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Expanding Michigan Medicine’s footprint: West Ann Arbor-Parkland Plaza takes shape

August 22nd, 2017

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Patients will soon have even more options when it comes to obtaining world-class care from Michigan Medicine.

Following a recent kick-off meeting, call center team members began scheduling the first Parkland Plaza appointments today, a major milestone in the development of the project. The state-of-the-art facility is scheduled to open Nov. 27 and will house more than 20 adult and pediatric primary and specialty care services.

“It’s an exciting time for everyone at Michigan Medicine,” said Rachel Wiltse, senior project manager. “It’s an organizational priority to expand our care to reach as many patients — and touch as many lives — as possible. We are reinvesting in the community and ensuring that great health care is available to patients across the region.”

‘A win-win for everyone’

The new health center is designed to help doctors, nurses, therapists and staff members provide a high-quality patient experience in an alternate and convenient location.

“With it being closer to many of their homes, patients will see Parkland Plaza as a viable option for their appointments the day the facility opens,” said Nichole Goodin, a training manager who is assisting with the project. “So we’re meeting a demand in the community — while at the same time easing congestion at the academic medical center. It’s truly a win-win for everyone.”

A wide range of services

With 75,000 square feet of space, Parkland Plaza will host a variety of different departments and ambulatory services. The facility will also house a blood-draw lab and a radiology unit for general imaging, CT scans, ultrasounds and mammography.

“It will be a cutting-edge facility for all types of patients,” said Yvette Salamey, senior project manager. “From treating newborns to caring for our oldest patients, Parkland Plaza demonstrates the versatile and impressive work performed across Michigan Medicine.”

Click here for more information about West Ann Arbor-Parkland Plaza.

Employees give ‘two thumbs up’ to Ice Cream Social, Researchpalooza

August 21st, 2017

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It was a star-studded day at Michigan Medicine as employees gathered Wednesday for the annual Ice Cream Social and Researchpalooza.

The Hollywood-themed event recognized the hard work and dedication of faculty and staff and treated them to music, games, giveaways and sweets.

“It’s not often you get to have employees from every discipline come together to meet each other and see what kind of work they do,” said David Vanderstelt, an ECMO specialist. “On top of that, we get a chance to step away, eat ice cream and appreciate the beautiful weather. What could be better?”

Employees stole the spotlight all day long as they sang karaoke and posed for cameras along the red carpet while the organization’s leaders exercised their arm muscles scooping up generous servings of ice cream.

“Michigan Medicine’s reputation as one of the best academic medical centers in the country is because of the efforts of our faculty and staff,” said Steve Bernstein, M.D., MPH, associate dean for clinical affairs and chief quality officer. “I believe it’s important to show our appreciation and celebrate the outstanding work our staff does in delivering the highest quality and safest care, performing ground-breaking research, and educating the next generation of providers. I feel privileged to work with our team and to be able to show my thanks by providing a cool treat on a hot day.”

Researchpalooza a blockbuster hit

In conjunction with the Ice Cream Social, the research community gathered in the med school courtyard for Researchpalooza to learn about each other’s work and services.

Hank Paulson, M.D., Ph.D., Lucille Groff Professor of Neurology and director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Center, had ample opportunity to cool off in the center’s dunk tank, while the Office of Regulatory Affairs brought two dogs to meet with faculty and staff.

The Department of Communication, meanwhile, used its booth to sign up subscribers for the new Michigan Health Lab research news website, a platform to share stories about the achievements of Michigan Medicine researchers and educators.

The department challenged anyone involved in research to explain their work in about 30 seconds, on camera, in language that anyone can understand. See how one team member did at describing her work:


And the winner is …

New this year, a raffle was held to give away themed gift baskets donated by vendors and departments as a token of their appreciation. All employees — whether they attended the Ice Cream Social or not — were entered into the raffle.

Congratulations to the following winners!

Thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s festivities and be sure to check out the photo gallery above to see who was caught by the paparazzi during the event!

Week in Review: Week of Aug. 14, 2017

August 18th, 2017

It’s time to get caught up with another Headlines Week in Review!

This week, one dedicated nurse shared how Michigan Medicine has changed — and stayed the same — during her 42 years with the organization; faculty and staff learned how they can help area children have a successful school year by donating much-needed supplies; employees were introduced to the Guest Assistance Program to help them take service to the next level; and impressive colleagues were honored for making a difference to patients and families.

