“Music Man” Chaplain Charles Heals Spirits

He who sings, prays twice.” The words of the ancient philosopher St. Augustine come to mind when Chaplain Charles Kibirige’s sings  to patients and visitors at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland.

Although music was a constant in his life growing up with his now deceased musician dad Henry Kasule, Chaplain Charles said his love of music flourished while he was in seminary. He attended Katigondo National Seminary and Ggaba National Seminary in Uganda where he completed degrees in philosophy and theology respectively.

Between 2001 and 2013, Chaplain Charles served the community of Ann Arbor as an ordained priest. In 2003 he was hired as one of the Priest Chaplains at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor where served for 10 years and where he also started his career as a health care chaplain. After voluntarily leaving the active ministry, Chaplain Charles accepted his current role of full-time chaplain at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland in 2014.

“I never saw myself as an entertainer but rather as someone who wanted to use my gift of music to bring comfort and healing to others,” said Chaplain Charles.  “I’ve always wanted to bring music into my healing ministry. In fact, I have been, for some time now, using music as therapy when working with patients on the Behavioral Health Unit here at SJMO and it has been well received by both the patients and the staff on the unit. However, I knew I needed to extend this further into my ministry on other units.”

Chaplain Charles started to bring his guitar to the 2 p.m. prayer service he holds in the ICU waiting room. Although he doesn’t play every time, he uses it as a way to be present with people as well as to start a deeper conversation on their presenting health issues.

Chaplain Charles recalls one of these conversations with a young mother and her 4-year-old son who were visiting a family member. He played one of the theme songs from Disney’s The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse show. The little boy could not help but sing along with excitement. This moment opened the door to a deeper conversation with the boy’s mother and family. He prayed with the family. While walking back to his office, it struck Chaplain Charles deeply about how the Holy Spirit used a simple secular song to draw these people closer to God in a time they most needed it.

Chaplain Kibirige is known as the “music man” to patients.

Another striking example of the power of music happened this past July. A man he had never met before stopped Chaplain Charles during his rounds in the ICU.

“‘Are you Charles the music man,’ he asked me. ‘The nurse told us about you and how you play music for the patients. Would you be able to play a song for my wife?” Chaplain Charles recalled.

The man, Norm Kerr of Roseville, explained that his wife, Dianne, had suffered a stroke while at a family member’s high school graduation party in Waterford and was brought to St. Joe’s Oakland for treatment. Norm said Dianne loved the old country song from Charlie Pride, “There Goes My Everything” and asked Chaplain Charles if he could play it for his wife. Chaplain Charles agreed to look up the song and learn it.

“I went home that weekend, looked the song up, and put a little dose of my own creativity to the arrangement,” he said. “I went back the following Monday and played it for the patient. However, Norm was not present that day but his son made a recording of the presentation on his phone as I sang the song for Dianne. It was a day later that I got a call from Norm letting me know how beautiful it was and how meaningful it was to him and his wife and family.”

Chaplain Charles continued to see the family and play for them occasionally while they were in the hospital. Dianne’s condition improved from being unresponsive on their first encounter, to making nods and other nonverbal communications in the subsequent days and weeks. Eventually, Dianne was discharged and returned home to her family.

“I see in this whole experience, among other things, music’s ability to help inspire hope and healing in patients,”  he said.

Chaplain Charles and his guitar visit the ICU waiting room daily at 2 p.m. He also visits the Behavioral Medicine floor. 

Alone for the Holidays?

by Lila Lazarus

This feeling comes on every year just before Thanksgiving. It’s a big, empty feeling. There’s a pit in my stomach and a lump in my throat. As discussions turn to holiday plans and family dinners, I can feel my eyes start to water.

If you’re blessed with a big family living close by, you may not understand the pain. But for those of us with small families or families living across the country— or, in my case, around the world — it’s sometimes unbearable. Being without family or a tight, core group of friends can leave you feeling disconnected and depressed. This is the time of year when we count on our tribe. It’s priceless. And if you don’t have a tribe readily available, well…it’s tough. It’s hard to accept that Thanksgiving isn’t going to look like that Norman Rockwell image of the perfect family dinner we grew up with or hoped to have some day. Continue reading “Alone for the Holidays?”

Diagnosed with Diabetes? Try One of These Diets

by Debbie Koenig

This article was originally published in Sharecare.

Dr_Marcucci.JPGWhen you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, knowing what to eat suddenly becomes a Very Big Deal. Forget about casually grabbing a cookie in the break room or having a snack whenever you feel like it. Now you have to think about your eating pattern. That’s a fancy term for your diet—the foods and beverages you consume on a daily basis. Luckily, your medical team is trained to help you find the eating pattern that’s right for you.

“The best diet is one that’s tailored to the individual,” says Rachel Marcucci, MD, an internist and pediatrician at Saint Joseph Mercy Health System in Livonia, Michigan. Your doctor should refer you to a dietitian for medical nutrition therapy, which is covered by Medicare and many private insurance plans. “There’s really no reason not to do it,” she says.

