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!




American Ninja Warrior Dietitian

At Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, we frequently remind our teams to “learn the back story” about patients. This helps us to interact with them as people, rather than as patients in a bed, or a diagnosis.

The same is true of our colleagues. We have such an amazing group of people that we are honored to work with every day, yet sometimes we forget to learn about whom they really are, and the amazing things they do outside of work.

Today I want to share with you a wonderful story I recently heard about, involving one of our team members.

Schwartz-David RD

I would like to introduce you to David Schwartz, one of our knowledgeable dietitians. We all knew that he was very active, and promoted healthy eating, but I don’t think we knew that he grows his own food, and is a beekeeper.

David was a recent contestant on NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior.” In the Denver city qualifier, he was one of 22 to finish the obstacle course (of 120 who attempted it), and the 6th fastest.  Although he struggled in the finals, he talked about his healthy lifestyle, eating organic, sustainable foods, and beekeeping. Watch the video, or watch the episode at 7 p.m., Sunday, August 31, on NBC.

I had the opportunity to learn more about David, and what he does. He and his wife are both dietitians and have been married for five years – they are expecting their first child in October. He took up beekeeping after a friend invited him to a conference that talked about the importance of bees, and how there is great concern about the future of bees. He is fascinated (and now I am as well) with the amazing social culture of the hive. I asked him if he can identify the queen in the hive and he said, definitely – she is the one everyone else is surrounding, catering to, and grooming. This year he has produced about 40 pounds of honey, the premium type that is still in the wax cells, which he sells. He thinks it was the beekeeping story that helped get him on the American Ninja Warrior show.

There are so many stories like these, about our friends and colleagues and the wonderful things that they do outside of work. I encourage you to share them with us so that we can all get to know each other a little bit better. Through these stories and the things we learn about each other, we Earn Trust, and develop Team.


Take Accountability

WB Accountability mtg

This is what Take Accountability looks like to me.

Recently I hosted the Senior Leadership Team, key physician leaders, and several of our trustees at an educational session on Take Accountability. We learned about the current pressures and changes in our industry and the impact on our organization over the next five years. We also learned how other healthcare organizations are proactively preparing themselves for these changes, and how the HFHS Renewal 2.0 and One Henry Ford Strength and Sustainability Plan position our organization for the future.

This cross-functional, multidisciplinary team committed to embracing this new knowledge and to begin collaborating not simply for surviving, but for thriving – working together to design and deliver a world-class healthcare organization. We recognize that to deliver value consistently, we have to design structure that consistently focuses on our Key Results: Growth, Efficiency and Integration. Structure drives culture.

We learned that there is a human dimension to this work which we must embrace as well. Learning to make change safer than the status quo is important when facing the transformational change our industry is facing. We committed to developing an appetite for experimentation in our organization that drives speed to implementation and is inclusive.

In health care, it seems, the only constant is change. Therefore, we learned, change is our job.