Gus Barkett, DO, Named Mentor of the Year, by American Osteopathic Association

Gustav Barkett, DO, named Mentor of the Year by the American Osteopathic Association.

“I was transformed by leading the Obstetrics (OB) Residency at Mercy Health Muskegon for the past 18 years,” said Gus Barkett, DO, who was named as Mentor of the Year for 2019 by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA).

As one of the dozens of physicians who trained as a resident under Barkett’s guidance, Caitlin Brazda, DO, speaks for the group when she said: “I know I would not be the same OB/GYN physician I am today if I hadn’t been given the privilege to learn from him. And I know so many others who feel exactly the same way, which is why we nominated him for AOA mentor of the year.” Brazda was one of the more than 20 physicians who nominated Barkett.

Barkett officially received the Mentor of the Year Award on October 25, 2019, in front of nearly 3,000 colleagues from across the country. With a 35-year career at Mercy Health beginning in Obstetrics, Barkett switched gears and began leading the OB Residency program at Mercy Health Muskegon in 2001, and recently stepped down from that role in the spring of 2019.

“The time that I have invested in my residents over the past 20 years has been the most meaningful of my career,” Barkett said. “I was transformed by this experience. I invested in the residents, and they invested in me.”

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Although he is no longer leading the OB Residency program in Muskegon, Barkett is still imparting his wisdom to others: “If you have the opportunity in your field to teach, you should do it. I know that it takes time, and it takes energy. As a clinician, it diminishes how efficient you are personally, because you aren’t as fast when you have to slow down to help others to learn. But this award really goes to my residents, who have taught me so much.”

To help celebrate his retirement from running the OB Residency program, current and former residents threw a celebration for Barkett in July 2019. More than 150 people from across the country came to honor Barkett’s legacy of mentorship within the obstetrics field.

Along with Brazda, who serves patients at Mercy Health Physician Partners OB/GYN Lakes Village, nearly a dozen OB/GYN physicians trained by Barkett have stayed in West Michigan — just one more example of the enduring role Gus Barkett, DO, has played in the lives of both patients and providers in our communities.

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?

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). 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.

Find a Mercy Health provider

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.

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). 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.

All Souls’ Day Reflection

Written by Scott Opperman, director of Mission Integration, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s

Though human knowledge and technological abilities have expanded, our needs remain unchanged. An essential one is belonging and love. Without it, it is difficult for us to develop healthy self-esteems and to achieve our full potentials because we doubt our worth and purpose. Indeed, many of us in healthcare ministry have witnessed in those we serve the effects of social isolation and the indifference or hate of persons toward them.

The embrace and love we offer impacts others long after we die—and so does the lack thereof. Many of us realize this from our relational experiences of those who have since passed away.

Today, a significant percentage of Christians celebrate All Souls’ Day. It is a particular sacred time set aside for us to remember and to pray for all who have journeyed before us, especially our loved ones. What will we remember? Most likely, in the end, it will be the embrace and love we shared—or lack thereof. The stories we recall are usually illustrative.

If our embrace and love is that which is most tangibly real and valuable for those who survive us, does it affect our priorities and behavior in the here-and-now? Is not Trinity Health’s Living Our Values—Reverence, Commitment to Those Who Are Poor, Justice, Stewardship and Integrity—an appropriate way to corporately integrate embrace and love into our relationships with those we serve, those with whom we serve, and the community we serve? This seems worthy of our reflection and prayer today.

Mercy Health Announces Retirement of F. Remington Sprague, MD

We extend our best wishes to F. Remington “Rem” Sprague, MD, on his plans to retire after a very successful 39-year career in health care. His last day will be February 15, 2020.

During his tenure, Dr. Sprague has been recognized for his expertise in Internal Medicine, his dedication to patient safety and quality, his leadership in a constantly changing health care environment and his devotion to the Muskegon community.

As a General Internist, Dr. Sprague began his career in 1981 in sole practice, which under his leadership, grew to include three additional physicians. In 1993, upon the hospital acquiring this practice, Dr. Sprague’s role expanded to medical director, where he spent part-time hours as an administrator while still practicing and seeing patients.

