Great Minds – Suzanne and Raymond Baber, Jr., Endowed Fund for Nursing Education

Nick Nickolopoulos and Suzanne Baber

With a commitment to education and helping others, Sue and Ray Baber built a legacy of supporting St. Joe’s Oakland, most notably as volunteers and through gifts to establish the Suzanne and Raymond Baber, Jr., Endowed Fund for Nursing Education.

The Path to Giving Sue grew up in a small farming village near Grand Rapids, but as an avid reader, her mind and dreams were expansive.  Her interests led her to Central Michigan University where she majored in English and teaching, and later to University of Michigan for a counseling degree. For tuition, Sue relied on scholarships and work study roles like cafeteria dishwasher.  Her commitment paid off with a 19-year career in her beloved fields. Fortuitously, Sue also led a Future Nurses Club at the high school where she taught. 

During his life, Ray Baber was an avid supporter of education. Ray served as a United States Navy Pilot, led General Motors Truck and Assembly and was the Vice President for Campbell Ewald’s Chevrolet account team.  He knew the value of good training and accredited education for much of his success.  The couple generously supported Kettering University and Central Michigan University as well as other organizations.

When they retired in 1996, Ray and Sue wanted to give back to the doctors, nurses and hospital they trusted with their health. They began to volunteer at St. Joe’s. Ray was a greeter, and Sue was assigned to the ICU.  At first she checked people in and out, but her diligence and good nature quickly led to greater responsibilities on the unit. It was during that time Sue began to bond with the nurses.

Making a Difference

“When I was with the nurses in the breakroom, many shared their interest in education like seminars or advanced degrees, wishing they had the means. And, I always wanted to do something to help,” explained Sue. “As patients, Ray and I noticed the staff was very caring and we were impressed by the hospital’s investment in making staff feel confident in their roles. We wanted to build on their commitment because nursing education benefits the nurse, their colleagues, and the patients.”

The Babers’ support has strengthened the nursing education program, funding an onsite annual conference, off-site seminars, certifications, and advanced degrees (see sidebar).

“I started at St. Joe’s as a patient care tech, and Sue always encouraged me to continue my education and broaden my career,” said Nick Nickolopoulos, Director of Nursing – Medical-Surgical/Critical Care/ Nursing Resource Pool. “She is inspiring. And, Sue and Ray’s gifts have strengthened the skills and passion of many nurses at St. Joe’s.” Nick is among the many nurses who became friends with Sue.

And, Sue feels the same way about them. “When I lost Ray in 2005, returning to my volunteer work at St. Joe’s was really important to me. I don’t have any siblings – the nurses are like my family.”

Today, at 90 years old, Sue has retired from volunteering and saves her energy for tai chi and aqua aerobics, “it keeps me going,” she says. She has stayed connected to the General Federation of Women’s Clubs Lake Orion, the Daughters of the American Revolution, and St. Joe’s McAuley Club. And, of course, she continues to read a lot, visit St. Joe’s (she’s especially fond of the Robin L. and James E. Henderson Reflection Garden), and remains in touch with many of the nurses at St. Joe’s. 

“Our nurses, and ultimately, our patients, are so fortunate for the Babers’ generosity,” said Dawn Hanson, Nurse Manager ICU and Scholarship Committee Co-chair. “Sue taught me to be a mentor. It’s an honor to hold true to the integrity of the Babers’ intentions to help nurses build resilience, compassion, and expertise. Both personally and as a nurse leader, I’m extremely grateful to Sue for her friendship and time and to her and Ray for their foresight and gifts.”

Since the article was written, The Suzanne and Raymond Baber, Jr., Endowed Fund for Nursing Education was recognized at the 2019 McAuley Club and Mercy Heritage Society Annual Appreciation Dinner for its ongoing impact, benefitting more than 50 nurses this past year through support for ongoing education including scholarships, graduate residency support, trauma symposiums and national conferences.  Nick Nickolopoulos was promoted to Chief Nursing Officer of St. Joe’s Oakland sister hospital St. Mary Mercy Livonia. 

