Be Part of the Solution


Ways to be HealthyEvery month, I look forward to reading Experience Life, a magazine filled with educational and inspirational articles.

A new feature, Revolutionary Acts, is part of their Life Wisdom section. In May, “Revolutionary Act 11: Be Part of the Solution” was highlighted. Writer Pilar Gerasimo suggests it is going to take a lot of strong, clear-headed, high-vitality people to solve the world’s problems, and each of us should be one of them.

At first, I expected the author to encourage readers to volunteer, join a cause, or something related to our social conscience. However, I was surprised to find that she was more focused on how important it is for us to focus on our health (body and mind) in order to do anything of significance.

Ms. Gerasimo writes that health is that “sense of thriving, that sense of surplus, that feeling that you not only have enough (energy, vitality, focus, strength, enthusiasm for life), you have plenty . . . so much that you start looking for ways to give back and share it around.”

Unfortunately, we live in a world that doesn’t always promote a sense of health. A majority of the adults in the U.S. suffer from chronic illness – obesity, diabetes, hypertension, etc. – which prevents them from having healthy lives.

I believe, as my organization, Henry Ford Health System, does, that we have an obligation to participate in the solution, but I agree with Ms. Gerasimo that each of us need to take personal responsibility.

A partnership of motivated individuals making their health a priority, with a supportive, assisting healthcare community, will create communities filled with people positively contributing and, ultimately, being part of the solution.

Piloting Our Safety


Farm FD Lynn 2

Recently, I had the great pleasure of spending a morning with Jim Etzin, Emergency Medical Coordinator for the City of Farmington Hills, and the team at its Fire Station at City Hall.

Joining me were two of my colleagues from Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital: Allison Clark, EMS Program Coordinator, and David White, RN, Manager of the Trauma Program.

The morning was filled with so many amazing discoveries, but I will share a few that stood out to me:

  • Every firefighter in the City of Farmington Hills is a trained emergency medical technician or paramedic, providing the city with skilled first responders, and providing the department flexibility and efficiency in its coverage. The city runs an outstanding program, giving staff the training and job experience to advance in their careers. Jim explained that Farmington Hills is a major supplier of trained firefighters and EMTs to other municipalities.
  • We are grateful to the men and women who are so responsive in the field to our 9-1-1 calls, but we don’t always remember those who make that critical connection – the dispatchers. Jim credits this team with saving lives, not just by efficiently sending the proper resources, but also through calmly coaching often-panicked callers. Our team had the opportunity to see the Farmington Hills Dispatch Center in action, witnessing how dispatchers can direct a caller through providing CPR, even if the caller has had no training.
  • The central station for the fire department and other city offices is located among protected wetlands, which can’t be mowed. However, they can be stomped and eaten. So the fire department hired a pygmy goat named Pilot. He does a great job of weed control, but he got lonely, so the city adopted another goat . . . you guessed it: Copilot!

White, David goat

At Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, we are grateful to have a partnership with this outstanding pre-hospital provider team for the City of Farmington Hills. It was an honor to see the stations and meet the men and women that work in the department.

Farm FD Lynn

Front – Farmington Hills Fire Department Dispatcher Andrew Isola. Back (L-R) – Allison Clark, EMS Program Coordinator, Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, FHFD EMS Coordinator Jim Etzin, Lynn Torossian, FHFD Dispatch Supervisor Leslie Amato, David White, RN, Manager, Trauma Program, Henry Ford West Bloomfield, and FHFD Sergeant Brian Bastianelli.


Focus on the Problem


Friendship logo

A recent column by Josh Linkner in the Detroit Free Press really intrigued me.  He notes, “The leaders at the software company Intuit have an internal catchphrase: ‘Fall in love with the problem, not the solution.’ By staying focused on your customers and the challenges they face, you’ll generate a steady stream of innovations rather than betting it all on a one-and-done invention.”

It reminded me of an amazing organization I had the pleasure to visit lately called The Friendship Circle.

According to cofounder Bassie Shemtov, this organization grew from her rabbi husband’s vision to provide “friendship” for recovering addicts. The problem he saw was that these individuals are often alone and missing the companionship of friends.

After he began a program to help those struggling with isolation, addiction and other family-related crises, his wife continued to focus on the problem, wondering who else had the same issues.  She came upon special needs children and their families.  This vision is now an international organization with nearly 80 locations. The original site in West Bloomfield is a sight to behold!

I found this inspiration on the national website:

“The French author Victor Hugo wrote, ‘Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.’ For children with special needs, that idea began in 1994 – with the first Friendship Circle (in West Bloomfield). 

