Be a Team: Breast Cancer Survivor Leads Pandemic Response for St. Joe’s and Mercy Health

As the top physician executive of Trinity Health Michigan, Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Rosalie Tocco-Bradley leads St. Joe’s and Mercy Health’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a breast cancer survivor, she remains focused on safely managing her health through routine follow-up exams, staying active, and self-care.  

The following article from Gift of Health has been updated to include Dr. Tocco-Bradley’s progress during the pandemic year 2020.

In this photo from 2018, St. Joe’s care team gathers around their patient, Dr. Rosalie Tocco-Bradley (center). From L-R: Paul Izenberg, MD; Samuel Hirsch, MD, Lynn Joynt, MD; Julie Soriano, MD; Walter Sahijdak, MD; Michael Dorsey, MD, Beth Kimball, MD; Kathleen Beekman, MD, and Jennifer Kulick, MD,

When Rosalie Tocco-Bradley, PhD, MD, Chief Clinical Officer of Trinity Health Michigan thinks about cancer care, she thinks about the team – St. Joe’s experts from multiple fields of medicine and surgery who are there to diagnose, treat and care for our patients.

When she thinks about cancer, she thinks about her mom and even more so her sister, Maria.  “Losing my baby sister to breast cancer left a hole in my heart.  When I think about my personal relationships and all the families we see impacted by cancer, I know I have to do everything in my power to help St. Joe’s and our physicians make care better.” 

Hearing Dr. Tocco-Bradley talk about her sister and the medical team and programs she leads, you understand why she’s described as inspiring, resilient, caring and dynamic.  Her strengths are rooted in experience.  Dr. Tocco-Bradley has not only seen cancer through the eyes of a doctor, administrator, donor, sister, and daughter, you can add patient to that list – she’s fighting the disease herself…for a second time.

“Ro” with her sisters Vinnie, Maria and Toni, taken six months before Maria passed away from cancer.

Even knowing the increased risk factor of family history, Dr. Tocco-Bradley was surprised when she first found a lump in 2007.  “I always had screening mammograms, but I could feel something different,” Dr. Tocco-Bradley said.  “I went in for more testing, and the minute my radiologist walked in to speak with me after my mammogram, I knew.”

Dr. Tocco-Bradley relied on the team at St. Joe’s to treat her breast cancer.  “Most people don’t know how many clinical specialties are actually involved in caring for a cancer patient.  It takes a village.  They saved my life.”

She underwent aggressive therapies – a mastectomy on the right side and chemotherapy, including Adriamycin, known as the red devil, which caused severe nausea and fatigue.  “I’m a hearty girl,” Dr. Tocco-Bradley said. “But I was as sick as a dog.”  With fighting spirit, she continued working throughout treatment and reconstructive surgery. 

In less than a year, Dr. Tocco-Bradley was back to full health and full action.  At home as a wife, mom, host family for USA Hockey players, and biker in the Make-a-Wish/Wish-a-Mile, and, professionally, treating patients, in the OR and pain clinic through Anesthesia Associates of Ann Arbor, going to business school, reviewing grants for Susan G. Komen, mentoring young women interested in medicine, and going on medical mission trips through ReSurge to underdeveloped countries. 

Then, in 2017, Dr. Tocco-Bradley found another lump.  The breast cancer was back.  Without hesitation, she turned to the team at St. Joe’s again who have given her a good prognosis.  “You know, my care has been extraordinary,” she said.  “My doctors, nurses and staff have been available, answered my questions, and collaborated between the various specialties.  I trust the St. Joe’s team with my life.” 

In gratitude for the care she received and would receive and as a leader who is dedicated to continued improvements, Dr. Tocco-Bradley and her husband, Dr. Brian Bradley, were lead donors to the “Life is Remarkable” campaign with a gift of $25,000. 

Donors’ generosity was an investment in St. Joe’s cancer program and team, and the renewal of our Robert H. and Judy Dow Alexander Cancer Center, which reopened in 2018.

“Every family will be touched by cancer and if you don’t know it already, you will know how great it is to not just have a facility, but also a great team to care for you.”