Since 1996, Dr. Sprague has served in administration as vice president of Primary Care Services for Mercy General Health Partners and Chief Medical Officer for Mercy Health Muskegon. As a member of the Senior Leadership Team, Dr. Sprague oversees the Medical Staff Office, Graduate Medical Education, Oncology, Hospital-based Physician Contracting, Physician Recruitment Support, Clinical Informatics and Medical Staff Quality.

Dr. Sprague led providers through two significant Mercy Health mergers. Most significantly, he helped unite the medical staffs from Mercy Hospital and Muskegon General. Following the mergers, Dr. Sprague was integral in the development and leadership of the Mercy Health Physician Partners’ Primary Care Network and has since helped recruit nearly 30 physicians to Muskegon.

In the community, Dr. Sprague’s involvement spans decades and includes too many agencies to list. As a charter member of the Muskegon AIDS Task Force in the early-1980s, Dr. Sprague spearheaded educational programming for local providers to help destigmatize HIV and create a network to serve affected patients. Currently, he serves as Board Chair for our Community Benefit Ministry, The Health Project, where he helps connect Health Project activities to the medical needs in our community.

As a clinician, Dr. Sprague has continued to practice medicine, volunteering weekly hours seeing patients at Muskegon Family Care, a local FQHC clinic and currently serves as Chairperson for the Community Coordinating Council, which was formed in 1996 to target teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and early childhood literacy. Additional board memberships have included Access Health, Muskegon Civic Theater, West Michigan Therapy, Health West, Boy Scouts of America, Mission for Area People, Affinia Health PHO, Lakeshore Health Network PHO and many more.

Throughout his entire career, Dr. Sprague has been a remarkable servant leader who lives our deep commitment to the mission of Mercy Health and to the patients and community of Muskegon. He plans to begin his retirement among family and friends, relaxing and planning for what’s next.

L.C. Walker Arena to be Renamed “Mercy Health Arena”

Mercy Health signs letter of intent for fifteen-year commitment

Muskegon, Mich. (October 23, 2019) – Mercy Health has signed a letter of intent with the City of Muskegon to become the naming rights sponsor of the L.C. Walker Arena. The arena name will be changed to Mercy Health Arena by the end of the year, with updated signage coming in January 2020. This fifteen-year commitment will cover the renaming and rebranding of the facility and ensure the sustainability of the arena for the future.

The L.C. Walker Arena was named after the late Louis Carlisle Walker, a leading Muskegon industrialist at the turn of the 20th century, and a major contributor to the $1.5 million arena in 1960. Today, the arena is a major destination for sports and entertainment in the West Michigan community. Every year, 100,000 people attend this arena’s more than 50 sporting events, concerts and other special events.

“The L.C. Walker Arena has long been a great asset to our downtown,” said Frank Peterson, city manager of Muskegon. “I’m excited that Mr. Walker’s vision, creating a vibrant year-round downtown, lives on today. His gift to our community and our new partnership with Mercy Health will help ensure that this community asset is here for generations to come.”

Over the past four years, the City of Muskegon has invested more than $4 million in the arena to upgrade concession areas and restrooms, replace the roof and replace the facility’s boiler and dehumidification systems. Mercy Health’s sponsorship will keep the momentum going and sustain the improvements that have already been made.

“Mercy Health is committed to caring for our community. It is vital to Mercy Health’s long-term strategy that the revitalization of downtown Muskegon continues,” said Gary Allore, president, Mercy Health Muskegon. “The arena is home to so many events that are important to our community. This is an opportunity for us to continue investing in a community we care deeply about, a place where our patients and our colleagues come and enjoy many offerings from this arena.”

About the City of Muskegon

The City of Muskegon is located in Western Michigan on the shores of Lake Michigan. The City covers 18 square miles, including 4 miles of water, with a 2010 census population of 38,401 and is the largest city on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. The City is located in Muskegon County and is home to many outstanding sports, recreation and cultural activities.

About the L.C. Walker Arena

The L.C. Walker Arena and Events Center is the home of the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the United States Hockey League (USHL). Additionally, the arena hosts the Muskegon Risers indoor soccer team, West Michigan Ironmen indoor football team as well as concerts, youth hockey leagues, public skating, graduation, circuses and much more. The L.C. Walker Arena was completed in 1960 and gifted to the City of Muskegon by Louis Carlisle Walker, the founder of the Muskegon-based Shaw-Walker furniture company and has recently undergone a series of renovations and improvements.

