St. Joe’s Oakland Partners with Community Organizations to Provide Vaccine Access to Vulnerable Populations

OAKLAND – A key challenge in distributing COVID-19 vaccines is ensuring that the most vulnerable in our community have adequate access. Some may be interested in the vaccine, but do not have transportation to a clinic. Others simply do not know how to sign up for the vaccine, or do not have a computer to search for appointments.

To help reach these vulnerable populations, St. Joseph Mercy Oakland has partnered with several community organizations, including Lighthouse Oakland County, Forgotten Harvest, Freedom Road Transportation, and Faith Community Nursing.

On April 5, 2021, St. Joe’s Oakland hosted a COVID-19 vaccine clinic for vulnerable populations, and distributed nonperishable food from Forgotten Harvest to participants. SJMO’s Community Health and Wellbeing team was able to pre-register 95 individuals. SJMO also partnered with Freedom Road Transportation to provide transportation at no cost to attendees.

“We serve seniors, people with disabilities, and low income populations,” said Karen Boice, Executive Director of Freedom Road Transportation.  “These are people that have no access to public transportation or are unable to use it.  Our program is provided at no cost.  It’s important because people who are isolated, disabled or senior need access to transportation so that they can be social, access basic needs and stay healthy.”

SJMO held a second vaccine clinic on May 3 at Mercy Place.  Again, participants received a free box of non-perishable food and transportation assistance as needed.  Roughly 55 individuals were served at this clinic with a high turnout from the local Hispanic community.  Second dose vaccines of Moderna were distributed June 2 at Mercy Place Clinic.  St. Joe’s Oakland is now also accepting walk-ins for COVID-19 vaccines from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on days the clinic is open.

Helping vulnerable populations get access to vaccines is crucial, as these groups face higher risks of complications or death if they contract COVID-19.  St. Joe’s Oakland is proud to work with local partners to help address the needs of the most vulnerable in our community, and is excited to continue these efforts.

Guidance for Those Who are Fully Vaccinated Against COVID-19

COVID-19 vaccines are effective at protecting you from getting sick. As more of us become fully vaccinated against COVID-19, CDC guidance advises fully vaccinated people can start to do some things they had stopped doing. People are considered fully vaccinated:  

Two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
Two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine  

Here’s what you can start doing if you’re fully vaccinated:  

You can gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask.

You can gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household (for example, visiting with relatives who all live together) without masks, unless any of those people or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

If you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms. (However, if you live in a group setting and are around someone who has COVID-19, you should still stay away from others for 14 days and get tested, even if you don’t have symptoms.)  

5 Tips to Keep Kids Safe when Returning to Sports

1. Ease kids back into physical activity gradually before the sport season starts

Kids have been spending a lot more time at home and sitting at computers for school than in regular years. Relative inactivity leads to decreased cardiorespiratory fitness, muscle strength and endurance and loss of sport-specific skills. Parents should know, that increasing the load and demand on their child’s body without adequate time for conditioning and recovery, raises the risk of injury.

Before they start sports, all kids should have a pre-participation physical exam. At this pre-participation physical exam, ask the medical provider to discuss with you and your child a schedule to guide a gradual increase in activity. Children should return to sports at 25 to 50% of the volume and intensity at which they participated previously. Each week, volume should be increased by 10% so that, by 4-6 weeks, the student athlete is back in performance shape.

“I’ve been seeing a lot of sports injuries due to the rapid escalation of sports intensity. We can prevent these injuries.” said, Dr. Corey Dean, Pediatrician and Sports Medicine Specialist at St. Joe’s and IHA.

  1. Be COVID-19 safe during practice and games

In March, 2021, the spread of COVID-19 has risen 105% among persons aged 10 to 19 in Michigan. Additionally, there are 135 identified outbreaks among minors participating in school and club sports in Michigan.

To prevent COVID-19 during sports participation, athletes should maintain physical distance as much as possible. Wear cloth face coverings at all times during group training and competition, especially on the sideline, in dugouts, and during team chats. Due to possible safety concerns, masks can be removed while participating in some sports, such as water sports, gymnastics and wrestling. However, a mask should still be worn when the athlete is not actively engaged in competition or is on the sidelines.

All kids with a history of a positive COVID-19 test, regardless of whether they had symptoms, should be screened for chest pain, shortness of breath, syncope (fainting), and palpitations during a physical exam by there primary care physician. Children who have had moderate or severe symptoms of COVID-19, like fever greater than three days, hypoxia needing oxygen in the hospital, etc. should be referred to a cardiologist per the American Academy of pediatricians.

