Music is good for the soul. Last week we shared a music video of various artists singing St. Joe’s/Mercy Health’s theme song in tribute to the colleagues battling COVID-19 in our communities.
Now it’s your turn! If you have talent to share with fellow colleagues, we invite you to record your own rendition of our theme song. We provide the sheet music and lyrics below. Click on our playlist for examples from local artists.
Email your video or audio file to News@stjoeshealth.org. We will premiere the songs during National Nurses Week and Health Care Week, from May 4-8
We hope it lifts the spirits of frontline workers and everyone doing their part to keep services running while flattening the curve.
DETROIT – Much of the focus in the battle against COVID-19 has been on hospitals, with news programs broadcasting images of ventilators and hospital buildings around the clock. However, other health care institutions are playing a role in this fight. Mercy Primary Care Center (MPCC), a Trinity Health safety net ministry, is located in eastern Detroit. MPCC provides care for the city’s poor and most vulnerable, and remains one of the only free clinics still open in the area during the COVID-19 pandemic.
MPCC’s Services and Patient Population
MPCC first opened its doors in 2000, when Trinity Health and the Sisters of Mercy decided to convert a closed hospital into a ministry for vulnerable patients in Detroit. According to MPCC’s Director of Medical Services of the Detroit Market, Tawana Nettles-Robinson, the center provides health care services, labs, prescription assistance, educational and exercise classes, behavioral health services, care coordination, and transportation. In addition, MPCC sponsors the “Special Personal Assistants” program, which provides resources to individuals experiencing homelessness to help get them back on track.
For its first fifteen years, the center operated solely as a free clinic, providing qualifying patients with comprehensive care at no cost. After the Affordable Care Act was passed, MPCC also began accepting Medicaid plans and some commercial plans. However, 25 to 30 percent of patients are still uninsured, and MPCC treats them at no charge. To care for these patients, the center relies on a number of funding sources, including a grant from Trinity Health, Medicaid reimbursements, and outside donations.
MPCC’s Efforts Against COVID-19
Since the advent of COVID-19, operations at MPCC have changed significantly. The center offers COVID-19 screening and testing for patients, who are now coming in more ill than usual. MPCC’s patient population tends to have comorbidities, which raises their risk of COVID-19 complications. Many new patients have also enrolled with the center so that they can be screened.
To protect patients and colleagues, MPCC has changed its workflows by cordoning off certain areas and providing cloth masks to all patients, with surgical masks given to those with known symptoms. In addition, potential COVID-19 patients are asked to call the front desk to register, or to register in the exam room. MPCC is now also offering telehealth visits to help limit flow into the office.
MPCC faces many of the same challenges as our hospitals in the fight against COVID-19. According to Nettles-Robinson, the center is working hard to ensure there is enough personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing kits, but these can be hard to obtain. Like our hospital colleagues, the staff has also faced challenges, with some facing illness and all handling the realities of life in a pandemic. Despite these issues, the team continues to work hard to care for their patients.
MPCC’s work is vital to the community, especially now, when many other free clinics in the area have closed due to COVID-19. Nettles-Robinson shared, “The staff remains dedicated to serving individuals in under-resourced communities… [and] is doing everything we can to continue our health ministry. I believe we will come out of this stronger and more connected to the community as a whole. It’s only because of the commitment of Trinity to maintain its service to the poor that we can stay operational when other free clinics have temporarily closed their doors.”
Now more than ever, maintaining the highest standards of cleanliness throughout patient-care facilities is crucial.
The colleagues responsible for this enormous task are members of Environmental Services (EVS). These days, environmentalists approach their jobs as if every patient has tested positive for COVID-19, regardless of where the EVS team is cleaning. This vital service helps to create safe surroundings for patients and medical staff.
Environmentalists continue to clean rooms of non-COVID patients but do not clean patient rooms daily on COVID-19 floors. At this time, nurses are taking on that responsibility.
However, when COVID patients are discharged from the hospital, environmentalists thoroughly clean those rooms to prepare them for future patients and the clinical staff that serves them.
Environmentalists, too, are health care heroes.
Dedicated and Hardworking
Environmental Services teams work 24/7 across Saint Joseph Mercy Health System facilities in in Southeast Michigan – one of the nation’s hotspots for COVID-19.
They have stepped up to do what is needed for patients, regardless of this being a scary time for many health care workers.