By 2003, the (West Bloomfield) Friendship Circle had evolved from ‘a hands-on activity’ into a thriving organization with 350 teen volunteers spending time with 150 children with special needs. 

Like a stone tossed into a pond (or an idea whose time has come), the ripple effect continues growing all the time.”

They remained focused on the problem and discovered there is a need for these same types of connections for the adults these children become.  Their solution is currently under construction:

“The Farber Soul Center is a new facility that will expand Friendship Circle’s programs into the lives of adults with special needs through the culinary, digital and traditional arts. Complete with a café, gallery and art studios, young adults will be able to learn crucial vocational skills, harness their creativity and create beautiful pieces of art.”

The Friendship Circle’s major fundraiser, Walk4Friendship, takes place on September 6.  Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital is a sponsor, supporter and participant. Please join us in supporting this amazing organization with a passion for solving a problem!

A Trip to Lansing


State capitolContinuing on my learning journey, I recently joined Greater West Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Suzanne Levine and several other chamber members on a visit to our state’s capitol in Lansing.

The building, originally dedicated on January 1, 1879, was recently restored, and named a historical landmark.

In 1987, the Michigan Legislature established the Michigan Capitol Committee and charged it with overseeing the Capitol Restoration Project. The goal was not to create a museum, but to restore the Capitol as the modern, working seat of state government. They did an amazing job!

We also had the honor of visiting with several of our state’s representatives, and one state senator.

  • The visit with Representative Kathy Crawford, R – Novi, from the 38th District (including Northville and Lyon Twp.) was energy packed. A lifetime resident of Novi, she recalled when it was all farmland, and shared with us her passion for our state’s “older adults,” introducing us to the idea of Playgrounds for Seniors.
  • We met with Representative Klint Kesto, R – Commerce Township, from the 39th District (including West Bloomfield and Wixom) and his staff, focusing on some of the needs in West Bloomfield and how the chamber and his office can work together.
  • We met Representative Mike McCready, R – Bloomfield Hills, from the 40th District (Including West Bloomfield, Birmingham and Bloomfield Twp.) in the lobby of the House before their session began. We learned that the term “lobbyist” came about because that was the place that they did their work.
  • Senator Mike Kowall, R – White Lake, met us in the lobby of the Senate, where we discussed and acknowledged his support on road issues, as well as other things impacting West Bloomfield.

We were honored to be recognized on the floor of both houses of the Legislature as part of their formal proceedings.

I urge Michigan residents to take the opportunity to visit this amazing Capitol. The building is outstanding and full of history – and you can see your government in action!


Riding Along With EMS


firetruck2Recently, I had the honor of visiting the West Bloomfield fire stations and met some of our community’s “pre-hospital providers,” the EMS (emergency management services) teams. I even got to ride on a fire truck, a treat that even adults enjoy. I might have even sounded the siren a few times!

Joining me on these visits was one of our Emergency Department physicians (who is also the medical director for Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital’s EMS), our Trauma Program manager, and one of our emergency clinical coordinators. The trauma program manager is relatively new, so he was meeting these men and women for the first time with me, but the other two men knew every EMT or paramedic we met.  They talked comfortably, cracking jokes and slapping each other on the back. There was a very warm familiarity that only comes from very trusting and deep relationships. They talked openly about possible service improvements, and were generous with praise for each other.

But the most impressive part of these visits for me was the shared dedication to, and concern for, the patients. They look forward to hearing each patient’s outcome from our hospital’s team.

I learned that our physicians have developed such trust in these teams’ skills that often serious conditions such as heart attacks are confidently diagnosed in the field. This enables the entire medical team, and the room, to be ready by the time the patient arrives. This can save more than 30 critical minutes for a very sick patient – often the difference between life and death. These medical specialists take great pride in their work, and are always looking for new learning opportunities.

When we call 911, we take for granted that qualified personnel will show up, but most of us don’t think a lot about it beyond that. I now know that the teams that come are close-knit, interdependent, well-trained medical personnel. They cook for each other, help each other with marriage proposals, rely on each other, and know that each call could be a person that won’t survive.  Yet they love what they do, and the community they serve. They continuously seek higher performance, and love partners like Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital that include them on the team.

I plan to visit other area fire stations in the many areas Henry Ford West Bloomfield serves, and I will remember to thank them for what they do, day in and day out, to improve the health and safety of the communities they serve, one person at a time – much like Henry Ford Health System.




It’s Hospital Week!


