World Refugee Day 2021 Reflection


June 20, 2021
Sr. Rita Levasseur – Vice President, Mission, Holy Cross Health, Fort Lauderdale

World Refugee Day is an international day designated by the United Nations to honor refugees around the globe. It falls each year on June 20 and celebrates the strength and courage of people who have been forced to flee their home country to escape conflict or persecution. World Refugee Day is an occasion to build empathy and understanding for their plight and to recognize their resilience in rebuilding their lives.

World Refugee Day shines a light on the rights, needs and dreams of refugees. These brothers and sisters of ours are trying to escape difficult situations to find safety and peace. They are looking for a better place for themselves and their families. How often do such people fail to find understanding, fail to find acceptance and fail to find solidarity? Before arriving at their refuge, they often find themselves at the mercy of traffickers, people who exploit them and people who live off the misery of others. Some of them never make it. I invite you to take time to reflect how you can be in solidarity with refugees especially in your    communities. How can you be a voice for them?

Let us pray in solidarity with all refugees by praying together this prayer Pope Francis wrote  for World Refugee Day.

Lord Jesus, you were once a stranger in a new land, whose family sought safety and refuge. Together we remember and ask you to hold all those who have been driven from and are fleeing their homes.

Enliven in us your welcoming spirit, that we make seek to wholly and open heartedly receive those most in need. Give us courage to advocate for refugees around the world and to help create new homes for them in our own communities.

Be a source of strength for those without their homes, A solid and secure ground for those feeling unsafe, unsettled and unwelcomed. Console them in their time of need, giving solace during a time of great fear and desperation. Keep us from our own fear, that we may only see your face in those seeking refuge. Deliver us all into your mercy that we may share that mercy and love with your beloved children.

In your name we pray. Amen

The Return of Touch

By Jennifer Hill Buehrer LMSW

Over the past (gulp) 15 months, we’ve been strongly encouraged – or even required in many places – to forego any kind of physical contact with anyone outside our own households.  The purpose, of course, has been to do whatever we could to avoid spreading germs and worsening the COVID crisis.  We’ve stopped shaking hands altogether – something that is natural and automatic for most of us, especially in a professional setting.  I can’t tell you how many hands I’m accustomed to shaking in a given workday.  But now, even when the urge strikes me as I introduce myself, I automatically stifle it and nod my head or clasp my hands behind my back to make it clear I’m not expecting a touch.  We do what we have to do, especially in a hospital.

Now that most of us are getting the vaccine, or have been vaccinated for a while now, the availability of touch and more natural interaction with other humans is starting to resurface.  I had a couple of friends I hugged throughout the crisis, because I’m just not willing to give it up altogether.  But now I’m more apt to hug a larger group of friends and loved ones.  Just last night I hugged a couple of friends who were visiting from out of state – people I hadn’t touched in well over a year.  I do still find that many others are hesitant, even if we’ve both been vaccinated.  Even the CDC tells us it’s ok, but it’s just not that easy falling back into those old habits.  This pandemic has left a lot of us traumatized, nervous or scared, and still struggling with a lot of grief and exhaustion.  Under normal circumstances hugging people we care about would help us with those feelings.  Given this brand new situation, what do we do?

Touch is one of those things that has biological, psychological, and emotional benefits from the time we are born.  Babies who are not touched regularly don’t thrive and can even die as a result.  It is not unusual for someone who lives in isolation with little to no opportunity for human touch to have symptoms of depression, and even physical illness.  I think we would all expect that once we’re allowed to touch more freely and express affection to the people in our social circles, we would be relieved and eager to reach out.  But I just don’t think it’s that easy, having been through what we have.  Touch has become something to fear, something that can cause illness or even death… I know that sounds melodramatic but I truly don’t think it’s overstating the problem.  Our brains aren’t always completely rational, and those feelings can surface regardless of how we might try to rationalize them away.

I guess I think it’s important for us to really put some effort into addressing this irrational (or is it?) fear of touch.  Like with many things involved in the reopening of our communities, it might work best for us to take it slow.  Start by shaking hands again.  In my personal and professional lives both, it’s become commonplace to start an exchange with, “I’m fully vaccinated.”  It’s like giving permission to exhale, reach out a hand, or even pull a mask down to talk, in those settings where that is allowed.  It’s ok if you don’t feel comfortable doing all of those things in a social setting, but maybe consider starting with one of them.  I think it will ultimately help with those feelings of anxiety and trepidation.  We have to start somewhere, and we have to find a way back to being comfortable with touch.  A lack of touch may not prevent us from thriving in the way it does an infant, but it can keep us from thriving emotionally and psychically.  And I think we’ve had enough challenges to that over the past year and a half.