2020 Update:

As the health system’s top physician executive, Dr. Tocco-Bradley leads Marcy Health and St. Joe’s coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a breast cancer survivor, she remains focused on safely managing her health through routine follow-up exams, staying active, and self-care.  

How are you doing?  What treatments did you receive?

Following my 2nd mastectomy and 30 rounds of radiation, my energy level was low for some months but now I’m back to my usual fast pace.   During recovery in 2018,, I needed to reduce by Make a Wish fund raising ride from 300 miles to 50 miles but was delighted to manage 300 miles in 2019 – although I seem to be slowing down – LOL.   I view every day as a gift.   In terms of ongoing care, I continue to receive an infusion of Zometa twice a year to diminish my risk of metastatic bone disease and see my oncologist and breast surgeon annually.     

How have you approached continuing recovery and well-being throughout the pandemic?
I never take any day for granted.   I know that being able to live a healthy life is a gift but also takes personal commitment post-breast cancer and during the COVID19 pandemic.  I am acutely aware that the pandemic has created many hardships for people both emotionally and physically.   I attempt to model healthy and safe behaviors for my family, friends and colleagues at work.   And I am blessed to continue serving in a clinical leadership role through our COVID19 response team

As women pay attention to breast health, how safe are mammograms at St. Joe’s right now?
Seeking a mammogram at St. Joe’s is completely safe and essential for women’s health.  I was absolutely adamant that we re-establish our access to mammograms at St. Joe’s as quickly as possible following our first surge of COVID19.   We are now in a great position to provide safe care with our screening protocols, masking and PPE adherence and cleaning protocols.  Mammograms save lives and reduce unnecessary advanced breast cancer disease in woman.   Please don’t stay away.  We are here for you.

To learn more about remarkable care and how you can make a difference, visit:

St. Joe’s Giving Page

Mercy Health Giving Page

Harvest Vegetable and Farro Salad

Serves 6

1 cup serving

Ingredients

Salad

1 cup farro, uncooked

4 cups root vegetables, diced (beets, carrots, parsnips, butternut squash, etc.)

1 can chickpeas, no salt added (NSA), drained, liquid reserved

1 apple, diced

Dressing

2 tbsp reserved chickpea liquid

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp stone ground mustard

¼ cup fresh chives or green onion, chopped

¼- ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400°F
  2. Place cut root vegetables on a silicon mat lined baking sheet. If not using a silicon mat, use parchment paper or non-stick aluminum foil. Bake root vegetables for 25 minutes. Let cool before combining with other ingredients.
  3. While vegetables roast, cook the farro. Combine 1 cup farro with 2 cups liquid (water or NSA vegetable broth) in a medium saucepan. Bring farro and liquid to a boil, cover and reduce to simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Combine cooked farro, roasted vegetables, chickpeas and apples in a bowl.
  5. To prepare dressing, whisk remaining ingredients together and pour harvest salad.   
  6. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Kuner’s brand of no salt added chickpeas are available at Meijer. Alternatively, if you cannot find no salt added chickpeas, look for low sodium beans where the mg of sodium are less than the calories per serving.
  • Using a silicon mat allows you to cook and bake without the need for oil. Find a silicon mat or “silpat” at Meijer, Walmart, Target or Bed Bath and Beyond.
  • Feel free to substitute the farro and chickpeas for any other whole grain or NSA bean. 

With Help from Family and St. Joe’s – COVID Plasma Patient Goes Home

St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor patient Richard Beckerson was discharged home this week after a long, but successful healing journey.  Back in April, Mr. Beckerson became one of the first COVID-19 patients in Michigan to receive an experimental treatment using plasma from a person who had recovered from COVID-19 in an effort to treat the virus.

With his family’s support, Mr. Beckerson was enrolled into an innovative convalescent plasma program started by The Mayo Clinic with participation from St. Joe’s and hospitals throughout the country.

After four months in the hospital, Mr. Beckerson was met with a celebration from the staff while being discharged home.  Hospital colleagues applauded as he walked out of the hospital with the aid of a walker. Watch Mr. Beckerson’s triumphant discharge from the hospital.