Hospital Week 2015 logo

The first National Hospital Day was held on Florence Nightingale’s birthday, May 12, 1921.  It was conceived by a Chicago magazine editor as a public healthcare event that encouraged trust in the city’s hospitals in the wake of the Spanish flu outbreak of 1918, which killed more than 600,000 Americans.

The event expanded to an entire week in 1953. In 2015, it’s May 10 – 16.

Now, every state celebrates National Hospital Week, sponsored by the American Hospital Association.  Intended as a community-centered program, it engages every person in the hospital, from directors to transporters, nurses to volunteers, EMS techs to home-health professionals, and physicians to patients.

Locally, most hospitals hold events during Hospital Week that engage and recognize the employees, physicians and volunteers in the organization.  There may be community events as well, to demonstrate the important part a hospital plays in the community it serves.

This year at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, we have several fun events scheduled, including a staff talent show, an art participation project, and putt-putt golf holes created by employees. There will be several special food giveaways, and some educational events.

For our community, we are also starting our weekly Wednesday farmers’ market, “Henry’s Market on Main,” where people can purchase fresh, locally grown fruits, vegetables and flowers, honey, breads, and some our own chefs’ creations using products grown in our organic greenhouse.

Miracles do happen every day in our hospital, some of them small, some of them bigger, but in every case there is one or more dedicated, compassionate, devoted and skilled healthcare worker. These people are the anchors in our communities, the ones we all run to in times of need, the ones we are lucky enough to call members of our very special Henry Ford family.

This week we call extra attention to these heroes, and thank them for what they do every day to make our hospital, our community, and our world, that much better.

My gratitude goes out to all of them!


Fill The Glass!


Continuing the discussion on “The How of Happiness” by Sonja Lyubomirsky, I recently attended a yoga teacher training workshop emphasizing the second happiness activity in this book: Cultivating Optimism.

Most of us know people who are by nature pessimists, and those who are optimists. We understand the analogy of the half-empty or half-full glass. Personally, one of the most inspiring things I’ve heard is:

“Who cares if it’s half-full or half-empty, our job is to fill it up!”

So what are the differences between the two perspectives? The definitions provide some help in understanding:

  • Pessimism: the tendency to see, anticipate, or emphasize only bad or undesirable outcomes, results, conditions, problems, etc.
  • Optimism: a disposition or tendency to look on the more favorable side of events or conditions and to expect the most favorable outcome

In a world where the only events that make the news are negative, and where there is usually only time to discuss things that aren’t working, optimism might be considered unrealistic. However, according to Lyubomirsky, being an optimist doesn’t mean living in utopia, but rather that you celebrate the present and the past, and anticipate a bright future. It’s also about how we will get there, or the process.

In our workshop, the instructor led us through a yoga practice and meditation where we focused on optimism. She reminded us to think about our best possible self in the future – Where are we? What are we doing? Who is with us? How do we feel? — and to consider what we might need to do to get there. Afterwards, she shared research that demonstrates how this type of thinking, along with follow-up writing of goals, actions, etc., led to a measurable uplift in optimism and happiness.

There are several reasons for this:

  • If you’re optimistic about the future, you will invest effort in reaching those goals.
  • If your thinking is optimistic, you are more likely to engage in active and effective coping.
  • Optimistic thinking promotes positive moods, vitality, and high morale.

Like everything else, in order for this to become part of one’s nature, it must be practiced. So, if you find that you aren’t as optimistic as you’d like, there are things you can do to practice. The most important is to make a choice about how you see the world. Are you a glass-half-empty, or a glass-half-full person? Consider becoming not just a half-full person, but figuring out how to fill your glass!


Intentionally Grateful


Gratitude Dahl

grat·i·tude:  the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness

In the book, “The How of Happiness,” author Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., says that, “50 percent of individual differences in happiness are governed by genes, 10 percent by life circumstances, and the remaining 40 percent by what we do and how we think – that is, our intentional activities and strategies. The secret, of course, lies in that 40 percent. If we observe genuinely happy people, we shall find that they do not just sit around being contented. They make things happen. They pursue new understandings, seek new achievements, and control their thoughts and feelings. In sum, our intentional, effortful activities have a powerful effect on how happy we are.”

As I have mentioned, I am taking yoga teacher training. Recently, we had a workshop (the first of twelve) based on Dr. Lyubomirsky’s book.  The first was about gratitude.  People who are grateful and, more importantly, express gratitude to others, are happier.

So my challenge this week – for myself, for my team, for my readers – is to be “intentionally grateful.”  For some that may mean writing thank-you notes expressing specific gratitude. Others may perform random acts of kindness that demonstrate their gratitude for blessings in their life. And others may choose to merely smile at everyone they pass, grateful they are able to see them and share a moment of happiness.