About Mercy Health

Mercy Health is a regional, multi-campus, Catholic health care system serving West Michigan and the lakeshore with four hospital campuses, more than 90 physician offices, more than 1,300 medical staff physicians, more than 800 hospital beds and more than 9,000 colleagues, and hospice, home health and long-term care service offerings. Mercy Health Physician Partners, our multi-specialty medical group, employs more than 700 physicians and advanced practice professionals in Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Holland and the lakeshore. Mercy Health has annual operating revenues of about $1.4 billion and returns about $80 million to its communities annually through charity care and community benefit programs. Mercy Health, a member of Trinity Health, is committed to being a trusted health partner for life, transforming the communities we serve, by providing high-quality care that is the most accessible, compassionate and personalized in West Michigan. Visit us at


What to Ask Your Doctor About Breast Cancer?

Questions to Ask Your Doctor about Breast Cancer

According to the American Cancer Society, there are more than 3.1 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S. This includes women still being treated and those who have completed treatment. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month and Mercy Health would like to provide some tips for those who have been diagnosed, for survivors and their friends and families.

Getting the news that you or a loved one has breast cancer can be overwhelming and a diagnosis will most likely result in many questions. It’s important for you to be able to talk frankly and openly with your cancer care team. They want to answer all of your questions, no matter how minor they might seem to you. However, it helps if you know what to ask. Click on this link to see some excellent questions the American Cancer Society suggests that you can use to help you better understand breast cancer and your options. Don’t be afraid to take notes and tell the doctors or nurses when you don’t understand what they’re saying.

The questions are grouped by where you are in the process of cancer treatment. Not all of these questions will apply to you, but they should help get you started. The groupings are as follows:

  • When you’re told you have breast cancer
  • When deciding on a treatment plan
  • If you need surgery
  • During treatment
  • After treatment

Take care of your Spiritual Health. Consider joining a support group for people with breast cancer. Keep a journal, express your feelings and thoughts artistically and get appropriate exercise.

As you know, 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.

Find a Mercy Health provider

When you’re being treated for a disease or condition, it may not always be easy to decide where to go for care. For anything that is considered a life-threatening situation (like chest pain or sudden and severe pain), it’s best to go to the emergency room. For less severe matters that still require immediate attention, if you can’t get in to see your PCP, going to an urgent care facility can save you time and money.

Even if you require emergency or urgent care for your health situation, it’s always best to have a relationship with a PCP who knows your history and understands what is happening with your health over time.

Also, your health plan has a team of care managers ready to assist you. When a nurse calls you, please be sure to return the call and speak with them. Wonderful care management resources are available to you.

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


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). 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.

Spiritual Care Week 2019

Mercy Health and Trinity Health are proud to recognize our chaplains during Spiritual Care Week Oct. 20-26, 2019 for providing spiritual support to those we serve, their loved ones and our colleagues affected by ongoing loss and grief.

The theme for this year’s Spiritual Care Week is Hospitality: Cultivating Space. There is a spiritual dimension to healing and hospitality requires space for healing to take place.

Trinity Health’s Mission Integration team is focusing on the healing environment, in part, by cultivating healing spaces to promote our mission of being a “transforming healing presence.”

Spiritual Care takes seriously the meaningful nature of healing spaces, both physically and metaphorically. There is value in cultivating spaces where one feels safe, where one’s dignity is protected and where opportunities for reflection enrich.

This week, Trinity Health would like to extend a special thank you to our chaplains as you foster a safe place for patients and their families. Read more about the important work of our chaplains at Mercy Health.

Jennifer Haworth Announces Her Upcoming Retirement

Jennifer Haworth

Jennifer Haworth has announced her pending retirement as Mission Integration director for Mercy Health Muskegon, with her last day scheduled for Friday, December 27, 2019.

