Category Archives: Health

Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapy: What are the Differences?


By Peg Cochran, Holland Home


Has a doctor prescribed therapy for you or a loved one after surgery, an illness or accident?  There are three different types of therapy — physical, occupational and speech therapy — and it’s easy to be confused about the differences between them.


Physical Therapy

Most people are familiar with physical therapy. The goal of physical therapy is to reduce pain and inflammation, accelerate healing, strengthen muscles and increase range of motion—all the things that will help get you on your feet again. Physical therapy might also be used to help alleviate chronic pain from osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia or neuropathic sources. Physical therapy is often prescribed after surgery such as joint replacement or following an injury or prolonged illness.


Physical therapy is provided in many settings and may be started while the patient is still in the hospital. Physical therapy is often continued at a rehabilitation center, nursing home, outpatient clinic or in the patient’s own home.


In the hospital, rehabilitation center or nursing home, the goal of therapy is to improve the patient’s function and strength so that they can return home and to a level of independence.


Physical therapy in an outpatient facility is generally for more active people who are not home bound. However, physical therapy can also be administered in the home for those unable to leave for medical or logistical reasons.


With older patients, physical therapists can provide exercises to strengthen muscles and improve or maintain their ability to get out of bed, a chair, to walk with or without assistance and to help prevent falls.


Physical therapy utilizes several treatment methods including exercise, massage, joint mobilization, electrical stimulation and the application of heat or ice.


Occupational Therapy

In general, the purpose of occupational therapy is to assist the patient in improving or maintaining the ability to perform the activities of daily living (ADLs) such as dressing, toileting and bathing.


Occupational therapy can provide support for older adults experiencing physical or cognitive changes and may also provide education for patients with chronic diseases, as well as guidance and education for family members and caregivers. Occupational therapists are also skilled in evaluating a patient’s home and making recommendations for appropriate adaptive equipment such as eating and drinking aids, dressing and grooming aids, as well as products and ways to improve home safety.


Occupational therapy can be beneficial for patients who have been injured, have orthopedic conditions such as a joint replacement, suffer from arthritis or Parkinson’s or who have limitations following a stroke or heart attack.


The therapy can be performed in the hospital, a rehabilitation facility or in the patient’s home. Occupational therapists use a variety of treatment methods including stretching and strengthening exercises, practice of daily activities and instruction in the use of adaptive equipment.


Speech Therapy

Speech therapists deal with a person’s ability to communicate and swallow. Speech therapy can help someone who is having difficulty swallowing or eating, or who has language or cognitive-linguistic problems. Speech therapy is often prescribed after a stroke or for someone with progressive neurological conditions such as dementia. It can also be useful in treating breathing problems associated with lung diseases. In general, speech therapy is helpful in addressing the decline sometimes associated with the aging process.


Speech therapists work with patients in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and in the patient’s own home. Speech therapists may use specific exercises to strengthen the muscles of the mouth and throat, or cognitive exercises to help restore memory or improve sequencing and problem solving.


The use of one of the above therapies, or a combination of these various therapies, can be very useful in restoring and rehabilitating your life or that of a loved one after surgery, an illness or accident.

Helping Your Loved One Transition to Assisted Living



By Peg Cochran, Holland Home


Change is never easy. Change becomes even more difficult to manage as we get older and more set in our ways. One of life’s more difficult transitions is the move from independent living to an assisted living facility. Many seniors view this transition as the last move of their life and perhaps, their final chapter. Coming to terms with that knowledge can bring sadness and depression. There are many ways to help your loved one ease into this transition and manage the emotions that accompany it.


When to Move to Assisted Living

There are many reasons to make the move to assisted living. Many seniors are more than capable of managing in their own home with some outside help from family, friends or a paid caregiver. However, this is not always possible or even feasible. Following are some things to consider as you work to determine the best care option for your loved one.

  • They can no longer shower or bathe without help, or you are concerned about their safety in the tub or shower.
  • They are at risk for falls.
  • They forget to take medications ortake medications improperly.
  • They no longer cook nutritious meals for themselves and may be losing weight.
  • They can no longer drive and are becoming isolated.
  • They have been recently hospitalized and you are concerned about whether they can recover at home.

Breaking the Ice

Moving a parent or loved one to assisted living is stressful for everyone involved. Adults are accustomed to being self-sufficient and to keeping their own unique schedule. Giving up their home can leave them feeling frustrated, helpless or angry. In addition, it’s hard for the caregiver to see their loved one growing older, and you may be having difficulty accepting the change yourself.


Visit the chosen facility several times and give your loved one a chance to become accustomed to the idea of moving. When you visit, encourage your loved one to talk with as many of the residents as possible. Most facilities will allow you to join them for meals. You should also take the time to meet with the administrator and any relevant staff members. Spend some time with your loved one going over any brochures or written material you may have been given. Be sure to get a copy of the activities schedule and point out anything you think might interest your loved one.


Ask the facility about respite care. Many offer it, and it’s the perfect way for your loved one to try out their new lifestyle without making a long-term commitment.


“Respite stays can last from a few days to more than a month,” said Amy Thayer, senior living consultant for Holland Home. “It’s not unusual for one of our respite residents to decide to make the move after experiencing everything we offer.


“It’s important to choose a facility that offers the full continuum of care, if possible,” said Thayer. “That way, should a move to a higher level of care such as nursing be required, your loved one will only have to change floors as opposed to moving to a whole new facility.”


Making the Move

When it’s time to make the physical move to the new facility, planning is key. Make sure you have the dimensions of the new space. If possible, plan the furniture arrangement in advance. You will want to bring enough personal items and furniture to make the space feel like “home,” but chances are you will not need everything in your loved one’s current home. Special pieces can be passed down to family and friends. Knowing others will be enjoy treasured belongings can make parting with it easier.


Have a plan for arranging the furniture so that the movers set things up in a way that suits your loved one’s lifestyle and makes them feel more “at home”.  Placing knickknacks and pictures in the same or similar places will go a long way toward giving the new space a feeling of familiarity.


After Moving In

 One of the best ways to ease the transition to your loved one’s new way of life is to get to know neighbors. They’ve already “been there, and done that,” and can help the individual adapt to the change. One of the best parts about assisted living is that your senior will no longer be isolated, dependent on visits from family and friends to ease any loneliness. They will be surrounded by peers and will have access to a full calendar of specially planned events and outings.


Check the activities calendar as soon as they move in and plan on participating in at least a few of the scheduled events. You may find there are clubs to join, musical evenings, movie showings and bus trips. Getting involved will help your loved one meet people and make new friends.


In addition, they should familiarize themselves with their new surroundings—check out the library, the exercise room, and the laundry facilities. Knowing their way around will make things feel familiar more quickly.



Finally, encourage your loved one to give themselves time to adjust to their new lifestyle.  No matter how much they like it, there will most likely still be days when they feel sad or nostalgic for their old way of life.


“If those emotions persist,” said Thayer, “be sure to talk to the staff. Arrangements can be made for the individual to speak to a counselor who can help them ease into their new way of life.”


Most importantly, try to keep a positive mindset. Help your senior focus on the things they like about their new living situation and take advantage of all that it has to offer.


Alternatives in Motion enhances independence through access to mobility equipment


By Alternatives in Motion and C. Davis


Being disabled is tough enough, but imagine not having access to mobility equipment to get around. Thankfully, there’s a nonprofit that helps people who can’t afford or fall through the cracks of health insurance.


Alternatives in Motion enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing independence through access to mobility equipment.


The nonprofit’s vision is to be the central hub in West Michigan for recycling, distributing, and maintaining mobility devices for those in need. Alternatives in Motion had its beginnings in 1993, after the brother-in-law of founder George Ranville, a Grand Rapids native, got into a tragic accident. As Ranville struggled to help his brother-in-law attain proper — but expensive — equipment, he saw an opportunity to help the disabled community.


