5th Annual Regional Resident Research Day Winners

The 5th annual Regional Resident Research Day was held on March 26, 2021. This event included scientific presentations by residents from St. Joseph Mercy Oakland, St. Mary Mercy Livonia, and Wayne State University Anesthesia. Presenters discussed clinical case reports, quality improvement studies/educational innovation studies, and original research.

Residents gave over 80 presentations at the event. The winner results by category are listed below, with a more detailed list of their studies here. Thank you to all the participants in the regional event, who all did an excellent job, and congratulations to all our winners! If you have any questions, please contact: Melody Dankha at melody.dankha@stjoeshealth.org.

Original Research Presentation Winners:

  • First Place Winner: Kathleen Stipek, DO – Emergency Medicine – St. Mary Mercy Livonia
  • Second Place Winner: Kaitlin Zaki-Matias, MD and Christopher Zarour, MD – Diagnostic Radiology – St. Joseph Mercy Oakland
  • Third Place Winner: Shelby Booker, DO – OBGYN – St. Joseph Mercy Oakland

Quality Improvement Study Presentation Winners:

  • First Place Winner: Mehvish Khan, PharmD – Pharmacy – St. Joseph Mercy Oakland
  • Second Place Winner: Nick Mills, MD and Rajbir Pannu, MD – Transitional Year – St. Joseph Mercy Oakland
  • 1) Third Place Winner: Anna Shu, DO – General Surgery – St. Joseph Mercy Oakland
  • 2) Third Place Winner: Cameron Strong, MD – Transitional Year/Internal Medicine – St. Mary Mercy Livonia

Case Report Presentation Winners:

  • First Place Winner: Amie Gerodimos, DO – Psychiatry Resident – St. Mary Mercy Livonia
  • Second Place Winner: Jacob Gates, MD – Family Medicine – St. Mary Mercy Livonia
  • Third Place Winner: Jasmeet Kaur, MD and Parveen Dhillon, MS4 – Internal Medicine – St. Joseph Mercy Oakland

Critically Appraised Topic (CAT) presentation Winner:

  • First Place Winner: Michael Zhao, MD – Transitional Year – St. Mary Mercy Livonia

April 26-30 is Patient Experience Week

OAKLAND – Patient Experience Week is an annual event to celebrate healthcare staff impacting patient experience every day. This special week provides a focused time for us to celebrate accomplishments, re-energize efforts and honor the nurses, physicians, support staff and executive professionals who impact patient experience every day. 

Human Connection Challenge
This year, we will be participating in a “Human Connection Challenge” where colleagues are encouraged to “Transform with Compassion” in small personal ways through human connection each day.

Self-Care Contest
We will also have a contest colleagues can enter by answering fill-in-the-blank questions about patient experience for a chance to win a self-care basket of goodies (throw, tea, mug, neck pillow, eye mask, candles, lotion & more). Enter by dropping completed puzzles into the box located at Joe’s Java. Two winners will be drawn and Friday, April 30.

Share Your Personal Experience
Many of us know what it feels like to have a great patient experience. It’s those moments you remember and carry with you for years to come. As our ongoing improvement efforts continue, we are asking that you reflect back on the best patient experience you or a loved one has had.

Share your experience here. We will be using your responses as reflections in meetings, and in Town Halls or other ways to enhance and highlight the importance of the patient experience.

At Home in the Trenches

By Jennifer Hill Buehrer LMSW

I’ve been in health care now for about 19 years.  I think I’ve mentioned before (I mean, it’s been a year… and let’s be honest, I only have so much to say) that it was never a specific goal of mine to work in health care.  I followed my heart, and my life experiences brought me here.  It feels like home to me, in part because I spent a lot of time in hospitals as a kid.  My grandmother was one of those “frequent flyers” we often talk about – with CHF, three different cancers, and countless surgeries that she would talk about like they were badges of honor.  Then I had my own health crisis as a young adult and was forced to find some kind of comfort level in a hospital.  And now I love it here.  It’s hard for me to imagine working anywhere else.

