You Make Life Remarkable

Campaign honorary co-chairs Techy Rodriguez-Doyle and Patrick Doyle with Phil Stella, MD

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.

India Manns; Judy Dow Rumelhart, Campaign Honorary Co-chair; Phil Stella, MD, Medical Director of Oncology; Bill Manns, President of St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor and Livingston; Sister Yvonne Gellise, SJMHS Senior Advisor for Governance

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.

“Making our gift was something special Teresa and I did together to recognize the compassion and expertise of her care team and help ensure personalized care for others. This is a reflection of how Teresa lived her life with gratitude, and I hope it inspires others.” – Andy Yu

Photograph: Adam Zimmer, Megan Yu, and Andy Yu on a tour with Susan Wyman, Regional Oncology Director, SJMHS (second from right)

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

To make a gift online today, visit:
https://giving.stjoeshealth.org/ann-arbor

Leaders, Teachers, Healers

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.

Dr. Hazem Eltahawy values a team approach to providing care, photographed here with Nurse Practitioner Ashra Mirza.

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.

To make a gift in support of St. Mary Mercy Livonia, please contact Jana McNair at 248-858-3556 or jana.mcnair@stjoeshealth.org

http://www.stmarymercy.org/giving-livonia

Four Helpful Tips to Living with Diabetes

It’s not easy finding out that you or a loved one has diabetes. The first step to feeling better begins with educating yourself about the chronic disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 30.3 million Americans — 9.4 percent of the U.S. population — are living with diabetes. Another 84.1 million have prediabetes, a condition that if not treated often leads to type 2 diabetes within five years. November is American Diabetes Month and Mercy Health would like to help you live a healthy life by providing some helpful tips for managing diabetes.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) offers the following suggestions to help navigate treatment if you or a loved one has been diagnosed:

  • Create a health care team. Finding the right team of skilled health professionals will help you manage your diabetes and get the most out of your care. Ask your doctor to help you build a team to assist you in reaching your goals and feeling better. As part of the care management resources available to you, you may receive an outreach call from a nurse. When a nurse calls, please be sure to return the call and take advantages of the services offered to you.
  • Be the star player on your team. Self-care is the best way to maintain your good health. You can help keep yourself well by eating right, staying active, taking your medicine, monitoring your blood glucose and making and keeping doctor appointments.
  • Keep a close eye on your blood glucose levels. Your doctor may want you to start checking your glucose (or blood sugar) levels at home. If so, you will need a small machine called a blood glucose meter. Your health care team can help you find the best meter for your needs. Keeping your blood glucose levels in a healthy range is key to controlling your diabetes.
  • Take your prescribed medications. To help keep your blood glucose in the target range, it’s vital that you take your medications as prescribed by your doctor. If you believe you’re having side effects, be sure to call your doctor or pharmacist.

As you know, developing and maintaining a relationship with a primary care physician (PCP) who can coordinate your care is vital to your good health. A PCP typically specializes in Family Medicine, Internal Medicine or General Practice. If you don’t have a PCP, finding one is easy! Just visit your insurance carrier’s website, look for the “find a doctor” area and follow the instructions.

For personal assistance, call our Physician Referral Hotline at 1-800-231-2211

When you’re being treated for a disease or condition, it may not always be easy to decide where to go for care. For anything that is considered a life-threatening situation like chest pain, major injuries, or sudden and severe pain, it’s best to go to the emergency room.

For less severe matters that still require immediate attention, if you can’t get in to see your PCP, going to an urgent care facility can save you time and money.

Even if you require emergency or urgent care for your health situation, it’s always best to have a relationship with a PCP who knows your history and understands what is happening with your health over time.

Mercy Health is committed to helping you live a healthy life by nurturing well-being through body, mind and spirit.

It’s a Great Day to Be Alive

The pastime of upcycling, flipping and finding hidden treasures at vintage markets, flea markets and resale venues has become a national pastime. But that’s not what inspired Gary Klapperich, a 3rd generation Dexter resident and owner of Klapperich Welding since 1979, to establish the “It’s a Great Day to Be Alive” fundraising event that features a rummage sale, auction, 50/50 raffle, cook-out and more. Gary was responding to a much more serious trend…he started the event to help fight cancer.

