It’s a GEM®!

Have you seen the new electric shuttle on the Mercy Campus? It is the Volunteer Services’ Polaris GEM® scooting around the campus bringing patients and visitors up to the hospital and back to their vehicles.

“It arrived on Tuesday, February 25,” said Kathy Daly, manager of Volunteer Services, “and we put it into service right away. With the construction at the Mercy Campus, and the walk to the front door for patients and visitors from the parking lots, it is essential.”

With a top speed of 25 mph, the GEM® is a highly rated, six-passenger shuttle with heat, windshield wipers, visors, and all the bells and whistles.

We are honored to share that this $26,000 shuttle was fully funded through philanthropy and our annual Wish List program. Each year, the Volunteer Board selects equipment, technology and services to fund from the proceeds of the volunteer sales, the Gift Shoppes, and the Lobbyside Café. When the idea of the GEM® shuttle was proposed, it was among several items they were excited to fund this year.

The previous volunteer shuttle was an open, gas-operated golf cart known for frequent breakdowns and costly repairs. It is now out of service.

It is easy to spot the GEM® on the Mercy Campus. The Marketing Department created a colorful, eye-catching graphic wrap, making it bright and cheery. It is an effective moving billboard for recruiting more volunteers.

The volunteer shuttle drivers are raving about it. They no longer need to bundle up in the winter. It is a classy unit, one they are proud to drive. On the fourth day in service, the shuttle driver picked up nearly 100 people during a 4.5 hour shift, which is about as many as they would pick up in a full week.

Currently, there are five volunteer drivers who cover the Monday through Friday morning shifts. Eventually, Volunteer Services hopes to cover two shifts per day. If you know of someone who is interested in volunteering, please contact Volunteer Services at 231-728-4711.

“We are so proud to be able to support this unit, and give our guests, patients and their family members a better experience,” said Daly. “Without the support and dedication of our volunteers and our colleagues, this vehicle would not have been possible.”

Many other Wish List items were recently purchased for Mercy Health Muskegon. We thank our colleagues and community for your continued support of the Gift Shoppes, Volunteer Sales and the Lobby Side Café! This is Philanthropy at Work!

Mercy Health Muskegon Announces New Chief Medical Officer, Justin Grill

After an extensive search process, Justin Grill, DO, MHA, M.Ed., HP, has been selected as Mercy Health Muskegon’s new Chief Medical Officer. He succeeds F. Remington Sprague, MD, who will retire on February 15.

Dr. Grill has served in various capacities for Mercy Health since 2008, including work in the Urgent Care centers, attending physician for Emergency Health Partners and managing partner for Lake Michigan Emergency Specialists, where he led the merger of two longstanding medicine groups into a singular combined independent practice.

As director of Medical Education for Mercy Health Muskegon, Dr. Grill has successfully overseen the growth of the residency program from three to five, including two fellowships. He also led the transition of the Mercy Health Graduate Medical Education programs from the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) to Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) accreditation. More recently, Dr. Grill served as vice chief of Medicine for Mercy Health Muskegon where he was as an integral member of the “Likelihood to Recommend, Emergency Department” task force.

A graduate of Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine, Dr. Grill is a member of the American Association for Physician Leadership, the Michigan State Medical Society, the Association for Hospital Medical Education and the American Osteopathic Association, just to name a few. He serves on the Medical Executive Committee for Mercy Health Muskegon and is an adjunct professor for the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine.


Creating an Opportunity for Those “Whose Voices Have Never Been Heard”

Improving Population Health through the Livability Lab and the 100-Day Challenge

Michael Ramsey

What if community members from all walks of life — not just government, health or social service experts — could come together to identify barriers to livability (a community’s quality of life) and then test ways to remove those barriers?

The Health Project in Muskegon County — a community benefit ministry of Mercy Health — is leading a first-of-its-kind communitywide project to do just that. It consists of 100 days of experiments, complete with 19 Action Teams to conduct the experiments.

Known as the Livability Lab and 100-DayChallenge, they serve as a platform that gives “individuals living in Muskegon County a place at the table and time to speak — people whose voices have never been heard,” according to Michael Ramsey, program implementation coordinator, Community Health Innovation Region (CHIR), Health Project.

This project is funded through a grant from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

First, the Data

The first step began by surveying as many people as possible in Muskegon County about the barriers they face, known as the “social influencers of health,” which were identified through a collaboration between CHIR and the State of Michigan. The social influencers that were surveyed are the following: Health Care, Food, Employment & Income, Housing & Shelter, Utilities, Clothing & Household, Childcare, Eldercare and Personal & Environmental Safety.

Since November 2017, more than 145,000 surveys have been completed through the efforts of a dozen traditional and non-traditional community organizations, in addition to all the Mercy Health Physician Partners offices and the broader Mercy Health medical community.

