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.
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.
Enjoy these light, healthy and tasty recipes brought to you by the Lifestyle Medicine Team!
Makes 4 servings
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
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.
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.
While quinoa cooks, peel your carrot. Grate carrot over the cheese grater and place ½ cup into a mixing bowl.
Cut your mushrooms until they are in ½ cm sized, minced pieces. Add ½ cup to the mixing bowl.
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.
Add remaining spices and cooked 1 cup of quinoa to the mixing bowl and stir until combined.
Form 4 patties about a ½ cup each using your hands. Place on the cookie tray.
Bake at 350F for 20-25min or until golden brown.
Serve immediately or freeze in bags for up to 2 months.
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!
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 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)
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.”
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Garry Faja, the longtime president and CEO of St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor who served as the first regional CEO of Saint Joseph Mercy Health System. Garry passed away unexpectedly on Sunday, July 21, in his home in Traverse City.
His extraordinary leadership and vision united the southeast Michigan Trinity Health hospitals into one large regional health delivery system, Saint Joseph Mercy Health System.
In addition to this major achievement, Garry made many significant contributions over his 32-year career with St. Joe’s. Some of the major revitalization and expansion projects he led include the creation of a 15-bed Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in 2001 and the new patient towers and surgery pavilion at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor; a two-story addition with 54 private rooms and new Emergency Department at St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea; a new eight-story tower with 136 acute care private beds at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland and a 154,000 square foot addition at St. Mary Mercy Livonia.
With a background in engineering, Garry’s indelible handprint is evident in details throughout the patient tower at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, from the position of the patient bed to the automatic night light that illuminates the floor for patients.
His touch can be seen throughout St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor in other ways, such as the Century of Caring exhibit in the hospital lobby which features a large image of the hospital made up entirely of photos of individuals who have served in the ministry of St. Joe’s. This display reflects Garry’s deep commitment to patients as well his dedication to both employees and medical staff.
“Regardless of how health care has changed over the past 30 years, Garry has always said it’s about people caring for people,” said Sister Yvonne Gellise, Senior Advisor for Governance at Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, who added that Faja has valued the legacy of this hospital started by the Sisters of Mercy.
“Garry has always appreciated the presence of the Sisters, and he felt fortunate that we were still serving in the hospital. He would periodically stop by the Sisters’ house in the late afternoon to give us an update and ask about our concerns or ideas.”
Garry was very active in the community, including serving as a key voice in Medicaid expansion, a founding member of the Washtenaw Housing Alliance, and a founder of the Mercy Cancer Network. He was instrumental in the establishment of The Quality Institute at St. Joe’s as well as Michigan’s first Senior ER program and supported the major expansion of St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea making them the newest member of our health system.
A leader in the health care industry, Garry served as chair of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association Board—receiving its notable Meritorious Service Award in 2014—and was also a delegate for the American Hospital Association Regional Policy Board.
Garry is survived by his wife Barbara, who has dedicated countless hours to fundraising and other philanthropic efforts for the health system, and daughter Christine.
Please see the obituary for more information. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.