“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. 

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!

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

6 Ways to Help Prevent Stomach Cancer

by Cheryl Alkon

This article was originally published on Sharecare.

Anthony DeBenedet MDBack in the 1930s, stomach (or gastric) cancer affected more people in the United States than any other type of cancer. Today, stomach cancer is way down the list of the country’s most common cancer diagnoses, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). What’s behind the decline?

Assorted lifestyle changes, says Anthony DeBenedet, MD, a gastroenterologist affiliated with Saint Joseph Mercy Health System in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Currently, there are approximately 26,240 people diagnosed with stomach cancer each year in the U.S. and about 10,800 people will die from it. Compared to other cancers, “stomach cancer isn’t common,” says Dr. DeBenedet. Indeed, the ACS reports that the number of people diagnosed with stomach cancer has gone down about 1.5 percent each year in the past decade, which is good news.

Prevention is Key

Patients have the best chance of recovering from stomach cancer when it’s caught early. But according to the National Cancer Institute, the disease is often diagnosed at an advanced stage when it still may be treated but is difficult to cure. That’s why it’s important to know what factors can help reduce the risk of a stomach cancer diagnosis in the first place.

Some factors associated with a higher risk of stomach cancer are outside your control, such as family history and genetics, as well as your ethnicity and sometimes where you live in the world. But there are other lifestyle factors that you can influence that are important to understand. Read on to learn more about what you can do to lower your risk.

Continue reading “6 Ways to Help Prevent Stomach Cancer”

Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet

by Abigail McCleery, Wellness Coordinator, St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor

Abby McCleeryChances are you have heard the term “plant-based diet,” but you may wonder what it means and if there are any real benefits. Contrary to many diets today that focus on what to avoid, a plant-based diet focuses on including more vegetables, fruit, beans, peas, lentils, whole grains, nuts and seeds. From our personal health to the health of the environment, there are lots of scientifically backed reasons to include more plants in our diet, including our top 5 reasons listed below: Continue reading “Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet”

Be Your Best Self

HMR program at St. Joe’s helped 62-year-old Ford retiree meet his weight-loss goal

Pat-Shifferd_After-1377059678-1536693750867.jpgPatrick Shifferd is enjoying retirement, feeling healthier than ever. He typically starts his mornings with a glass of water, vitamins and hot cereal before taking the dog out for a two-and-a-half mile walk.

It’s an active lifestyle Patrick says would have been hard to imagine just a few years ago, when he was overweight and ailing from a host of issues.

Patrick, now retired from Ford Motor Company, said his doctor advised him since 2012 to join a weight-loss program. But it wasn’t until he weighed 375 pounds, and his doctor recommended gastric bypass surgery, that Patrick seriously considered making a change.

“I had never been on a formalized weight-loss program before, and I’m not one to get surgery just for the sake of having surgery,” Patrick said.

Determined to avoid surgery, Patrick researched weight-loss programs and came across the HMR program offered at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor. Continue reading “Be Your Best Self”

The Farm at St. Joe’s Hosts 2018 Bark for Life – Aug. 25

barkforlifeANN ARBOR – Join us Saturday, Aug. 25 for the American Cancer Society’s 9th annual Bark for Life event at The Farm at St. Joe’s. See flyer.

When: Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018 from 8:30 – Noon
Where: The Farm at St. Joe’s – St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor
Register: www.RelayForLife.org/BarkAnnArborMi
More Info: barkforlifeannarbor@gmail.com or 734 834-3454

Costumes encouraged and prizes available.

Senior Fitness: Leave the Class Laughing

OAKLAND —  St. Joseph Mercy Oakland offers a senior fitness class at 15 locations, three times a week.  Every class is filled to capacity with a waiting list.  Why is this senior fitness class so special?

“I love the class.  I always leave the class laughing.  If I’m not feeling well when I arrive, I’m always feeling better when I leave.  I love the people, the instructor and the facility.  It’s so open and bright,” said 80-year-old Charlene Simmons.  Simmons has been attending the senior fitness class for 10 years.

“Our senior population, as they get into their golden years, often see a reduction in mobility and independence.  The senior fit courses are an opportunity for participants to exercise with  low-impact physical activity and movement.  It also facilitates a cohesive interaction and camaraderie with people in their community and it ultimately reduces isolation,” said David Bowman, MPA, director of community health, St. Joseph Mercy Oakland.

