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Area Hospitals and Public Health Officials Remind Community of Flu Precautions, How and When to Seek Care for Flu


As the Centers for Disease Control, or CDC, reports, flu is now widespread throughout Michigan and many surrounding states. Area hospitals, urgent care facilities and doctor offices are experiencing an increase in the number of people presenting with flu and flu-like symptoms. It is important for our community to know how to prevent flu, when to seek care and where to seek care. Although the flu shot does not always prevent the flu, it can lessen the severity and duration. There is still time to get the flu shot if you have not done so already.


Influenza is a respiratory illness. It is especially harmful to children, people over 65 years of age, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems or chronic conditions. Common symptoms include:

  • Fever*
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Sometimes diarrhea and vomiting

*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.


Area health care providers and the CDC recommend the following to avoid flu:

  • Get a flu shot.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • If you are sick, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever/symptoms are gone and you have stopped taking fever reducers.
  • Take extra precautions to stay away from children, people over 65 years of age, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems or chronic conditions.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Throw the tissue away after it has been used and wash your hands.


Most people with flu will have a mild illness and can treat symptoms by staying home and avoiding contact with others.

If you have flu-like symptoms and are in a high risk group or are very sick, contact your health care provider, such as a doctor, physician assistant or nurse.

If you are in a high risk group, contact your health care provider early in your illness.

Seek emergency medical treatment if you experience emergency warning signs, such as:

In children
  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
  • Fever with a rash

In addition to the signs above, get medical help right away for any infant who has any of these signs:

  • Being unable to eat
  • Has trouble breathing
  • Has no tears when crying
  • Significantly fewer wet diapers than normal
In adults
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough


Try to treat your illness at home with over-the-counter fever and pain reducers, cough medicine and other products. If you are in a high risk group or cannot control symptoms, seek non-emergency care through one of the following:

  • Primary care provider office
  • Urgent care

If you or a loved one experiences the emergency warning signs above, seek immediate care at a hospital emergency room.


If you are experiencing shortness of breath, numbness, facial or arm paralysis, slurred speech or other heart attack or stroke symptoms, call 9-1-1 for immediate medical care.


Use the contact information above or go to

# # #

The following news advisory is being distributed by The Kent County Health Department on behalf of Spectrum Health, Metro Health – University of Michigan Health, Mercy Health and The Kent County Health Department.


Rick Jensen
Spectrum Health

Jennifer Hoff
Metro Health – University of Michigan Health

Angela Klinske
Mercy Health

Steve Kelso
Kent County Health Department

Two Local OB/GYN Physicians Move to Metro Health – University of Michigan Health

Metro Health – University of Michigan Health has hired two physicians, each with 20 years of experience, to join the Obstetrics and Gynecology practice. Renee Elderkin, MD, and Susan VandenBosch, MD, began seeing patients at Metro Health on December 18.

Steven Lown, DO, physician executive, Metro Health OB/GYN said, “Women’s health is an important service line for Metro Health —University of Michigan Health. The addition of Dr. Elderkin and Dr. VandenBosch allows us to provide expanded coverage at Metro Health’s outpatient centers and improve access to patients.”

The hiring of Dr. Elderkin and Dr. VandenBosch continues the expansion of OB/GYN services since the former Michigan Obstetrics and Gynecology, PC joined Metro Health – University of Michigan Health in May, 2017. There are now 9 employed physicians in the OB/GYN specialty.

Renee Elderkin MD 239x300 - Two Local OB/GYN Physicians Move to Metro Health – University of Michigan HealthRenee Elderkin, MD, is board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology. She completed her residency in OB/GYN at Butterworth Hospital and her internship at the University of Chicago. Dr. Elderkin earned her medical degree from Chicago Medical School. She is an Associate Professor at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine.


Susan VandenBosch MD 239x300 - Two Local OB/GYN Physicians Move to Metro Health – University of Michigan HealthSusan VandenBosch, MD, is board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology. She completed her residency and internship at Butterworth Hospital. Dr. Vandenbosch earned her medical degree from Wayne State University School of Medicine. She is a fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Both physicians are accepting new patients. Patients may schedule appoints at 616. 252.4110. The practice is located in the Metro Health Village at 2221 Health Drive, Suite 2100.