The new nonprofit began raising money and making its cause known, believing that access to mobility equipment is the path to independence for those in need. Since then, Alternatives in Motion, which remains entirely funded by independent donations, has continued to grow and strives to keep up with the need for mobility equipment.


The organization’s mission is to provide wheelchairs to individuals who do not qualify for other assistance and who could not obtain such equipment without financial aid. By creating access to mobility equipment and repair services for those in need, Alternatives in Motion gives them the independence and quality of life they deserve.


If you or someone you know needs mobility equipment, apply here. (You must live in West Michigan to qualify.) For more information go to the website or call 616.493.2620.


Your Community in Action: Hot Weather Safety for Older Adults

By ACSET Community Action Agency


Everyone is looking for ways to stay cool under the summer sun, but it is even more important for older adults. Seniors are more vulnerable to heat because their bodies don’t adjust as well to temperature changes. Medical conditions and medications can also make it hard for their bodies to regulate temperature or can cause dehydration. In fact, a recent study found that 40% of heat-related deaths in the US were among people over 65.


It is important to know the signs of heat stroke so steps can be taken to treat it as soon as possible. Symptoms include:

  • Body temperature over 104 degrees
  • Changes in behavior, like acting confused or agitated
  • Dry, red skin
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Heavy breathing or a fast pulse
  • Lack of sweating when it’s hot out
  • Fainting

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, take steps to cool down and seek medical help. Use these tips to stay cool and prevent heat stroke this summer:


Drink plenty of water. Even if you don’t feel thirsty, be sure to drink plenty of cool water and avoid coffee and alcohol.


Eat light. Eat small portions of cold meals like salads. Hot, heavy meals like pot roast can increase your body temperature.

Keep the house cool. You may avoid running the air conditioning to save money, but in a heat wave it can be a life-saver. Keep your air conditioner filters clean to help them run more efficiently. Close your blinds to keep sunlight out and decrease the need for the air conditioner to work as hard.

Keep yourself cool. Wet a towel with cool water and place it on your wrists, face and back of your neck. Sit with your feet in a pan of cool water. Or take a cool shower or bath.


Visit a cooling center. If you can’t cool down at home, visit a public place with air conditioning to get some relief. A shopping mall, library or senior center are places to consider.


ACSET Community Action Agency (CAA) provides a variety of programs to help keep seniors in Kent County health and safe. To learn more, go here.


Your Community in Action! is provided by ASCET Community Action Agency. To learn more about how they help meet emergency needs and assist with areas of self-sufficiency, visit

Emergency Food Assistance: Providing high-quality, nutritious foods to families in need

Your Community in Action!

By ACSET Community Action Agency

The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) is a federal program of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). TEFAP supplements the diets of low-income Americans by distributing nutritious food at no cost to the recipients. In Kent County, ACSET Community Action Agency (CAA) organizes regular distributions across the county.

The USDA purchases a variety of fresh and shelf-stable foods from domestic producers and distributes to states based on their low-income/unemployed population. The items vary depending on the season, availability and state preferences but always include a mix of fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy and protein products. Food items have reduced levels of fat, sodium and sugar and can include canned and fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, milk, cheese, pasta and cereal.


The cost of healthy foods and the accessibility of grocery stores make good food choices a challenge for families with limited incomes. For example, you can purchase a package of hot dogs for under $3, while fresh pork or beef costs several dollars per pound. TEFAP ensures that more families have well-rounded, nutritious meals to eat. And because the food is purchased domestically, it also supports American agriculture markets.


Residents of Kent County who have a household income at or below 200% of federal poverty guidelines can qualify for emergency food assistance. To receive food, individuals need to supply a photo ID with current address at the distribution site. The next TEFAP distributions will happen on Thursday, July 13 at the following locations:


ACSET CAA – Kent County Human Services Complex
121 Franklin St SE, Suite 110, Grand Rapids
Distribution hours: 1-7pm*

Flat River Outreach Ministries
11535 E Fulton St, Lowell
Distribution hours: 9-11am & 2-4:30pm*

North Kent Connection
1075 Northland Dr NE, Rockford
Distribution Hours: 9am-3pm*

*Or while supplies last

To learn more about TEFAP and find a full distribution schedule with locations, visit:

Your Community in Action! is provided by ASCET Community Action Agency. To learn more about how they help meet emergency needs and assist with areas of self-sufficiency, visit

Empowering communities through women’s health

In July 2017, Adejoke Ayoola will collaborate with faculty at Bowen University in addressing issues of reproductive health in Iwo, Nigeria. (Photo courtesy Calvin College.)

By Hannah Ebeling, Calvin College

“The world is a global village. When the Lord equips you with skills or knowledge, you can easily transfer those gifts to bless other people around the world,” said Adejoke Ayoola, professor of nursing.

This year, Ayoola was selected for the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program. In July she will travel to Iwo, Nigeria, and begin a project in collaboration with faculty at Bowen University.

Equipping women, promoting health

Over a period of 33 days, Ayoola will address issues of reproductive health in the community. She will visit both the homes of local women as well as Bowen classrooms in order to equip women with reproductive knowledge and pregnancy planning skills. In addition, Ayoola will act as an adviser in the design of a women’s health center.

She also plans to work with Bowen faculty and staff in community research efforts and in the development of nursing curriculum. “I am passionate about the next generation of nurses, here at Calvin and across the world,” said Ayoola. Since Bowen’s nursing program is less than four years old, she looks forward to seeing it grow and expand in future years.

Ayoola is excited about the work she will be doing in her home country, Nigeria. “I see it as my vocation, as my God calling. This will be an opportunity to use what I’ve learned to care for women and share my knowledge with another institution,” said Ayoola.

Ayoola believes the previous experience she gained at Calvin College facilitating both the Preconception Reproductive Knowledge Promotion Program and the H.E.A.L.T.H Camp (Health, Education, and Leadership Training for a Hopeful future) equipped her with the tools needed to design reproductive health programs at Bowen University.

Collaboration with community

After sharing how she has been promoting women’s health in her own community, Ayoola inquired about the needs of Bowen University and the local community. She hopes to be able to utilize her own skillset in the creation of an entirely unique program for the women of Iwo, Nigeria.

“We will not be truly addressing the issue if we go in with our own preconceived ideas,” said Ayoola.

Ayoola is going to great lengths to understand the needs of the community she will be serving before initiating a project, and she says it is vital that the people who will be using the center are involved in its establishment. “The community has to own it, design it and implement it for the project to be relevant, effective and sustained,” said Ayoola.

Ayoola and her team will be using a variety of community-based research methods in order to ensure the project will be as effective as possible. One way they hope to gain insight is through surveys. “We need to use those as a way of listening to the communities needs and involving them in the process,” said Ayoola.

Opportunity for growth

Ayoola says at the heart of this project is the promotion of scholarship, research, community collaboration and cultural exchange. She believes this project will expand into a long-term partnership and sees the possibility of collaborations with another faith-based institution in the future.

Although she is not working with Calvin students on this project, Ayoola predicts in the coming years there will be opportunities for students to visit the center. “This is the beginning of so many great things that fit with what we are called to here, at Calvin.”

Copyright Calvin College, reprinted by permission.

Make your food dollars go further at the farmers’ market

Your Community in Action!

By Community Action Partnership of Kent County


The summer months in Michigan offer plenty of locally grown, fresh and healthy food choices. But what if you rely on food assistance dollars for your grocery budget? Can you use them at the farmers market or a roadside stand? The answer is yes! There are programs specially designed to help everyone access local produce.

Double Up Food Bucks
This program will match the money you spend on SNAP-eligible foods at the farmers market using your Bridge card. You can receive up to $20 in Double Up Food Bucks per market day. Just take your SNAP Bridge card to the market’s office or info booth before you shop. Learn more here.