His renewed health gave him the chance to marry the love of his life, Karin, on September 13, 2014. And, yes, Gary will tell you, “That was the greatest day to be alive. She is my very best friend.”

Nearly twelve years ago, Gary was diagnosed with colon cancer. Having never been to a hospital before, he shared the diagnosis was terrifying. To treat the cancer, Gary underwent a successful surgery at St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea, followed by chemotherapy at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor. It was during the long hours of infusion that Gary kept his spirits up with the Travis Tritt tune “It’s a Great Day to Be Alive.”

Gary was so grateful for the care he received from his surgeon Jennifer Kulick, MD, and oncologist Katie Beekman, MD, and their care teams, he joined with fellow members from the Ann Arbor Fraternal Order of Eagles #2154 and the Dexter American Legion #557 to launch an annual fundraising event named for the song, to support cancer care.

They were inspired by the care Gary received and the idea that same level of care could be possible close to home for more families. They were early to join the community in supporting St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea’s current Cancer Center. Gifts made it possible to open the Cancer Center in 2014 and offer state-of-the-art radiation, chemotherapy and surgical services as well as a healing environment for personalized care.

“I wanted to show my gratitude and help others. I’m so lucky I have some great people in my life to help me do that and who take pride in supporting the cancer center like I do,” said Klapperich. “I think people are drawn to rummage sales because it’s exciting to find something others see as broken or forgotten, and you take it home and shine it up and make it new again. When you have cancer, you really rely on your doctors to fix you up and make you new again, and their dedication to giving you a second chance makes you love life more than ever.”

The “It’s a Great Day to Be Alive” event gained popularity over the years. Gary and friends have raised an overall total of $275,000 in support of cancer care at St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea.

Today, Gary gets regular colon cancer screenings and is cancer free. His renewed health gave him the chance to marry the love of his life, Karin, on September 13, 2014. And, yes, Gary will tell you, “That was the greatest day to be alive. She is my very best friend.”

Gary, Karin and the other leaders involved remain dedicated to ensuring event guests, many who would not likely get screened otherwise, understand its benefits and know that St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea has seamless screening, diagnosis and treatment options.

“Every year, this fundraiser brings together friends and families to support the fight against cancer in our community,” said Nancy Graebner, president, St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea. “In no small part due to Gary’s own inspirational cancer journey, what began as a small community effort has grown to have a significant impact.”

To learn about how you can support St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea, please contact
Katie Elliott, Development Director
Katie.Elliott@stjoeshealth.org or 734-712-3919.


If you are interested in learning more about colon cancer screening, call
734-593-5650.

Colon Cancer Screening

  • Colon Cancer Screening In 2017, there was an estimated 95,500 new cases of colon cancer in the U.S.
  • The slow growth from precancerous polyps to invasive cancer provide a unique opportunity for prevention and early detection.
  • Screening is recommended beginning at age 50 for people at average risk, and earlier for people at increased risk because of family history or certain medical conditions.

* https://www.cancer.org/content/dam/cancer-org/research/cancer-facts-and-statistics/colorectal-cancer-facts-and-figures/colorectal-cancer-facts-and-figures-2017-2019.pdf

The Impact of Your Giving…Through the experience and courage of a patient

Sandy Lymburner

“Recently I came across the definition of the word Courage.  It is the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty or pain.  You have to have courage just to walk through these doors and hear your diagnosis,” said Sandra Lymburner, 58-year-old Ann Arbor resident, of her experience facing breast cancer. “Cancer can make you feel overwhelmed and alone. But together with your cancer team here at St. Joe’s you find the courage.  There is strength in knowing you will receive the best cancer care possible.”

Sandy Lymburner with Philip J. Stella, MD, Medical Director of Oncology, SJMHS at the 2018 Blessing and Dedication of the renewed St. Joe’s Robert H. and Judy Dow Alexander Cancer Center.