SJMAA DAISY Winners Live the Ideals of Nursing

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and before, our nurses demonstrated remarkable commitment to providing the best care possible for St. Joe’s patients and showing compassion for their families. We are proud to spotlight the following DAISY Winners:

Scott Dorchak, RN, Unit 4N

March 2020 DAISY Award

Scott began as a holding room technician in the radiology department in 2012 and continuously strived to expand his skills. While working as a holding room tech, Scott attended classes at Henry Ford College where he obtained an Associate Degree in Nursing. He started his nursing career on 4N in 2019. Scott is currently taking classes at Eastern Michigan University to further his education and to obtain his Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Scott is kind and compassionate and has a true passion for nursing. He provides high-quality nursing care that has a profound impact on the patients that he cares for every day. The daughter of one such patient was deeply touched by Scott’s skill and professionalism, but also appreciated his humanity. “He spoke to my mom with compassion and even made her smile during difficult procedures. Scott connected with my mom on her heritage … he is a role model of caring compassion.”

He is always positive and willing to jump in and help his team. Scott represents the mission, values, and vision of St. Joe’s in everything he does and we are proud to have him as a part of our team.

Aurora Rickelmann, BSN, RN, SICU

June 2020 DAISY Award

Since Aurora “Rory” Rickelmann, BSN, RN, started at St. Joe’s in 2019, she has been a dedicated, compassionate nurse who embodies our healing mission. She helped our fellow nurses and patients on our COVID unit before she transitioned into a SICU nursing unit.

She has been very successful in her career and we are lucky to have her on our team. Aurora was nominated for the DAISY award by a patient who had been transferred from another health system.  The patient and their family soon realized they were in exceptional hands and could expect great care – “I was impressed by Rory’s ability to think quickly on her feet and make decisions that turned out of the best…The sky is the limit for her.

Congratulations to Aurora and we thank you for your commitment to our patients.

Nicole Stacy, RN, MICU

March 2020 DAISY Award

Nicole Stacy has been a vital member of the MICU team since April of 2019. Nicole clearly demonstrates compassion and respect for others. Her patients and peers see how much she cares in the way Nicole does everything within her power to make their experience better. MICU admissions are often difficult for patients and their families and Nicole’s nurturing spirit is profoundly helpful. She is fully in tune with the needs of her patients and works hard to ensure she exceeds even the highest expectations. She is a talented caregiver who keeps her efforts focused on patients while supporting the team. Nicole uses her abilities to be an extremely effective preceptor and charge nurse. Her commitment to affirming everyone’s value was apparent to the family of a stroke patient – “Nicole made it apparent that our family member truly mattered, was worthy of love and excellent care.”  When the patient was self-conscious because of the side-effects from the stroke, Nicole assured her with compassion and respect – helping to calm the patient and the concerned family.     

Thank you and congratulations Nicole for living the highest ideals of the DAISY Award. 

Juneteenth Day Reflection

Sean Lansing, PhD – Director, Mission Integration, Mount Carmel Health System, Columbus

On June 19, 1865 Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, TX, and announced that all previously enslaved people were free. This was more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation when Union troops finally made it that far south.

This day has been memorialized in celebration ever since and is now known as the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery. It is commonly known as Juneteenth Day.

For many communities all over the United States of America, Juneteenth Day is a time spent with families and the community reflecting on what freedom means. It is also a day of education about our history as a country and our relationship to slavery and racism. It is an opportunity to look back, so as we look forward, we walk toward a future of emancipation for all people from racism and all that divides us from being one human family.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has written a prayer service for racial healing in our land. The following prayer comes from that prayer service.

God of Heaven and Earth,

You created the one human family and endowed each person with great dignity. Aid us, we pray, in overcoming the sin of racism.

