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Metro Health to Hold First Ever Sustainability Day at its Weekly Farm Market

Metro Health will again promote green thinking in the community by holding its first ever Sustainability Day at the Metro Health Farm Market.

The event will take place on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016 in Metro Health Village, 5900 Byron Center Ave. SW and will coincide with regular Farm Market hours from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

As a national- and local-award-winning leader in sustainable health care, Metro Health encourages the community to adopt green principles at home. Sustainability Day will address a wide range of themes, including:

  • Shop Local. Buy Local. – Buying from local farms results in less transportation of produce and allows shoppers to speak directly with growers
  • Healthy Foods – Local farms showcase healthy foods that are in season
  • Water Conservation – West Michigan Environmental Action Council, or WMEAC, will provide instruction on how to build and use rain barrels
  • Refurbishing – Renewing old furniture through rehabbing it saves money from purchasing new and keeps old pieces out of landfills
  • Waste Streams – Visitors can learn what and how to recycle properly
  • Gardening – Visitors can learn about Metro Health’s Teaching Garden and how it benefits both the hospital and kids participating in the Spartan Stores YMCA Day Camps

The event also will offer the opportunity for community members to bring materials to a confidential shredding drop off that will ensure important documents with private information are disposed of in a safe, confidential and environmentally-friendly way.

“As one of the nation’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Designed, or LEED, certified hospitals, Metro was one of the first healthcare organizations to link green thinking and health,” said Mike Faas, president and CEO of Metro Health. “We believe that by taking care of the environment we are helping lay the ground work for a healthy and sustainable community. And, keeping our community well will reduce the need for sick care.”

Metro Health first hosted a farmers market in 2006 when the hospital was still located in the city of Grand Rapids. The market began as a biweekly initiative to encourage employees to live healthier lifestyles. Since then, it has grown into a community-wide event that attracts hundreds of visitors each week. It is now in its 11th year.

Metro Health Offers Health and Wellness Day and Metro Way 5k/10k Family Fun Runs

Once again, Metro Health is offering a Health and Wellness Day at its Farm Market and evening 5k/10k Family Fun Runs to encourage healthy lifestyles.

The events will take place on Thursday, July 28, in Metro Health Village, 5900 Byron Center Ave. SW. Health and Wellness Day will coincide with regular Farm Market hours from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Race activities will begin with kids’ races at 6 p.m. and adult 5k/10k races at 6:30 p.m.

Health and Wellness Day will combine free blood pressure and body mass index screenings, experts who can provide information on stroke awareness, diabetes education and smoking cessation, as well as mammograms which will be free to women who pre-qualify. To schedule a mammogram appointment or discuss financial assistance, call 616-252-4461 and mention the Metro Health Farm Market.

The Chef Cook Off is an annual event featuring celebrity chefs and judges. Chefs are challenged to prepare a dish or meal that showcases produce from the farm market. They will begin cooking at 11 a.m. with judging at noon and a winner announced and samples for attendees at 12:30 p.m.

This year’s celebrity chefs include:

  • Chef Oliver Hale, also known as Chef O, a local and national award-winning healthy-lifestyle chef
  • Chef Zach Zost, executive chef of the Metro Health Café located inside Metro Health Hospital

This year’s celebrity judges include:

  • Valerie Lego, WZZM 13 health reporter
  • Mayor Jack Poll of the City of Wyoming
  • Tino Mendez, a Metro Health employee
  • And one other surprise judge

The 5k/10k races, family fun walk/runs and kids’ races will take place in the evening. Community members are invited to participate in this annual event either to challenge themselves for their best time, race for an award or simply walk or run the course for fun. Kids’ races before the adult events encourage them to participate in healthy activities.

Shelley Irwin, WGVU Morning Show host, will return as the race celebrity emcee.