Metro Health – University of Michigan Health Expands Stroke Program

Metro Health – University of Michigan Health announces significant new clinical capability to provide comprehensive care for patients suffering from stroke with the hiring of three experienced, highly-trained specialty physicians.

Chief Medical Officer Peter Hahn, M.D., MBA, said expansion of the stroke physician team is evidence that “Metro is strengthening its comprehensive stroke care for the community and serving as a specialty referral center for the region.”

The new Stroke Center physicians include:

Augusto Elias MD 239x300 - Metro Health – University of Michigan Health Expands Stroke ProgramAugusto Elias, MD, the director of Neurointerventional Radiology, is fellowship trained in neuroradiology and neurointerventional radiology at the University of Michigan Medical Center, and is board certified in radiology and neuroradiology. He completed his residency in diagnostic radiology at the University of Michigan Medical Center.


Jeffrey Fletcher MD.coat2  239x300 - Metro Health – University of Michigan Health Expands Stroke ProgramJeffrey Fletcher, MD, the director of Neurocritical Care, is fellowship trained in Critical Care Medicine at the University of Virginia. Board certified in neurology and vascular neurology, he completed his residency in neurology at the University of Texas Health Science Center.


Ravi Shastri MD.coat  239x300 - Metro Health – University of Michigan Health Expands Stroke ProgramRavi Shastri, MD, is fellowship trained in neuroradiology and neurointerventional radiology at the University of Michigan Medical Center, and is board certified in radiology and neuroradiology. He completed his residency in radiology at the University of Arizona Medical Center.


These physicians join an established neurology team consisting of Kipp Chillag, DO, and Jordan Taylor, DO.

Any patient who presents with stroke symptoms is met by a team comprised of emergency physicians and staff, neurocritical care, neurologists, neurointerventional radiology, and neurosurgeons to assess and meet all needs.

Recently, Metro Health treated a patient who was found on the floor of their bathroom on a Saturday morning, unable to move, and showing signs of a stroke. Dr. Augusto Elias performed a minimally invasive catheterization and mechanical thrombectomy to remove a blood clot from the brain. Two days later, the patient was able to walk out of the hospital. Following outpatient occupational and speech therapy at Metro Health, the patient was cleared to drive and return to work within two months.

“A stroke is a ‘brain attack’. Two million brain neurons die every minute during a stroke,” said Dr. Augusto Elias. “As part of our comprehensive care, we collaborate with primary care physicians to educate the West Michigan area about having a sensible diet, controlling blood pressure and having a low glucose intake, so we can prevent these devastating diseases from happening.”

According to the National Stroke Association, more than 800,000 people suffer a stroke each year in America, and 80 percent of strokes are preventable. The American Heart Association recently announced new guidelines that a blood pressure of 130/80 is characterized as “stage one hypertension.”

Physicians in Metro Health’s neurology team support primary care physicians by meeting with patients showing neurological symptoms and conducting neural imaging to diagnose, and then working closely with the patient and doctor on a treatment plan.

Michael Faas, President and CEO, Metro Health – University of Michigan Health, said the expansion in neurology builds upon an already strong program which received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines®

Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award with Target: Stroke Honor Roll Elite Award.

Get With The Guidelines® sets specific quality measures to ensure hospital teams follow the most up-to-date, evidence-based

guidelines with the goal of speeding recovery and reducing death and disability for stroke patients. To receive these awards, Metro Health – University of Michigan Health had to provide patient care at or above certain achievement indicators for 24 consecutive months.

Faas added, “The growth in our comprehensive stoke program, which includes new technology and specialty physicians to supplement our staff of neurologists, neurosurgeons and rehabilitation specialists, is just another example of the benefits of our affiliation with University of Michigan Health. Our physicians are committed to providing comprehensive stroke care covering all areas including prevention, acute care and rehab.”

Metro Health – University of Michigan Health Opens First Doctor’s Office on East Beltline

Metro Health – University of Michigan Health announces the opening of its first physician office on the East Beltline near Knapps Corner, Grand Rapids Township.

Metro Health Grand Rapids Northeast” is the new name of the former Grand Rapids Family Physicians, an independent practice since 1925. The office officially opens for patients November 6 at 1787 Grand Ridge Ct. NE, Suite 101. The office telephone number is 616.252.4540.