In case you missed it, here’s the latest!

Our Nurses Know: Dedication

From new medications administered to patients to the implementation of computers in every aspect of health care, Gretel Quitmeyer has seen a lot of things change since she joined Michigan Medicine in 1975. But over the years, she’s also seen some things stay constant, including the impressive people she works with and their focus on patients and families. Click here to read Gretel’s story of dedication and perseverance.

Give back: Help our community kids go back-to-school

Every year, Michigan Medicine employees help kids in the area go back-to-school through the organization’s school supply drive. New this year, faculty and staff are also encouraged to assist support Maggie’s Marketplace, a first-of-its-kind food pantry at the Ypsilanti Health Center. Find out how you can support both of these worthy causes!

Service Spotlight: Guest Assistance Program

Patients often have a lot on their mind, such as learning about a diagnosis or understanding how to implement treatment plans. While focusing on their health care, the Guest Assistance Program (GAP) has a dedicated team of social workers working to assist visitors with nonmedical needs like transportation, lodging and insurance concerns. Take service up a notch by learning more about GAP!

Making a Difference: July 2017 highlights

Employees across Michigan Medicine continue to make a difference through their hard work and dedication. Click through to read about some of your remarkable colleagues who received recognition from a patient, family member or coworker last month.

Our Nurses Know: Dedication

August 17th, 2017

Gretel Quitmeyer has helped treat Michigan Medicine patients since 1975.

For Gretel Quitmeyer, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Since her arrival at Michigan Medicine in 1975, new hospital buildings have opened, the organization’s leadership structure has changed, medications administered to patients have improved … and yes, there are new inventions called computers that have transformed health care in every way.

“I’ve seen so many enhancements in technology and changes in society since I began,” said Gretel, who is the director of clinical nursing in the hematology-oncology unit at Mott, a position she has held since the late 1980s. “But two things have stayed the same over the years: The fantastic people I work with and the focus everyone here puts on patients and families. That has made it easy to come to work every day for 42 years.”

Witnessing change

Gretel graduated with a bachelor’s degree from U-M in 1975 and was immediately hired as a nurse in the old University Hospital (the current building wasn’t completed until 1986).

“I worked in a 52-bed orthopaedic and otolaryngology unit,” Gretel said. “We had two big wards of 21 patients each and five semi-private rooms that two patients would share.”

After five years, she moved over to Mott, becoming a nurse manager for a unit that served elementary school and preschool-aged children.

“Our patients were divided by age, not by specialty,” Gretel said. “So you treated anyone of a certain age, no matter their condition.”

Some of the treatment methods early in her career would seem unorthodox now, including the prevalence of gold injections and a lack of antiviral or antifungus medications.

“I distinctly remember having to go down to the clinic to sign out an experimental drug called Motrin,” Gretel recalled with a laugh. “Even ibuprofen wasn’t fully accepted at the time.”

Advice for her peers

So what’s the key to Gretel’s longevity at Michigan Medicine?

“First, I learned early on to embrace changes, because they are all aimed at improving the care we offer,” Gretel said. “Medicine is constantly changing for the better and our organization has to adapt along with it.”

Gretel also emphasized keeping patients and families at the center of your work life.

“I’ve worked with hundreds, if not thousands, of coworkers,” Gretel said. “If you respect one another and keep your focus on our families, egos won’t get in the way.”

Finally, Gretel makes sure that — no matter how difficult or stressful her job may be at times — she keeps a smile on her face. She maintains a sense of humor and works hard to foster a sense of respect between colleagues.

“We’re all on the same team,” Gretel said. “Just as a baseball team can’t succeed without a shortstop, everyone here plays an important role in keeping our patients and families safe and comfortable.”

Full circle

Gretel’s dedication to Michigan Medicine has allowed her to see many of her patients recover and go on to college and successful careers after their hospital stay. Families often stay in touch and her department makes it a point to send holiday cards annually to newly-bereaved families.

Some patients have even chosen to return to the organization long after their treatment has ended — this time in a very different role.

“I’ve had a few kids we’ve treated come back and work for the department themselves,” Gretel said. “They tell me it’s a small way that they can give back. Seeing that makes it obvious that what we do is important — for our patients, families and each other.”

Service Spotlight: Guest Assistance Program

August 16th, 2017

Often, patients coming to Michigan Medicine have a lot on their mind — from learning about their diagnosis to understanding how to implement their treatment plans.