WIC (Women Infant and Children) clients qualify for this program. Clients can receive five coupons worth $5 each to spend on fresh, local produce. Coupons can be used any time between June 1 and October 31. Vendors and/or farmers markets must have a contract to accept the coupons and will have a sign posted reading “Project FRESH Coupons Accepted Here.” Learn more about Project FRESH here.

Senior Market FRESH
Similar to the WIC program, Market FRESH provides eligible seniors with ten coupons worth $2 each to use with vendors/farmers markets contracted to accept them. Coupons are accepted June 1 through October 31, and participating vendors/farmers will have a sign posted reading “Senior Project FRESH/Market FRESH Welcome Here.” Learn more about the program and eligibility here.

The following farmers markets in Kent County participate in the Double Up Food Bucks, Project FRESH and Market FRESH programs.

  • Byron Center: Byron Farmers Market
  • Grand Rapids: Fulton Street Farmers Market, Southeast Area Farmers’ Market
  • Kentwood: Kentwood Farmers Market
  • Wyoming: Metro Health Farm Market

You can search all farmers markets and filter by what food assistance benefits are accepted at:

Your Community in Action! is provided by ASCET Community Action Agency. To learn more about how they help meet emergency needs and assist with areas of self-sufficiency, visit

Exalta Health on mission to provide medical care to underserved community

Exalta Health provides health care to an underserved population at two clinics, one in the 2000 block of Division Avenue. See close up of plaque below. (WKTV/K.D. Norris)

K.D. Norris


Exalta Health is a south Division Avenue based healthcare provider for low income residents of Wyoming, Kentwood and south Grand Rapids — serving patients who “have no place else to go,” the organization likes to say.


“There is a saying in health care that the best predictor of you heath is not your genetic code but you zip code,” President Bill Paxton said during a recent taping of WKTV Journal’s new “In Focus” public affairs program. “What we know is where people live is often reflective of their access to good health care services. It is really reflective of socio-economic status.


President Bill Paxton and Medical Director Laura Vander Molen of Exalta Health. (WKTV)

“What we are seeing is that people who have less income, less revenue, have poor health and poor access to health care — and that is across the country. Both in rural areas and in urban areas such as Wyoming and Kentwood and Grand Rapids. … What we see is that people with lower income often have other barriers to health care — cultural barriers, language barriers, transportation barriers.”


For a YouTube video of the complete “In Focus” segment, visit here.


Exalta works to break down those barriers to health care by providing “compassionate … quality … and accessible care” at its Clínica Centro, at 2060 Division Ave S, and its South Clinic at Streams of Hope, 280 60th Street SE.


We provide “mainly primary care, that’s medical care, trying to have patients have continuity care with the provider,” said Medical Director Dr. Laura Vander Molen. “We also have dental care — in the past we have separated dental care from medical care but now we are trying to see the patient as a whole person.”


Exalta has many care providers who either work or volunteer at their clinics, but it also works with community partners — including Spectrum Health, Mercy Health St. Mary’s, and Metro Health-University of Michigan Health — for speciality care services. But that sometimes leads to problems for patients.


“We work to get our patients in to see specialists if they need care beyond us,” Vander Molen said. “But when we send people out for speciality care, that tends to drive up the costs” and “becomes an insurance issue” for the patients.


“We (also) try to educate people on chronic diseases, so we do a class for people with diabetes. We also have behavioral health, which includes medical and social workers, and also counseling for our patients who may be struggling with behavioral health issues.”


Lastly, she said, there is spiritual support if needed and requested.


“We also have spiritual care. We feel that people are emotional, spiritual and physical, so we are trying to meet all those needs,” Vander Molen said.


Plaque at entrance to Exalta Health’s Division Avenue clinic and office. (WKTV/K.D. Norris)

While Exalta is proud that it is a religiously-motivated organization, Paxton makes clear they are more focused on serving the community than spreading the Gospel.


“We are a Christian organization, that is really our motivation for doing what we do,” Paxton said. But “overall, what we really want to see is a healthy community. Reflecting what we think the call is to us — as Christians, to do as Christ would do — to show compassion, and (provide) quality care. That is why we do what we do.”


For more information on Exalta Heath, call 616-475-8446 or visit


Get ’em outside: Godfrey-Lee Early Childhood Center opens outdoor learning lab

Godfrey-Lee Early Childhood Center math coach Debbie Schuitema, right, and David Britton, retiring superintendent of Godfrey-Lee Public Schools, could not keep the students at the from jumping the gun on the ribbon cutting of a new outdoor classroom. (WKTV/K.D. Norris)

By K.D. Norris


There was a classroom full of kids playing outdoors of the Godfrey-Lee Early Childhood Center building Thursday, June 8, as the school district held the grand opening of its new Outdoor Learning Lab.


The adults present — including the incoming superintendents of Godfrey-Lee Public Schools — spoke about the “educational” advantages of the facility. The kids? They just liked being able to climb on things and roll down a hill and dig in the sand.


And that is just the way the two teachers who spearheaded the project — Debbie Schuitema and Julie Swanson — wants it: an outdoor education opportunity that looks a lot like play.


Debbie Schuitema, left, and Julie Swanson. (WKTV)

“Students are naturally curious, and when you bring them out here, without books, when you take a way some of the parameters, and rules and procedures, you allow them to be creative, curious and intuitive,” Schuitema, who teaches math at the center, said to WKTV. “The things they come up with is just amazing, and that leads to more learning. You can take that back inside and build on that.”


The facility, located to the east side of the Early Childhood Center (ECC) building at 961 Joosten SW in Wyoming, includes mostly natural objects which kids can explore and play with: a tree stump, a stone and sand structure, a grassy hill.


And Swanson, a physical education instructor at the center, knows the value of outdoor exercise as part of a student’s educational process.


“Discover yourself through play,” Swanson said. “Just something as simple as which way to you hold a big branch, little side up or big side up? They are learning engineering skills, math skills. … They learn gravity by rolling down a hill. … Really just discovering a new way to learn, but they don’t know they are learning. … (We are just) removing the walls.”


The grand opening event featured permanent and temporary activities such as a mud kitchen, rock grotto, climbing hill, landscape berm, covered gathering space/stage, dead tree stands, Congo drums, weaving loom and log steps.


David Britton, left, and incoming new superintendent Kevin Polston. (WKTV/K.D. Norris)

But the most important things the facility brings is the ability just to be outdoors, according to soon-to-retire district superintendent David Britten, who was present at the event along with the incoming new superintendent Kevin Polston.


“Kids today are spending far too much time indoors — it is a criticism of education in general. We are far too focused on content learning and memorization and test taking,” said Britten, who was a big supporter of the project. “We have lost some of these outdoor areas, places for kids to play in.


“So, as I walked along here a few years back, looking for historical artifacts, I thought: What a great place to have kids come out on a regular basis, and learn,” he said. “Find what native plant species that are here, what are invasive; what kind of birds and animals live in this environment. How can we make it better for them? How can we keep plaster creek clean? How can we protect the environment itself, so we can all enjoy it.”


Aside from the support of the superintendent, other supporters thanked at the facility opening include Women Who Care Grand Rapids, City of Wyoming Public Works, Dykema Excavators, DeWitt Landscape and Design, TonTin Lumber and The Stone Zone.


Special thanks were also given to East Lee students, Lee Middle School students, the Plaster Creek Watershed, Groundswell and — especially — the Godfrey Lee Board of Education.


“So many different people donated their time and energy to this,” said Swanson. “The Godfrey-Lee board of education, allowing us to do this without strings attached — that allowed us to be so creative. We really want to thank our board and our superintendent.”


Metro Health–U of M Health, Foundation Radiology Group expand medical imaging for region


By Jennifer Hoff, Metro Health Hospital


Metro Health–University of Michigan Health has signed physician‐led Foundation Radiology Group to provide all patient imaging services. The 208‐bed acute care teaching hospital serving Kent County and the surrounding Grand Rapids area will make the transition to Foundation Radiology for medical imaging services beginning July 1.