In whatever way you choose, do it intentionally. Why?  Because it is this effort to make things happen, to acknowledge the goodness in our lives, and to purposefully act with this knowledge, that greatly contributes to our own happiness.

Enjoy your day!

What was your name again?


Name tag

Do you have trouble remembering people’s names? It has always been a problem for me. I don’t forget faces, but have difficulty connecting names with faces.

I remember my first day at Henry Ford Health System, when the leader of the orientation session told me how amazing our CEO, Nancy Schlichting, is at remembering names. He said he met her once, and the next time she saw him she called him by name. I was impressed and inspired. It was amazing how great it made this person feel.

When I started at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, I decided that one of my goals was to meet lots of employees and remember their names. I haven’t done very well on that goal.

Using people’s names shows respect and caring. It is something all good sales people and leaders know. Our staff is reminded to acknowledge patients and their families using their names. To truly treat them as people, not just a disease or condition, we also get their backstory.

This brings me back to Nancy Schlichting, who told me that wherever she goes, whether in Henry Ford or other organizations, she can tell when leaders are truly engaging with their teams. Nancy says that when the employees feel like their leaders really know them, not just their jobs and their names, but who they are as people, there is better engagement. It’s also important that leaders talk about their employees using their names and with a true sense of fondness.

Since this was one of my goals, and it’s a new year, I am again striving to meet lots more employees (I have met a lot!), and commit to remembering their names.

I found some suggestions in the March 1 issue of New York Times magazine, in “How to Remember People’s Names,” by Malia Wollan. She suggests concentrating during the introduction and picturing something unique about them.

I know this works, because I remember Nora Jones, a nurse at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, because she shares her name with one of my favorite singers. Ms. Wollan also suggests finding a photo of people before a meeting, so you already have the image in your brain, making it easier to connect the name.

In a 2013 Forbes article, “The Five Best Tricks to Remember Names,“ by Kristi Hedges, I found more advice, including repeating the name (appropriately) during the initial conversation. “Hello, Mark, it is so nice to meet you,” at the beginning, followed by “Hope to see you again soon, Mark,” in closing. Another suggestion is a favorite of mine, where some alliteration is used. For example, I met a very friendly barista named Michelle, and to remember her name I call her, “Mucho Friendly Michelle.”

Both authors agree you must care about this – which I do. Ms. Wollan notes that neuroimaging studies show the sound of our names produces distinct activity patterns in the regions of our brains that provide our sense of self. In other words, we like to hear our names. Ms. Hedges suggests that if we make it a priority because we care about the people we meet, it will come more naturally.

So for 2015, I will incorporate this in everything I do – rounding in the hospital, visiting with departments, eating in the café, etc. It may take me some time, but I am committed to do this, so that by the end of 2015, I not only recognize those that work with me at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, I know their names!



Yoga Teacher Training


Yoga teacher

I am excited, yet terrified, that I recently signed up for yoga teacher training. This is something I’ve considered for several years, but have come up with reasons I couldn’t. First, I was too new to yoga, then I injured my back and thought it would be too strenuous, then . . . well, you get the idea. There was always something. So this year I took a different approach, and wondered if I could, maybe even should, try this training.

Recently, I read “Three Reasons Why Yoga Teacher Training Changes Your Life” by Silvia Mordini, and was overcome with the possibilities.

Mordini describes how yoga training is the Alchemy of Yoga at its best. Translation:

  • Physical Alchemy: helps us ignite the changes we want to make in our lives. It is about getting fired up and passionate. It means heating the body through moving and breathing in the vinyasa.
  • Mental Alchemy: while we are following the discipline, and engaging in the practice to move our stuck energy we are watching ourselves. In yoga we study the self to learn about the self. Here the mental alchemy is through self-observation. We focus on our thoughts.
  • Spiritual Alchemy: as we are doing and watching we let go of the ego of judgment. We move beyond wanting life to be different and begin to feel the surrender that allows what is being offered to blend. Happiness becomes our natural alchemy.

I sought the council of some of my yoga teachers who gave me further insights, that teacher training provides a way for the individual to go deeper into his or her practice, and is a method of self-discovery. Whether one ever goes on to teach yoga isn’t really the point.

So I decided this would be a wonderful undertaking. I will learn more about this practice that I love, meet a group of people who share this passion, and potentially find some life-altering lessons. Hard to find a reason not to do this now!