Free kids races are for children ages 3-14. All kids get an award for finishing. Awards for the 5k and 10k races will include Overall Male/Female and 3 Deep Male/Female by Age Group. Adult race registration is $30/person until race day and is $35/person on race day. Groups of four or more can register together for only $20/person. To register for the kids or adult races and more details, go to

Metro Way 5K 2016 Runners

Metro Health first hosted a farmers market in 2006 when the hospital was still located in the city of Grand Rapids. The market began as a biweekly initiative to encourage employees to live healthier lifestyles. Since then, it has grown into a community-wide event that attracts hundreds of visitors each week.

Metro Health Again Earns Food Safety Award from Kent County Health Department

Metro Health Hospital has again earned a Food Safety Award from the Kent County Health Department.

Now in their fourth year, the annual awards recognize establishments with “an exceptional degree of expertise in safe food handling practices and sanitation.” The cafeteria and coffee shop at Metro Health were both recognized for the outstanding safe food handling practices.

In order to qualify for an award, establishments must:

  • Have a certified food safety manager
  • Have passed both inspections during the year of review
  • Not violate the Michigan Smoke-Free Law
  • Not have had any complaints confirmed by inspections

Metro Health has received a window cling and certificate so that patrons can readily identify its facilities as safe food handling award winners.

James Straayer Recognized as Best of Metro

James Straayer
Best of Metro Winner

James StraayerJames, or Jimmy as he is known to his fellow Metro team members, has worked at Metro Health for nine years – since the day of the hospital move. He began his Metro career as a resource employee in Materials Management and is now a Materials Management Supervisor.

Jimmy’s nomination form describes someone who always provides the Best Employee Experience: “He ensures we have what we need, when we need it,” explains the nomination. “Jimmy is a role model and a leader…he advocates for the safety of all staff, and in particular the staff in the Materials Management department.”

Jimmy is also known for how he provides the Best Patient Experience. “Jimmy understands his role and how it impacts patient safety, the patient experience and staff and physician satisfaction,” explains his nomination form. “He ensures that we have what we need to care for patients, has a ‘can do’ attitude and is always willing to problem solve issues and find solutions for the best interest of patients.”

Jimmy is well aware of the importance of providing the best experiences: “I think having the ability to positively affect the lives of not only patients, but also coworkers and visitors, is something that can be taken for granted,” he explains. “But it means so much to those for whom we provide care. I take pride in being a part of an organization that, in my opinion, truly attains these goals.”

When asked about his favorite Metro Memory, Jimmy thought about his coworkers: “The privilege of having this job and working with such friendly, encouraging and supportive people on a daily basis is something I will never forget.”

When asked what being named Best of Metro meant to him, Jimmy humbly responded that he was flattered and grateful, but never expected any special recognition for what he considered to be just doing his job. “However, it’s a huge honor to be associated with any positive impact, however small, on the departments – and ultimately the patients – our department serves,” he explained. His thoughts then turned to the Materials Management team: “This award should really be shared with my coworkers in Materials Management, for the hard work and dedication they provide our end users throughout the hospital.”

Congratulations, Jimmy!
YOU are the BEST of Metro!

For Second Year Metro Health Receives Full Recognition from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for Diabetes Prevention Recognition Program

Metro Health once again has achieved full recognition from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, for its Diabetes Prevention Recognition Program, or DPRP.

This recognition signifies Metro Health successfully implemented and fulfilled all requirements to effectively deliver a proven diabetes prevention lifestyle intervention program to individuals who have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes or who are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

“Diabetes remains one of the biggest health concerns in our community,” said Susi Wals, diabetes program manager. “It is the leading cause of amputations, blindness and kidney disease in adults, and it places people at increased risk for heart attack, heart disease and stroke.

“There’s good news. Lifestyle changes can prevent or substantially delay the onset of diabetes for many people. Small steps such as losing just 5 to 7 percent of your body weight and getting 150 minutes or more per week of moderate to vigorous activity can make a huge difference in your health.”