Since her arrival to Mercy Health Muskegon in 2015, Jennifer has provided significant contributions to strengthen and advance Mercy Health Muskegon’s Identity as a Catholic health ministry and has fostered our colleagues’ deepened connection with our Mission and Core Values, as noted by Michael Sanderl, Chief Mission Officer, Trinity Health Michigan. “I want to thank Jennifer for her stewardship of the Spiritual Care Department and positioning Mission Integration for increased leadership in this area,” continued Sanderl.

Through her passionate and heart-felt leadership, Jennifer has been integral to bringing Schwartz Rounds to Mercy Health Muskegon, as well as introducing several Founder’s Day celebrations, such as Mercy Day and Hackley Day that celebrate our legacies and history of healing. Jennifer also was very involved in the design work of the Divine Mercy Chapel and served as a champion for Living Our Values. Spirit-at-work programming expanded significantly during her tenure to include the Chapel Series, Advent and Lent online retreats, Health Care Stations of the Cross and the annual Colleague Remembrance Service.

“It has been such a privilege to serve together with our Mercy Health colleagues these past four years, so many of whom have the mission deep in their bones. Thank you for showing me in so many ways and on an almost daily basis how the good people of Mercy Health Muskegon continue to live the healing ministry of Jesus in our community,” said Jennifer.

“I am so very grateful to my many colleagues who have collaborated with me as partners in mission,” she continued. “I could not have succeeded in creating and strengthening the infrastructure to sustain and carry forth our mission and identity without the amazing generosity of Mercy Health’s leaders and colleagues.”

“The four years Jennifer spent in Muskegon truly helped ignite our culture, and her presence with us will have a long-lasting impact,” said Gary Allore, president, Mercy Health Muskegon.

A continued, deep commitment to Mission Integration and the role of the local Mission Leader remains at Mercy Health Muskegon. Sanderl and Allore will be collaborating to coordinate the search process for the next local Mission Leader.

The Heart of the Hospital: Sterile Processing Department

As told by Eric Christopherson, IAHCSMM, Sterile Processing Professional Development Specialist

“87,000 sterile instruments. That’s the number of reusable surgical instrumentation that the Sterile Processing Department at Mercy Health cleaned, inspected and sterilized last year, which were used for many different procedures throughout Mercy Health. Sterile Processing is a key part of Surgical Services and an integral part of infection prevention and patient care of our facility.

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“The service we provide is one of the most important parts of preventing infections for our patients. Our primary service area is Surgery Services, which provides inpatient and outpatient care to more than 1,000 patients a month.

“Our work also includes processing products for:

  • The Birth Center,
  • Emergency and Trauma Center,
  • Mercy Health Physician Partners’ offices,
  • clinics and
  • ancillary departments.

“Our colleagues, called sterile processing technicians, are required to know how to clean, inspect and sterilize hundreds of surgical instruments in preparation for patient use. We are a customer-service department providing clean, functioning and sterile instruments for patient care providers to deliver high-quality treatment to ensure a positive outcome for all Mercy Health patients.

“The week of October 14 is when Sterile Processing is recognized nationally, shining a light on these amazing people, the unsung heroes who work in the ‘heart of the hospital.’ To be a successful technician, you have to possess an immense understanding of how our work impacts patients and have a level of passion that helps deliver the highest quality care of our patients. Although we do not have direct contact with the patients themselves, our work touches every patient who comes through our doors.

“Every patient deserves the same level of quality care. That is always the goal of our technicians in the Sterile Processing Department.”

Colleagues, if you are interested in learning more about the sterile processing department, please click here to be taken to Workday.

If you are interested in working at Mercy Health view the many opportunities available by please clicking here.

Also contributing to this article is Brandon Irwin.

Friends of Nursing Award Recipient Marlene Shields

Marlene Shields works for Environmental Services on the Pediatrics floor and N5 on the Hackely Campus. Her colleagues state that she goes above and beyond whenever she is able to do so.

They rely on Shields daily and find her to be friendly with colleagues and patients. She is described as dependable and excellent at her job. Shields thoroughly cleans rooms and prepares them for new patients in a timely fashion.

Her compassion shines, especially when she is working in the Pediatrics Unit. Shields often strikes up conversations with families and pediatric patients to make them feel at home. When pediatric patients are struggling with hospitalization and illness, she is known to get them a gift from the Gift Shoppe to brighten their day. Everyone appreciates her so much.

Congratulations, Marlene!