While they focus on their health care, Michigan Medicine’s Guest Assistance Program (GAP) has a dedicated team of social workers all working onsite to problem-solve and coordinate nonmedical needs for adult and pediatric patients and their families. For example, GAP team members assist patients with issues such as transportation to and from appointments, parking concerns, insurance questions and notary services. They also help families find lodging in the Ann Arbor area, aid them in meeting costs for much-needed prescriptions, give them access to wigs and head coverings, and provide information about other important community resources.

If patients or families inquire about these services — or any other nonmedical issue — refer them to the GAP office at University Hospital, Room 2B203, which is located near the Friends Gift Shop and Cashier’s Office. Walk-in hours are Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Program representatives are also available by phone at 734-764-6893 or toll-free at 800-888-9825.

Take service to the next level! Check out to learn more about all of GAP’s services.

Making a Difference: July 2017 highlights

August 15th, 2017

Employees across Michigan Medicine continue to make a difference through their hard work and dedication. Recognizing the contributions employees make to the organization helps our team to become more motivated, drives better teamwork and gives each individual a sense that they are an integral part of achieving organizational goals.

Here are just a few examples of how faculty and staff helped Michigan Medicine provide exceptional care and service last month:

Peer recognition

Kristina Downey, nurse, emergency services

Kristina was recently caring for a complex patient who was from out-of-town. Since the patient and caregiver were transferred via ambulance from another hospital, the caregiver was not able to go home and get the things she needed, such as important prescription medications. While taking excellent care of her patient, Kristina also spent several hours obtaining medications for her caregiver. Kristina went above and beyond to get this family what they needed when they needed it — and all without hesitation. Thank you, Kristina!

Andi Duma, administrative fellow, quality improvement

Andi is an asset to U-M. She has assisted with data retrieval and analysis of information not current tracked within our department. Andi has also helped to create tracking flowsheets and is assisting with education for information that will make our unit more sustainable. She is always willing to take a few extra minutes to create a product that will help with process improvements. We appreciate her willingness and the timeliness of her work. Thank you so much, Andi!

Kellogg Eye Center Optical Shop staff

Thank you for providing quality glasses (and many, many replacements) to students through the Regional Alliance for Health Schools (RAHS) program! This past school year alone, your team provided almost 200 eye exams to students in need as well as addressing transportation and financial barriers for patients and their families by seeing them in school. The team also extended hours when patient demand called for it, making this valuable service available to even more members of the community. Thank you all for your eagerness to joyfully care for these kids!

Carmen Caulkin, clinic manager, neuropsychology

Due to recent flooding, one of our patients was unable to access the clinic’s parking lot. He had to park two buildings away, but then was unable to walk the distance to our clinic for treatment. With the assistance of another employee, Carmen took a wheelchair down to the patient and pushed him to our facility. Thank you so much, Carmen, for going the extra mile to help a patient in need!

Corinne Zischerk, financial health consultant, MCIT

Recently, we made a request to Corinne regarding a manual, resource-intensive process that we were hoping she could make easier. Corinne took as much time as necessary to steadily work through our dilemma. Because of her due diligence, she was able to fix our issue with a great big smile on her face. My sincerest thanks go to Corinne for her help. We are grateful that we were just as important to her as the other, often larger, departments in the organization that she works with.

Patient/family to staff

The Department of Spiritual Care

A priest, a rabbi and a minister walked into a room … It sounds like the beginning of a joke, but it’s the end of a beautiful story. I want to thank these individuals, whose names I do not remember, for helping my family at a very tough time.

My family is Catholic. My mother was recently in the CVC ICU and the spiritual care staff were a great comfort to us until the end. There was a rabbi who checked in with us to see if there was anything she could do to help. She arranged for a Catholic priest to come to my mother’s bedside, where he gave her last rites and prayed with us the day before she passed. Then on the day she passed, a minister stopped in. I’m not sure if someone told him about us or if he could just see that we were struggling. He asked us to tell him something about her and he prayed with us. I just want to thank all of them for helping us and giving us comfort in a time of need.

Sherie Garrison, nurse, Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital

On Mother’s Day, I experienced one of the most painful days of my life. I lost my baby at 13 weeks. Sherie was the nurse assigned to me and I cannot express the amount of compassion and support she showed to my husband and I. Sherie wouldn’t leave my side as I waited for my husband to get to the hospital, she held my hand through the ultrasounds and even followed up with us before I went in for surgery the following day. It’s people like Sherie who make U-M so special, and make me proud to also be an employee here. These are the kind of incredible people that are supposed to be working in the medical field. Thank you so much Sherie for everything; you truly were a huge blessing and played a role in our healing!