Nursing Education Achievements 2016-2017

  • 35 Nursing Scholarships (July 2016 – November 2017)
  • 180 nurses attending bi-annual Emergency and Critical Care Conference – onstie at the hospital
  • 3 ICU nurses attended the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Comprehensive Unitbased Safety Program (CUSP)
  • 2 nurses became Certified Emergency Nurses
  • 2 nurses became Critcal Care Registered Nurses

To make a gift to St. Joe’s Oakland, visit:

Or, contact the Office of Development

Jana McNair, Regional Director of Major Gifts, at 248-858-3556 or

Craig Peiser, Director of Major Gifts, at 248-858-6142 or

Jill Schubiner, Gift Officer, at 248-858-6146 or

(Source: “Gift of Health” Spring 2017)

A 50-year Relationship Sparks a Gift for the Future

Jabara Family

Walter M. Whitehouse, Jr., MD, with Julia and Kal Jabara at the fall 2015 event celebrating donors who supported the Walter M. Whitehouse, Jr., MD, Endowed Chair for Surgery – the first endowed chair at St. Joe’s

“If a hospital and its staff could be members of someone’s family, St. Joe’s and its doctors and nurses would be a part of ours,” said Julia Jabara. 

Kal and Julia Jabara moved to Plymouth, Michigan, with their children in 1968 and started Wild Wings and Kincaid Art Galleries, one of Kal’s many business ventures. At that time, they also began a nearly 50-year relationship with St. Joe’s. 

The Jabaras have held together through many health trials that have only strengthened their family’s love and inspired them to give back to their community.  A number of years ago during an appointment with Dr. Whitehouse, Julia asked, “When will someone be raising money for a Whitehouse professorship?”  The family felt Dr. Whitehouse should be recognized for his expertise, the respect he shows patients, the mentorship of surgical residents, and the kindness he practices every day. In 2015, when they posed the question again, Dr. Whitehouse shared St. Joe’s plans for an endowed chair.  A few months later, Kal, Julia and their son Dean arrived at St. Joe’s to present Dr. Whitehouse with the family’s leadership gift. 

With the Jabaras’ extraordinary support as well as gifts from patients, physicians and staff, more than $1.5 million was raised to establish the Walter M. Whitehouse, Jr., MD, Endowed Chair for Surgery – the first endowed chair at St. Joe’s. 

It was soon followed by a second, the M. Hugh Solomon, MD, Endowed Chair for Urology. Again, the Jabaras chose to make a lead gift, this time to recognize and thank Dr. Solomon for the exceptional treatment and compassionate care he had provided Kal.

The Jabaras’ gifts not only reflect their gratitude, but also their own personal commitment to others and our community. For many years Kal and Julia served as lead volunteers with the Kidney Foundation in Michigan. Kal has promoted local artists especially through the Federal Duck Stamp Contest. He was president of the Plymouth Rotary twice and of the Oilman’s Club as well as a volunteer for the Salvation Army in Detroit. Kal recently joined friend Howard Tanner in Michigan State University’s Project F.I.S.H. an educational program offered through local schools for youth and families.

“We are pleased to give back to a hospital that has meant so much to us and to our children,” said Julia Jabara. “And, we wish God’s Blessings on you all.”

“The Jabaras vision, encouragement and leadership gifts for St. Joe’s first two endowed chairs are inspiring and will sustain medical and surgical excellence as well as our healing mission,” said Katie Elliott, Director of Development at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor.

Dr. Hugh and Mrs. Solomon with Kal and Julia Jabara

Thank You to Our Donors

St. Joe’s is grateful to the Jabaras and the generous donors who supported efforts to establish our first two endowed chairs named for Doctors Whitehouse and Solomon. Your recognition of our leaders will make ongoing excellence possible.

Income from the Walter M. Whitehouse, Jr., MD, Endowed Chair for Surgery and M. Hugh Solomon, MD, Endowed Chair for Urology will be used under the discretion of the Department Chairs, not for salaries or supply purchases, but for programs and projects that elevate St. Joe’s culture of research, learning and mentorship as well as innovative care.

The Solomon Endowment reflects Dr. Solomon’s leadership and dedication to continually improving urological treatments – bringing new technologies and protocols to St. Joe’s, providing patients with personalized care that has immediate and lasting benefits, and creating a healing environment. Dr. Solomon’s accomplishments are a cornerstone for the future of Urological care.