While Sandy celebrates five years cancer-free this past September, her journey of braving a new treatment path will have an ongoing impact on others.  She’s quick to credit the cancer care and research team at St. Joe’s Robert H. and Judy Dow Alexander Cancer Center.

Weeks after being diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma in the right breast and lobular cancer in the left, Sandy underwent a double mastectomy in September 2014. Her chemotherapy port was placed the next month, fully expecting it was the next course of treatment.

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

“He came into the room with a big smile on his face,” Sandy described. Dr. Stella had sent in her breast tumor samples for molecular testing.  Sandy had some of the lowest cancer recurrence risk scores he had seen, making her a good candidate for the groundbreaking Trial Assigning Individualized Options for Treatment (Rx), or TAILORx trial.  Sandy received a score of 10 and 7 (on a scale of 100), and was randomly selected to receive hormone therapy alone.

Rather than receiving infusion chemo treatments, Sandy chose to participate in the clinical trial, which includes a treatment regimen of medications to block the production of hormones and reduce her risks of the breast cancer recurring.

She also followed her cancer team’s recommendations for radiation therapy – to tackle the microscopic cells.  But avoiding chemotherapy and its drastic side effects was a huge morale booster for Sandy, who began journaling and running every day.

In 2016, Sandy completed a half-marathon, and, in 2018, to mark four years of being cancer-free, she ran her third half-marathon in Chicago on Sept. 23.

At the Robert H. and Judy Dow Alexander Cancer Center Dedication and Blessing in December 2018, Sandy shared her experience with our community and donors as a speaker at the event, “The clinical trial allowed me to walk out of the cancer center that day without requiring chemo.  Every time I tell the story, I recall the moment I looked back at the chairs in the infusion clinic.  I was on the other side. I got to go home.  My good fortune was due to the outstanding staff in the Oncology and Research Departments at St. Joe’s and Dr. Stella. 

At that time I didn’t realize St. Joe’s is recognized as one of the nation’s best National Cancer Institute funded community research programs. They have 100 trials open to enrollment at any given time.  These studies offer investigational treatments for a wide variety of cancers, symptom management, and cancer prevention.” 

Sandy went on to explain, “The exceptional care I received at St. Joe’s has been incredible and is the main reason I decided to become an Experience Advisor.”  As such, Sandy was closely involved in the Cancer Center redesign and renovation project and found it enlightening and gratifying to have another unique opportunity to shape the care of those following a similar path.

Closing her remarks at the Dedication, Sandy shared these powerful words, “Society has labeled me a cancer survivor.  That term doesn’t really resonate with me.  I like to think of myself as a resilient fighter… Someone that didn’t know how strong she was until being strong was the only choice she had.  Thanks to my family and the staff at St. Joe’s we embraced the unknown together and I have celebrated almost five years of being cancer free.”

TAILORx trial shows no need for chemotherapy for most women with early breast cancer

The TAILORx trial, launched in 2006 and supported by the National Cancer Institute, analyzed breast tumors using the Oncotype DX Breast Recurrence Score and assigned a cancer recurrence risk score to each individual.  Based on those scores, the trial randomly assigned participants to hormone therapy alone, or a combination of hormone therapy and chemotherapy.

Forty St. Joe’s patients participated in the trial.

In June, the National Cancer Institute said new findings from the TAILORx trial show no benefit from chemotherapy for most women with early breast cancer. Researchers hope the new data will help inform treatment decisions for many women with early-stage breast cancer, especially for those deemed to have an intermediate risk of recurrence.