Niket Nathani, M.D., internal medicine — pulmonary

I just want to thank Dr. Nathani and his staff for changing my life! I had been very sick with severe chronic asthma and had been on steroids for four years. I also had been taking very strong antibiotics and breathing medications and had undergone several surgeries. I recently decided to take a chance and leave the pulmonary doctor I had been seeing and put my faith in Dr. Nathani. He has helped wean me off the steroids and has put me on the right track to breathing normally again. I just want to thank all of the amazing doctors and staff of the Michigan Medicine pulmonary department. Words cannot describe how much I appreciate their help. I will forever be thankful!

Give back: Help our community kids go back-to-school

August 14th, 2017

Believe it or not, in just a few weeks the bell will ring on another school year.

When it does, many area children will get a helping hand from Michigan Medicine faculty and staff through the employees’ support of the organization’s annual school supply drive.

Last year, the drive was so successful that the organization was able to help not only the Education Project for Homeless Youth — a grant-funded project of the Washtenaw Intermediate School District that works to ensure students experiencing homelessness or temporary living situations enroll, regularly attend and succeed in school — but local agencies such as the Ozone House and the Community Action Network, as well.

All three school-based organizations will serve as beneficiaries of this year’s drive  — which is now underway and will run through Sept. 11.

“In addition to caring for our patients and families, members of our organization always step up to care for the community,” said Tony Denton, senior vice president and chief operating officer for the U-M Health System.

In 2016, Michigan Medicine employees donated thousands of supplies and 745 backpacks — more than double the previous record.

“This year, I have no doubt that our Michigan Medicine team will continue to prove their generosity and shatter another record,” Denton said. “It’s inspiring to see how our organization helps so many of our neighbors who need it the most.”

The AdForum meeting on Monday, Sept. 11 from 8 a.m.-10 a.m. in the Ford Auditorium will serve as the primary collection point for school-supply contributions.

Employees who work at off-site locations are encouraged to coordinate their own collection drives, which can then be coordinated with Janet Martinez for pick-up scheduling.

Please review the list of needed items to the right and consider making a donation to this annual and worthy cause.

Healthy Nutrition: Help Maggie’s Marketplace in Ypsilanti

In addition to donations of school supplies, members of the Michigan Medicine community are also encouraged to help reduce food insecurity in the community.

“Studies show that proper nutrition positively influences health and the prevention of diseases,” Denton said.

That’s why the organization is offering the option of contributing monetary donations to Maggie’s Marketplace, a first-of-its-kind food pantry serving Michigan Medicine patients who experience food insecurity on a routine basis, a social determinant of health.

The marketplace is run by the team at the Ypsilanti Health Center and carries fresh fruit and vegetables, along with basic staples such as potatoes, milk, cheese and eggs. All the food is purchased from Food Gatherers and given for free to patients or community members to improve their nutrition and health.

If you are interested in supporting Maggie’s Marketplace, donations can be made by clicking here.

If you have questions regarding the school supply collection or Maggie’s Marketplace donation efforts, contact Janet Martinez at 734-647-8161 or

Week in Review: Week of Aug. 7, 2017

August 11th, 2017

It was a celebratory week at Michigan Medicine, as the organization’s adult hospitals were ranked among the nation’s best by U.S. News & World Report.

Headlines also featured a patient at Mott who helped build an accessible treehouse for campers with special needs; PM&R department members shared how they help people regain lost function with the help of video games; and Kara Morgenstern, J.D., M.P.H., deputy general counsel, discussed her office’s role in helping faculty and staff navigate complex health care laws.

In case you missed it, here’s the latest:

Michigan Medicine hospitals ranked No. 6 in the country by U.S. News & World Report

Ranked No. 1 in Michigan and No. 6 in the country, Michigan Medicine’s adult hospitals were recently recognized as one of the nation’s best by U.S. News & World Report. The publication’s “Best Hospitals” rankings distinguish hospitals that provide high-quality patient care and treat the most challenging conditions. Click for details and to see how faculty and staff played a major role in earning this impressive honor.