The Livability Lab and the 100-Day Challenge Summit

On September 10, 2019, Mercy Health Muskegon, United Way of the Lakeshore, the CHIR and other organizations convened a 100-Day Challenge Summit to launch the Livability Lab.

“The 100-Day Challenge Summit brought together individuals from the community and groups from every sector of our county to mobilize around a common vision of livability,” said Ramsey. During the summit, 300 community members took the information from the surveys and coupled them with community, county and state data about social influencers of health to identify specific barriers.

The community members then formed 19 Action Teams that came up with creative solutions to address specific barriers. They were given 100 days to implement their plans. The teams will report their results to the group of 300 at a celebration on January 23, 2020.

Gary Allore

Mercy Health Muskegon President Gary Allore was also part of the Core Team behind the 100-Day Challenge. “We are proud to partner with the CHIR and the Livability Lab and 100-Day Challenge, which has energized people to engage in action planning that meets the needs of the community,” said Gary Allore, president, Mercy Health Muskegon. “Having just completed our Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA), this process helped jump start our action planning and created exciting collaboration with people we may not have engaged in the past.”

Ongoing Efforts to Improve Livability

Hoping for many reports of success at the celebration, Ramsey added that “what is unique about this program is that teams are allowed to fail…because sometimes the best lessons come from failure. The work of these Action Teams will be ongoing: They will Define a problem, Design a solution, Do [implement the plan and measure the results] and Learn from their efforts and then start over.”

In January, the Action Teams will share their processes developed for the Livability Lab with the other teams. The final document from the 100-Day Challenge will be a “data playbook” based on key learnings from all 19 Action Teams, highlighting specific processes that can be replicated to address other social influencers of health.

For example, one team is working to create a Resilience Zone in Muskegon Heights by asking community members how to meet their needs. This work is being done through surveys and one-on-one meetings with a facilitator.

The result so far? South Muskegon Heights has already formed three new neighborhood associations so they can begin to identify and address their barriers and opportunities. Moving forward, these associations will have a voice and seat at the table, which is a first for those residents in Muskegon County.

Sharing Success

The work of the Action Teams and their results may go even further.

The Health Project and Mercy Health Muskegon plan to use the outcomes of the 100-Day Challenge to inform the work of the Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) Board of Advisors. When appropriate, the CHNA Board of Advisors will support the work of Action Teams by incorporating their community action plans into their Community Health Improvement Plan.

There is no need to duplicate efforts and reinvent solutions.

Looking Forward

After the Livability Lab Celebration on January 23, 2020 at the Folkhert Community Hub in Muskegon, Ramsey will turn his focus to finding more funding for the Livability Lab, so this innovative, community-based effort that addresses livability may continue.

“In February 2020, funding will switch from CMS to the State of Michigan, but that funding will end in October 2020. We’ll look for sustainable funding, including more support from the State, so we may continue to move the needle when it comes to population health and livability,” said Ramsey.

Proud of the work of so many to improve the quality of life in Muskegon County, Ramsey is hopeful about the future.

“The Livability Lab speaks a lot about Mercy Health because we are committed to making real and relevant changes in our community, for our community, with our community.”

To get involved in the work of the Livability Lab or to learn more, please visit








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.

Erica Cotton Honored with July DAISY Award

Nurse Erica Cotton works on the 7th Floor at the Mercy Campus. A patient recently nominated Erica after receiving medical care at Mercy Health Muskegon. Erica’s patient spoke highly of Erica’s bedside manner. What follows is an excerpt of the nomination form for Erica:

Erica was always kind, compassionate and competent. Her personality was refreshing as she took the time to chit chat with me about things other than medical needs. She kept me calm after my surgery and anticipated my every need.

I know my family felt comfortable leaving me at night when Erica was taking care of me. They trusted that I was safe. Please tell Erica that she was an angel.

Congratulations, Erica, for making such a difference in the life of this patient.

Federal Grant to Prepare More Nurse Practitioners for Rural Communities

Thanks to a $2.8 million federal grant awarded to Grand Valley State University’s Kirkhof College of Nursing (KCON), more nurse practitioners will be delivering health care to people living in rural or underserved areas in Michigan.

The four-year Advanced Nursing Education Workforce Grant, supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, totals $2,799,987.

Through a collaboration with McLaren Health Care and Mercy Health Muskegon, the grant will support 15 qualified students who will enroll in KCON’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.

“The intention is to support registered nurses who are committed to serving the communities where they live with the opportunity to advance their education. A portion of the grant funds will support the students financially, removing a significant barrier to their education,” said Cynthia McCurren, dean of KCON and professor of nursing. The grant allows for five students from Muskegon.

