SMML Nurse Holly Phail and Man She Saved Reunite at Detroit Red Wings Game

LIVONIA – The story of Holly Phail, a St. Mary Mercy Livonia RN, and Edwin Ellul, the man whose life she helped save at a local Meijer, has continued.

The Detroit Red Wings treated Holly, Edwin, and their families to a “Dream Experience” on May 2. Both families were invited to attend a game, and Holly and Edwin received custom Red Wings jerseys with their names across the back.

Holly also participated in a pre-game interview. She shared how much she had enjoyed the experience, stating, “It was a great time for both of us!”

SMML RN Lori Key performs the national anthem.

Holly was not the only SMML colleague at the game. Lori Key, an SMML RN whose rendition of “Amazing Grace” went viral last year, sang the national anthem before the game began. She was asked to sing as part of Frontline Heroes Day, when the Red Wings celebrated frontline and essential workers from across Metro Detroit.

SMML is proud of both Holly and Lori, and is grateful to the Detroit Red Wings for providing an evening to remember.

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.”

Holly Phail, SMML RN, Helps Save a Man’s Life at Local Meijer

LIVONIA – A routine trip to Meijer recently turned into an astonishing chance to save a life. Holly Phail, an RN in St. Mary Mercy Livonia’s Family Birth Center, was shopping in the produce section when she heard a piercing scream. After looking around for a moment, she saw 82-year-old Livonia resident Edwin Ellul on the ground after suffering a heart attack and fall. A Meijer employee had begun performing chest compressions when Holly raced over to take Edwin’s pulse. “I wasn’t able to find a pulse, so I told the employee to go find a defibrillator,” said Holly.

Holly continued performing CPR with another nurse, using a rescue breather provided by Meijer. The defibrillator detected that Edwin needed a shock, so they delivered one and then continued with compressions until the ambulance arrived.

After the EMTs took Edwin away to St. Mary Mercy Livonia’s Emergency Center, Holly and the others spoke for a few minutes, still surprised by what had just happened. She shared, “When the police department called to let me know he was all right, I felt so much better.”

Holly had a shift the next day at SMML, so she asked Edwin’s unit if she could visit him. While they initially declined, they allowed her in once they learned that she had helped save his life. She said it was a bit of a shock, though a pleasant one, to see him sitting up and talking. Holly visited him a few more times until he was transferred to St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor for his heart catheterization and stent placement. Edwin was able to go home after his surgery, and now returns to SMML twice a week for cardiac rehab.

Cathy Agius, Edwin’s daughter, nominated Holly for the BeRemarkable Award at SMML. She wrote, “Holly Phail is an angel and a hero. She went over and beyond by bringing my father back to life at our local Meijer when she walked in to shop and she saw my father had fallen and his heart completely stopped… Because of her he is alive!”

Holly was recognized for her quick actions and willingness to help during a surprise BeRemarkable Award ceremony, with Edwin and his family in attendance. Cathy brought a large gift basket and expressed her sincere gratitude to Holly, saying, “Thank you so much for bringing my dad back to us.”

For Holly, the chance to see Edwin again was so rewarding: “I had seen him in recovery, but it was different to see him up and walking with his family, smiling and wearing his Red Wings jacket. It made it all much more real to me.”

Holly also credited her Basic Life Support (BLS) training at SMML for her quick response, stating that it was so helpful to have that training and instinct to fall back on during a stressful moment.

Holly commented on what this experience has meant to her, stating: “Throughout the pandemic, everyone has felt so disconnected. This near-tragedy brought so many strangers together. It was wonderful to see humanity back, and I loved being able to help and be a part of something bigger than myself.”

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”

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)

Healthy Livonia wins Community Benefit Award from Michigan Health & Hospital Association

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LIVONIA – The Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA) presented one of three 2019 Ludwig Community Benefit Awards to Healthy Livonia, a community collaboration led by St. Mary Mercy Livonia that brings together community partners committed to making Livonia a healthier place by leveraging resources to create a greater impact.  The award was presented at MHA’s annual membership meeting held today on Mackinaw Island. 

The award is named in memory of Patrick E. Ludwig, a former MHA president who championed investing in the community’s overall health, and was presented to member organizations integrally involved in collaborative programs to improve the health and well-being of area residents.  In addition to the award recognition, Healthy Livonia received $3,000 from the MHA Health Foundation to assist in its health improvement efforts.

Launched in July 2016, Healthy Livonia is backed by the hospital, the Livonia Parks and Recreation Department, Livonia Public Schools, the Livonia Chamber of Commerce and the city of Livonia.

With a special emphasis on infrastructure, parks, children, and seniors, key target areas for Healthy Livonia include reducing obesity, addressing behavioral health issues, and focusing on engaging Livonia residents to take command of their health by making healthy choices when it comes to food and exercise.

St. Mary Mercy has been a leading supporter of the Healthy Livonia initiative and has committed initial funding of $200,000 per year over five years.

Healthy Livonia’s accomplishments include launching an accessible play space at Rotary Park, installing a pedestrian bridge at Tatigian Park and Nature Preserve, implementing the Carrot Wellness walking program app, and sponsoring community activities such as a 5K walk/run, Kirksey Recreation Center memberships and a 100 Days to Health program.

For more information about Healthy Livonia, please call Healthy Livonia’s program coordinator at 734-655-8421.