Avoid behaviors like huddles, high-fives, fist bumps, handshakes, sharing food or drink with teammates, cheering, chanting, or spitting. Store personal equipment 6 to 8 feet away from other teammates equipment. Make sure to bring your own water bottle and your own towel to be used only by you. Sanitize hands before and after using shared equipment like balls, bats etc. Do not got to practice or a game if you are not feeling well. Make sure to tell the coach if you’re not feeling well and leave practice or the game as soon as safely possible.

Avoid large group gathering after sporting events or practices. If you do gather after a sporting event or practice, remember to wear your mask, socially distance and don’t share food or drink with others.

3. Clean up after practice and games.

Sanitize with 60% alcohol based hand sanitizer or wash hands for 20 seconds. Be Sure to wash practice clothes and towel thoroughly and replace facemasks. Clean sports equipment and water bottle.

4. Get tested for COVID-19 regularly.

All middle school and high school athletes aged 13 to 19 must be tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis as required by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Testing is recommended before any inter-team competition, especially before players come in to close contact with players from outside the local community. Regular testing allows for better understanding of the risk to student athletes and supports contact tracing of COVID-19 cases in sports.

5. Where are the facemasks?

Athletes, coaches and other team personnel must wear a face mask at all times unless participating in a sport in which masks may pose a safety concern (wrestling, water sports, gymnastics, etc.). Face masks must be worn by all individuals while not engaged in active participation. Facemasks must cover the nose and the mouth at all times to be fully protective. Any cloth face covering that becomes saturated with sweat or water should be changed immediately. Having a back up cloth mask is helpful. You are your child’s best advocate. If you see other athletes or coaches not wearing masks or wearing masks improperly speak up and kindly remind them to wear a mask or make sure their mask is properly covering their mouth and nose. Parents and spectators should always wear a facemask while at sporting events. Wearing masks minimizes the spread of COVID-19 and is critical for safe participation in sports.

Need a Primary Care Doctor?

Trust your family’s health to a St. Joe’s doctor. Find a doctor near you at St.JoesHealth.org.

Local Livonia Retiree Thanks SMML Staff After Recovering from COVID-19

Roger Jones and his wife Terri

LIVONIA – Our St. Mary Mercy Livonia family extends its warmest wishes to Roger Jones and his wife Terri. Roger, a local Livonia retiree, was recently discharged home from St. Mary Mercy after being admitted to the hospital on January 18, following complications from COVID-19. 

Following a positive COVID-19 test in late December, Roger had been in isolation at home when his health quickly deteriorated. In fact, as he tells it, he doesn’t have any recollection beyond the ambulance ride to the hospital.

After spending a day on a ventilator in the hospital, Roger’s condition improved, he began breathing on his own again, and he regained consciousness.

“In the beginning, I was scared to death. I remember sitting up in the hospital alone thinking, tonight might be the night I die.”

Fortunately for Roger, his doctors and nurses had other plans for him.

After a slow but steady improvement over two weeks, Roger was transferred to inpatient rehabilitation. For the next 50 days, this is where Roger would eat, sleep and push himself to get stronger.

“Basically couldn’t do anything when I arrived in rehab,” he said. “I couldn’t walk and I could hardly move my arms.”

“My first day there I remember one of the female workers asking me if I could do something for her,” he said. “I told her, ‘I can’t.'”

“She responded by telling me that I needed to get that word out of my vocabulary. It was the best advice I could have ever received.”

“Rehab was wonderful,” he said. “They were very patient and encouraging with me. The encouragement was just as valuable as the actual therapy I received, and it came from everybody.”

While Roger still has much work to do, he has come a long way from those precarious first few days he spent in the hospital.

“God gave me a second chance and I’m not going to mess it up,” he said.

Asked what plans he had for when he returned home, he responded, “I want to see my kids and my grandkids. I have a lot more work to do too.”

Sean’s Recovery Journey: Fighting COVID-19 and a Stroke with Help from St. Joe’s

After 64 days in the hospital recovering from a stroke and COVID-19, Sean received an enthusiastic clap-out from staff, and a warm welcome home from his family.

OAKLAND – Sean McCusker, a 51-year-old husband and father of three from Livonia, has faced immense challenges in the last six months. Diagnosed with both COVID-19 and a stroke at the same time, he lost his ability to walk and speak fluently, and has battled hard to recover. His determination, along with caring staff members and loved ones, have made his recovery possible.

Sean’s journey began in late March, when he first experienced symptoms of COVID-19. After a telemedicine visit with his primary care provider, he was instructed to quarantine at home, as his symptoms were generally mild. He had a low-grade fever, which dissipated after roughly ten days of quarantine. On the thirteenth day of Sean’s quarantine, he was home with his children when he suddenly began to have difficulties speaking and moving his right arm. He was taken by ambulance to St. Mary Mercy Livonia, where staff determined he had suffered a stroke.