“These folks didn’t hesitate,” said John Miller, Environmental Services director at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland. “The team asked good questions, and once we trained everyone on the new PPE requirements and additional cleaning protocols we were providing, they jumped right in. Day in and day out, they show up to do their jobs. They know that patients are very sick and need our assistance.”
EVS colleagues “truly live our organization’s values,” he said.
We thank all of the EVS workers who are working tirelessly to keep patient-care facilities safe by destroying this deadly virus. You are not forgotten.
Calm, Cool and Collected
Soon after the first COVID-19 patients were diagnosed in Michigan, Linda Mimms stepped up by volunteering to work all of her shifts in Pod E in the Emergency Department at Mercy Health Muskegon. Pod E is where all patients with respiratory symptoms are initially cared for, including those with COVID-19.
“In the beginning, a lot of our staff were pretty anxious about working there,” shared Jody Woods, Environmental Services manager, Mercy Health Muskegon.
“When I went to thank Linda for volunteering, she said to me, ‘We’re going to do what we have to do, and it’s all about making sure our patients are taken care of.’ Linda is a direct example of an owner’s mind and a servant’s heart,” added Jody.
On the job for about a year, Linda is both a team leader and colleague trainer. When the ED needs additional help, other team members are willing to join her. She sets a great example and is a natural-born leader, said Jody.
“I thank Linda every day for the work she does,” said Sharon Stiff, Linda’s supervisor. “Linda is positive and compassionate — a role model for others. She is a Christian who brings her faith to work with her.”
The entire EVS staff serving our Mercy Health and SJMHS hospitals are true heroes working 24/7 to keep our patients and colleagues safe.
More than 20 different artists worldwide recorded their performances from home studios. The music video was released on social media as a “a huge shout out to all the first responders and front line,” said Robin Horlock, a Detroit-based singer and songwriter.
“I’m sitting here in a studio playing music while you all are out there saving everyone’s life, literally. Thank you all so much,” said L.A. musician Andy Grush before belting out the opening lyrics – Here for you… we’re gonna make it through together.
Jeff Dittenber dedicated his rendition of the song to his wife, Val Dittenber, an RN at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland, and “all of the health care workers out there who are fighting for everybody.”
The remix started when Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Michele Szczypka reached out to the original song’s writers, Dan Yessian along with his son, Brian, and Chris Plansker (arrangement), with an idea to raise the spirits of St. Joe’s and Mercy Health colleagues serving on the front line of the response.
They sent the track to numerous friends in the music business. It wasn’t long before music started to pour in from cities and towns throughout Michigan, and even from New York City, Los Angeles, Sydney, Australia and Hamburg, Germany.
“As we deal with COVID the words ring true, now more than ever,” Szczypka said. “We are so grateful for our friends in the music community whose live performances were halted by the pandemic, but who are selflessly doing what they do best to bring comfort and joy to others.”
Watch full renditions of select artists from the video (link to YouTube playlist)
About the song
“You and I, Together” was originally produced in 2006 as an instrumental score for St. Joseph Mercy commercials. Dan Yessian composed the melody and Chris Plansker arranged the music. In 2011, lyrics were added for a television show, “At the Heart of Medicine.” The song won a Michigan Emmy Award in 2012 for lyrics co-written by Yessian, Szczypka, Don Montgomery and Mary Letters.
Over the years numerous versions were created for commercials, radio, television and on-hold music. In 2018 Mercy Health adopted the theme song for its marketing campaigns.