Foundation Radiology provides onsite imaging leaders supported by a team of radiologists with expertise across subspecialties and imaging modalities available at all hours.


“In order to continue to provide the high quality of care our patients expect and deserve, we are pleased to forge this relationship with Foundation Radiology Group,” said Mike Faas, Metro Health–University of Michigan Health president and CEO. “In our partnership, we are pleased to provide 24/7, 365-day interventional and neurointerventional coverage, as well as on‐site radiologists for our patients. As Metro continues to grow, we will be ready to support that growth.”


“Foundation Radiology and Metro Health share a common mission of putting patient well‐ being at the center of all we do,” said Foundation CEO Richard Vance, MD. “We’re looking forward to working closely with all the physicians, hospital staff and the communities that Metro Health serves.”


Foundation pioneered its “hybrid” radiology model in 2007 and has implemented it in dozens of health systems and integrated delivery networks.


“We call it an academy at your fingertips. Having boots‐on‐the‐ground radiologists offering onsite leadership along with on‐demand, subspecialist care available every minute of the day is radically different,” said Chief Medical Officer, James Backstrom, MD. “When you have 100% of critical findings delivered in under 20 minutes with more accurate diagnoses — you’re not only supporting the growth of hospital centers of excellence, you are saving lives.”


Its focus on value‐based care and improving quality has fueled the significant growth of Foundation as one of the nation’s largest radiology organizations. Vance reported this week the physician‐founded company has doubled revenue in the past three years.


Staying out of the closet: Reaching out to LGBT seniors

By Regina Salmi, Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan


Over the past few years, our society’s acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people has changed rapidly, particularly with the Supreme Court decision around marriage. We have openly gay people as neighbors, friends, grandchildren, children, service professionals — over the past 20 years, LGBT people have become steadily more visible in our society. While society has taken great strides toward acceptance of LGBT citizens, what remains invisible are the issues and challenges that LGBT elders face as begin to require services.

There are currently about 1.5 million people age 65+ who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual. According to SAGE, an Advocacy and Services Organization for LGBT Elders, poverty rates among LGBT elders is higher than their heterosexual counterparts, mainly due to past employment discrimination, conflict with family over coming out, and a lack of marriage and Social Security survivor benefits.

There are also many aging LGBT people who live alone, without family to help with the aging process. This puts many LGBT seniors in the position of requiring income-based aging services available in their communities. Needing to ask for help though is often a difficult experience for these seniors.

Unlike younger LGBT people, many of our LGBT seniors lived through times in our history when lesbians and gays were put in jail or mental institutions if it was discovered they were gay. Kendrick Heinlein, Contract Administrator with Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan stated, “These experiences of hostility are not always easily removed from LGBT senior’s memories. This lends itself to seniors not seeking medical services available to them which can lead to social isolation, chronic illness and premature death.”

Even today, older adults who are LGBT don’t often find a warm welcome when they begin to participate in aging services. Because many seniors don’t want to “go back into the closet”, they will avoid asking for help, which frequently ends in a health crisis.


“I have heard countless stories of LGBT seniors putting away pictures of their loved ones or hiding things in their homes due to the fear of being discriminated against by their in-home caretakers” Heinlein said. “There are stories of care providers refusing to work with LGBT older adults because they do not feel comfortable. Senior retirement or care facilities have refused services to LGBT seniors because of their religious views or moral beliefs. All of these events are not typical things that heterosexual older adults have to experience.”


This is why organizations like SAGE, the AARP and Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan are working to reach out to LGBT seniors as well as service providers.

Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan is partaking in a two-year project, funded by the Michigan Health Endowment Fund; Heinlein is heading up this project for the agency. The goal is to reduce the isolation LGBT seniors experience and improve the care provided to older adults who identify as LGBT.


“AAAWM is in the process building relationships with the local LGBT community,” Heinlein said. “We are also working to identify LGBT-affirming health service providers for older adults. We will be able to direct LGBT seniors to these service providers when they call AAAWM or visit our website.”


‘Gen Silent’ subject Krys Anne Hembrough

Ultimately, Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan plans to develop a ‘How-To’ manual to share with other Area Agencies on Aging through the state, so LGBT elders always have a resource to locate services.

Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan is not the only agency working to improve the aging climate for LGBT seniors. Agencies throughout Kent County are working to integrate LGBT seniors into the aging community.


Heinlein explained, “The Alzheimer’s Association has a LGBT support group which meets once a month to talk about any questions/issues that they see in the aging community. Samaritas Senior Living is having a viewing of the film Gen Silent, which examines the discrimination and fears LGBT seniors experience. I will host a discussion afterwards for everyone to share their thoughts about the aging LGBT community. Dr. Grace Huizinga, Assistant Professor from Grand Valley State University, will be helping lead the discussion at Samaritas as well.”


The film and discussion will take place on July 11th from 6–8:30 pm and is open to the public.


If you’d like to learn more about this project, contact Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan at 888.456.5664 or email To learn about their services you can visit their website:


City of Grand Rapids and community partners aim to make 50 homes lead-safe this summer


By Molly Klimas


People wearing bright red t-shirts are canvasing some of the neighborhoods and festivals in Grand Rapids starting this June – but they’re not stumping for a political candidate: They’re hoping that homes in the city will Get the Lead Out!

Armed with free lead-testing kits and brochures, these team members from the Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan are letting people know about federal funds available to make lead abatement possible.

“Lead lurks in the paint of homes built before 1978 – and most houses in the City of Grand Rapids were built before that year. Paint flakes and peels, and when improperly scraped or sanded off, dangerous lead dust can be kicked up,” said Paul Haan, executive director of the Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan and gubernatorial appointee to the State of Michigan’s Child Lead Exposure Elimination Commission.

That flaking, peeling lead paint and dust — ingested or breathed in — can be dangerous to anyone. But lead is especially toxic to babies, children and pregnant women. Lead poisoning can cause permanent brain damage and other health issues. (See GTLO 2017 Fact Sheet for more information on the dangers of lead.)

It doesn’t take much lead to create a toxic situation. One gram of lead dust is enough to make 25,000 square feet of flooring hazardous for young children, according to Haan.

“We’re talking an amount as small as the equivalent of a packet of Sweet’N Low — just that small amount is enough to contaminate a dozen homes in Grand Rapids,” said  Haan. “The good news is that lead poisoning can be prevented, and there’s funding to help people get the lead out safely with professionals trained in lead abatement.”

The funding is through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The City of Grand Rapids administers the grant locally and partners with the Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan, the Kent County Health Department, LINC, and the Rental Property Owners Association to facilitate the Get the Lead out! program. June has been designated “Healthy Homes Month” by HUD but team members will be encouraging applications as long as funding lasts.

The most common types of work done to remove lead hazards from homes are repairing or replacing windows, and re-painting or replacing siding.

Funding is available for eligible homeowners and landlords. Anyone living in the City of Grand Rapids in a home built before 1978 is encouraged to contact the Healthy Homes Coalition to learn about eligibility. For more information, please call the Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan at 616.241.3300 or visit Or, contact the City of Grand Rapids Community Development Department at 616.456.3030 or Doug Stek, Housing Rehabilitation Supervisor, 616.456.3672.



Safe and Supported program offers free therapy for LGBTQ youth

An attendee showing their wings at a previous Grand Rapids Pride Festival (Photo credit: Matt Oberski)

Grand Rapids Pride Center and Arbor Circle recently introduced the Safe and Supported Program, which offers free therapy and counseling for LGBTQ youth


By Matt Oberski, The Rapidian


The Grand Rapids Pride Center, in their partnership with Arbor Circle, is now offering free therapy and counseling services for LGBTQ youth. While the Pride Center has offered support services for several years, the Safe and Supported program, which launched in February, provides one-on-one support for youth ages 13-24. LLMSW Sydney Sturm, whose work at Arbor Circle focuses on homeless youth, works with local youth in the LGBTQ community to help them regarding mental and physical health risks including depression, anxiety, and gender dysphoria, preventing homelessness, and offering a safe and welcome environment to discuss their concerns.