Over the past year of this surreal worldwide crisis, we in health care have seen the community at large to some degree come to recognize what we’ve already known:  that we work every day in the “trenches.”  That term, of course, comes from wartime, in reference to the soldiers who had to live day after day in actual trenches, right up in front where the action was.  They were dirty, and scary, and the soldiers spent hours in close quarters facing life threatening situations together.  It made them like family – maybe even closer.  They at times had to choose whether to put their own lives on the line for their comrades; and when that time came they usually did.  I use past tense, but the fact is that there are people all over the world in that actual situation now.  And I truly believe that we in health care can relate to them, especially over the past 13 months.  And I mean all of us in health care, because we all play an important part.  Not just those at the bedside.

As the trench workers throughout this pandemic we are affected by it in a unique way.  And I believe that will continue to be true for years to come.  We know the best and the worst that it has brought out in people.  And we know the bond that comes with being comrades in the trenches.  It’s difficult for me to put into words what that bond is like – even in conversation with my own comrades.  The way we interact with each other is different from any other work environment I’ve experienced (and I’m getting old so I have a reasonably good-sized frame of reference).  I also think that we have a unique drive to look out for each other and support each other. Maybe it’s because we do face life and death nearly every day.  The fragility of human life is something that most people walking around out there don’t have to think about most of the time; we see it daily.  If we’re paying attention, this reality alone gives us special insight.  And if we’re smart, it also gives us a drive to savor moments, and avoid wasting time on things that don’t matter in the long run.  Or things that don’t make us happy or fulfilled.

I realize this is an optimistic take, but hey, that’s what I’m here for.  This bond that working in the trenches together gives us is going to be essential to our individual and collective healing over this thing.  When I think about the community as a whole, I think about it bouncing back after the pandemic.  But for us, it’s going to mean healing.  And it’s going to require every one of us to continue to be present for our comrades in the trenches.  Trust me – being present for others in their healing is what gives us the best chance of healing ourselves.

Guidance for Those Who are Fully Vaccinated Against COVID-19

COVID-19 vaccines are effective at protecting you from getting sick. As more of us become fully vaccinated against COVID-19, CDC guidance advises fully vaccinated people can start to do some things they had stopped doing. People are considered fully vaccinated:  

Two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
Two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine  

Here’s what you can start doing if you’re fully vaccinated:  

You can gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask.

You can gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household (for example, visiting with relatives who all live together) without masks, unless any of those people or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

If you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms. (However, if you live in a group setting and are around someone who has COVID-19, you should still stay away from others for 14 days and get tested, even if you don’t have symptoms.)  

You Seem… Different

By Jennifer Hill Buehrer LMSW

I was reading an interesting, and frankly discouraging, article this week in the New York Times about how nursing homes, which have been the most restricted places in the country through this pandemic, are starting to open up, and what that is revealing.  The author spoke to families of elderly loved ones in nursing homes who, now that they are allowed to visit, are finding people to be different:  more frail, less engaged, and ultimately reminders of the year that was lost.

Many of us still have not seen most of our extended family members.  I haven’t seen my nieces and nephews who live in another state in over a year and a half.  It’s been even longer since my father saw his grandchildren.  We look forward to reunions that we all hope will happen this year and anticipate how joyful it will be.  I never really stopped to think how those reunions might be tinged with grief for the year that was lost, and all the milestones missed.   I’ve shared in previous articles that my father has Alzheimer’s.  By the time he sees his grandkids again, they will hardly recognize him.  He may or may not recognize them, literally.

I know – this column isn’t supposed to make you feel worse.  That is certainly not my intention in writing today.  But the fact is that we’re all grieving something – or things – as a result of this pandemic.  And it’s important for us to acknowledge it, talk about it, and process it (we social workers looove to process).  At the same time, it makes me think about how this experience has likely changed all of us in one way or another.  This grief of which I speak is in response to changes that aren’t good ones.  But I do not believe that all the change that you and I have experienced over this past year has been bad.  I simply have to believe that this pandemic has led many if not most of us to grow or change in some way that makes us better.  It might be that we won’t always see that until we get to the other side of it.