Grant us your grace in eliminating this blight from our hearts, our communities, our social and civil institutions. Fill our hearts with love for you and our neighbor so that we may work with you in healing our land from racial injustice.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Colleague Award Programs Resume at St. Joe’s Oakland; Nominate Your Colleagues Today

OAKLAND – After pausing some of our programs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, St. Joe’s Oakland is excited to share that we are resuming our BeRemarkable Awards and TEAM Awards.

The BeRemarkable Award honors outstanding colleagues who embody our core values. To qualify, a colleague must have been employed by St. Joe’s for at least six months, and must not be a member of the management team. To nominate a colleague for this award, please complete this form: https://www.stjoeshealth.org/for-staff/colleague-award-nomination-form

The T.E.A.M. Award (Together Everyone Achieves More) celebrates extraordinary teams who have positively impact patient safety and/or colleague and patient satisfaction, or who have positively transformed operations. This is open to all teams, department, and committees at SJMHS. To nominate a group for the T.E.A.M. Award, please complete this form: https://www.stjoeshealth.org/for-staff/t.e.a.m-award-nomination-form

Our colleagues do incredible things every day, going above and beyond to serve patients and each other. Please help us recognize our colleagues by submitting these nomination forms and telling us about their extraordinary contributions.

The History of the Pride Flag

By Jacob Rosneck, Medical Social Worker, St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea

June is Pride month. A time to celebrate the movement, culture and triumphs of our LGBT friends and colleagues. Pride is celebrated in June as a commemoration to honor the Stonewall riots of New York City in 1969, an event that many consider to be the beginning of the LGBT rights revolution. Throughout the month and across the country, major cities organize elaborate parades, filled with diverse, and accepting people proudly waving every size rainbow flag imaginable. These flags serve as beacons of courage for all who fought bravely, who paved the way for LGBT equality in the United States.  You may find these flags displayed outside various establishments, signaling that you are in a safe space and among allies, free from judgement or danger.

While most of us are aware of the flag as a symbol, one may be less aware that each color has a special meaning behind it.  There have been several variations of this flag created throughout the years. More recently there are about as many different versions of the flag as there are sexual orientation & gender identities.

The original flag was fashioned in 1978 by Gilbert Baker, of San Francisco. The six colors that he used are the same six you would find in a rainbow.

The Red is a symbol of life

The orange is a symbol for healing

Yellow represents the sun

Green for nature

Royal Blue means harmony

And Violet to represent spirit

Each color alone may carry a simpler meaning, yet together they form a vibrant rainbow, as a flag flying proudly with a history that illustrates the tenacity of the human spirit.

So, throughout this month, I invite you to search for the flags, and when you see one, may it be a subtle reminder of the hope, alliance and solidarity amongst all who find meaning.

REMINDER: COVID-19 Paid Leave Ended on May 31, After Several Extensions Over the Past Year

The Trinity Health COVID-19 Paid Leave policy was in place since March of 2020 and was extended several times before recently ending on May 31, 2021. With the continued availability of personal protective equipment and the widescale accessibility of COVID-19 vaccine for all colleagues, we believe reasonable protections are in place. Thank you for your hard work and ongoing dedication to our patients.

Jennifer Hack Helps Patient on Road to Recovery, Receives DAISY Award

LIVONIA – For patients facing a substance use disorder, a health provider’s kindness and lack of judgment can make a world of difference. For one patient struggling with alcohol addiction, Jennifer Hack, an RN on 3 South, was that person. Her compassion earned her this month’s DAISY Award.

In the nomination form, the patient wrote, “I was admitted as an alcoholic.  Knowing that I brought this upon myself, I had not anticipated the level of attention, commitment, dedication, and kindness that an individual I had never met could show a person… Jen communicated with my family in clear detail, so that they could understand fully what was going on.  She stayed extra to communicate with the next shift to discuss my case, as I was sort of a medical mystery as to what was affecting my system besides the alcohol.  At one point Jen went above and beyond even bleaching the entire bathroom.  As I began to feel better Jen would check on me often, more so than she needed to.”

The patient then discussed how comfortable they felt confiding in Jen, and added, “I looked forward to every time she came into my room with her humor, passion for her job, support for her co-workers, and the attention to detail in everything she does… People like Jen are rare.”

Thank you, Jen, for going above and beyond to make this patient feel cared for and comfortable during a stressful time.