At that age, Sturm said, “you’re not only trying to figure out who you are, but society is telling you who you should be.”


As a young adult struggling with their identity as well as possible problems at home or at school related to it, it can be difficult to find accepting facilities and services that are willing to help. Many LGBTQ youth have been frustrated with the current mental health community; with “deadnaming,” or calling a person by their birth name rather than their chosen name, and staff using the wrong pronouns in relation to their gender identity, these young adults have found seeking mental health services discouraging. It is therefore important to have a professional on the LGBTQ spectrum that kids and young adults can come to for support in an inviting and welcoming environment, Sturm explained.


“I’ve seen them open up tremendously in regard to wanting mental health services, which is a great barrier to break,” she said.


One of the major issues Sturm is concerned with is youth homelessness. According to the LGBT Homeless Youth Provider Survey conducted by the Williams Institute, approximately 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ. Sturm estimates that of the clients she has met with in her past work with Arbor Circle and the Pride Center, between 50 percent and 75 percent of youth are worried to come out truthfully for fear of being kicked out of their homes. This often brings a temptation to run away or remove themselves from their homes to find a more accepting community.


With the Safe and Supported program, young people have the opportunity to meet with a therapist on their own terms and receive professional help free of charge. Sturm emphasized that she and staff at the Pride Center are willing to “take any measure possible” to meet with youth and help if their family or living situation is unwelcome or unsafe. This includes meeting at a location of the individual’s choosing, and even helping them navigate the local housing system and shelters.


“What’s the point in working in a community if you’re not going to support that community?” she asked.


Safe and Supported is funded by grants through Our LGBT Fund at Grand Rapids Community Foundation.


For more information on the Safe and Supported program or to schedule an appointment with the Safe and Supported program, go to or call 616-458-3511.


To learn more about the state of LGBTQ youth homelessness in our community, view the Safe Impact Report:


Play smart: Summer is here, and so is tick-carried Lyme disease

Michigan’s deer ticks can be as small as a poppy seed, and if attached care must be taken to remove. (State of Michigan)

By K.D. Norris


For West Michiganders, at least those sticking around the Grand Rapids area and not heading up north, a Memorial Day weekend visit to the Lake Michigan shoreline is a great option if not a must.


(State of Michigan)

But with the un-official start of the summer outdoor season also a Memorial Day weekend, outdoor adventures also bring the un-official start of Michigan’s deer tick season — and with black legged (deer) ticks comes the risk of Lyme disease.


Most humans are infected with Lyme disease through the bites of immature ticks, called nymphs, that feed during the spring and summer months. But these nymphs are approximately the size of a poppy seed, so they are hard to see.


“Prompt removal of ticks is the best method to decrease the chance of Lyme disease,” Dr. Paul Heidel, Ottawa County Department of Public Health medical director, said in supplied material. “Seek medical attention if you develop a fever, a rash, severe fatigue, facial paralysis, or joint pain within 30 days of being bitten by a tick.”


Routinely, ticks must be attached for 36 to 48 hours for the Lyme disease bacterium to be transmitted.


The State of Michigan and local health officials have suggestions to avoid Lyme-carrying ticks:


When outdoors, walk in the center of trails, and avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass.


Around home, create tick-safe zones in your yard by keeping patios and play areas away from vegetation, regularly remove leaves, clear tall grasses and brush around home, place wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas, and use a chemical control agent.


Use an insect repellent containing DEET (20-30 percent) or Picaridin on exposed skin, and treat clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks and tents) with products containing 0.5 percent permethrin — do not use permethrin directly on skin. (Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.)


Bathe or shower after being outside in tick-infested areas (preferably within two hours). And conduct a full-body tick check (under arms, in and around ears, inside belly button, behind knees, between legs, around waist and especially in hair), especially inspect children.


Finally, if you find a tick attached, use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth parts to break off and remain in the skin. Clean the area with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub or soap and water.


May is Community Action Month Part 1: What is Community Action?

President Lyndon Johnson signing the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964


By ACSET Community Action Agency

The Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 established a network of Community Action Agencies (CAAs) across the country as a part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty. CAAs were created to coordinate poverty relief programs and help people in their communities achieve self-sufficiency. Today there are over 1,000 Community Action Agencies serving 99% of the counties in the US.

Each May is recognized as Community Action Month and provides an opportunity to celebrate the work CAA’s continue to do in the fight against poverty. ACSET Community Action Agency (CAA) is doing this work here in Kent County.

ACSET CAA’s Mission: We fight the causes and circumstances of poverty by investing in low-income individuals and families. Through dedicated staff and community partnerships we provide services, resources, education and advocacy to improve the quality of life for all residents of Kent County.

Each year ACSET CAA, with help from partnering agencies and volunteers, serves over 5000 Kent County residents. Most of these individuals live at 100% or less of federal poverty guidelines — that’s $2,050 per month or less for a family of four. They offer a variety of programs for low-income individuals, including:

  • Senior Services
  • Food Distribution
  • Transportation
  • Utility Assistance
  • Weatherization
  • Tax Preparation
  • Homeless Prevention

To learn more or find out if you qualify for services, contact ACSET CAA at 616.336.4000 or find them online at

Your Community in Action! is provided by ASCET Community Action Agency. To learn more about how they help meet emergency needs and assist with areas of self-sufficiency, visit

Caregivers need time off to take care of themselves

By Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan

Being a caregiver is one of the most difficult roles to fulfill, yet with the population of people age 60+ continuing to grow, it is a role that 1 in 3 people find themselves taking on. Some of us are thrust into caregiving due to an illness or an accident. Oftentimes though, we discover that the caregiving role has crept in and slowly taken over our lives.

It might start out simple — taking a loved one to the grocery store on occasion. Then occasionally turns into every Wednesday at 3:00 p.m. along with doctors’ appointments several times a month. On these trips you notice difficulties with money or paperwork, so you double-check their bills, discover they are overpaying, and now you’re a shopper, bill payer, and health advocate. Sarah Sobel, LMSW, Caregiver Resource Coordinator at Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan said, “When I talk with caregivers, often times I go through some daily living tasks and I ask them about how much assistance they are providing to their loved one with these activities. Many caregivers don’t realize how much they are providing assistance on a daily basis until it is reflected back to them.”

We discover we’ve become a caregiver and didn’t even know it.

What starts out as lending a hand gradually grows into another job. The National Alliance for Caregiving estimates that caregivers spend at least 20 hours per week caring for a loved one. Yet, many people in this position still don’t consider themselves caregivers, especially if their loved one continues to reside in their own home. We regard these tasks as the duties or responsibilities that a spouse, a child, a parent or even a friend undertakes for a person they love, so we juggle the caregiver role with other parts of our lives, like our career, family and social life.

Fulfilling the duties of caregiver without recognizing that we are a caregiver can result in stress, anger and ultimately burnout, putting our own health and well-being at risk.

Sobel said, “This is why I encourage caregivers to build a village — whether formal or informal — for the times when caregiving becomes hard to handle. Do they have a friend they can call to sit with their loved one, while they take a walk? Maybe their loved one is a good candidate for an adult day program — where they might receive some attention and the caregiver can have some time off to take care of themselves.”

When we recognize ourselves as caregivers, we embrace that we are going above and beyond typical expectations, and we also then come to understand that taking care of ourselves is paramount to our being able to take care of others.

This realization also opens doors to resources that can help support us in our new role.