What kinds of changes in yourself and your life have you seen over this yearlong challenge?  Have you been cooking more, maybe reinstating the family dinner?  Have you taken up a hobby you never considered before, or made some progress with hobbies you might have neglected?  Or maybe there’s been something deeper or bigger that has changed for you.  Maybe you’ve tapped into a well of empathy you didn’t know was there until you were in a position of watching other people struggle through this pandemic.  Maybe you’ve decided it’s time to completely change your personal or professional life.  As we roll on, and it seems that the changes in our everyday lives are going to continue much longer than any of us expected, I think it’s helpful to step back and examine ourselves in this context.  Nothing gives you the opportunity for self-reflection and improvement like a collective crisis – one that forces change, whether you like it or not.

I think in order for us to survive the grief that comes with the negative impact of the pandemic, even as we see cases increase yet again, we have to be intentional about making and maintaining positive changes in ourselves.  Whether it’s self-examination, self-improvement, or positive action in support of others, each of us can find a way to come out of this thing better people – or at the very least more authentic.  I’m starting to think that I’m only just beginning to see some of the ways it’s changed me.  And one way or another, I intend to make it a good thing.

Jennifer Buehrer, LMSW is a palliative care social worker at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor.

Steps to Take for Friends and Family Who Are Interested in the COVID-19 Vaccine

Now that COVID-19 vaccine eligibility requirements have expanded in Michigan, many in our community are seeking vaccine appointments. At Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, we have opened an eligibility questionnaire within MyChart to help determine who is interested in receiving the vaccine. Instructions are included below.

Those interested in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine should sign up or log in to their MyChart account at www.stjoeshealth.org/mychart. Once in MyChart, the questionnaire form is available on the home page to be filled out. Please complete the form to indicate your interest in the vaccine.

Vaccine eligibility questionnaire notification in MyChart

If vaccine appointments open at any of our locations, you may be notified either by email or text from MyChart to schedule an appointment at one of our hospital or physician office locations that has available vaccine. The notification is not immediate, and the length of time before you receive a notification may vary depending on vaccine availability. The link can be found on St. Joe’s scheduling webpage at https://www.stjoeshealth.org/health-and-wellness/covid-19/schedule-vaccine.

Please be aware that completing this survey does not guarantee a scheduled appointment, as appointments are based on vaccine availability. We encourage you to take advantage of all alternatives to receive the vaccine through your local health department or pharmacy should you be given an opportunity to be vaccinated. Thank you for your continued patience.

For the latest COVID-19 vaccine information, please visit www.stjoeshealth.org/health-and-wellness/covid-19/vaccine.

St. Joe’s Oakland Selected for Trinity Health’s COVID-19 Vaccine Social Media, Community Engagement Campaign

OAKLAND – Trinity Health is proud to announce the launch of It Starts Here, a $1.6 million COVID-19 vaccine campaign designed to engage community influencers. Twenty-four health ministries were chosen across Trinity Health for this campaign, including St. Joseph Mercy Oakland. The campaign’s goals are to accelerate local efforts to:

  • Build trust in the vaccine and community capacity to offer vaccine clinics.
  • Raise awareness and educate the public about the vaccine.
  • Offer vaccination in accessible locations, particularly for communities of color and those who are vulnerable, such as the elderly or homeless.

This exciting new campaign includes community health and well-being grant funding for local community-based organizations.  By engaging local influencers who represent the culture and ethnicity of the people in our communities we plan to improve access to COVID-19 vaccination and education.

“The It Starts Here campaign is an opportunity for Trinity Health to increase awareness and support local actions that will save lives,” said Julie Washington, chief marketing, communications and experience officer.

“COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted communities of color and those who are vulnerable,” added David Bowman, Director, Community Health & Well-being at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland.

“St. Joseph Mercy Oakland is committed to being a transforming and healing presence in the communities we serve, especially Pontiac. The It Starts Here campaign demonstrates this commitment.”

All Trinity Health regions are receiving grant funding with local Health Ministry funding levels ranging from $30,000-$75,000. Seventeen of the twenty-four ministries and nearly 80 percent of dollars awarded are supporting prioritized communities—defined as 40 percent non-white and/or Native American.