We thank the following artists for sharing their immense talent for this song, and we’re proud to share their full renditions on our St. Joe’s YouTube Playlist:
Erin Accomando / Voice / Centerline, MI
Steve Acho / Voice / West Bloomfield, MI
Matt Callaway / Guitar / Monroe, MI
Mark Chu / Guitar & Voice / Los Angeles
Patrick Curry / Voice / White Lake, MI
Jeff Dittenber / Guitar & Voice / Berkley, MI
Jarrett Farkas / Guitar / New York
Ardis Grace / Voice/ Harrison Township, MI
Andy Grush / Guitar & Voice / Los Angeles
Robin Horlock / Guitar & Voice / Detroit, MI
Adam James / Drums / Royal Oak, MI
Cindee Lish / Voice / Northville, MI
Cassia Montgomery / Voice / Truckee, CA
Jason Phelps / Bass / Ann Arbor, MI
Christopher Plansker / Film Editor & Harmonica / Grosse Pointe Park, MI
Bobby Streng / Saxophone / Ann Arbor, MI
Steve Talaga / Piano / Grand Rapids, MI
Colton Weatherston / Guitar / Philadelphia, PA
Hugh Wilson / Voice / Australia
Helena Schmitz & Lukas Lehmann / Voice & Piano / Germany
YOU AND I TOGETHER –FULL SING LYRICS
We bring hope We bring love We bring our strength And all we’re made of
Here for you We’re gonna make it through together You and I We’ll find our way
By your side We’ll be with you now and ever You and I, together
We’ll care for you with all we know And all that we can do To give you strength, We’re here to get you through
And with every step you make And every dream you dream You have so much more to give And so much life to live
And we’ll be – By you side Together we will make it better You and I Together
We will care for you We will comfort you We’re here for you In everything we do…
We bring hope We bring love We bring our strength And all we’re made of –
You and I, together Together (you and I) Together (you and I) Together (you and I)
LIVONIA – Lori Marie Key, an RN at St. Mary Mercy Livonia, is making headlines for her stunning rendition of “Amazing Grace.” A video of Key singing at shift change to raise her colleagues’ spirits has gone viral, appearing on national networks and in an article in the Free Press.
This morning, Lori was interviewed on ABC’s Good Morning America, speaking with host Robin Roberts. When asked how she and her colleagues were doing, Key replied, “These last few weeks have been challenging, but we just have to remember why we’re here and that is to be here for our patients, especially during this difficult time”
Key also described St. Mary Mercy Livonia’s religious roots, sharing that she often prays with patients. She stated that the hospital “tries to promote spiritual healing,” and that singing “Amazing Grace” was a natural extension of that.
Viewers were then treated to a live rendition of Key singing “Amazing Grace.” After the performance, Roberts informed Key that Good Morning America plans to send a meal from local restaurant Pita Pita to the night shift as a thank you for “feeding our souls.”
More than 50 emergency vehicles including firetrucks, police and more provided an inspiring show of support and solidarity with the hard working colleagues of St. Joe’s Ann Arbor who enjoyed the parade. Many of the emergency crews offered their thanks and words of encouragement as they rolled through our campus. Many thanks to our security crew and all the department members who gave their time to brighten the night for so many.
Watch Video: Click here. For a complete list of participating public safety departments, click here.
The COVID crisis has everyone looking for opportunities to “make a difference” or “take control” or “help someone.” For patients who tested positive for COVID-19 and recovered, one way to make an immediate impact is through Convalescent Plasma Donation.
The American Red Cross is seeking people who are fully recovered from COVID-19 and may be able to donate plasma to help current patients with serious or immediately life-threatening COVID-19 infections, or those judged by a health care provider to be at high risk of progression to severe or life-threatening disease.
People who have fully recovered from COVID-19 have antibodies in their plasma that can attack the virus. This convalescent plasma is being evaluated as treatment for patients seriously ill with COVID-19. Historically, convalescent plasma has been used as a potentially lifesaving treatment when new diseases or infections develop quickly, and no treatments or vaccines were available yet. The Red Cross has been asked by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help identify prospective donors and manage the distribution of these products to hospitals treating patients in need.
If you’re fully recovered from a verified coronavirus (COVID-19) diagnosis, please go to www.redcrossblood.org and click on “potential donor and fully recovered from COVID” to register.
The Red Cross website describes all of the safety precautions they have in place to assure that plasma donation is safe.
OAKLAND – At St. Joseph Mercy Oakland, the Life in Community team is working tirelessly to reach out to the area’s most vulnerable in their time of need.
The chaplains, mission specialists, Faith Community nurses, and community health workers collaborate with the local health department and other hospital programs to call people who are involuntarily isolated. This call list contains 1,700 people, with some in the hospital and some at home. These include former volunteers who can no longer come to the hospital, Senior Fit class attendees, cardiac rehab participants, patients and families of patients.
Referrals come daily for people in these circumstances. It is a remarkable telephone ministry offering spiritual care, emotional support, prayer, connection to resources and healing conversation.
These phone calls are making a real difference. Last week, a chaplain and mission colleague worked together to get an isolated community member the prescriptions he needed. The elderly person did not have transportation and was not confident taking the bus, given the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, the team members were able to arrange for the prescription to be delivered.
Another weekly volunteer who is now isolated at home was running out of food. This volunteer usually eats at the hospital and relies on that for at least two daily meals. The Life in Community team arranged for food delivery for the volunteer.