The Whitehouse Endowment recognizes all Dr. Whitehouse has made possible and the foundation of surgical excellence he has created through leadership, scientific study and patient-centered care; the enhancement of surgical care, the construction of St. Joe’s state-of-the-art surgery centers, the success of surgical residents, and the lives he has touched.

To make a gift today, visit

Or to learn more about how you can support St. Joe’s, contact the Office of Development:

Katie Elliott, Director of Major and Planned Gifts
734-712-3919 or  

Karen Campbell, Gift Officer
734-712-2890 or  

Melissa Sheppard, Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations
734-712-4079 or

(Source: “Gift of Health” Spring 2017)

Yoga Brings Peace in Stillness

June is my favorite month in Michigan. It brings long, glorious days with warm breezes. And on the 21st of the month, the summer solstice officially rings in the beginning of summer and the longest day of the year. The word solstice is from two Latin words. Sol meaning “sun” and sistere meaning “to stand still.” So the summer solstice is all about the sun standing still. It’s a moment to pause before the days get shorter again.

Each summer solstice, I invite people into my backyard to do yoga at sunset. We start by standing still and taking in that moment when the movement of the sun’s path as we see it from Earth comes to a halt and then reverses direction. In these days of constant distraction and multitasking, it’s a joy to stop and stand still, breath and feel the breeze.

Time goes so fast. Yoga helps slow things down. So as we enter another fabulous Michigan summer, let me give you a few reasons to get on your mat and do some yoga: Continue reading “Yoga Brings Peace in Stillness”

From Pitch to Patient Care: T.J. Tomasso’s a Team Player

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T.J. Tomasso is a patient care tech in St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor’s emergency department by night and a semi-pro soccer player by day.

Thomas “T.J.” Tomasso’s only true break during the day may be the 50-minute drive home after his 12-hour ER shift. That’s because after a quick wardrobe change and a game of fetch with his dog, T.J. hits the road again for soccer practice at 10 a.m.

T.J. is a patient care tech in St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor’s emergency department by night and a semi-pro soccer player by day.

“I don’t know if you ever fully adjust to it, but you get used to it,” he describes the night shift. Continue reading “From Pitch to Patient Care: T.J. Tomasso’s a Team Player”

All-Access Guide to Five Common Skin Conditions

by Taylor Lupo

This article was originally published on Sharecare.

Your skin—the body’s largest organ—acts as a barrier to the environment, which limits the passage (inward and outward) of water and other substances. But that’s not all. Your skin also protects against bacteria and viruses, ultraviolet radiation and more.

Needless to say, keeping your skin healthy is important. Sometimes, skin conditions—characterized by dry patches, redness, swelling and small bumps, among other things—can affect this important barrier, for a number of different reasons. Many of them are out of your control.


Although many skin conditions resemble one another, they’re not the same. In fact, the triggers and treatments for common, chronic skin conditions, like eczema and psoriasis, vary widely.

We spoke with Brian Cha, MD, PhD, St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor dermatologist and medical director of dermatology at IHA, about some things to know about common, long-term skin disorders, including causes, diagnosis and treatment options.

Continue reading “All-Access Guide to Five Common Skin Conditions”

AFC Ann Arbor Hosts St. Joe’s Night – June 24

AFC Friendly 4-23-17-17 (1)ANN ARBOR – As the Official Wellness Partner of AFC Ann Arbor, St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor and The Mighty Oak have teamed up for St. Joe’s Night, set to take place on Saturday, June 24, when Ann Arbor hosts FC Indiana at 7 p.m. at Pioneer High School’s Hollway Field (601 West Stadium Boulevard).

St. Joe’s will provide free stadium seat cushions to the first 250 fans (gates open at 6 p.m.).

MOVE Wellness and Probility Physical Therapy will also be on-site that evening. MOVE will have equipment available for fans to test out and learn first-hand the benefits of Pilates and gyrotonics. Probility Physical Therapy, who provides AFC Ann Arbor players with injury prevention and treatment, will also be offering free injury assessments to fans.

Leading up to St. Joe’s Night on June 24, the hospital will also be sponsoring the St. Joe’s Adult Soccer Clinic at Scicluna Field at Eastern Michigan University. Registration is free and the event is open to the public for adults of all ages and ranges wanting to learn or fine-tune their soccer skills and knowledge.