One hundred percent of grant dollars will be provided to community-based organizations to support community outreach activities, which run now through the end of the year and include, but are not limited to:

  • Community Champions providing door-to-door outreach/canvassing
  • Virtual Townhalls, community meetings with local experts
  • Coordinating outreach and vaccine events alongside food assistance organizations
  • Local social media influencers to provide vaccine information to their online followers
  • Telephone outreach to ensure patients are aware of local vaccination opportunities
  • Vaccine clinic scheduling and registration
  • Transportation to vaccine events
  • Mini-grants to community-based and faith-based organizations to engage in grassroots outreach campaigns
  • Interpreter services provided during vaccine clinics

Locally, Marketing and Communications has partnered with Community Health and Well-Being to make this campaign possible, using grants to fund local work. If you have any questions, please contact David Bowman at david.bowman001@stjoeshealth.org.

Trinity Health Announces Response to Accellion Data Security Event; Establishes Hotline to Answer Questions

Earlier this year, Accellion, a third-party vendor partner Trinity Health and many other companies use for large file transfers, was the target of a cyberattack. It is important to know, the cybercriminals did not attack Trinity Health’s or any affiliated ministry’s information systems, such as medical records systems. Upon learning of this security issue, Trinity Health immediately stopped using this service and launched an investigation to determine which files may have been compromised.

Trinity Health began notifying patients and colleagues who may have been affected by this security event via U.S. mail on April 5. To help answer related questions, Trinity Health has established a dedicated hotline. If anyone has concerns or questions regarding the incident, please share the call center number (855) 935-6070.

As you know, at Trinity Health, safety is a top priority—including the safety of personal information. Trinity Health continues to investigate if any additional files were accessed.

Trinity Health deeply regrets that this incident occurred and apologizes for any concern or inconvenience experienced. Thank you for your continued support of our Mission.

Local Livonia Retiree Thanks Staff After Recovering from COVID-19

LIVONIA – Our St. Mary Mercy Livonia family extends its warmest wishes to Roger Jones and his wife Terri. Roger, a local Livonia retiree, was recently discharged home from St. Mary Mercy after being admitted to the hospital on January 18, following complications from COVID-19. 

Following a positive COVID-19 test in late December, Roger had been in isolation at home when his health quickly deteriorated. In fact, as he tells it, he doesn’t have any recollection beyond the ambulance ride to the hospital.

After spending a day on a ventilator in the hospital, Roger’s condition improved, he began breathing on his own again, and he regained consciousness.

“In the beginning, I was scared to death. I remember sitting up in the hospital alone thinking, tonight might be the night I die.”

Fortunately for Roger, his doctors and nurses had other plans for him.

After a slow but steady improvement over two weeks, Roger was transferred to inpatient rehabilitation. For the next 50 days, this is where Roger would eat, sleep and push himself to get stronger.

“Basically couldn’t do anything when I arrived in rehab,” he said. “I couldn’t walk and I could hardly move my arms.”

“My first day there I remember one of the female workers asking me if I could do something for her,” he said. “I told her, ‘I can’t.'”

“She responded by telling me that I needed to get that word out of my vocabulary. It was the best advice I could have ever received.”

“Rehab was wonderful,” he said. “They were very patient and encouraging with me. The encouragement was just as valuable as the actual therapy I received, and it came from everybody.”

While Roger still has much work to do, he has come a long way from those precarious first few days he spent in the hospital.

“God gave me a second chance and I’m not going to mess it up,” he said.

Asked what plans he had for when he returned home, he responded, “I want to see my kids and my grandkids. I have a lot more work to do too.”

Women’s History Month: Highlighting Hospital-Based Farm Trailblazer Amanda Sweetman

You don’t have to be a member of a farming community to admire Amanda Sweetman.

Anyone associated with health care can appreciate her passion to join people on their path toward better health. In her work as the Regional Director of Farming and Healthy Lifestyles for Trinity Health Michigan, her vision and passion for creating a healthy community is making a difference for patients, colleagues and local farmers.

Sweetman started with St. Joe’s Ann Arbor in 2015 as the manager of the Farm at St. Joe’s. Established in 2010, the Farm was started as part of the vision of leaders to make healthy food more accessible. Sweetman’s willingness to take on challenges and grow in her role have benefitted not only the Farm at St. Joe’s but other locations across the state.