Launched in 2013, the DPRP program at Metro Health has had 123 participants, including 44 in the first year, 42 in the second year and 37 in the current year. Each session consisted of 16 weekly group education sessions and private weigh-ins followed by six monthly group meetings led by a CDC-trained lifestyle coach.

Participant eligibility was determined based on factors that included positive blood test results showing pre-diabetes, a history of gestational diabetes or positive results from the CDC Pre-diabetes Screening Test and a body mass index, or BMI, equal to or more than 24.

Recognition was based on the success of the second year’s participants in key areas, including:

  • Average of 14.3 sessions attended per participant during the first six months and 3.6 sessions during the second six months. The minimum requirement for average number of sessions attended in the first six months of the program is nine and in the second six months is three.
  • Body weight documented at 100 percent of sessions during the first six months. Body weight must be recorded at 80 percent or more of all sessions attended to meet the requirement.
  • Physical activity minutes recorded at 74 percent during the first six months. Physical activity must be recorded at 60 percent or more of all sessions attended to meet the requirement.
  • Average weight loss of 6.1 percent at six months and 5.5 percent at 12 months. Average loss of 5 percent of starting body weight must be achieved at both six and 12 months to meet the requirement.

Metro Health’s diabetes prevention program is now listed on the CDC’s registry of recognized programs. Metro Health will continue to submit evaluation data every 12 months to maintain recognition.

The Diabetes Prevention Recognition Program will continue at Metro Health. No referral is needed to join, but interested community members need to apply and provide documentation of pre-diabetes from a physician. New sessions are starting this fall.

Anyone interested in this program should email or call 616.252.8339 and press option 1 to leave a message. Be sure to include your name and contact information so a lifestyle coach can contact you.

Metro Health also offers other free pre-diabetes and diabetes seminars. Information is available at

Metro Health and University of Michigan Health System Plan Affiliation: Letter of Intent Signed

Metro Health Corporation of Wyoming, Michigan and University of Michigan announced today their intent for Metro Health to join the U-M Health System.

Under a letter of intent signed by both organizations, the expected affiliation will bring Metro Health’s hospital and its network of doctors, nurses and other providers together with UMHS, expanding this academic medical center’s care in western Michigan.

This affiliation will give residents in the western part of the state increased access to cutting-edge health care, medical research and innovation.

With the signing of the letter of intent, the parties begin a due diligence period in which they review each other’s business operations and negotiate the terms of a final affiliation agreement.

According to Marschall Runge, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president of medical affairs and dean of the U-M Medical School, this affiliation is good for both organizations and for residents in the western part of Michigan.

“The U-M Health System is a top-ranked academic medical center with a world-class medical school, extraordinary hospitals and clinics, and groundbreaking research facilities focused on moving cutting edge discovery to patients’ bedsides in order to improve lives,” Runge notes. “We are excited about the opportunity to collaborate with Metro Health’s expert physicians and health care professionals in stepped up ways.”

Michael Faas, president of Metro Health, added that joining with the UM clinical enterprise will bring additional options for complex care to Metro Health patients and to the greater Grand Rapids community.

“It is no secret that U-M has some of the best providers in the state and country,” he notes. “By joining the ‘leaders and best’ we can build on our existing expertise and provide our patients and community with enhanced access to specialized health care services, scientific discovery and advanced technology.”

Metro Health Earns Midas+ Platinum Quality Award for Patient Care

Metro Health Hospital has earned a Midas+ Platinum Quality Award, which recognizes top performances of health care facilities nationwide based on patient feedback.

The Midas+ Platinum Quality Awards recognize industry leadership and hospital excellence, and are based on achievement and data-driven performance. Each year Midas+ Solutions, a Xerox company, asks customers to complete a quality scorecard; hospitals that rank in the top 5 percent are honored with a Midas+ Platinum Quality Award. The scorecard includes data on utilization efficiency and outcomes, including in such areas as length of stay, mortality, average daily census, readmissions and more.