To learn more about St. Joe’s Cancer Care and National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Program, visit: stjoesannarbor.org/cancer

To make a gift to St. Joe’s Ann Arbor “Life is Remarkable” Campaign
Cancer Care Innovation Endowment Fund today, visit: giving.stjoeshealth.org/ann-arbor

Or to learn more about how you can support this important effort, contact:
 Katie Elliott at
Katie.Elliott@stjoeshealth.org or 734-712-3919
Karen Campbell at
Karen.Campbell@stjoeshealth.org or 734-712-2890
Melissa Sheppard at
Melissa.Sheppard@stjoeshealth.org or 734-712-4079

(Source: “Gift of Health” Fall 2019)

Defining Mercy: Jim and Robin Henderson

Robin and Jim Henderson chose St. Joseph Mercy Oakland as their hospital to deliver their four children in the 1970s, and have given generously to support vital expansions and innovative programs throughout the hospital for more than three decades. 

“Our four kids were born at St. Joe’s.  And, since then, we’ve been able to watch the hospital grow and progress over the years and have seen the way it helps people and saves peoples’ lives,” explained Jim as he and Robin accepted the hospital’s Mercy Legacy Award this year, presented by Shannon Striebich, President, St. Joseph Mercy Oakland. 

Throughout the years, the Hendersons have maintained a close relationship with the hospital and made gifts to support areas of great need.  

As part of the 2002 West Wing Campaign, they made a generous gift that allowed St. Joe’s to establish the “Robin L. & James E. Henderson Medical Clinic,” a teaching clinic for residents and fellows at St. Joe’s.  The Clinic provides primary care and specialty services such as cardiology and pre- and post-surgical care to more than 1,000 patients each year. 

When St. Joe’s Oakland launched the Future is Now capital campaign, the Hendersons were among its biggest supporters.  The Campaign helped fund the new Patient Tower, Surgical Pavilion and leading-edge technology that has garnered six consecutive annual awards as the “Most Wired” Hospital by the American Hospital Association.   

The Hendersons’ insightful giving toward the Campaign allowed St. Joe’s to implement an incredible technological feature, the Surgical Pavilion’s Patient Tracking System to transform the waiting experience for family members who are given regular updates via a screen in the waiting room.  Each patient is assigned a number to protect privacy and when the surgery is complete, the surgeon provides a personal update. 

“It’s just a short period of time in the hospital, but it’s a very emotional and intense time,” said Jim regarding the wait family members have during a loved one’s surgery.

The Hendersons have been true partners in St. Joe’s mission providing support for advanced medical services as well as compassionate and spiritual healing.  Following their gift for the Surgical Pavilion, they made a gift to name the “Robin L. and James E. Henderson Reflection Garden.” 

“This is one of my favorite spots on campus… it’s just so beautiful.  If you haven’t visited the reflection garden, I invite you to discover the peace and tranquility that patients, colleagues and guests have come to know,” said Shannon.  “The Henderson Reflection Garden is an outdoor sanctuary.”

Most recently, the Hendersons made a transformational gift to name the “Robin L. and James E. Henderson Dental Center,” celebrating an ongoing partnership with the hospital, and meeting one of our community’s greatest needs.

The Hendersons’ inspirational giving has allowed St. Joe’s to expand and enhance our patient-focused dental center – one of only a few hospital-based dental centers in the state, providing specialized care to those with disabilities as well as serving families who are uninsured or financially insecure.

Their gift was the capstone of a two-year campaign to raise funds to expand the dental center. The expanded clinic has five treatment rooms, a laboratory workspace for the dental residents, a complete instrument sterilization area, and a private consultation/classroom area.  One of the treatment rooms has a floor-mounted hoist that can lock into a wheelchair so it can be tilted back like a dental chair to enhance comfort and safety for patients while they are receiving dental treatment. 

“Regular dental care and good oral health are essential to overall health, self-esteem and quality of life,” said Craig C. Spangler, DDS, Program Director Emeritus for the General Dental Residency.  “The Hendersons, and all those who have supported the clinic, have made it possible for those patients with barriers to dental care to receive comprehensive dental treatment while training the dentists of tomorrow.” 

The Henderson’s generous gift is making a difference for the 600 patients who visit the Dental Center each year.  Some of these patients have not had dental treatment in many years, and present with treatment challenges that may be treated in the clinic, or require treatment in the operating room under general anesthesia.    