The current staff—including physicians, David O. Kutsche, MD; Gregory L. Hazle, MD; and Julie C, Cooper, DNO, NP-C. remain at the practice.

“We are looking forward to joining the Metro Health family, and to providing our patients with greater access to a network of cutting-edge health care, medical research and innovation,” said Dr. Kutsche.

Current procedures and services offered include: adult and pediatric medicine, newborn care, women’s care, sports physicals, fracture care, colposcopy and skin lesion removal. The office serves as a gateway to the range of specialty services offered at Metro Health – University of Michigan Health.

Metro Health Grand Rapids Northeast, like other Metro neighborhood outpatient centers, is recognized as a “patient-centered medical home,” a model for care that promotes partnerships between individual patients and their personal physician. The designated practices are recognized for intensified efforts to coordinate patients’ health care through prevention, diagnosis, treatment and follow-up services.

New features for patients as a result of Metro’s acquisition of the practice include access to their electronic medical records via MyChart; to schedule appointments, request refills of prescriptions and view laboratory and other test results.

The Metro Health Grand Rapids Northeast office is the third physician practice acquired by Metro Health – University of Michigan Health this year. Metro Health Lowell and Metro Health OB/GYN joined the system in 2017.

Mike Faas, Metro Health – University of Michigan Health president and CEO said, “We welcome the team from Grand Rapids Family Physicians to Metro Health, as their nearly a century of dedication to high-quality care aligns with our commitment to personalized care for our patients and families.”

Metro Health Physicians “Mini Med School” At North Godwin Elementary October 24

The T.E.A.M. 21 after school program at North Godwin Elementary School will conduct a “mini medical school” with Osteopathic physicians (D.O.s) representing the Family Medicine Residency program at Metro Health – University of Michigan Health’s Community Clinic and members from the Michigan Health Council on October 24.

Dr. Kelley Brinsky, who helped organize the event said: “We want to teach children about their health, while also promoting careers in the field of medicine. Other goals are alleviating fears associated with physicians, so children feel comfortable with opening up to us about anything at a young age. If only one child of the 66 becomes interested in the field of medicine, makes a goal to become a doctor, or just eats more veggies, I’d call this a successful event.”

Students from grades one through five will visit six stations, looking at x-rays for bone health, medical instruments, hygiene and germs, organs, nutrition and exercise. Students will place Velcro organs on an anatomy apron and learn how to use medical equipment like a stethoscope. At the end of the sessions there will be a photo booth with the child being photographed with a doctor’s coat and a stethoscope. Each student will  take home  a workbook, a “diploma”, and a goodie bag – supplied by Michigan Health Council.

What:             Mini-Medical School to teach young children how to keep their bodies healthy.

Who:              Members of the Metro Health – University of Michigan Health Family Medicine Residency Program and Michigan Health Council

When:            Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017, from 3:45 – 5:45 p.m.

Where:           North Godwin Elementary (Gymnasium)
161 34th St SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49548

Media are encouraged to notify the day of event contacts of their intent to attend.

Contacts for the day of the event are:

Michigan Health Council                                  North Godwin Elementary School
Brandess Wallace, MPH                                   T.E.A.M. 21 After School Program
517.347.3333                                                       Ellen Hansel


About D.O.s:

Osteopathic physicians (D.O.s) are fully licensed to prescribe medication and practice in all specialty areas, including surgery. D.O.s are trained to consider the health of the whole person and use their hands to help diagnose and treat their patients. They focus on preventive health care by teaching their patients to develop attitudes and lifestyles that don’t just fight illness but also help prevent it.


Metro Health President & CEO Announces Transition Plan for Retirement

Faas Headshot 2017 copy - Metro Health President & CEO Announces Transition Plan for RetirementMichael Faas, President & CEO of Metro Health – University of Michigan Health announced his retirement today. Mr. Faas began in his role at Metro in July of 1994 and has just completed his 23rd year. Some of the more important milestones of his tenure include:

  • Establishing an early Physician Hospital Organization (PHO) which has now evolved into a CIN (Clinically Integrated Network).
  • The first mid-size community hospital in the U.S. to access EPIC – the gold standard electronic medical record now serving over 50% of all U.S. hospitals.
  • Employing the first doctors at Metro (currently 225 providers employed).
  • Establishing the first neighborhood outpatient facilities (putting doctors and hospital services into neighborhoods, now 18 locations).
  • Relocating Metro Health Hospital to a new site 8 miles from Grand Rapids to Wyoming, MI. First hospital in the state to relocate more than 2 miles from original location.
  • Establishing choice in the west Michigan market by affiliating with the University of Michigan.
  • Creating Metro Health Village (dedicated to protecting the environment through Leed projects).