Music Soothes the Savage Breast… or Maybe Boxing

By Jennifer Hill Buehrer LMSW

Today I listened to a ten-minute violin solo that was composed by someone who was inspired by the coronavirus.  This may seem pretty strange to you; I thought it was a little bit, but I also understand it.  Music has always evoked emotions for me more strongly and quickly than almost anything else.  Given all the ways this virus has had such dramatic impact on our lives, as I’ve been highlighting for the past year in this column, it’s not all that hard for me to grasp being inspired to write a song about it.

I’m an extremely emotional person, as I think I’ve shared before, and anyone who really knows me knows how close to the surface my feelings always are.  At times I can come off as aloof, and often it’s my way of protecting myself and those inch-deep emotions from blasting everyone around me.  For me and for many others, music tears away those protective layers of tissue.  So, for me it’s a coping mechanism but one that I have to save for after work and generally when I’m alone.  Music will take me to a place where I can’t control my emotions the way I need to when I’m at work. But boy does it feel good to let it go once I’m in the right space.

It turns out that this virus and what it’s done to people can do something similar.  I know there are a lot of us walking around feeling like we’re about to blow – or feeling like anyone saying the wrong thing at the wrong time will leave us in a puddle on the floor, unable to function for the rest of the day.  I see it in your faces, or hear it in your voices, when you stop me in the hall to comment on my last article.  Trust me, I get it.  I think it’s essential that everyone has the chance to take a few minutes to release the pressure valve on those days:  ask someone to cover for you so you can go cry in the stairwell or take a walk outside around the campus.  I know it’s easier for some than others – when you’re at the bedside or running from meeting to meeting it can be hard to get away – but sometimes this is also an excuse, and it’s one you need to let go.  If you don’t take a few minutes to engage that favorite (preferably healthy) coping strategy now and then, you’re not going to survive this long term.

While music is what brings the feelings out for me, it might be something entirely different for you.  Some people like to hit things.  I actually admire that, and I carry with me a deep desire to learn to box.  Others run… paint… hammer things.  I think your best bet is a combination of things.  The idea is getting it OUT.  Right?  Think about those emotions as toxic fumes that need to be expelled.  Talking about them is good; I talk to a therapist regularly.  Even writing these articles every week or two has been really helpful for me.  But it’s not enough. Those feelings are energy, and in order not to carry them with you everywhere and watch them eat away at your insides, you have to get that energy OUT.  Sorry for the morbid metaphor, but that’s how I see it.  After I talk for a bit, I put on music, hop on the elliptical or bike, and release the toxins.

We’re just getting started on our recovery from this whole thing, and between vaccinating (which I seriously hope you’ve done by now) and starting to be able to see our loved ones and gather as a result of it, it’s beginning to feel a little hopeful.  But I promise you that with that hope comes anxiety, trepidation, and grief for what we’ve lost.  So, don’t stop paying attention to those nasty feelings in your gut and doing what you need to do to release them.  Your savage breast will thank you.

Easy Tips for Gut Health

Following the sample of Yakult probiotic drinks, Abby McCleery, Colleague Lifestyle & Wellness Coordinator, shares these tips for good gut health.   The trillions of bacteria that live in our gut play an important role in our health.  What we eat determines what kind of bacteria grows in our gut, and of the thousands of species of gut microbiome that live there, some are healthy for our bodies and some are not.  Research shows that a diet that includes lots of different plant foods can improve the health and diversity of our gut microbes, preventing and treating conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and inflammation.  Here are some tips to help increase the good bacteria in our gut:

  1. Eat lots of fiber.  High fiber foods, like whole grains, beans, and whole fruits and vegetables feed the healthy bacteria that improve immune function, decrease inflammation, and can even help stabilize mood.
  2. Eat foods rich in prebiotics.  Prebiotics feed the healthy bacteria in your gut.  Try incorporating leeks, onions, garlic, asparagus, beans, spinach, bananas, oats and soybeans in your diet.
  3. Eat probiotic foods.  Probiotics are live bacteria or yeasts found in fermented foods that, when eaten, take up residence in your gut and improve health.  Sauerkraut, tempeh, miso, and kimchi are good examples.
  4. Engage in a healthy lifestyle.  Getting enough sleep and exercise, breathing in different outdoor environments, and effectively managing stress can all have a positive impact on your gut microbes.

For more information, you can visit The Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (pcrm.org) as well as NutritionFacts.org.