I’ve begun to read the materials, and learned how I have allowed some physical limitations to crowd my thoughts, and prevent me from doing things I love. It is amazing that I am beginning to change. I can’t wait for training to start on March 15, when I meet my “tribe” who will take this journey with me. I look forward to shared experiences, intense yoga practices, and hopefully, along the way, some amazing fun!

Namaste! (Which means the heart within me honors and respects the heart within you.) Ohm.


Walk With Me


NKFM walk

How does a walk through the Detroit Zoo on a warm Sunday in May sound to you? The animals are active and there is lots to see.

I will be walking at the zoo on Sunday, May 17, in the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan’s (NKFM) annual Kidney Walk.

This year, Henry Ford Health System and Health Alliance Plan are partnering with NKFM, and the System’s CEO, Nancy Schlichting, will be the honorary co-chair.

The NKFM’s mission is to prevent kidney disease and improve the quality of life for those living with it.

The organization promotes quality of care for people with chronic kidney disease (CKD), diabetes and hypertension. It also supports research, promotes organ and tissue donation, and educates the public on CKD, diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity.

Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure in the U.S., with high blood pressure the second.

Did you know that:

  • 26 million American adults have CKD, including more than 940,000 in Michigan
  • African, Asian, Hispanic, and Native Americans are at increased risk for developing CKD from kidney disease.
  • African Americans are four times more likely to develop kidney failure because of diabetes than Caucasians.
  • African Americans are nearly seven times more likely to develop kidney failure because of high blood pressure.

The NKFM’s 16-week Diabetes Prevention Program My Choice . . . My Health” begins at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 11, at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital. It helps those at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes adopt and maintain healthy lifestyles by eating healthier, increasing physical activity, and losing a modest amount of weight to reduce their chances of developing the disease.

Research funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has demonstrated that the program reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by nearly 60%.

Since more than 70% of all kidney failure caused by diabetes or high blood pressure could be prevented or delayed by eating healthy, getting exercise, and taking the right medications, the Diabetes Prevention Program and the Kidney Walk are good ways to get started on the right path.

I encourage those who wish to improve their health to consider the Diabetes Prevention Program, and I invite everyone to join me on the Kidney Walk, which will be a fun family outing.

NKFM is an award-winning charity, ranked #1 by Charity Navigator in Diseases, Disorders and Disciplines, and was recently named in the Huffington Post as one of the “11 Top-Rated Charities That Changed The World In 2014.” More than 80 cents of every dollar donated directly supports programs and services.

I look forward to serving as a team captain for this walk, to support this amazing charity. If you are interested in joining me, post a reply here, or log on to:

I hope to see you at the Detroit Zoo on May 17.

State of the State


Kesto Torossian Capitol 2

I had the honor of attending the 2015 State of the State address by Governor Rick Snyder last week in Lansing as the guest of State Representative Klint Kesto. Representative Kesto serves the 39th District in the Michigan House of Representatives, representing the residents of the city of Wixom, Commerce Township, a portion of West Bloomfield Township and the village of Wolverine Lake.

Recently, Klint was in the news for proposing to his fiancée, Delena, on the floor of the House!

It was amazing to be in the State Capitol, shake hands with Speaker of the House Kevin Cotter and rub elbows with the “who’s who” of the state. Sitting on the floor of the House, watching all of the official procedural actions that happen prior to the address was also fascinating. Apparently there are a lot of approvals required prior to holding a joint session of the Legislature and inviting the justices of the Michigan Supreme Court and Michigan Court of Appeals.

Finally, the time came for the governor to enter, and the buzz was about which entrance he would use. The governor has an injured Achilles tendon and uses a scooter, so he couldn’t enter through the main doors. He came in a side door, smiling and shaking a few hands on his way.

His address was formatted as a review of 2014 accomplishments and his vision of the future. Unlike most speakers, he asked guests to hold their applause to the end of his speech. Compliance on this request was low!

I was extremely impressed by his focus on transparently sharing results of goals, even including a handout showing the metrics on his scorecard. He was very proud of certain accomplishments, such as passing the state’s Medicaid expansion plan, Healthy Michigan, but acknowledged that there is still work to be done on things such as education.

He asked the Legislature to help him pass the fifth budget next month – delivered on time and balanced.

“Relentless positive action” is a phrase he has used since he first took office, and he revisited it in his address, but not until he was nearly half-way through his speech, which he noted was a record.

His plans for 2015 were laid out with a vision for a “River of Opportunity” for all residents in the State. This includes changing the way Michigan helps the disadvantaged. Currently, Michigan has at least 145 programs residents can access for assistance. He felt that there’s got to be a better, more effective way.

He’s beginning his plan by merging two departments: Community Health and Human Services. He believes merging these departments will help streamline services to some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens.