“An important part of my work at Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan,” Sobel shared, “is to provide the caregivers with education. These classes are a great way for caregivers to come together and learn about some of the issues they are facing.”

Taking advantage of the resources available in our communities helps caregivers build that “village” Sobel said is important, “In these classes, caregivers can come together — to share with each other about their experiences” and begin building a support network. Getting connected to resources early can also help us assess the growing needs of the person we’re caring for and, if necessary, get connected to professional caregiving services.

If you’re interested in understanding more about caregiving and the resources available, contact Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan at 888.456.5664 or email You can also visit the Caregiver Resource Network website. Caregiver Resource Network and Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan can be found on Facebook.

Harvest Health Foods celebrates 65 years of healthy business


By Silvia Atsma, Harvest Health Foods


Local West Michigan business, Harvest Health Foods, is celebrating a milestone anniversary of 65 years of business. The anniversary celebration begins in May with special sampling events on Fridays and Saturdays, health seminars and special savings for customers throughout the month.


Henry Diedering, now 90, opened the first Harvest Health Foods in 1952 on Wealthy Street, shortly after he came to the United States from the Netherlands. It was the first grocery store dedicated to natural groceries, herbs and vitamins in West Michigan. For 65 years, it has been Harvest Health Foods’ passion to provide West Michigan with healthy groceries, healthy vitamins, and healthy answers, way before Jazzercise or kale became a rock-star vegetable.



Still family owned and operated, Harvest Health Foods has grown to three locations and employs 70 people. Henry’s granddaughter Emily and her husband Mitchell represent the third generation to be involved in the business. While specializing in natural and organic foods and supplements, Harvest Health Foods has recently expanded their wide range of local Michigan products with craft beers, organic wines and many varieties of kombucha.


Harvest Health Foods will celebrate with sampling events on Fridays and Saturdays the first three weekends in May. In addition, there will special anniversary savings throughout the store, free health seminars, give-a-ways, and prizes all month long.

Catherine’s Health Center: Quality care — with compassion

Marilyn discusses her health with registered nurse Linda Lanning at a recent appointment

By Ron Rozema, Catherine’s Health Center


Life handed Marilyn a set of hard blows when her husband died unexpectedly; her cleaning and phone-answering businesses were foreclosed by the IRS in the aftermath of his death, and she had spinal surgery — all within a year. She had no insurance and needed Catherine’s for her medical care, including medications.


Insurance premiums and the cost of medications still are out of reach, although she now is exploring Medicare coverage.


Ten years ago, a friend who also is a patient encouraged her to try Catherine’s. A long history of high blood pressure unresponsive to treatment, other health complications and a lack of insurance meant she needed care she couldn’t get elsewhere.


“Dr. Jack (Walen) immediately sent me to the emergency room because my blood pressure was so high. He’s the only one who has helped me keep it down,” she said.


Although she is thrilled with the medical care and improvement she has seen, it is the way she is treated that really touches her heart.


“Candy at the desk is my friend now, the nurses make your heart happy, and the fellowship is just wonderful!” Marilyn said. “If you didn’t know it, you would have no clue that you didn’t have insurance.


“I’m getting the best health care of my life,” Marilyn said, smiling.


Update: Change of venue/times for Christy Paganelli memorial ballgames


Jake Paganelli (at bat), like his brother before him, will be playing in a game that is very personal for the family. (Supplied)


Wyoming’s Christy Paganelli ballgames remember past, eye a better future


By K.D. Norris


This Friday, an annual baseball and softball game will held between Wyoming and Grandville high schools, the sixth to honor the person and the spirit of Christy Paganelli, who lost a courageous 18-month battle with melanoma.


Christy Paganelli

But the game, and its message, is really so much more — the theme is “Play for Melanoma” but, according to Christy’s widowered husband Dino, the event recognizes all cancer awareness and prevention, and is committed to making sure everyone is aware that melanoma skin cancer can happen to anyone and how to prevent it.


“The importance of this is to just honor lost love ones and those currently fighting a battle with cancer — any cancer — but it’s melanoma that I am really aware of, and I want young people to be aware of the significance of prevention,” Paganelli said in an interview with WKTV. “I am really scared for this generation.”


The two games are scheduled for May 5 at Wyoming High School’s baseball and softball fields, with both games starting at 6 p.m.


The players will be wearing special “sponsored” jerseys in honor or in memory of someone. As a player is announced at the beginning of the game, that person’s story will be told.


The players will have special sponsored jerseys, each with a story to tell. (Supplied)

“Each player has a personal connection,” Paganelli said, who saw the connection firsthand with his and Christy’s sons, who play for Grandville. “Brady played in it last year and he was really humbled by the experience, to see the leadership their mom had and showed. And now Jake is on varsity and I know he will be humbled by it.”


Between innings, an American Cancer Society spokesperson will be reading facts on melanoma so everyone can be aware of the dangers of skin cancer and what the risk factors are. There will also be printed information available for attendees  to take with them.


“She (Christy) was really reserved, she would not really like all the hype” of the games, Paganelli said. “But she would have been in favor of getting the information out there. It is a community event that I am always amazed at, the stories you hear from the sponsors, and it always takes me back.”


All proceeds from this game go to melanoma education and research, as well as student awareness at Wyoming high. Separately funded, the Christy Paganelli Scholarship Fund at Aquinas College, where Christy attended and played softball, funds one or two student scholarships each year.


“Wyoming is a very special and caring community and we are thrilled to have everyone rally around this very personal cause.” Susan Brogger,  Community Manager of Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Lakeshore Division and the American Cancer Society, said in a supplied statement.


Wyoming high continues tradition


The very special cause, and sometimes very personal cause, is not lost on the student athletes either, according to the two Wyoming coaches, softball coach Troy Mast and baseball coach Shawn Veenstra.


A banner donated by Grandville High School for the 2016 event with Christy’s daughter Katelyn, 10, shown. (Supplied)

“I believe the event is special for our athletes as they know the event is for a great cause and they get to represent more than just themselves and their school,” said Veenstra, who with Mast has coached the games for four years, since Wyoming Park and Rogers high schools merged. Before that Rogers hosted the games.


“They know they are playing, not only for cancer awareness, but also for the sponsor on their jersey,” Veenstra said. “A lot of times the kids are playing in honor of a family member or family friend who either has passed away or survived cancer.”


Christy Paganelli, from her high school playing days. (Supplied)

Christy Paganelli played multiple sports at Rogers in the late 1980s, and went on to Aquinas College. Christy and Dino Paganelli’s three children are students at Grandville.


Dino’s father, Carl Paganelli, who has recently had a recurrence of a cancer, will be the honorary home-team captain of the baseball team. The honorary home captain for the softball, Terrance Sommerdyke, is a melanoma survivor, Paganelli said.


Carl Paganelli is a long-time Wyoming resident and patriarch of a family that includes three sons who officiate in the NFL, including Dino.


New hope for opioid addiction

By Metro Health-University of Michigan Health


In the past 20 years, opioid overdose has mushroomed from an anomaly into an epidemic.


During that span, opioid-related deaths in Kent County soared fourfold—from fewer than 20 a year to more than 80.


The strongest predictor of opioid overdose is clear: a previous history of overdose. That being the case, the ER will soon begin giving Narcan kits to overdose patients at no cost before discharge, becoming the first hospital in the region to do so. Narcan is the only FDA-approved nasal form of naloxone, which counteracts the life-threatening effects of opioid overdose.


Called O-180—O is the street name for opiates and 180 signifies reversal—the program is funded by a $40,000 grant from the Metro Health Hospital Foundation.


With Narcan nasal spray on hand, discharged patients who experience a subsequent overdose at home can be treated immediately before placing a call to 911. The Narcan kits will contain two doses of naloxone, along with information about community resources available to overdose patients and their families.


“Our goal is to reduce deaths in the community related to opioid overdoses, while also removing some of the stigma of opioid addiction,” says Crystal Gaylord, a quality and safety nurse specialist in the ER.