“I am so pleased to be collaborating with such a wonderful academic partner such as Grand Valley State University,” said Kim Maguire, chief nursing officer, Mercy Health Muskegon. “We are extremely fortunate that our organization is forward-thinking enough to embrace these types of partnerships! The DNP student clinical rotations will take place at the NP-led Mercy Health Physician Partners Quarterline Family Medicine clinic that recently opened on the campus of Muskegon Community College.”

The grant includes an emphasis on the use of technology to enhance care delivery. In addition, because patients in some rural areas of Michigan lack access to care for mental or behavioral health disorders, this program will focus on integrating mental and behavioral health care into the primary care setting.

Recruitment of qualified students will begin in July 2019, with the first cohort enrolling in the fall semester.




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

Basil Lang Receives the Security Relationship-based Care, Unit-based Council Officer Achievement Award

On Wednesday May 15, Basil Lang received the Security Relationship-Based Care Unit-Based Council Officer Achievement Award. Basil began his career with Securitas at Mercy Health in Muskegon in 2007, and he has severed with dignity and integrity each and every day.

Officers who work with Basil describe him as being professional, reliable and dedicated to providing the best service imaginable. Basil has worked relentlessly to ensure the patients, families, and colleagues of Mercy Health are greeted with a smile and kind word and leave feeling safe and secure.

Please join us in recognizing Basil’s valiant efforts and many years of dedicated service.

Mercy Health’s Noble Purpose: Transforming Medical Care and Communities

In West Michigan, perhaps no other image better serves to distinguish Mercy Health from other health care organizations than that of the new medical center in Muskegon.

It exemplifies Mercy Health’s commitment to delivering the highest quality patient care and to transforming the lives of the underserved by providing opportunities to participate in meaningful work.

What’s more, this remarkable community transformation is based on the core principles of the Gospel.

The consolidation of three medical campuses into one; the building of a new tower with state-of-the-art technology and patient comforts; the renovation of the existing buildings on the Mercy Campus; and the re-purposing of the Hackley Campus are only part of what makes this multiyear medical center project extraordinary.

Shared Vision

In the years of planning prior to breaking ground in 2016, Mercy Health and its construction firm, The Christman Company, reached out to engage as many local, qualified workers, vendors and subcontractors as possible for this project. Embracing a similar vision and values for the future of West Michigan, the two organizations worked to “build a new medical center” and “build people.”

Together they made an unprecedented commitment to hire as many diverse workers as possible — (as defined by federal guidelines, which measures by the number of women and people of color) — by tapping the local community for the project’s workforce, many of whom had never worked in construction or the trades.

“I’ve worked for more than 30 years in West Michigan, and the largest percentage of diverse workers I’ve seen on any project was 12 percent,” said Lon Morrisson, senior director, facility services and capital projects, Mercy Health Muskegon.

“Although we were committed to providing employment opportunities for as many underserved people as possible — making it possible for them to learn skills that would lead to long-term careers — we hesitated to set a specific goal for our diverse workforce,” continued Morrisson. “We didn’t pick a percentage…we knew we just wanted to do better than before, but we were determined to keep track of our progress.”

The Christman Company has worked in Muskegon for 16 years according to 20-year veteran engineer and Christman Company Senior Project Manager Amy Sullivan. “In the past, diversifying the workforce on a project had been a great goal; however, it can be difficult to find available workers,” said Sullivan.

Remarkable Results

Their diligence has paid off: Of the total 1,100 people who have worked on the project so far*, 33 percent have been diverse. That’s 357 workers!

In addition, The Christman Company has directly employed 29 new workers, which includes construction management staff as well as carpenters and laborers.

Morrisson and Sullivan attribute their success to a collaborative approach with community organizations on this project.

“It’s the first time I’ve worked on a project where we’ve teamed up with others besides our construction company,” said Morrisson.

“To provide employment opportunities for local people during this Mercy Health project, our two organizations partnered with the Urban League of West Michigan, West Michigan Works!, Muskegon Community College, West Shore Community College, Grand Rapids Community College, Muskegon County Intermediate School District and local churches,” said Sullivan.

Noticeable Transformation

Citing Mercy Health’s mission and core values — such as commitment to those who are poor, justice, reverence and stewardship — Morrisson highlighted one core value in particular.

“We laid out a plan, we tracked the plan, and we’ve held ourselves accountable to the plan. That accountability is where Mercy Health’s core value of integrity comes in. We are especially grateful to local clergy for continuing to hold us accountable to our plan to diversify our workforce.”

These are exciting times in Muskegon.

“Cranes are popping up all over. I’d like to think that Mercy Health’s $291 million investment in our community was the catalyst for the tremendous rejuvenation and investment going on locally,” said Morrisson. “It feels like we’ve finally broken through the ceiling in West Michigan.”

*From the Mercy Health Campus Consolidation Project Diversity Outreach Report, which tracks total numbers of diverse workers on the project since the groundbreaking through February 2019.

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.