Health Care ‘Coopetition’ – St. Joe’s Chelsea Featured in Community Observer

“Health care’s local,” St. Joseph Mercy President and CEO Nancy Graebner told the Community Observer in a recent article that features the hospital’s joint venture negotiations with Michigan Medicine (University of Michigan Health System).

While details of the joint venture are being finalized this summer, St. Joe’s Chelsea is moving ahead with the renovation of its inpatient behavioral health unit, part of its master campus redevelopment plan.

Both the improvements and the joint venture negotiations point to what Graebner and St. Joe’s leadership believe to be essential to health care today – keeping quality care accessible and close to home for all.

Click here to read the full article.

Inspiration in action: St. Joe’s Medical Group’s Malorie Sutter is a nationally recognized weight lifter

Health care providers inspire us to eat well and be more physically fit with their expert clinical guidance. And they can inspire us with their actions as well. St. Joe’s Medical Group’s Malorie Sutter, a PA-C in the Orthopedic Surgery Associates practice is one such clinician. In addition to her rigorous day job, Malorie is a nationally recognized weight lifter, selected to compete in two prestigious events: University Nationals (April 7, 2017) and Senior Nationals (May 11-14, 2017).

Malorie reflects on the synergy between her avocation and her daily work, “When I interviewed for this job I told them orthopedic surgery and sports medicine blended both my personal and professional interests. There is a lot of knowledge from being involved in weightlifting that I can utilize with patients – like diet and exercise and vice versa, not to mention injury prevention. I could not be happier working as an orthopedic PA at St. Joseph Mercy, and I am so excited to share all of this.”

Malorie signed up for her first local meet at the end of July 2016 and ended up qualifying for University Nationals and the American Open by hitting a total of 140kg (65kg snatch and 75kg clean and jerk). At University Nationals in New Orleans last September, she placed fifth overall in the 53kg weight class with a total of 143kg (65kg snatch and 78kg clean and jerk). The American Open was in December in Orlando, Florida, and she placed 18th overall and qualified for Senior Nationals at that meet with a total of 149kg (68kg snatch and 81kg clean and jerk). The Senior Nationals competition represents the best of the best: the top lifters in the country with only 15 to 30 people competing in each weight class.

For those unfamiliar with the sport, competitors have three chances to hit their best snatch (lifting the barbell from the ground to overhead in one continuous motion), there’s a ten minute break, and then three chances to hit their best clean and jerk (moving the barbell from the floor to a racked position across the Deltoids, without resting fully on the Clavicles, and then raising the barbell to a stationary position above the head, finishing with straight arms and legs, and the feet in the same plane as the torso and barbell).

Malorie explains, “It’s organized chaos! The weight on the bar is always increasing so you can never go down. You declare what your openers will be when you weigh-in two hours prior to the session. There is a lot of switching at the last minute, so people may see my name up the board like I’m supposed to go next, but then I might decide to go up in weight if I need to in order to better my place … or if I’m feeling really great! I lift for Lily Weightlifting, a club based out of CrossFit Lily in Ypsilanti. My coach, Jeff Pillars, is actually the one that taught me how to use a barbell when I started CrossFit nearly five years ago so it’s been really special to share the success with him.”

On a final note, Malorie is keeping St. Joe’s in the family. “My fiancé Michael Kwiatkowski  [who was a Michigan Wolverine football player] will be graduating from pharmacy school at U of M in a few short weeks.  We are very excited he matched at St. Joe’s. We are actually getting married right before he begins! ” Congratulations to Malorie and Michael on all of these exciting developments.