‘Poverty Simulation’ staffers make the workshops happen


By Ellie Walburg, Access of West Michigan


Staffers are important at Access of West Michigan.


In preparation for an upcoming Poverty Simulation, volunteer staffers Mary, Cindy, Tom and Rhoeda were busy at work compiling participant packets and organizing materials.


The Poverty Simulation is just one of many programs at Access of West Michigan to create solutions to poverty through education and collaboration. The goal in these seminars is to bring awareness of the realities of poverty and to encourage people to get involved.


The “Living on the Edge” poverty simulation provides an opportunity for participants to walk in the shoes of someone living in a low-income environment. The participant must navigate with their “family” how to provide for expenses, make ends meet and be sustainable throughout the event.


As staffers of the events, Tom and Rhoeda have been working with and learning from these simulations. What began as a way to simply get involved with the community has become a meaningful experience of inspiring participants to engage and learn.


Both Tom and Rhoeda, married, retired and living in Muskegon, volunteer to prepare for the simulations by preparing the packages of money and ensuring all participants will have what they need. At the simulation events, Rhoeda loves interacting with the “family members” working hard to stay afloat.


“I like interacting with the participants,” she said, “watching them get into their roles, with their comments, discussions — they’re deep in thought.”


Tom has also been moved by his experiences of being a part of the simulations.


“I heard a participant comment on how she really thought about it when she had to go do the different things, like leaving her child home to go work,” he said. When families are involved, things get personal.


Rhoeda gets excited about these events, because they’re so important.


“The way it changes people’s attitudes,” she said. “The way they treat people in poverty can make a big difference.”


Mary and Cindy also volunteer in the preparation for the simulation, and equally appreciate the opportunity to watch people’s attitudes change.


“I like to see the interactions with the families,” Mary said. “They cooperate with families, make a community of their own.”


After an afternoon of packing, planning and preparing, the team of volunteers was ready for the upcoming event. For them, it’s not just hours to fill their time, it’s an opportunity to create an awareness of poverty — on a personal level.


And these staffers would know. Some have lived it.

Interested in attending or hosting a poverty simulation at your organization? Please visit for more information.

MI Choice offers options for independence

By Regina Salmi, Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan


According to a 2015 report on caregiving by the AARP, 16.6% of adults act as an unpaid caregiver of another adult age 50 or over. This may be a spouse caring for their husband/wife, a family caring for their mother/father, or even a friend caring for another who doesn’t have family available. As our aging population continues to grow, so will the number of people who find themselves in position of caring for a loved one.

Often when we begin having discussions about those we are caring for, with them or other family members, we often assume that the decisions are “Who is mom going to live with?” or “Should we start looking at nursing homes for dad?” A person caring for their spouse may be reluctant to ask for help, believing that it means they are incapable of providing for their loved one, and fear losing them as a result. Many people are unaware that there are options available for older adults that may not require a move or loss of independence at all.

The MI Choice Medicaid Waiver Program is one of these options. Created in 1992, MI Choice is an income-eligible program providing in-home services to older adults in order to help them remain in their own homes rather than a nursing home or to move in with a relative. With assistance, many older adults are able to live independently for the remainder of their lives.

Individuals in the MI Choice program can receive help with all sorts of daily living tasks, like in-home cleaning services, bathing and dressing, nursing, and meal delivery. Individuals may qualify for services like home modifications, personal emergency response systems, and transportation. For those families who already made the choice to have a loved one move in with them, these services are available to help care for a loved one in your home, as well as respite services for those times when family caregivers need a break. In addition, MI Choice Medicaid Waiver saves Michigan tax-payers money.

Providing in-home services costs far less than a move into a nursing home. Applying for the MI Choice program begins with a phone call to Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan. Applicants to the program are pre-screened for income eligibility, so it is important to have financial information on hand. Once an applicant’s income is verified, a Care Management team, comprised of a Social Worker and an R.N., is sent to the home to do an assessment. This assessment determines what supports are necessary to help an older adult remain at home.

Throughout this process, the individual and anyone else they choose to have involved has a say in what services they want and how they want them delivered. There are supports we may be qualified to have, but we do not want them, or we want less of them. The Care Management team will work to insure you have a say in decisions made about your care every step of the way.

If you are interested in learning more about the services that may be available to you or your loved ones or you would like to begin the application process, contact Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan at 888.456.5664 or email at Even if the MI Choice Medicaid Waiver program isn’t for you, there are a number of other services available through Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan and their partners for older adults, people with disabilities, and their caregivers. Visit our website: or find us on Facebook.


Arbor Circle partners with True Colors to address LGBTQ youth homelessness


By Maddie Werley, Arbor Circle


Think about West Michigan. What do you love about it? What about it could improve?


The first question should (hopefully) be an easy one. The second one is probably more challenging. Change is often scary and almost always involves a long, complicated process. How can one person change anything? Here’s the thing: It takes a community to change a community.


Over the past year, a diverse group of community members has been forming with a shared goal: to better address LGBTQ youth homelessness in our community. Led by Arbor Circle, the group includes folks working in shelters, local businesses, libraries, schools, child welfare, juvenile justice groups and more.


Arbor Circle and the Safe Impact Community Group have announced a partnership with the True Colors Fund to create a strategic plan to better address LGBTQ youth homelessness in West Michigan.


What does that mean, exactly? Think of it this way: the Safe Impact Community Group is a football team, out on the field every day running plays, making moves, and training to accomplish their goal. The True Colors Fund acts as a coach, helping the team develop strategies, facilitate meetings and utilize new technologies to stay organized and focused.


Over the coming months, the partnership will develop a community-wide plan together to bring the number of LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness in West Michigan down to none.


Who is a part of the Safe Impact Community Group?

The group consists of concerned community members, as well as representatives from partner organizations who are working to address LGBTQ youth homelessness. This includes the Coalition to End Homelessness, Grand Rapids Pride Center, Grand Rapids Public Schools, HQ, Kent ISD, Our LGBT Fund, and Wellhouse. If you or your community group is interested in getting involved, please reach out at the contact provided below.


What can you do?

If you’d like to get involved, please contact Julie Cnossen at Arbor Circle. Go here for more information.


Children’s Assessment Center takes action to protect children of Kent County

The Children’s Assessment Center of Kent County is designated as a Darkness to Light ‘Partner in Prevention’.
Staff members are trained in award-winning Stewards of Children® Program for Child Sexual Abuse Prevention.

By Misti DeVries, Children’s Assessment Center


April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, as well as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. It is estimated that one in 10 children will be sexually abused before the age of 18. That means here in Kent County thousands of children are victimized every year —but national statistics tell us that only 14% of those cases are ever reported to law enforcement.


Committed to “Hearing the Story and Healing the Pain” of child sexual abuse and also “Halting the Cycle”, the Children’s Assessment Center of Kent County has been designated as a Partner in Prevention which is awarded by the international Darkness to Light organization whose mission is educate responsible adults  to reduce child sexual abuse. The Partner in Prevention program was created as a national standard to help communities take child protection seriously by parents and caregivers to prevent child sexual abuse.


The recent sexual abuse allegations by numerous MSU and Team USA gymnasts, that went unheeded for years against Dr. Larry Nassar, makes it clear that every adult in the  community needs to take a strong stand against the routine behavior of silencing and shaming victims and allowing perpetrators of status in our communities to escape accountability.


The CAC now offers the highly recognized program, “Stewards of Children”, to parents, community youth groups, sports organizations, medical personnel, faith-based communities as well as others which would benefit from this award-winning training. Stewards of Children will guide adults in understanding the issue of child sexual abuse, identifying unsafe situations and practices, and reacting responsibly in the best interest of the children they serve and care for.