Mott heart patient fills big role on TV show

Nearly 15 years after open heart surgery at Mott to treat a congenital heart condition, Dominic Weber helped design a special — and fully accessible — treetop retreat for campers in Pinckney, Michigan. Check out his story, which was documented on a recent episode of the DIY Network show “The Treehouse Guys.”

Regaining lost function with the help of video games

It’s not all fun and games for patients in the Michigan Medicine computer therapy lab. Indeed, while patients play video games, staff members are also ensuring that they learn essential tools to help them reach their rehab goals. Click through to read — and watch — how Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation employees are changing the game for those they serve.

Navigating the complexities of health care: Q&A with Kara Morgenstern, J.D., M.P.H.

Health care is a highly-regulated, complex and ever-changing field. That’s why Headlines caught up with Kara Morgenstern, associate vice president and deputy general counsel, to discuss how her office provides faculty and staff counsel for legal and regulatory issues. Find out what she had to say!

Regaining lost function with the help of video games

August 10th, 2017

At first glance, the Michigan Medicine Inpatient Rehabilitation Computer Therapy Lab might appear to be all fun and games.

That’s the intent. Many of the rehabilitation programs developed in the lab are based on gaming technologies — and designed to get patients active and engaged.

Such patients include those recovering from strokes as well as spinal cord and head injuries. Most are eager to get started on any given day, said Rob Ferguson, MHS, OTRL, a manager at the U-M Stroke Rehabilitation Program and an occupational therapy clinical specialist.

The reason? Gaming promotes the repetition, intensity and task-oriented training needed to support an individual’s rehabilitation goals.

It also offers a distraction for some patients.

“They often have no idea they’re doing so many repetitions because they become immersed in the experience,” Ferguson said. “They lose track of their effort.”

Launched in 2008 and associated with the Stroke Rehabilitation Program, the Computer Therapy Lab is one of only a few such facilities in the country. It incorporates the therapeutic use of technology to help develop physical, cognitive, perceptual and visual skills to improve a patient’s level of function and independence.

A winning strategy

The lab’s team analyzes thousands of games, choosing ones that work best for each patient.

“We match the interests of the patient with a game, possibly one they already play,” said Ferguson, noting that virtual reality and first-person shooter titles such as Battlefield 4 and Rocket League are popular with younger patients.

Gameplay is designed according to a person’s capabilities.

“The games might be played by shooting with the legs or controlling the game with the feet, depending on a patient’s needs,” said Ferguson.

The concept has paid off for Michael Heinrich, who doesn’t need to be reminded when it’s time for his rehabilitation sessions. An experienced gamer, the 22-year-old, who is receiving treatment for a spinal cord injury, is always eager to get started.

That motivation, experts agree, is crucial in gaining back lost function.

Said Ferguson: “He’s building the capacity to relearn how to do the things he was able to do before his injury.”

Patients needn’t be tech-savvy or experienced gamers.

In some cases, Ferguson said, “we might set up a familiar activity like a bridge or euchre game that’s played by lifting the foot. This might be for someone who is working on putting their pants on or getting their legs in and out of bed.”

Gaming newbies typically become enthusiasts, Ferguson said, recalling an 80-year-old woman who at first was skeptical of the idea.

“Her therapist learned that she was a fan of Parcheesi, so they set up a Parcheesi game that incorporated movements to help her build the skills to lift her arms high enough to feed herself,” Ferguson said. “When patients can work toward their goals and have a meaningful experience, they want to come back.”

Focused on goals

Deeper purpose lies beneath the gameplay.

“It’s not about technology, but about the skills a patient builds to support their rehabilitation goals,” Ferguson said. “The process has to link to a meaningful outcome.”

Objectives run the gamut and include relearning how to use an affected arm or leg, bathing and dressing, turning over in bed, washing dishes and reinforcing balance.

One example is a patient who needs to build the capacity to put his shirt on. In this case, Ferguson said, “the joystick is positioned so the patient has to reach overhead to play the game.”

The movement simulates the functional movement a person needs to put on a shirt. This might entail hundreds of repetitions per session.

The rehab team also uses mobile computer carts that can be taken to patients’ bedsides if they aren’t able to get to the Computer Therapy Lab.

Still, no matter the game title or setting, the effort is just one part of a larger recovery process.

“Therapeutic gaming, including various types of virtual reality, is adjunct therapy for patients,” Ferguson said. “They still need to work with their occupational and physical therapists, but therapeutic gaming can help the patient reach his or her goals.”

For more stories like this one, check out the Michigan Health Blog.