Jim has shared, “Robin and I view our contributions to St. Joe’s over the years as something we just wanted to do because we thought we could help a few people be a little better off than they otherwise would have been.  We’re delighted St. Joe’s has been able to provide that help to so many people in need.”

“Having philanthropic partners like the Hendersons allows St. Joe’s Oakland to be an innovative leader in health care and to sustain our commitment to serve all those in need,” said Shannon. “We are grateful and inspired by Jim and Robin’s vision and ongoing investment in St. Joe’s, our healing mission, and the patients we serve.”

To make a gift today, visit: giving.stjoeshealth.org/oakland

To learn more about St. Joseph Mercy Oakland and ways you can support our healing mission, please contact The Office of Development at:

Jana McNair, Regional Director of Major Gifts
248-858-3556 or
Jana.McNair@stjoeshealth.org

Craig Peiser, Director of Major Gifts
248-858-6142 or
Craig.Peiser@stjoeshealth.org

 Jill Schubiner, Gift Officer
248-858-6146 or
Jill.Schubiner@stjoeshealth.org

Be Passionate About Your Community

Renee and Ed Chodkowski are avid supporters of St. Joseph Mercy Livingston and Local Care.

Message from Renee:

Ed and I always feel excited to support St. Joseph Mercy Livingston and Brighton. Community support of local businesses – in this case, local WORLD CLASS health care – is one of my passions as a citizen and as “The Great Foodini*.” I have a story, and this is why I am so committed to St. Joe’s and their remarkable Transformation project right here in Livingston County.

My story….my dad died at 45 from heart disease. His dad died at 42 from heart disease. His brother and sister barely made it to 60. Heart disease. My mom died of lung cancer at 52. My goal is to live 25 out of my 24 hours every day.

When we were working as a family to get care for my dad, we found ourselves traveling two and three states away for meetings, surgeries, consultations and treatments. It was a logistical nightmare and financially impossible to get what was considered the best care. It was never spoken aloud, but I know that weighed heavily on my dad and I believe he would have been with us longer had great health care been local.

My mom’s story is similar – her best treatment was a thousand miles away, next best was 50 miles away, but between Michigan winters, serious commuter traffic, parking nightmares and waiting, a half hour treatment was a full day’s work. It exhausted her and she ultimately declined treatment. I believe she would have been with us longer had great health care been local.

There are two takeaways from my story.  One is how important local care is, and St. Joe’s has demonstrated unwavering commitment to Livingston County. Second, education is key to prevention with so many illnesses. St. Joe’s has so many health education, screening, diagnostic, prevention and health management programs available – right here in Livingston County. You should see their new healthy education kitchen! (See article below). Foodini was excited! This is part of the ongoing Transformation project.

“St. Joe’s and the patients we serve benefit greatly from passionate support like the Chodkowskis give.  We are so grateful to have them as partners,” said John O’Malley, president, St. Joseph Mercy Livingston.  “As donors and volunteer leaders, Ed and Renee help ensure our community has high quality, high value, compassionate and local care.”  

Renee (*aka The Great Foodini) believes anyone can learn to prepare healthy, delicious meals.  She teaches and presents both home cooking and worksite wellness programs for all ages and groups sizes but her favorite is her home base demonstration kitchen at Cleary University in Howell.  She is regular on Livingston County’s 93.5 WHMI FM; has achieved national acclaim on FOX’s reality series “MasterChef,” was recognized in the “Pie of Emeril’s Eye” Contest on ABC’s “Good Morning America;” and was selected by Red Gold Tomatoes as one of the top seven food writers/bloggers in the U.S.  Renee is a tireless volunteer leader in support of farm-to-table cooking, good nutrition for all ages, fighting hunger and making nutrition a part of healthy living. 

Outside the kitchen, Renee and Ed have been married for over 38 years, and have lived in Livingston County for 40 years.  They raised their children here, who are both graduates from Howell High School, and were born at St. Joe’s (when it was still named McPherson Hospital).   As part of a healthy-lifestyle, Renee and Ed enjoy playing tennis, traveling, scuba diving, and golfing, and of course eating the healthy meals Renee prepares.