Other 2015 plans include:

  • a fiscal “scorecard” for local jurisdictions
  • a focus on education – especially up to third grade (where reading skills are critical)
  • better roads – asking for support of the upcoming ballot initiative for a sales tax increase
  • making Michigan first in the skilled trades, and
  • providing more protections for our environment.

At the end of the address, Klint looked at me and asked, “So, do you think you might ever be interested in one of these seats?” After recovering from shock, I thought about it and said, “Probably not.” But this experience gave me a brief glimpse into the hard work of our lawmakers.

All in all, the event was an experience that I will never forget.


When the Holidays Get You Down


thinking businessman

The holidays are a time for celebrating, getting together with family and friends, sharing great food, and joy. However, this is also a stressful time, with too much to do, unpredictable weather, and high expectations.

I am on the board of directors for Rose Hill Center, in Holly, Michigan, that specializes in the treatment of people with severe mental illness. Its CEO, Ben Robinson, wrote an article on holiday stress that I think can help all of us, so I am sharing some of his tips.

He notes that “people who have experienced significant losses, or who suffer from anxiety and depression can find this time of year to be very stressful, profoundly disappointing or worse. Additionally, many people also suffer from a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is brought on by the long nights, short days and gloomy weather.

“There are some strategies we can all put in place for ourselves, and also encourage others who may be suffering in silence to use, as well:

  • Say no when too many events or invitations come our way
  • Cancel or postpone scheduled events if inclement weather is present or forecast
  • Avoid shopping during peak times when stores and roads are the most crowded
  • Limit our intake of alcohol and food to our normal amount or less
  • Make time to exercise, read, worship and relax
  • Minimize our exposure to stressful family, social or work situations
  • Be realistic about what we can expect from the Holiday Season
  • Accept our natural feelings surrounding the loss of loved ones

“And most importantly: share feelings of anxiety or depression with close friends and family members – many of whom have had or are experiencing similar feelings. If needed, seek professional help from your family physician or another healthcare professional.”

I hope that these tips are helpful for you in keeping your stress level low during these holiday weeks. However, if you or someone you know needs assistance, we are fortunate that within the Henry Ford Health System we have an amazing Behavioral Health division that has many different options for care. Help is only a phone call away.

Remember that enjoying each other’s company and celebrating the season is much more important than the perfect gift or the best decorations.

As I close this final post of 2014, I want to acknowledge:

  • my amazing family – my husband, Tom, my kids, Mike and Lauren; they are truly my everything,
  • my outstanding Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital team – we are on an amazing journey together,
  • my extended Henry Ford Health System team – We are transforming lives and communities through health and wellness – one person at a time.
  • all of my friends.

May the spirit of this season fill you with joy and hope, and may the new year bring even more for all of us to celebrate!

The $5 Challenge


Recently, I attended the United Way of Southeast Michigan Campaign cabinet meeting. I co-chair the Healthcare Subcommittee of this cabinet, and am proud to be part of such an outstanding group of individuals committed to supporting the UWSEM in their mission: to mobilize the caring power of Detroit and Southeastern Michigan to improve communities and individual lives in measurable and lasting ways.

United Way also has a “Big Hairy Audacious Goal,” which is “We believe it’s possible to make Greater Detroit a Top 5 Place to Live and Work by 2030.”

At each of our meetings, CEO Michael Brennan brings one of his team members to talk about work on an “impact” area. This provides the “why” of our campaign, and grounds us in the efforts of this amazing organization. Yesterday he did something very unique – he presented us with “The $5 Challenge.”

Every day in Southeast Michigan, some people in our community don’t know where they will get their next meal. These are people that attend our church, go to school with our children, maybe even work in our companies.

In order to qualify for the free and reduced lunch program, a family of four must have an income level of $44,000 or less. More than 350,000 kids qualify for this in our communities! UWSEM helps coordinate food for these kids during times they don’t get food at school – breaks, summer, etc. – through a program they call Meet Up and Eat Up. It is an amazing program, but they have bigger dreams.

So how does The $5 Challenge help? Many of these families also qualify for SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which provides about $5 per day in food assistance.

Michael decided to see if he could eat for an entire day on $5, and found it was very challenging. He shared his experience with us, and challenged us to try this ourselves. In fact, he gave us each a $5 bill and the rules: $5.00, one day, and share your experiences with photos, tweets, Facebook posts, etc.

I’m going to take this challenge, and I know it will be difficult. Most days, I buy an iced coffee at Starbucks for $2.76. In fact, even coffee I make at home is probably out!