Malorie Sutter’s tips for someone starting out in Olympic weightlifting

Here are Malorie Sutter’s tips for someone starting out in Olympic weightlifting:

  1. Olympic weightlifting is for everyone. I know it can be intimidating to start for a variety of reasons, but there is no right age, body type, gender, etc. We were all beginners at some point! Anyone can do it and everyone can benefit from being stronger.
  2. Find yourself a good coach. It is a very technical sport and it is important to have someone that knows how to safely teach the snatch and the clean & jerk. Do your research to make sure a coach is certified and has experience.
  3. Progress in Olympic weightlifting is very personal. Although everyone performs the same lifts, we all have different strengths and weaknesses. You should keep records of your lifts so you can gauge your own improvement and continue to push yourself to new maxes.
  4. Olympic weightlifting is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes years of hard work and dedication to gain the strength and technique you see in Olympians. Some days are harder than others and you cannot set a PR (personal record) every day. That is why it is important to celebrate every victory whether you set a PR, improve your technique, or just had a great training session.
  5. Have fun! The Olympic weightlifting community is incredibly supportive and encouraging. You do not have to be a competitive weightlifter to appreciate how great it feels to have everyone cheer for you while you lift.
    Malorie is also featured on the Healthy Joes page.

Protect the Future; Vaccinate

DianaHaidarDiana Haidar, MD, family medicine physician with St. Joe’s Medical Group and St. Mary Mercy Livonia, addressed the importance of vaccines in her article, “Protect The Future; Vaccinate” in Macaroni Kid.

She writes:
“For patients still unsure about vaccinations, I encourage them to think about the future. Do you and your children want to travel? What if your child wants to work in the health care field? In both instances, vaccines will be vitally important in preventing disease and saving their lives. Be an advocate for your child and make the decision now to protect your their future.”

Read the rest:

Taking Charge of Your Breast Health

by Lila Lazarus

“Breast cancer:  We’re going to wipe you off the face of the Earth!” I screamed at the top of my lungs to a crowd of 50,000 people outside Detroit’s Comerica Park. This was my 20th year standing on the podium at Detroit’s Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. It’s the largest race in Michigan and one of the largest Races for the Cure in the nation. The crowd of survivors, family members, caregivers and friends come together every year to raise money and awareness to put breast cancer out of business.  We laugh and cry and hear from politicians who make equally big promises.

But the reality is, we’re still facing a breast cancer epidemic. It’s still one in eight American women who will face the diagnosis this year. Despite all the “awareness” and the sea of pink ribbons lining Woodward, three of my closest friends are fighting the disease and, no doubt, several of yours.

You see the fear in their eyes. You sense the dread and despair of their children and the ever-present exhaustion. Medicine is getting much better at beating back the disease, but still, we fear it. (In fact, most women fear breast cancer more than heart disease even though we’re ten times more likely to die of heart disease.)

Your biggest risk factor is just being a woman.  And there’s no one sure-fire way to guarantee you won’t get the disease,  but there are ways to significantly improve your risk profile. Here are nine ways to slash your chances of developing breast cancer:

  1. Stand up. No matter how much you think you exercise, if you sit for long periods a day – more than six hours – you are increasing your risk.
  2. Know your family history. Don’t just look at your mom’s family tree. Trace your Dad’s side, as well.  (Though none of my friends battling the disease had ANY family history. Only about 10 percent of cases are hereditary.)
  3. Know your breast type. If you have dense breasts – more tissue than fat – the disease is harder to detect and leaves you at greater risk. It may  require more than a mammogram, perhaps an MRI or ultrasound, to see abnormalities.
  4. Battle the bulge. The more fat you have, the higher your chances of getting breast cancer, because your estrogen levels are higher. Women who gain 20 to 30 pounds after age 18 are 40 percent more likely to develop breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.
  5. Take a walk. There’s proof that walking  two hours a week can reduce your risk by nearly 20 percent. Exercise is a proven breast-healthy habit.
  6. Breast feed your babies. There’s significant research showing that breastfeeding, by temporarily stopping your menstrual cycle, lowers the amount of estrogen in your body and reduces your risk of cancer.
  7. Eat Carrots. Why? Because you need to bolster the amount of carotenoids in your system. The best foods to protect you from breast cancer are fruits and vegetables.  Eat leafy greens and red peppers. And get five servings a day.
  8. Don’t pour a second glass. Limit the amount of alcohol to just one drink or you’ll increase your risk.
  9. Get a mammogram. The best way to beat breast cancer is to find it early.

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Lila Lazarus PhotoLila’s Health Report:
In order to stay healthy, you need to stay active and engaged. In addition to exercise, good nutrition and sleep, you also need a good dose of adventure. So each month I’ll share ways to boost the excitement and passion in your life with adventurous ways to create more wellness in your body, mind and your spirit.