Ed and Renee are champions for St. Joe’s, including serving as co-chairs for the 2019 Livingston Ball last April.  The couple is most passionate about partnering with St. Joe’s on local care, prevention and treatment through healthy eating, and making a lasting impact on the community.

First Intensive Heart Health Rehab Program in Livingston County

Your investment in St. Joseph Mercy Livingston is an investment in innovative, evidence-based, local health care.  In November 2018, we opened the county’s first intensive heart health rehab program, Pritikin ICR™ (Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation). 

“The Pritikin program has proven to be very successful for patients at high risk for a cardiovascular event, and we are thrilled to offer this program to Livingston County to improve the health and wellness of our local community,” said John O’ Malley, president of St. Joseph Mercy Livingston. “This is one example of our commitment to transforming care.”

Numerous studies have documented the Pritikin program’s ability to lower blood cholesterol levels, improve blood pressure and blood sugar control and reduce other lifestyle-related risk factors.

Patients benefit from Pritiken’s three-pronged approach that focuses on: healthy eating, healthy mindset and exercise. 

At St. Joe’s Livingston, exercise physiologists facilitate individual and group workshops, yoga therapists lead our mind body workshops and yoga classes, the program includes personalized counseling and coaching, and nutritionists lead classes in meal planning, supermarket shopping and cooking – all in a renovated space including a gym, classrooms and demonstration kitchen.  Patients learn skills they can use in every-day life to improve their health.  Cardiac rehab can reduce the risk of dying or having another heart attack by as much as 30 to 50 percent, according to the American College of Cardiology. 

For more information, please call St. Joe’s Cardiac Rehab at 517-545-6385. 

To make a gift in support of innovative, quality, local care today, visit:
giving.stjoeshealth.org/livingston

Or, contact the Office of Development:

Tina Casoli, Director of Major Gifts
517-545-5156 or
tina.casoli@stjoeshealth.org

Lindsay Debolski, Gift Officer
517) 545-5151 or
Lindsay.Debolski@stjoeshealth.org

(Source: Gift of Health Fall 2019)

How Brady Got His Groove Back with the Help of Probility’s Pediatric Program

Probility Patient Testimonial - Brady_SJM_3987.jpg

ANN ARBOR – Brady, a happy, energetic five-year-old boy, does not fit the image of a stereotypical physical therapy patient. However, physical therapy is helping Brady attain a life with less pain, less obstacles, and more mobility.

Brady has Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, a condition that leads to avascular necrosis of the proximal femoral head. In layman’s terms, the top of Brady’s femur is not receiving an adequate blood supply, causing that portion of his bone to slowly die. While most people affected only have the disease in one hip, both of Brady’s femurs are deteriorating.

Many of Brady’s family members have this condition, including his father, Josh, a colleague at Saint Joseph Mercy Health System.

While Legg-Calve-Perthes disease is not life-threatening, it does cause severe pain and mobility issues. For Brady, he was in so much pain that it became a struggle for him to walk. His left foot was tilting in, and he couldn’t bear pressure on that leg.

He was referred for physical therapy, with a choice of going to the University of Michigan or to Probility’s pediatric clinic in Ypsilanti. His parents chose Probility because they had heard such positive things about pediatric physical therapist Dan Santioni, and because the clinic was closer to home.

Probility Physical Therapy has 15 locations throughout Washtenaw, Livingston, and Lenawee Counties. The pediatric clinic opened in June 2018, and added occupational therapy and speech therapy services in February 2019.

Brady was extremely anxious about physical therapy, which was scheduled for three times a week to start. This was heightened by Brady’s fear of new people, common for a child of his age. Thankfully though, Dan was able to form a deep connection with him. Brady’s mother Nicole shared, “Dan made physical therapy fun and interactive for him. He incorporated games, and Brady started to actually look forward to his sessions.”