Mr. Beckerson first arrived to the St. Joe’s Emergency Department on March 29 while experiencing respiratory distress.  During his hospitalization, St. Joe’s physicians, nurses, therapists and other support staff worked tirelessly on his behalf as he fought to survive and then rehabilitate himself.

If you have recovered from COVID and would like find out how to donate plasma to help others, click here.

Curried Quinoa Patties

By Alexandra Babcock, MPH, RDN

Enjoy these light, healthy and tasty recipes brought to you by the Lifestyle Medicine Team!

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

1 cup quinoa, cooked

½ cup carrots, shredded

½ cup mushrooms, minced

2 Tbsp ground flax

6 Tbsp water

1 Tbsp curry powder

1 tsp cumin

Directions:

  1. Lay out cutting board, knife, cheese grater, sauce pan, small mixing bowl, measuring spoons, and mixing spoon. You will also need a greased cookie sheet. Preheat Oven to 350F. Wash all vegetables.
  2. Rinse ½ cup of quinoa under water until water runs clear. Add the quinoa, 1 cup of water, and a pinch of salt to a sauce pan. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer until the water is cooked off. This will take approximately 10 minutes. Stir with a fork and set aside to cool. 
  3. While quinoa cooks, peel your carrot. Grate carrot over the cheese grater and place ½ cup into a mixing bowl.
  4. Cut your mushrooms until they are in ½ cm sized, minced pieces. Add ½ cup to the mixing bowl.
  5. Place flax and water into a small bowl. Stir and set aside for 3 minutes until the flax meal gels into a flax egg. Then add the “egg” to the mixing bowl.
  6. Add remaining spices and cooked 1 cup of quinoa to the mixing bowl and stir until combined.
  7. Form 4 patties about a ½ cup each using your hands. Place on the cookie tray.
  8. Bake at 350F for 20-25min or until golden brown.
  9. Serve immediately or freeze in bags for up to 2 months.

Chef Notes:

  • Make more quinoa than the recipe calls for and store it in the fridge for use in meal preparation for up to 5 days. Cook quinoa using 1 part dried grain and 2 parts water.
  • Feel free to use more spices in this recipe. Garlic, turmeric, parsley, and ginger all go well with this dish!

Cooling Summer Bean Salad

By Alexandra Babcock, MPH, RDN

Enjoy these light, healthy and tasty recipes brought to you by the Lifestyle Medicine Team!

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

1-16oz can Cannellini or Navy Beans

2 medium stalks celery

1 red bell pepper

½ fennel root

¼ cup fennel fronds

Dressing:

½ cup olive oil

1/3 cup white wine vinegar or lemon juice

1 tsp Dijon mustard

Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Lay out cutting board, knife, can opener, strainer, large serving bowl, small mixing bowl or jar, and spoon Wash all vegetables.
  2. Open can of beans and rinse with water in the strainer until the water runs clear. Set aside.
  3. Trim ends of celery. Slice celery length wise and dice into ½ inch pieces. Remove center of bell pepper and dice into the same sized pieces.
  4. Remove end of frond of fennel root. Cut length-wise and save half. Lay cut side down and slice thin horizontally.
  5. Chop fronds coarsely.
  6. Add all ingredients to serving bowl and toss.
  7. Make dressing by adding dressing ingredients into small mixing bowl. Stir or shake to combine.
  8. Toss over salad and mix. Serve immediately or place into smaller containers and refrigerate for up to 5 days. 

Musicians Serenade Health Care Heroes with Theme Song

Erin Accomando of Centerline, Mich., is one of more than 20 musicians worldwide who recorded the theme song for Mercy Health and Saint Joseph Mercy Health System colleagues. “You and I, Together.”

Here for You
We’re gonna make it through together
You and I
We’ll find our way

The COVID-19 pandemic could not stop the music for artists who sang our health system’s theme song in tribute to our front line health care workers.