Mr. Faas plans to serve into the 2018 calendar year as the search for his replacement is underway. The transition plan is now underway but expect no slowdown in Metro’s growth or moving full speed ahead on strategic initiatives. Mr. Faas commented that it was an honor and a privilege to work beside so many wonderful people who always put what was best for the patient and the community first. Those who work at Metro Health truly have always had a passion for what they do and how they do it.


Advancement in robotic spine surgery comes to Metro Health

Razor FB1 - Advancement in robotic spine surgery comes to Metro HealthMetro Health – University of Michigan Health is elevating its already renowned spine program, becoming the first hospital in Michigan to acquire the Mazor X™ spine surgery system for minimally invasive procedures.

Developed by Mazor Robotics, the Mazor X surgical assistance system combines unprecedented tools and analytics to plan operations, as well as unparalleled image-based guidance during operations.

Razor FB2 - Advancement in robotic spine surgery comes to Metro HealthThe system brings exceptional precision to minimally invasive procedures. Because they require smaller incisions than open surgery, minimally invasive operations result in less pain, less blood loss and quicker recovery.

“Minimally invasive surgery has been a major focus at Metro Health in recent years,” says Dr. Peter Hahn, chief medical officer. “The Mazor X will further enable our surgeons to achieve the best possible outcomes.”

Razor FB 3 - Advancement in robotic spine surgery comes to Metro HealthMetro Health was also the first hospital in Michigan to use Mazor’s previous-generation robot for spine surgery, the Renaissance® guidance system.

“After completing more than 400 safe and successful surgeries with the previous robot, it was an easy decision to pioneer the Mazor X in Michigan,” says Dr. John Keller, section chief of neurosurgery at Metro. “This new robot gives us advantages before and during surgery that were not available even two years ago.”

Smaller incisions can pose a challenge for surgeons because the view of the patient’s anatomy is limited. The Mazor X system overcomes this challenge by providing a CT-based three-dimensional simulation of the patient’s spine, helping surgeons develop an optimal plan before entering the operating room. In addition, computer analytics provide precision guidance during the operation.

“Mazor X allows us to operate with greater accuracy, efficiency and confidence,” Hahn says. “We believe this is the safest and most accurate minimally invasive technology for spine procedures available.”


Gastroenterology Services Expanding at Metro Health – University of Michigan Health

Metro Health – University of Michigan Health’s Gastroenterology Services is more than doubling its size in August with the addition of seven physicians joining the practice.

“We are excited to announce an expansion in our gastroenterology services which will benefit all residents in West Michigan,” said President & CEO Mike Faas. “Metro is bringing on two new gastroenterologists who will be employed by the hospital. In addition, five physicians from Michigan Medicine will also join the team and treat patients here in West Michigan.”

Besides adding new physicians, new subspecialty services will be added to provide tertiary care access in Grand Rapids. The subspecialties, which started Aug. 15, include:

  • Hepatology—consultation and management of complex liver patients.
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis)—consultation and/or management of routine patients, medically refractory disease and second opinions.
  • Interventional Endoscopy—consultation for pancreatic or biliary disease, endoscopic ultrasound, routine and complex ERCP services, and endoscopic resection of large polyps or early stage cancers.

“We are so excited to expand our services at Metro Health – University of Michigan Health Gastroenterology in order to meet patient demand,” said Gastroenterologist Ryan Hamby, DO. “Whether you’ve been our patient for years, or are new to us, we are proud of the new services we will be offering in our community.”

Faas added, “The expansion in gastroenterology is just one of many ways we are working to provide services to patients in the areas of critical need while also continuing to create high-quality choice in the marketplace. It’s happening here.”


Metro Health hosts service fair for homeless vets

Scores of homeless veterans from throughout West Michigan are expected to gather for the second year in a row on the Wyoming campus of Metro Health – University of Michigan Health to connect with resources that can help them rebuild their lives.

