values of the recipients of the DAISY Award. She makes a meaningful difference in the lives of patients, colleagues and visitors.

Cook was nominated by the Mercy Health Health Pavilion Lab Assistants who saw her quick action help to get a patient the immediate care she needed.

From her nomination form:

“Dee is always willing to go above and beyond to help her patients as well as her coworkers. She is always willing to help others, whether it is helping a patient with their coat or making sure that patients are taken care of.”

Dee Cook received this award on Tues., June 18 in a celebration with leaders and her peers. Congratulations, Dee, for making a difference is so many people’s lives!

Mercy Health Opens New Outpatient Facility in Ada

Mercy Health has opened a new outpatient facility at 6741 and 6745 E. Fulton Ave, across from Vitale’s, in Ada. The two buildings that make up Mercy Health Ada total 19,500 square feet, and bring together a variety of primary care and specialty services.

The health care services now available at Mercy Health Ada include Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Pelvic Medicine and Urogynecology, Laboratory Services, X-ray and Ultrasound.

Additional services opening later include Obstetrics and Gynecology, Vascular and Vein Services, General Neurology and Advent Physical Therapy.

“Mercy Health Ada is example of our commitment to people-centered care,” said Kristen Brown, MD, president of Mercy Health Physician Partners. “This facility provides seamless access to individualized care by bringing a variety of services to one convenient location.”

This new facility brings together 14 care providers representing primary care and specialty services. More providers will be practicing at Mercy Health Ada when the additional services open.

“Mercy Health Ada was designed through feedback contributed from patients and providers — with the goal of keeping the patient in mind,” said Dr. Brown. “Two key features that came out of this feedback were moving patient intake into the exam room for patient privacy, and the team room concept, that allows providers to work in a collaborative space rather than individual offices.”

ProgressiveAE was the architect of this project, and Erhardt Construction served as the general contractor. The cost of this facility is approximately $5.6 million.

Link to photos

What You Can Expect When Getting a Screening Mammogram at Mercy Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early, and studies show that finding breast cancer early saves lives.

Approximately 20% of women diagnosed with breast cancer are under the age of 50. Unfortunately, younger women can also develop more aggressive breast cancers, which is why early detection is so important.

Mercy Health’s Annamarie Gibbons, RT(R)(M), radiology team leader at Mercy Health’s Southwest Campus, recommends these important steps to help detect breast cancer early:

  • Regular monthly breast checks through self-exam
  • Annual breast checks with a primary care provider
  • Annual mammograms, based on age and family history

Here are 10 common questions patients ask regarding screening mammograms.

  1. At what age should a woman begin getting screening mammograms? A woman should begin getting a screening mammogram1 at age 40. If she has an increased risk, such as a family history of breast cancer, then she may require earlier screening.
  2. How often should a woman get a screening mammogram? The American College of Radiology recommends a screening every year.
  3. Will my medical insurance pay for my screening mammogram? Yes, screening mammograms are covered by medical insurance.
  4. I’m anxious/worried about getting a mammogram. Is that normal? Being anxious or worried is normal, especially if it is your first time for this screening or if there is a reason to be concerned about the result of the test. If you are nervous, let your technologist know about your concerns.
  5. What will happen after I sign in for my appointment?
  • A registration specialist will call you to the desk to gather your personal/insurance information and provide you with a questionnaire if you did not receive one in the mail.
  • You will be called back to the changing area by your technologist.
  • Your technologist will reconfirm your name and date of birth, and give you a gown to change into.
  • You will enter the mammogram room where the technologist will go over the result of your MammoPlus2 risk assessment, explain your procedure and answer any questions you may have. Mercy Health is the only provider in the region that can let a patient know her lifetime risk for developing breast cancer as part of its mammography services.
  • Your imaging will begin. During imaging, your breasts will be placed between the detector and a clear plastic paddle specifically designed for compression.
  • After all images have been obtained, your technologist will remind you that the images will be read by the radiologist, a report will go to your doctor, and that a letter will come in the mail to you. Your results may be placed by your patient portal by your primary care physician several days later.
  • You will then return to the changing area, change into your clothing, and be on your way.
  1. Will the technologist do anything different if I have a history of breast cancer in my family? Not for screening mammogram. However, you may be referred to our high risk program for a custom-screening plan, which may include 3D mammography3, MRI surveillance or possible genetic counseling.
  2. Will it hurt? Some patients find this screening to be uncomfortable, but you should not expect to be in excruciating pain. If you are experiencing pain, you need to let your technologist know. The better the communication between the two of you, the better the exam will go.
  3. How long will my appointment take? Plan on 20–30 minutes, in most circumstances.
  4. When will I know my results? Who will notify me? If the results of your mammogram are normal, you will receive a letter in the mail in about a week’s time. If there is a concern, one of our nurses from the Comprehensive Breast Center will call you (a call back4) either the same or the next day to schedule you for follow-up testing, which may include additional X-rays, ultrasounds of your breast(s) or even a biopsy.
  5. Can men develop breast cancer? Yes, men can develop breast cancer, although it is rare. Less than one percent of all breast cancers occur in men, according to

1Screening Mammogram: This is an X-ray of breasts without symptoms.

2MammoPlus: In addition to receiving digital mammogram results, all Mercy Health screening mammography patients receive an individualized risk assessment based on personal and family history at no additional cost.

3Both 2D and 3D Mammography are used for screening patients. 3D Mammography, also referred to as tomosynthesis, is an imaging procedure that uses low-energy X-rays to take thin-slice images of the breast at multiple angles. Those images are then “reconstructed” by a computer to form a 3-dimensional image of your breasts. This type of mammography is especially effective for patients with dense breasts. No referral is needed. 3D Mammography is available at Mercy Health’s Hackley Campus, Saint Mary’s Campus, Southwest Campus, and East Beltline and Lakes Village locations.

4Call Back: This is a situation where the patient is notified that further examination is required based on the radiologist’s interpretation of the original breast images.

Glossary of Additional Medical Terms

  • Dense Breasts: Women with dense breasts have more dense tissue than fatty tissue, as revealed by a mammogram. This is important because dense breasts can make it more difficult for mammograms to detect breast cancer. According to the Mayo Clinic, dense breasts are six times more likely to develop cancer.
  • Diagnostic Mammogram: This is the taking images of symptomatic breasts, including those with a lump, discharge or pain. You will be asked to stay while the images are read so that any additional imaging can be completed. In most cases, you will have to come back if a biopsy is warranted.

For more information about mammography and other forms of breast imaging, along with contact information for Mercy Health mammography locations listed above, please click here.

Friend of Nursing Award Recipient Sarah Maus, PCA

Several members of a patient’s family nominated Sarah Haus for the Friend of Nursing Award. Sarah works as a patient care assistant on the Mercy Campus on the third floor.

The nomination expressed the family’s gratitude and admiration for Sarah:

We feel Sarah saved our father’s life. He returned to his room following a medical procedure but felt worse than before he left for the procedure. Sarah recognized his distress immediately and jumped into action.

She quickly put his oxygen on correctly, put the head of the bed up and called the rapid response [team]. Sarah is amazing and deserves an award for her quick actions.

Congratulations, Sarah.