WATCH Music Video: You and I, Together

More than 20 different artists worldwide recorded their performances from home studios. The music video was released on social media as a “a huge shout out to all the first responders and front line,” said Robin Horlock, a Detroit-based singer and songwriter.

“I’m sitting here in a studio playing music while you all are out there saving everyone’s life, literally. Thank you all so much,” said L.A. musician Andy Grush before belting out the opening lyrics – Here for you… we’re gonna make it through together.

Jeff Dittenber dedicated his rendition of the song to his wife, Val Dittenber, an RN at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland, and “all of the health care workers out there who are fighting for everybody.”

The Dittenber family dedicated our theme song, “You and I, Together” to wife and mom, Val Dittenber, RN, a nurse at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland, and all health care workers.

The remix started when Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Michele Szczypka reached out to the original song’s writers, Dan Yessian along with his son, Brian, and Chris Plansker (arrangement), with an idea to raise the spirits of St. Joe’s and Mercy Health colleagues serving on the front line of the response.

They sent the track to numerous friends in the music business. It wasn’t long before music started to pour in from cities and towns throughout Michigan, and even from New York City, Los Angeles, Sydney, Australia and Hamburg, Germany.

“As we deal with COVID the words ring true, now more than ever,” Szczypka said. “We are so grateful for our friends in the music community whose live performances were halted by the pandemic, but who are selflessly doing what they do best to bring comfort and joy to others.”

Watch full renditions of select artists from the video (link to YouTube playlist)

About the song

“You and I, Together” was originally produced in 2006 as an instrumental score for St. Joseph Mercy commercials. Dan Yessian composed the melody and Chris Plansker arranged the music. In 2011, lyrics were added for a television show, “At the Heart of Medicine.” The song won a Michigan Emmy Award in 2012 for lyrics co-written by Yessian, Szczypka, Don Montgomery and Mary Letters.

Over the years numerous versions were created for commercials, radio, television and on-hold music. In 2018 Mercy Health adopted the theme song for its marketing campaigns.

We thank the following artists for sharing their immense talent for this song, and we’re proud to share their full renditions on our St. Joe’s YouTube Playlist:

  • Erin Accomando / Voice / Centerline, MI
  • Steve Acho / Voice / West Bloomfield, MI
  • Matt Callaway / Guitar / Monroe, MI
  • Mark Chu / Guitar & Voice / Los Angeles
  • Patrick Curry / Voice / White Lake, MI
  • Jeff Dittenber / Guitar & Voice / Berkley, MI
  • Jarrett Farkas / Guitar / New York
  • Ardis Grace / Voice/ Harrison Township, MI
  • Andy Grush / Guitar & Voice / Los Angeles
  • Robin Horlock / Guitar & Voice / Detroit, MI
  • Adam James / Drums / Royal Oak, MI
  • Cindee Lish / Voice / Northville, MI
  • Cassia Montgomery / Voice / Truckee, CA
  • Jason Phelps / Bass / Ann Arbor, MI
  • Christopher Plansker / Film Editor & Harmonica / Grosse Pointe Park, MI
  • Bobby Streng / Saxophone / Ann Arbor, MI
  • Steve Talaga / Piano / Grand Rapids, MI
  • Colton Weatherston / Guitar / Philadelphia, PA
  • Hugh Wilson / Voice / Australia
  • Helena Schmitz & Lukas Lehmann / Voice & Piano / Germany

YOU AND I TOGETHER –FULL SING LYRICS

We bring hope
We bring love
We bring our strength
And all we’re made of

Here for you
We’re gonna make it through together
You and I
We’ll find our way

By your side
We’ll be with you now and ever
You and I, together

We’ll care for you with all we know
And all that we can do
To give you strength,
We’re here to get you through

And with every step you make
And every dream you dream
You have so much more to give
And so much life to live

And we’ll be –
By you side
Together we will make it better
You and I
Together

We will care for you
We will comfort you
We’re here for you
In everything we do…

We bring hope
We bring love
We bring our strength
And all we’re made of –

You and I, together
Together (you and I)
Together (you and I)
Together (you and I)

Together.

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.

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)