The veterans will be participating in a Stand Down event coordinated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Held throughout the year and throughout the country, Stand Downs bring homeless veterans together in a single location to provide convenient access to community resources.

The local Stand Down will be held Friday, Aug. 18, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., on the Granger Green in front of the hospital at The Metro Health Village, 5900 Byron Center Ave. SW.

“We’re honored to host these veterans on our campus,” says Emil Hannesson, director of community outreach for Metro Health. “These individuals have pledged their lives to the country and now need the community’s assistance. This event is a great way to remind them how much they are valued, and that people do support them.”

Tiyanna Payne, a supervisor with the VA’s Health Care for Homeless Veterans program in Grand Rapids, adds: “Stand Downs are the nation’s most valuable outreach tool for veterans who are homeless or marginally housed.”

Nearly 50 service providers plan to participate, including federal, state, and community agencies, as well as veteran support groups. Homeless veterans will have access to food, clothing, medical care, housing assistance, job counseling, substance abuse treatment, and mental health services.

In addition, military surplus items will be available for eligible vets, including sleeping bags, rucksacks, cold weather gear and personal hygiene products. The event also offers breakfast, a lunch prepared by Metro’s chef, and free haircuts.

“Veterans won’t have to go from one agency to another to access the services they need,” Payne says. “For one day, everything will be in one place, and everyone will be here to provide them with aid.”

The name of the event has its origins in the Vietnam War, when “standing down” referred to soldiers being taken off the lines to rest and recover.

“Our Stand Down is designed to give veterans an opportunity to renew their spirit, health and well-being,” Payne says. “Here’s our chance to surround this vulnerable population with the services they need.”

The event gets underway at 10 a.m. with a Color Guard presentation and national anthem. The anthem will be performed by Joyce Jones-Davis, a nurse manager with the Wyoming VA Health Care Center. Lisa Martin, director of the Wyoming VA clinic, will follow with a welcome address.

This event is for veterans only. If a veteran needs assistance getting to the event, please call the Health Care for Homeless Veterans service center (616-356-1746). The media contact on the day of the event is Amanda Briggs (269-967-0190).


Metro Health – University of Michigan Health Named “Most Wired” Hospital

Metro Health – University of Michigan Health has been named one of the country’s most technologically savvy hospitals for the sixth straight year, earning the “Most Wired” designation from the American Hospital Association.

Based on data collected through an online survey early this year, the Most Wired designation recognizes hospitals for IT excellence in four areas: infrastructure, business and administrative management, clinical quality and safety, and clinical integration.

In the survey’s 19-year history, Metro Health has garnered Most Wired kudos eight times, including the past six years in a row.

“The Most Wired hospitals are using every available technology to reach their patients and improve access to care,” says Rick Pollack, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association.

“We’re always looking to integrate technology in a way that makes it easier for patients and providers to interact,” says Joshua Wilda, chief information officer at Metro Health – University of Michigan Health. “Many of our technology tools also help patients become more involved in their care.”

Hospitals earning Most Wired status are especially adept at using mobile devices and remote monitoring to help patients access healthcare services. Here’s a sampling of ways these characteristics play out at Metro Health:

  • Secure messaging. For a decade now, patients have been able to send secure messages to clinicians via Metro’s online patient portal. Secure messaging expanded to mobile devices in 2014.
  • Prescription renewals. Metro Health is among the two-thirds of Most Wired hospitals that let patients renew prescriptions on mobile devices, a capability that also became available in 2014.
  •  E-visits. E-visits through Metro’s online portal have proved beneficial for an array of cases. They allow patients to interact with providers without visiting the doctor’s office.
  • Real-time care management. Metro Health combines various technologies to allow care managers to reach out to high-risk patients through the online portal, providing information and advice that can help them avoid multiple office visits.

Metro Health is also among the majority of Most Wired hospitals that use sophisticated IT monitoring techniques. Among them: intrusion detection systems, data access audits (who accessed what data and when), and phishing exercises that teach employees to question suspicious emails.

In addition, like many Most Wired hospitals, Metro Health is on the vanguard in the use of data and analytics to improve care, reduce costs and support decision making.

“We’re determined to become even more data driven,” Wilda says. “Data and analytics hold so much promise for transforming care delivery that they demand our attention.”

Detailed results of the Most Wired study can be found in the July issue of Hospitals & Health Networks (