“What makes a distinction such as this all the more fulfilling is that the data is based on the feedback of our patients, who are signaling to us that they are satisfied with the care they are receiving at Metro Health,” said Mike Faas, president and CEO of Metro Health. “While we don’t do this work for awards and recognition, this is nonetheless a great honor. We appreciate the loyalty of the West Michigan community and continually strive to provide the best patient experience.”

This data on patient care and clinical outcomes help providers such as Metro Health understand how they’re doing, particularly in comparison to other hospitals.

“Data-driven performance analytics are essential to helping healthcare providers improve the health of patients while driving operational efficiency,” said Clayton Nicholas, senior vice president and general manager of Midas+ Solutions, a Xerox company. “The Midas+ Platinum Quality Award recognizes hospitals that excel at using data in a meaningful way to improve clinical and financial outcomes.”

The awards were announced during a recent symposium in Arizona.

Metro Health Names 2016 Nurse Exemplar and Nursing Chosen Physician of the Year

Metro Health Hospital has named Teresa Phillips its 2016 Nurse Exemplar and Dr. Barbara Karenko its 2016 Nursing Chosen Physician of the Year.

The annual Nurse Exemplar award recognizes a registered nurse who is directly involved with patient care and who has demonstrated exceptional nursing practice that goes beyond the expected. Nominations are made by peers and physician colleagues, then evaluated by Metro Health’s Professional Nursing Council, or PNC. The PNC evaluates nominations based on the nurse’s ability to deliver outstanding care, stimulate critical thinking in peers, provide continuous assistance, serve as a mentor and positively influence the work of the entire health care team.

Metro Health’s PNC also annually recognizes a Nursing Chosen Physician of the Year. The award is given to a physician who exemplifies best practices and who supports the role of nurses as part of the health care team. The hospital’s clinical nursing staff proposes candidates and nominations are reviewed by the PNC. The recipient is selected by secret ballot.

Teresa Phillips Resized

Phillips joined Metro Health in 2013 and currently works as a nurse in the Metro Health Emergency Department. According to her nomination form: Phillips “is known throughout the department as the ‘patient whisperer.’ She has a calm, steady voice and tone that resonates with the most difficult patient. She has the ability to steady the intoxicated, redirect the suicidal and ensure safety with the aging population suffering from dementia.”

Phillips’s nomination goes on to highlight her influence on the work of the healthcare team. According to her nomination: Phillips “has not forgotten what it is like to be new. She is the first nurse to approach someone she doesn’t know, shake their hand and introduce herself, welcoming them to Metro, etc. She seeks our new hires to observe challenging processes or tasks not often performed, and mentors them with professionalism.”

Barb Karenko_ResizedKarenko joined Metro Health in 2010 and is a board-certified cardiologist and internal medicine physician. Karenko’s nomination notes: “The collaboration of this physician with the nursing staff creates an environment that makes staff feel at ease approaching and asking questions of the physician. This creates a positive culture of safety for all patients. This makes for a comfortable and enjoyable working environment with this physician.”

Her nomination form goes on to express nursing staff’s appreciation of Karenko: “This physician is dedicated to her patients and her career and routinely goes above and beyond the normal call of duty. We are honored and privileged to work with such a hardworking, caring and dedicated individual.”

She holds a bachelor of science degree from Michigan State University and a doctor of osteopathic medicine from the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Jared Veldheer, Arizona Cardinals Team Captain, Returns Home to West Michigan to Develop Local Youth Football Players

NFL player and Forest Hills Northern alumnus Jared Veldheer will share his knowledge with aspiring athletes during a football camp for middle schoolers on Tuesday, June 28.

The clinic will be held at Forest Hills Northern High School from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. and is open to students in grades five through eight as of fall 2016. Players will practice drills and get inside tips and tricks from Veldheer, who is the left “blind side” tackle and team captain for the Arizona Cardinals.

The school or organization with the most players registered will receive a free AED. A meet-and-greet ice cream social, sponsored by Bumblebee Ice Cream, will be held after the camp.