The Life in Community team is working behind the scenes to continue to connect people to each other and the resources of daily life they need, including conversation, social connection, prayer, and love.
On June 6, 2019, “Life is Remarkable” Campaign lead donors and volunteers celebrated and toured the renewed and re-opened Robert H. and Judy Dow Alexander Cancer Center with Health System leaders and hospital president Bill Manns.
“When we talk about the impact of your gifts for the Robert H. and Judy Dow Alexander Cancer Center, the real measurement is the lives you are saving, extending and making better. ‘Life is Remarkable’ is more than a campaign, it’s a belief we practice every day, because patients are fighting cancer every day,” said Bill Manns, President, St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor and Livingston.
Each day, approximately 200 patients receive care at St. Joe’s transformed Robert H. and Judy Dow Alexander Cancer Center, re-opened December 2018 with thanks to 1,024 donors to St. Joe’s “Life is Remarkable” campaign.
“This project was built upon a legacy of support from donors who gave to the original cancer center more than 25 years ago, and have continued to serve as partners in our healing mission. We are grateful for the ongoing support, and to the generous community members, physicians and staff who are making an incredible impact today through their inspirational giving to the “Life is Remarkable” Campaign,” said David Ripple, SJMHS Vice President for Development.
Your support is still needed. Because every patient has a life that is remarkable.
To date, gifts for the Campaign have reached $9.5 million toward the $10 million philanthropy goal. And, the first two phases of our campaign are complete – renewing and re-opening our Robert H. and Judy Dow Alexander Cancer Center and transforming our services.
Additional gifts through December 2019 will help complete the campaign, supporting the Cancer Care Innovation Endowment and the future of cancer care for our patients.
To learn more or make your gift, please contact the Office of Development:
Katie Elliott, Director of Major and Planned Gifts, at 734-712-3919 or Katie.Elliott@stjoeshealth.org Karen Campbell, Gift Officer, at 734-712-2890
Karen Campbell, Gift Officer, at 734-712-2890 Karen.Campbell@stjoeshealth.org
Melissa Sheppard, Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations, at 734-712-4079 or Melissa.Sheppard@stjoeshealth.org
Dr. Eltahawy, St. Mary Mercy Livonia, is among our doctors who serve as leaders, teachers and healers.
Tell us a little about yourself:
I grew up in Egypt with my family – my dad was a physician and my mom was a social worker. I have fond memories of childhood. One very important thing my dad instilled in us was a sense of roots. He was originally from a countryside province next to Cairo. Every weekend we would go visit family. There was no TV, sometimes no electricity. Sometimes, being kids, we would try to get out of going, but later in life, I saw those visits gave us a sense of family. This had an important purpose, because no matter where I’ve travelled, when I started my life in the U.S., I never experienced homesickness. It made me well-grounded.
What drew you to St. Mary Mercy Livonia?
I chose St. Mary Mercy Livonia because the culture here focuses on compassion and quality. I always felt the need to contribute in the same way that science is advancing. I had a good deal of training in Egypt, and it was good training, but all the advances were coming from the U.S. and a few other countries. I decided to move to the U.S. in order to get firsthand exposure and research how things are discovered…neurosurgery is still a frontier. It’s an exciting time for this field; we are going where no one has gone before, like space discovery and the explorers who set out before the geography of the earth had been mapped.
How did you choose to become a doctor? How did you choose your specialty?
Initially, I wanted to go into science. I was very keen on exploring and making big discoveries. In Egypt, however, our entrance exam into university is like a final exam. It’s different than in the U.S., where you look at all the aspects of learning and testing to determine if someone would make a good doctor or should go to medical school. If you score well that determines if you have the capacity to be a doctor, and your score becomes a driving force that you don’t want to waste. I did very well in exams. My dad sat with me and said, “Going into medicine will also give you the opportunity to pursue science.” My interest in discovery stayed with me. I spent six years chasing so much knowledge and participating in many experiments. Through education and training, I selected the specialty of neurosurgery. I felt neurosurgery combines my interest in new frontiers with the most direct contribution on patients’ wellbeing.
What is your philosophy of care?
My philosophy is to have a team and empower all members of the team. This is based on my own experience and those I learned from. It’s important to bring the patient in as part of the team. We are treating a condition that we are all fighting together. It’s important the patient is empowered and feels they will have a good outcome and safe recovery. We are dealing with complex medical situations, and as a surgeon, I cannot do it without a team. I feel blessed to work with a team of highly qualified individuals who fulfill their duties and roles as members of a team that cares for patients.