The American Diabetes Association recommends several eating patterns for managing diabetes. These are just a few examples that you can try, based on your preferences, lifestyle and dietary needs. However, there are many other healthy eating styles that may work best for you. Your dietitian or doctor can work with you to find a plan that works with your goals and that you’ll be most likely to follow. Continue reading “Diagnosed with Diabetes? Try One of These Diets”

Join St. Joe’s Ann Arbor Nov. 15 for the Great American Smokeout

2017-11-06 14_51_39-sjmhs_smokeout_2017_event_flyer_proof2.pdfANN ARBOR – Join St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the Great American Smokeout, and take the pledge to quit tobacco use.

St. Joe’s colleagues, patients and visitors are invited to take a smoke-free pledge or support loved ones taking the pledge by visiting tables at St. Joe’s Ann Arbor’s Main Entrance and Reichert Health Center.

Enter for a chance to win free drawings for holiday turkeys, vegetable trays, Couch to 5K classes and a free pair of shoes!

Be Driven

Michael McCarty, this year’s patient speaker at the annual Shine a Light on Lung Cancer event, credits his survival to a single, desperate message he sent from a hospital bed to transfer his cancer care to St. Joe’s.

Photo_Michael McCarty
Michael McCarty (left) was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2012, when his children were 13, 11 and 7 years old. Today, his cancer is managed with a variety of targeted therapy drugs.

Over the course of his six-year lung cancer journey, Michael McCarty has been to the brink of death and back. And though he accepts the sober truth that time is limited, he tells people, “it’s never too late.”

Michael was diagnosed in September 2012 with non-small cell lung cancer – a type of cancer that occurs mainly in current or former smokers. As Michael would soon learn, it’s also the most common type of lung cancer seen in non-smokers like him.

He was just 43 years old. His children were 13, 11, and 7. He was given 18 months to live. Continue reading “Be Driven”

Probility’s East Ypsilanti Clinic Opens Nov. 12

2018-10-24 09_43_43-80031_E_Ypsi_Opening_Postcard_FINAL.pdf - Adobe Acrobat.jpgYPSILANTI – Probility will open its new East Ypsilanti physical therapy clinic on Nov. 12, 2018.

The clinic, located at 1159 E. Michigan Avenue, Suite E, Ypsilanti, MI 48198is strategically placed to serve patients in the E. Ypsilanti, Belleville, Canton and Van Buren Township area.

Services will emphasize manual therapy and the treatment of all orthopedic conditions and musculoskeletal dysfunctions. For more information, call the referral line at 734-712-0570.

 

St. Joe’s Livingston ICR Open House – Nov. 15

SJML_ICR_OpenHouse_Postcard_FRONTLIVINGSTON – Join us in celebrating the opening of our Intensive Cardiac Rehab (ICR) space at St. Joseph Mercy Livingston:

Thursday, November 15, 2018
5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
St. Joseph Mercy Livingston
620 Byron Rd • Howell, MI 48843

Enjoy tours, refreshments, cooking demos and giveaways. The event is free but registration is requested: stjoeshealth.org/icropenhouse

Shine a Light on Lung Cancer – Nov. 7

SJMAA_ShineALightFacebook(1200x628)ANN ARBOR – Join us for an inspirational evening of hope and remembrance for
anyone affected by lung cancer at our Nov. 7 Shine a Light on Lung Cancer event:

It’s Time to Shine
November 7, 2018
5 – 7 p.m.
St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor
Administration Building – Education Center Auditorium
5305 Elliott Drive, Ypsilanti
Print flyer

RSVP is requested by November 1
stjoeshealth.org/shine-a-light | 734-712-HOPE (4673)

Brought to you by Saint Joseph Mercy Health System in partnership with Lung Cancer Alliance.

Be Grateful

Breast Cancer Trial Participant Gives Back to St. Joe’s as Patient Adviser

SandraLymburner_Wide.jpgSandy Lymburner doesn’t like the term “survivor” in reference to her battle with breast cancer, but she accepts it graciously and gratefully. The 57-year-old Ann Arbor resident is four years cancer-free this September, and so far, she’s not only surviving – she is thriving.

She’s quick to credit her success to the team who took care of her at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor Cancer Center.

“You feel like your core group of physicians has their arms around you, and are just taking you in, and are helping you all along the way. I’ve never felt that I’ve been a number or statistic,” she said, adding, “I just felt the care here was incredible, and I wanted to be able to share the good things with people within the hospital.”

Weeks after she was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma in the right breast and lobular cancer in the left, Sandy opted for a double mastectomy in September 2014. She got her chemotherapy port the next month, fully expecting that was the next course of action.

But on the day of Sandy’s first scheduled chemotherapy session, Dr. Philip Stella – medical director of oncology at Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, and a long-time friend of Sandy’s – suggested Sandy might be able to bypass chemotherapy altogether.

“He came into the room with a big smile on his face,” Sandy described. Continue reading “Be Grateful”

Questions and Apertures

by Lila Lazarus

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Photo credit: Costello Candids

It wasn’t a question I wanted to ask. We were sitting with my Mom in her new assisted living facility having coffee and I was going to ask her if she wanted another cookie but instead blurted, “Mom, do you want to be buried or cremated?”

Perhaps I could have been more delicate. Perhaps I could have waited for another time. Perhaps I was insensitive. But the right time never comes for the tough questions. All my siblings were in town to help move my Mom into the new facility. This seemed as good a moment as any. Some say the ideal time for this conversation is before you turn 40 and your parents turn 70, whichever comes first. But that ship sailed for us a while ago.  Mom is 86.  It was now or never. Continue reading “Questions and Apertures”