Sweetman has sowed the seeds of hospital-based farm programs at Mercy Health and St. Joe’s hospitals across the state. St. Joe’s Oakland established a farm on campus in 2019 (watch video). Mercy Health Muskegon has a farm on the Hackley campus, McLaughlin Grows, run by a local non-profit, Community enCompass. Sweetman sits on their steering committee. St. Joe’s Brighton has the Family Medicine Residency Garden. And she’s developing the Good Food Box to serve chronically-ill patients who are food insecure.

Through farming and community-based programming, ” we can take health care out of the hospital and put health into people’s hands,” said Sweetman.

A Pioneering Woman

Amanda Sweetman’s path has been far from traditional. She has worked as a scientist, farmer, educator and chef. Becoming the farm manager at the Farm at St. Joe’s was a dream come true. Her strengths and experiences, paired with leadership support and community investment, created astounding growth of programming and positive results.

In 2019, she transitioned to the newly created role of regional director of Farming and Healthy Lifestyles for Trinity Health Michigan.

“I have a pretty unique job. I’m probably the only person in the country with my job title working for a health system. It really highlights Trinity Health Michigan’s commitment to their mission to be a transforming healing presence.”

A highlight of her work is the community of women who surround the Farm. The majority of Sweetman’s team — which includes volunteers, interns and paid staff — are women. “So many of our partners are women, such as the Lifestyle Medicine team and our Community Health and Wellbeing leaders. I am inspired everyday by the skill and passion these women bring to the table.”

Teaching people — especially women — about the joys of farming and accomplishing hard physical tasks (even if you’re small statured), is part of what keeps Sweetman fulfilled. “The smile on someone’s face the first time they accomplish something they thought they couldn’t is priceless.”

Local Food Matters

“Food is really at the heart of who we are. When you eat well you feel well, and when you buy local you are getting a delicious, nutritious product that supports not only your own wellbeing but also that of the local environment and economy. Farmers are our neighbors and the stewards of our land. When we invest in them, they invest in us.”

Sweetman works hard to make it easy for people of all income levels to have access to this life-giving food. Of the many programs she runs, the collaborative Farm Share has become the star.

The Farm Share is St Joe’s version of a Community Supported Agriculture Program (CSA), which in a standard setting would connect paying customers would become members of one farm’s program for the year. Sweetman’s love for community and a desire to invest in the local food economy drove her to start a collaborative program that offered subsidized memberships to people with financial need.

What began with two farms and 30 members in 2015, has blossomed into a program with 13 farms and 250 weekly members. The program generated $130,000 for local farms last year and gave 83 food insecure families free 36-week memberships.

The Farm Share is such a success that they are building a brick and mortar Food Hub where the program will continue to grow, educate and support its community.

Sweetman has also created the Produce to Patients program, which provides 14 clinics with free produce to distribute to patients. In 2019, 4,200 servings of produce were sent out through providers to patients in need. “What a powerful message to get a bag of freshly-picked food at your doctor appointment. The commitment of the providers to pick up and distribute the food makes me proud to be part of St. Joe’s where health really does come first,” remarks Sweetman.

The Good Food Box

Innovation is part of Sweetman’s soul. “In five years, we want our providers to be as comfortable prescribing food as they are prescribing medicine today,” she said.

Sweetman recently submitted a grant to the Michigan Health Endowment Fund to receive support for a clinically-integrated food program she calls the Good Food Box. Here is how it would work: If you have a chronic condition — such as unmanaged diabetes, and you are food insecure — your doctor can refer you to the Good Food Box and you will receive a delivery of healthy pantry staples and Michigan produce every other week for six to 12 months. St. Joe’s will also offer cooking classes.

“I’m hopeful that within the next five years all of the Trinity Health hospitals in Michigan will have the Good Food Box. You don’t need a farm onsite to make this happen. It is a matter of finding community partners — such as food hubs and food banks — and local farmers to collaborate for community health,” said Sweetman.

Sweetman says that, in many ways, we are what we eat. “I encourage people to get involved and to be curious about where their food comes from and how it can promote their health and that of their neighborhood and our planet.”

Join Amanda on the path to better health. Follow the Farm on social media, get your hands in the dirt, and get connected to local food.

The Farm at St. Joe’s in Ann Arbor

Brighton Family Medicine Residency Garden

The Farm at St. Joe’s Oakland

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