I talked with my team at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, and we decided to make this a leadership challenge in early 2015 – we will have some fun with it, and do a bit of fundraising at the same time!

So I wonder, as did several of us in the room yesterday, how could we make this go viral like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge? Imagine if we created something that goes so viral that it changes the way hunger in the tri-county region, the state, perhaps even the country, is handled.

Take The $5 Challenge with me, share your experience using #UWSEMFoodFor5, contribute to the cause, and help United Way help expand the Meet Up and Eat Up program!



A Diversity Hero


Henry Ford Health System has 10 service standards for all employees, which support continuous improvement in service to patients. One of these standards is: Honor and Respect Diversity.

We celebrate diversity in many ways throughout the year, including educating our teams about various religious holidays, hosting culture workshops, and working one on one with patients and their families.

On Wednesday, December 10, Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital is holding a Heritage Celebration 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. in the Ravitz Atrium. There will be entertainment, food, and information from Henry Ford Employee Resource Groups and Mango Languages. A staff cooking competition will be part of the event, in the Demonstration Kitchen, focusing on ethnic dishes.

Also, each year we honor an individual in the facility as our diversity hero – along with members of other Henry Ford facilities.

Recently, we held an event to honor Henry Ford diversity heroes, including our Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital Diversity Hero, Betty Lewis, environmental services associate.

Lewis, Betty Diversity

Betty is a smiling face that greets everyone – a patient, a coworker, or a visitor – with a warm welcome, and if needed, a hug. She participates in activities of the hospital, such as dressing up for Halloween and participating in our farmers market.

Betty fully embodies Henry Ford’s commitment to diversity:

We understand diversity to encompass not only obvious human differences such as age, gender, race and culture, but also more subtle dimensions like work style, lifestyle, physical capacity and characteristics. In an organizational context, diversity is found in the mix of differences we collectively create, rather than in the uniqueness of any individual group.

We hold each member of our team accountable for actively fostering a culture of inclusion in order to enhance the quality of care and comfort for each person that we serve.

When I told a member of the West Bloomfield team member that I was on my way to honor Betty at this event, he said, “Now there is a deserving individual! Give her a hug and congratulations from me.”

Thank you Betty, for all that you do for our team and our guests.

Breathe Deeply


Six years ago, I took my first yoga class. I had been looking for an exercise that didn’t put stress on my joints, as I had just recovered from hip replacement surgery.   I discovered a practice that offered so much more to me, and continues to do so, even now that I go to the studio much less frequently.

The “asanas,” or poses, are described in ancient Sanskrit, and translated into descriptive English. A common pose is Downward-Facing Dog, or Adho Mukha Svanasana.

Although these poses provide amazing physical benefits, such as stretching, flexibility, muscle toning and balance, the purpose is to teach you to continue to breathe deeply and maintain calmness when pushing your body into discomfort. Why? So your brain learns how to cope in the same way when faced with other challenges.

The breathing – deep, diaphragmatic breathing, called pranayama – is critical. In fact, my teachers tell me that breathing is really the most important aspect of yoga. Why? Because deep breathing is what is truly calming the mind, invoking the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).  PNS activation reduces blood pressure and slows the heart and breathing rates after a stressful event.

So combining the asanas and the pranayama (poses and breathing) creates an amazing practice that provides physical benefits and relaxation – contributing to an overall increased feeling of well-being. I know this is true for me, and helps explain why so many people find yoga to be addictive.

If you would like to learn more about yoga, please call Vita wellness center at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital at 248.325.3870 for a class that will fit your needs.

Downward Dog

Caught Being Healthy


Veggies blog

I handed out my “Caught Being Healthy” cards yesterday.

The first went to Terry, who leads the team at the information desk at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital.  At the end of a very busy day, I walked out with her and she shared with me that she had just gotten a massage at Vita.  We discussed how regular massages are an important part of our physical and mental health, providing tension relief and overall relaxation.  I was inspired by Terry as she described her commitment to this healthy practice, and how grateful she is that we have it right on our campus.

The second went to Tracey, who works in Physician Village.  Tracey is pursuing her degree at Eastern Michigan University, while working full time and helping her family with their many responsibilities.  I told her how proud I am of her that she knows that education is important for her, and how I view this as a healthy behavior that not everyone has the commitment to pursue.

These women are now looking to pass on their cards, finding colleagues and friends also pursuing healthy behaviors.

Here are some examples. How many can you do?