Through the use of massage, stretches, and drills, Brady has made incredible strides forward. He is able to walk with ease again, and is learning how to manage his condition outside of physical therapy. When he is in pain, he’s able to use the stretches from physical therapy to help ease it.

Brady has grown attached to Dan, so his parents were worried when a new physical therapist assistant, Kathryn Perry, joined Brady’s care team. Fortunately, she too was able to bond with Brady. According to Nicole, “That office is filled with people who are there for the right reasons, and they all provide wonderful care.”

As Brady ages and the disease progresses, the pain will lessen. He will still require “Mr. Dan tune-ups” occasionally, to help him maintain his flexibility. It is also possible that he will need surgery in the future, but his parents hope that through physical therapy and the lifestyle changes Dan and Kathryn have taught Brady, he may be able to avoid it.

Nicole expressed her gratitude for Probility’s pediatric program, stating, “I really feel Probility was brought to St. Joe’s for a reason. It’s been a great help to our family.”

Looking for a Physical Therapist?
Visit Probility Physical Therapy or call 734-712-1589 and we will guide you through the process.

Spoken from the Heart: St. Mary Mercy Livonia Angileri Colleague Education and Professional Development Fund

For a young man, moving to the United States in the 1950s was a big opportunity, but Frank Angileri admits he felt lost at first.  He had taken some English courses while working toward his degree at Palermo University in Italy and while he excelled in grammar, he struggled with the spoken language. 

Frank came from a working class family and moved to Detroit with his wife, Bessie, for employment, “I came over penniless,” he says.  But, he brought his work ethic with him, willing to take on many jobs including his first at Sanders, cleaning the mixers used to make decadent swirls of frosting.  From there he stocked bags on each of the 27 floors at Hudson’s, the once-towering hub of style and prestige on Woodward and Gratiot in downtown Detroit, where he made many friends.  Finally, Frank’s native language became an asset when he began translating articles from English to Italian for a Detroit area newspaper.

Then in 1953, Frank “discovered America.”  He was offered a position in the auto industry.  Following a year at Chrysler, Frank took a role as a quality engineer for Ford Motor Company.  A position he held for 34 years, retired from, and, when he missed working, used to launch a 16-year career in quality consulting. 

Writing presentations for Henry Ford II and traveling to visit partners throughout the nation were two of Frank’s favorite roles at Ford.  All of his hard work (sometimes 7 days a week), his analytical mind, his eye for perfection and his charming ways were appreciated and respected greatly by his employer and co-workers. 

Frank was living his dream, working in a prestigious, well-paid position, owning a nice home, traveling and enjoying the love of his life.  He and Bessie traveled to Italy nine times, they took cruises, and enjoyed gourmet meals at restaurants and those that Bessie prepared herself.  He gleams with pride when talking about the time she took first place for her baked lasagna in a Redford Township cooking contest.

When Bessie became ill with dementia and needed care at St. Mary Mercy Livonia, Frank recognized that having the best trained nurses, clinicians and doctors made the experience, even such a hard one, better.  He was extremely grateful for their expertise and their care.  “Everyone needs to be treated like a human being, like they matter. The nurses and doctors were knowledgeable, thorough and kind.”

Years later, Frank also needed care at St. Mary Mercy and he says that he would never want to go to another hospital, “the people at St. Mary treat you like family.  I enjoy spending time talking with people and getting to know them.  Some of the staff even came in to spend time with me on Christmas Eve.”

Frank has chosen to make a substantial planned gift to support St. Mary Mercy Livonia, and while he has not restricted his gift, he sees ongoing training for physicians, nurses, clinicians and staff as very important – quality training is something he feels passionate about and would be proud to support.

Bessie lost her battle with dementia in 2014.  Frank shared the touching story of her last moments.  Frank held Bessie’s hand and asked her to remember him.  He asked, “who am I?” Bessie responded, “I don’t know.” “Who am I?” Frank repeated. “I don’t know,” she said.  “It’s me, Frank,” he encouraged.  Bessie looked at him and responded, “Frank,” and closed her eyes and died peacefully.