Veldheer is a 2005 graduate of Forest Hills Northern and a two-time All-American football player at Hillsdale College. He spent four years with the Oakland Raiders as left tackle before signing a five-year contract with the Arizona Cardinals. Veldheer will be joined by a team of high school coaches led by Grand Rapids Christian Coach Don Fellows.

All proceeds from the clinic will benefit the Metro Health Hospital Foundation “Keeping the Beat” program, which provides free heart screenings for local high school students.

While their children are running drills, parents will have the chance to attend an informational session led by a sports medicine physician at Metro Health. He will discuss the importance of cardiac screenings for young athletes, injury prevention and concussion awareness during a session that will feature a question-and-answer period. Veldheer will also share his road to the NFL.

Sponsors for this year’s event include The Independent Business Owners Association International, The Veldheer, Long, Mackay and Bernecker Group at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, The HUGE Show, Brann’s Steakhouse and Grille and Metro Health Sports Medicine.

Cost to attend the camp is $20 per student. Students who register by June 21 will receive a free T-shirt and a copy of Veldheer’s book “Stay in the Game – Jared Veldheer’s Journey to the NFL.” To register online, visit

Metro Health Hospital Named Top 25 in the U.S. for Sustainability by Practice Greenhealth

For the eighth consecutive year, Metro Health Hospital has received the top environmental award from Practice Greenhealth for its leadership role in health care sustainability.


Practice Greenhealth again recognized the Wyoming, Michigan-based community hospital with the Top 25 Environmental Excellence Award, given annually to only 25 hospitals nationwide.

Additionally, Metro Health was awarded a Circle of Excellence Award in the Less Waste category. Circle of Excellence awards are given to up to 10 hospitals that have shown outstanding performance in each of the 10 categories, which include: climate, green building, energy, chemicals, food, leadership and water, among others.

Metro Health was also recognized as a Greening the OR Honoree for its work to reduce the environmental impact of its surgical suites.

“We are honored to be named one of the top 25 hospitals in the nation in sustainability by Practice Greenhealth,” said Mike Faas, president and CEO of Metro Health. “By caring for the environment, we believe we make it easier for our community to be healthy – and we set an example for our employees, patients and visitors.”

The Top 25 award recognizes health care facilities that exemplify environmental excellence and set the highest standards for environmental practices in health care. Award winners are chosen from hospitals that have the highest scores for the Greenhealth Emerald Award using Practice Greenhealth’s thorough scoring and evaluation system. Each winning facility has innovative programs and shows leadership in its local community and in the health care sector.

Metro Health was one of the first full-service hospitals in the country to be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certified. In addition to maintaining its LEED accreditation, Metro Health’s green achievements and initiatives include:

  • Collected and safely disposed of more than 3,346 pounds of unused or expired prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs and controlled substances as part of the National Drug Take Back Day events held each year in the spring and fall since October 2011.
  • Recycled 669,580 pounds of waste generated in fiscal year 2015, or 39.5 percent of the hospital’s total overall waste.
  • Initiated an audit program to assess waste streams within hospital departments. Followed up with an educational review with departments to help them maximize the amount of waste being recycled.
  • Expanded a compost program to include place compost containers in break rooms and some meeting spaces, in addition to those already in place in the cafeteria and kitchen. In 2015, Metro Health composted 117 tons or 13 percent of total waste.
  • Increased the amount of healthy beverages served throughout the organization by reducing the number of high-sugar beverage options in the café and increasing the no and low-sugar options, promoting the use of reusable beverage containers and providing “spa” water in the café and at many meetings.
  • Produced more than 1,500 pounds of vegetables in the Metro Garden, a volunteer-run garden directed by the Food and Nutrition Department. The garden, which features two honey bee hives, benefited from more 250 volunteer hours from Master Gardeners and youth from the local YMCA.

The hospital received the awards during Practice Greenhealth’s recent Environmental Excellence Awards ceremony.