Unique to the senior population, ages 55 and older, bone mass can be reduced as individuals age.  Using low-weights, careful movements, resistance bands and balls helps to reduce wear on ligaments.  The class incorporates floor and chair exercises that build strength and flexibility, as well as improve balance and cardiovascular fitness.

“The class helps me tremendously with my lower back issues.  There are certain exercises that I always look forward to doing.  After the stretches, I don’t have back pain.  The pain may return the next morning, but now I know how to safely stretch my back at home,“ said 67-year-old Beatrice Wright.IMG_1175.JPG

Many class participants have found themselves living more pain-free and healthier lives, since joining the class.  “I had a quadruple heart bypass and I had an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) inserted in 2005.  My doctor said I must remain active.  After cardio rehab and after I retired, this was the class for me.  I recently saw my doctor and my heart has almost gone back to normal; in July they removed the ICD and didn’t replace it!  I’m sure my ability to work my heart muscle is why I have improved so much,” said 63-year-old Sharon Finley.

The results from the senior fitness classes move beyond physical activity.  As with many of St. Joe’s support classes, the camaraderie among participants is a direct result of the holistic approach to health.  The classes address the mental health, physical and social aspects of each person’s well-being.  “Physical activity and interactive programming addresses loneliness, depression and issues with mental health.  Addressing mental health is a high-bar focus of our senior programming,” said Bowman.

Many participants agreed that if they were not in the class, they would not maintain a regular schedule exercising.  Motivation can be difficult to achieve if you are on your own – but it’s not difficult if you have Beatrice Wright in your class.  When Wright sees the need, she leads the class in a motivating chant she created.

“I love the class.  The one thing I’ve learned in life, is not only do you need to remain physical, but in order to feel better, you have to laugh.  If you don’t laugh, your aches and pains will take you over.  I would recommend this class,” said Finley.

The classes are provided September through April on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  Bowman hopes to address the waiting lists for the classes by collaborating with additional community organizations.  He is also considering enhancing the classes by integrating senior yoga into the courses.  “Coupling yoga into the senior fitness class will offer a dual utility.  The cardio combined with stretching and meditation reinforces the holistic approach of health we want to offer our senior population,” said Bowman.

“At 80, you begin to look at life differently.  I try to stay as fit as I can.  I see people who are 80, and some of them are broken down.  I’m trying to avoid that as long as possible, I know I won’t always be able to remain at my current level of fitness, but I’ll try as long as I can,” said Simmon.

About Senior Fit
St. Joseph Mercy Oakland sponsors a free Senior Fit program at 15 locations throughout Oakland County, from September through May.  Geared for adults age 55 and up, Senior Fit is aimed at improving stamina, lowering blood pressure and decreasing the risk of osteoporosis among senior adults through regular exercise. Please click here to view the flyer.

The consent form can be downloaded herePlease click here for Senior Fit orientation information.

Register Today for 2018 Youth Sports Symposium: Aug. 4

SportsTrio2.jpgRegister today for the 2018 Youth Sports Symposium on Aug. 4, 2018 at Whitmore Lake High School.

  • When: Saturday, August 4, 2018
  • Where: Whitmore Lake High School, 7430 Whitmore Lake Rd., Whitmore Lake, MI
  • Time: 8:00 a.m. – Noon
    • Registration/Check In:  8:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.
    • Program: 8:30 a.m. – Noon
  • Registration Fee: Free (Continental breakfast included.)

 

Register for 2018 Washtenaw County Heart Walk

2018-04-13 16_03_38-2018 Heart Walk Event Flyer (2).pdf - Adobe AcrobatANN ARBOR – Register for the American Heart Association’s Washtenaw County Heart Walk on Saturday, May 5 at Eastern Michigan University’s Rynearson Stadium. Saint Joseph Mercy Health System is a proud sponsor of this annual event. See flyer

8 a.m. – Grounds Open / 5K Registration
8:30 a.m. – Timed 5K Begins
9 a.m. – Vendor Tables and Activities Begin

11 a.m. – Walk Begins
Free to Walk! | Timed 5K Run: $35
(5K includes finishers medal)

To register, visit: washtenawheartwalk.org