The power of words and language has been so meaningful in Frank’s life. His conviction learning English, a language he describes as “beautiful.”  Crafting words for Ford presentations and often editing for his co-workers, “me, the imported guy, editing English,” he says.  Even the time he presented to Fiat and Ford executives, translating between Italian and English.   And, the most meaningful, the last word Bessie spoke, his name.  Frank’s planned gift to St. Mary Mercy was made in gratitude for the care he and Bessie received.  “I have been so fortunate in my lifetime and I want to give back,” explains Frank – proving the language of kindness, of generosity, of love…is universal.

Sustaining excellence requires attracting and retaining the best staff who continually strengthen their knowledge and expertise to provide patients with the latest, most advanced and compassionate care.

Since this story was published, Frank Angileri has confirmed the beneficiary of his estate plans, allowing us to name the St. Mary Mercy Livonia Angileri Colleague Education and Professional Development Fund, in recognition of his vision and generosity.

To make a gift in support of St. Mary Mercy Livonia, visit: giving.stjoeshealth.org/livonia

Or, contact Colin Berens, Director of Major Gifts, at 734-655-2876 or Colin.Berens@stjoeshealth.org.

To learn how you can support Saint Joseph Mercy Health System through a legacy gift from your estate, contact Katie Elliott, Director of Planned Giving, at 734-712-3919 or Katie.Elliott@stjoeshealth.org.

(Source: “Gift of Health” Spring 2017)

Team Trinity Rides 300 Miles of Michigan Roads for One of their Own

Members of Team Trinity endured 300 miles of Michigan roads and raised $144,000 for wish heroes.

After three grueling days of riding into the wind, more than 40 Team Trinity cyclists crossed the finish line of the 2019 Wish-A-Mile® where they were greeted by the young wish heroes.

Colleagues from St. Joe’s, IHA, Probility, Mercy Health and Trinity Health rode 300 miles over three days for children battling life-threatening illnesses. They dedicated their ride to the 7-year-old daughter of Mercy Health colleague Ashlee Senn.

Brynlee Senn has a disease known as “Mito,” when the mitochondria of cells fail to produce energy for organ function. Her younger brother, who passed away at four years old, also had the disease.

“I can’t speak enough about how proud I am to work for this organization,” Ashlee said. “They truly care about us as colleagues and especially for the communities we serve.”

Rob Casalou, president and CEO of Trinity Health Michigan Region, led Team Trinity to raise more than $144,000 – the highest total among large teams. The event raised $2.3 million overall.

An avid cyclist, Casalou first rode the course solo in 2011 when he was the president of St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor.  Over the years, more colleagues joined him on “Team Joe’s” to raise support and awareness for children with serious illnesses.

As CEO of the Michigan Region, Casalou changed the group’s name in hopes more colleagues join Team Trinity for future WAMs.

“Team Trinity is more representative of the health ministries that together comprise Trinity Health Michigan,” he said. “We are all proud to display our Trinity colors in an event that embraces our mission to serve the most vulnerable people of our communities.”

Brynlee greeted the cyclists at the finish line and presented them with medals for completing the ride. The Make a Wish Foundation made Brynlee’s wish come true a few years ago, when they sent her and the family to Disney World to meet Jesse from Toy Story, enjoy the water park and go to McDonald’s.

Brynlee awaits Team Trinity at the finish line of the WAM 300.

Ashlee knows firsthand the positive impact Make a Wish has on children. She treasures the memories of her son’s wish trip just a few months before he passed.

“Those memories will never go away,” she said. “It’s one of the few times he got to be a kid without doctors and nurses surrounding him. The pictures, videos… We will treasure everything that encompassed that trip.”

Brynlee is “the spunkiest little girl” looking forward to starting second grade this fall as a mainstreamed student in elementary school.  Ashlee said she’s excited to be part of the next Wish a Mile ride benefitting wish heroes. “To know these riders are willing to take on this long-distance ride to ensure other kids like Brynlee have opportunities… is huge for us.”