What is the role of philanthropy at the hospital and to make an impact on the health of our community?
Philanthropy is crucial. There are so many developments and programs that can have a tremendous impact on the community and care we provide that need resources – personnel, state-of-the-art medical equipment, research. Some examples would be doing more to serve people with seizures and epilepsy, cerebral palsy and other conditions that cause spasms. Also, elderly people facing problems with bones, we see a lot of compression fractures. I often wonder about ways to address the source and make homes safer and good diets easier and more affordable. I think philanthropy can help bridge those gaps.
What are two or three of the most important advancements in neurosurgery? What is on the horizon for this field of medicine?
Deep Brain Stimulation. Interaction between the nervous system and implantable devices is changing the course of disease. This science is in its infancy. We implant electrodes to reduce tremors or dystonia – think of it as like a pacemaker for the heart, but this is for the brain for motor skills. The device sends electric pulses to improve symptoms and has been very successful with people with Parkinson’s and other conditions that cause non-stop tremors. It improves quality of life for people with those conditions. Deep Brain Stimulation is being developed for many other areas too including memory loss and ALS where the brain is alert, but most of the body is not getting signals. Steven Hawking got some and was able to operate his voice through eyelid movement. For depression, for persons whose condition are drug resistant and nothing else is helping, we are finding we can create targeted interruptions in the vicious cycle and give a better quality of life – this is much better than ECT, which addresses the whole system. For people with epilepsy who may not be candidates for other procedures, there is a promising device that detects seizures and stops seizures, again it works like a pacemaker in the brain. We are also working toward spinal injury to bypass the injured part of the spine and address paralysis.
Measurement of Stroke. There are many options for prevention, especially healthy weight, active lifestyles and nutritious diet, but when a stroke happens, there is now increased awareness to intervene within a certain amount of time, originally thought to be within 3 hours, but newer studies are showing up to eight hours and beyond that. We use clot dissolving drugs and mechanical clot retrievers. Treatments for stroke save people from paralysis and speech issues.
Spine Surgery. Statistically 1/3 of people will have back problems at some time in their life. Again, prevention is key through healthy active lifestyles, good posture, avoiding repetitive injuries and practicing good job ergonomics. But when problems happen, the spine has many joints that are all connected and we have to watch how corrections will affect the rest of the body. We have to look at how we can minimize the effects a treatment will have on other parts of the body through a personalized approach factoring in things like age, health, lifestyle and the patient’s goals. We have had very promising advancements in neck and spine treatments including artificial disc replacements as another option beyond spinal fusion. We have improved safety and risks of complications. We are able to use navigation systems that ensure accuracy. Robotic spine surgery is the most recent advancement. The robot helps take the surgeon’s roadmap and mimics it by placing screws in a very safe way. Traditionally, the benefits of spine surgery are good, but there are risks. The roots of the bones where the screws go in have critical particles at high risk of breakage. We started robotic surgery a year ago, and since then have had zero breakage of critical particles. This is an example of why we must continue to explore and advance in the neurosciences.
Are you involved in other leadership roles beyond St. Mary Mercy Livonia?
I am the President of the Michigan Association of Neurological Surgeons. I’ve just transitioned into this leadership role, so I’m very excited and will remain for the next three years. It brings a lot of opportunities to serve society and the neurosurgery community in Michigan. My focus would be to help neurosurgeons achieve a good work-life balance. In 2019, I was invited to present at the Egyptian Society of Neurological Surgeons annual conference as a guest speaker on skull-based craniocervical junction disorder – abnormalities in the complex area where the brain transitions to the spine. I was invited to speak and teach in the lab about safe exposures and reducing risk and to provide scientific sessions on complex spinal surgeries. I cherish those international interactions, especially with colleagues and professors I studied with in Egypt, and to exchange knowledge I’ve been blessed to gain here in the U.S.
What is your favorite movie?
It’s not easy to pick a favorite movie. There is one I’ve liked that I had the chance to see again recently. It’s not very common, it’s an Italian science fiction movie called “Raiders of the Year 3000.” I like science fiction – I feel like you want to watch it again and again and every time you see something new – those are the kinds of movies that are really interesting. Set against this post-apocalyptic scene, you see how man can change, and you see hope.