  • Schedule your mammogram, or encourage another to do so.
  • Get a heart screening.
  • Add vegetables (a pound per day is a good recommendation) to your daily diet.
  • Substitute one sugar-added beverage a day with water.
  • Take a walk on your break or at lunch, smiling at everyone you meet. Walking and smiling are healthy behaviors!
  • Take time to be grateful and show appreciation each day.
  • Commit to eating breakfast every day.

There are so many ways to add healthy behaviors to your life, and most of them don’t involve joining a gym, lifting weights, running a marathon, or any other overwhelming physical activity.  I encourage you to take the time today to think about what you can add to your life to improve your health. You and your family will be happier, and you may add years to your life.


Fed Up With Sugar


 Sugar graphic

I am pretty focused on healthy eating and exercise – but by no means do I do it all correctly, or have all of the answers. I read a lot about the impact of food on our overall health, and have adopted a diet that includes lean meats, lots of fruits and vegetables, and occasional whole grains.

But I also have a huge sweet tooth. I can remember times when I ate an entire bag of jelly beans (a favorite) in one sitting — usually followed by a stomachache! So lately I have been learning about the impact that added sugar has on my health, as well as the overall health of our community, and the role sugar plays in the obesity epidemic in our country.

I recently saw the movie “Fed Up”. Its message is “for the past 30 years, everything we thought we knew about food and exercise is dead wrong.”

The movie tests our knowledge regarding sugar, school lunch programs, the healthcare industry’s commitment to educating the public on sugar’s impact, and ends with a challenge.

The Fed Up Challenge requires giving up all food and drinks that have added sugars for 10 days. (No exceptions, so don’t ask.) And these foods are everywhere.

The chart above from The Center for Science in the Public Interest shows where added sugars are hiding.

Your diet should be full of fresh, whole foods that are free of honey, molasses, agave, artificial sweeteners, and any one of the 56 hidden names for sugar, such as glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, and maltose. Say goodbye to liquid sugars, such as sodas, sweetened teas, fruit juices, and sports drinks, too.

Why go cold turkey? Sugar has the same addictive properties as tobacco and alcohol. The more you eat, the more you need to be satisfied. So if you cut all added sugar from your diet at once, you will avoid triggering the addiction center in the brain.

The World Health Organization has dropped its sugar intake recommendations from 10% of your daily calorie intake to 5%.   For an adult with a normal body mass index (BMI), that is about 6 teaspoons — or 25 grams — of sugar per day.

The American Heart Association recommends limiting sugar intake to no more than half of your daily discretionary calorie allowance: no more than 100 calories per day for women (about 6 teaspoons) and no more than 150 calories per day for men (9 teaspoons). They  have great educational resources to help you learn about managing sugar in your diet and why it is important.

I work for an organization with a mission to improve people’s health, and I firmly believe that what we eat is a foundational building block for health.

I encourage you to see “Fed Up,” know where the added sugar is in your diet, learn to read food labels to be aware of what you are eating, and consider taking the 10 day challenge.

When Blood Donation is Personal


Poxon, Amanda

In my last post, I shared the story of David Schwartz, a dietitian at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital.

Today I want to share another inspirational story about one of our team members.

Rebecca Peterson is a nurse in the Birthing Center. Recently, she sent me (and many others) an email titled: I need your help, please!

Many of you may have heard bits and pieces of the story of my sister in law over these past couple of months–this past March, she suffered from a pregnancy complication which almost resulted in her losing her life. One of the things that saved her life was her blood donors, since she received more than 15 units of blood, and platelets on top of this, and she is SO thankful for this. Her doctors told her that the amount of blood products she received would have taken 30-40 donors.

I have not seen her since February, since her and her husband moved to Colorado, shortly before this happened, however they will be in town in September.  One of the things she has been asking of her friends and family, when they ask how they can help support them, is to donate blood.  I would like to surprise her when she comes in town with 40+ blood donors, donating blood in her name.  If you are willing to help me out in accomplishing this, I am asking that you please consider donating blood/platelets/double RBCs, that you take a picture during the donation, with a smile, a thumbs up, and a “sign”, which can simply be a piece of paper with her name on it, reading either: Melinda, For Melinda, Team Melinda (feel free to write an inspirational quote if you wish) etc…and then please me the picture. Please send pictures to me by September 1st. If you are willing to do this, please encourage your spouses/SO’s and anyone else, but make sure I get the pictures. Please please please :-)  Thanks so much for your help.

We helped Rebecca by photographing donors who agreed to her request at our August 28 blood drive. Nearly two dozen donors held the For Melinda sign to show their support for her. What an amazing way to pay it forward by helping promote blood donations, and then including your sister-in-law who was saved by blood donations!