Sean was transferred to St. Joseph Mercy Oakland for stroke treatment. While there, he also tested positive for COVID-19. It remains unclear if his stroke and COVID-19 diagnosis were related, though there is some evidence that COVID-19 may increase stroke risk. Sean required ventilation support for a few days, and then moved to the ICU. His wife Marla shared how difficult this time was, as COVID-19 restrictions meant visitors were not allowed: “It was so hard to not be able to see him. The staff was amazing though; they’d put on PPE and hold a phone up to him so we could FaceTime.”

Continue reading “Sean’s Recovery Journey: Fighting COVID-19 and a Stroke with Help from St. Joe’s”

Determined COVID-19 Patient Battles His Way Home

Recovering from COVID-19 can be a long and difficult journey, but a patient’s determination, combined with caring support can make all the difference.  When David Lemble developed a severe cough back in March, he had no idea that he would eventually spend nearly two months on a ventilator, often fighting for every breath.

David and his wife, Tina, knew about COVID and took all the right precautions. When he first developed symptoms, David self-isolated and the family hoped for the best, but after several days, he was having trouble breathing. By March 30, they decided to come to St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor and within 12 hours David was placed on a ventilator.

His wife, Tina, a certified nursing assistant (CNA), clearly understood the seriousness.

“I was scared, but I have faith in God, I also have faith in David and our kids,” said Tina. “Never give up, is the one thing I would tell anyone going through this. We always knew that David was going to get off that ventilator and come home, but it was definitely a roller coaster.”

During the many weeks on the ventilator, David fought and recovered from five separate bouts of pneumonia. He was weaned off the vent for four days, but his lungs weren’t strong enough to breathe on their own.

In addition to the resolute support of his family, David received compassionate care from St. Joe’s medical staff every step of the way.

“I can’t express my gratitude enough for the nurses and all the people who took care of David,” Tina said. “There were so many people who selflessly cared for him. Dr. Eugene Liu was so amazing, he went beyond medical support and was there for all of us emotionally.”

David received leading therapies proven to be effective against coronavirus during his hospital stay. He was among the first to have convalescent plasma infusion, which leverages the antibodies from patients who have successfully beat COVID-19, along with Remdesivir, a drug that’s currently in clinical trials that may help shorten recovery time.

After he was stabilized, the long recovery process included extensive breathing treatments along with cardiac and physical therapy to build up heart, lung and muscle strength after months of severe illness.

“I’m encouraged by how well he’s doing and impressed with how hard David has worked to overcome every challenge,” said Stephen Bloom, DO Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. “His intense determination to get well and the family’s unwavering support are inspiring.”

Over the next several months, Dr. Bloom and the rest of St. Joe’s rehabilitation team will continue working with David to help him return to work at Discount Tire, where he has been employed for over 23 years. During the past two months, the company’s nursing support program has also been assisting the Lemble family, with skilled nurses regularly checking in with Tina to answer questions and provide guidance.

When David finally walked out of St. Joe’s doors on May 27, he was able to see his family face-to-face for the first time in over two months. While happy to return to his loved-ones and home cooked meals, he was overcome with one strong emotion –Gratitude. Before being driven home, he stopped to say: “I appreciate everything that has been done for me. Everyone here has been so kind and helpful to our family. Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart.”

Open Mic: Call for Songs to Inspire Health Care Workers

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.

You and I Together – Sheet Music

You and I Together – FULL LYRICS

Mercy Primary Care Center Cares for Detroit’s Most Vulnerable During Pandemic

nurses
Nurses at Mercy Primary Care Center wear PPE when caring for potential COVID-19 patients.

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

susan
Susan, a Mercy Primary Care Center colleague, strikes a pose in PPE.

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.

martin
Martin, another MPCC colleague, wears a face shield donated by Operation Face Shield – Downriver.

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.”

Remarkable Colleagues: Environmental Services on Front Lines with Clinicians

Now more than ever, maintaining the highest standards of cleanliness throughout patient-care facilities is crucial.

Environmental Services worker Linda Mimms is
dressed in full PPE in the Emergency Department
of Mercy Health Muskegon.

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.

Oakland EVS workers at a shift change (l-r)
Susan Romaya, Jared Barnett, Michael Keyes,
Tamyka Trumbo, Arianna Conley, Eugene Bradford,
Egda Morales and Bailey Janka

“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.

SMML’s Lori Marie Key Appears on Good Morning America to Discuss “Amazing Grace” Video

Robin Roberts interviews Lori Marie Key, RN on Good Morning America, April 13, 2020.

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.”

The full interview is available here. Thank you, Lori, for sharing your gift with our patients, colleagues, and the nation.