This evidence-informed program is scientifically proven to help participants prevent and respond to child sexual abuse. To learn more about child sexual abuse prevention training in Kent County or to enroll your organization in a Darkness to Light training through the CAC, please email Community Advocate, Misti, at .


About The Children’s Assessment Center (CAC)
The only agency in Kent County providing child-centered comprehensive services to victims and survivors of child sexual abuse all under one roof: forensic interview, investigative reporting, medical examination and therapy, the agency sees 800 children annually.


The CAC created the KIDZ Have Rights © “Your Body Belongs to You” prevention program and offers it to over 20,000 students in Kent County annually.

In addition to CAC staff, GRPD and the Kent County Sheriff’s department each have three detectives stationed full time at the Center to investigate suspected child sexual abuse cases. Four Child Protective Services investigators also work out of the CAC.


To learn more about CAC’s services, community events and trainings, or information on how to report, please visit the website.


About Darkness to Light
Darkness to Light (D2L) has championed the movement to end child sexual abuse since its founding in 2000. With affiliates in all 50 U.S. states and 16 additional countries, D2L provides individuals, organizations, and communities with the tools to protect children from sexual abuse. To date, the D2L network of 7,000 authorized facilitators has trained over 900,000 parents, youth serving professionals, and organization volunteers in D2L’s award-winning Stewards of Children® child sexual abuse prevention program.

Feedback Concert at Founders to raise support for Access of West Michigan


By Ellie Wahlburg, Access of West Michigan


What better way to support the community than through listening to local artists, enjoying delicious food and drink and having the opportunity to win prizes.


On Sunday, April 9 from 4-10 p.m., Access of West Michigan is hosting the annual Feedback Concert, held at Founders Brewing Co. in Grand Rapids.


The evening will feature three great local artists who also call Grand Rapids home. The Legal Immigrants, Conrad Shock and The Noise and the Honeytones will light up the stage with their unique sound and high energy.


Founders Brewing Co. offers a venue full of atmosphere and fun.


Access of West Michigan will be there with a 50/50 raffle for prizes to win. A silent auction, featuring cool merchandise from some great area organizations, will also raise support for Access of West Michigan.


Access of West Michigan is a nonprofit organization serving Grand Rapids in developing holistic solutions to poverty by cultivating equitable systems through education and collaboration. Since 1981, Access has been committed to serving those in need and promoting opportunities for access to good food.


Tickets for Feedback 2017 are $5, with all proceeds going to Access.


Come join Access and the community in celebrating and supporting holistic solutions to poverty!


Learn more about the event, go here.

Catherine’s Health Center gets $35,000 grant from CVS Health Foundation

At Catherine’s Health Center

By Mary Alfieri


The CVS Health Foundation has awarded Catherine’s Health Center $35,000 to support chronic disease management and prevention for diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and asthma, improved care coordination and increased access to care programs.


As the need for access to affordable care and improved health outcomes continue to weigh on the U.S. health care system, the CVS Health Foundation is providing grants, ranging from $20,000 to $35,000 this year.


In all, 33 free and charitable clinics nationwide are receiving more than $1 million in grants from the CVS Health Foundation as part of a multi-year grant program with the National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics (NAFC). Over the past four years, the Foundation has donated nearly $5 million to NAFC to increase access to quality care and support the management of chronic disease.


For more information on how the Free and Charitable Clinics will be utilizing their grants to improve community health, please go here.


About Catherine’s Health Center
Established in 1996, Catherine’s Health Center is a 501(c)(3) safety net medical clinic serving more than 6,000 patients annually. Using a small core of paid staff and many dedicated volunteers, Catherine’s mission is to provide free or low-cost medical services to low-income, uninsured, underinsured and newly insured residents of Kent County. Support for the mission is provided by generous friends who share our belief that access to health care should be provided for all people, businesses, foundations, religious groups and others. Catherine’s Health Center does not discriminate; services are available to the broader community. Learn more at

About the CVS Health Foundation
The CVS Health Foundation is a private charitable organization created by CVS Health that works to build healthier communities, enabling people of all ages to lead healthy, productive lives. The Foundation provides strategic investments to nonprofit partners throughout the U.S. who help increase community-based access to health care for underserved populations, create innovative approaches to chronic disease management and provide tobacco cessation and youth prevention programming. To learn more about the CVS Health Foundation and its giving, go here.

Poverty simulation at Metro Health asks, “What could we do differently?”

Health professionals gather in “families” in preparation to experience a “month” in poverty. Photo by Ellie Walburg

By Ellie Walburg, Access of West Michigan


Reading a news article about someone living in poverty is one thing.


Actually experiencing it is another.


Metro Health Hospital Services recently hosted a poverty simulation workshop with Access of West Michigan. The goal of the poverty education program is to create awareness of the realities of poverty and bring inspiration for change in an experiential way.


Participants in the ‘Living on the Edge’ poverty simulation at Metro Health were assigned profiles detailing their name, age, family, income level and other related details. Each “family” then completed four weeks, made up of 15-minute increments, in providing groceries, paying bills, attending doctor’s appointments and other requirements as outlined on their profiles.


Afterwards, participants engaged in small group discussions to debrief and learn from one another’s insights.


Linda Bos is a registered nurse with Metro Health and attended the workshop. She, along with Heather Rayman, were given the roles of a 75- and 72-year-old couple struggling to make ends meet. Bos, playing the role of Anthony Xanthos, and Rayman playing his wife, Zelda, spent each “week” trying to keep up on their mortgage payments, provide $50 for food and make it to expensive doctor appointments.


At one point during the four weeks, they couldn’t buy groceries. Towards the end of the month, they were evicted from their home as they couldn’t provide proof of their mortgage payment.


Mobility was also a major issue for them.


‘We were struck that we were always concerned about traveling places,” Bos said. “We were never together — it split us up. We never did things together.”


Conversations about how they were doing or if they wanted to plan a vacation never arose during their time of balancing their meager budget and keep all their bills afloat “We sure didn’t talk about anything fun,” Bos added.


To accompany the small social assistance check they received for the month, Bos sought out other options.


“I also tried to get a job, but there was age discrimination,” she said. “There were forms to fill out that were difficult.”


Access of West Michigan Staffers share their own story of poverty during group discussions. Photo by Ellie Walburg

Not having an opportunity for additional income made balancing finances even more troublesome.


“There was no way out for us,” Bos said. “Neither one of us could get a job.”


Rayman was reminded, “Don’t forget we have to eat at some point in our life,” as she recalled the struggle of purchasing weekly groceries.


For both Bos and Rayman, living life as an elderly couple with little money was an eye-opening experience.


“Everything was tension-producing rather than pleasurable,” Bos noted.


That tension is something Bos knows first-hand. While currently employed and doing well, she has felt that same stress.


“There was a time when I didn’t have money to buy diapers, when we didn’t have money to pay the mortgage,” she said


Bos and Rayman agreed that this simulation could change the way they work with their patients and others they encounter.


“I think for me, I’ll be much more cognizant of transportation needs,” Bos said. “I’ll think, ‘What can I do to relieve some of those transportation issues.’”


Bos’s work as a nurse involves serving moms and newborns.


“I try to be very intentional with younger moms,” she said. “I’ll ask, ‘Do you need anything else for your child?’ ‘Do you have diapers?’ ‘Do you have formula?’”


She said she anticipates building upon that intention with those she sees.


“I think so often we don’t want to offend people,” she added. “But it’s really just about asking, ‘I want to help, what is it that you need?’” That intention, she said, can come through her following up with her clients through phone calls or other additional conversations.


Staffers Candice and Cindy are ready at their “health clinic” table to help participants. Photo by Ellie Walburg

Rayman added, “I feel like this makes me much more aware of things like transportation, medication, samples, getting them to a care manager or something like that — things I didn’t really think of before.”


As the simulation event drew to a close, attendees were reminded that while they stopped playing a role in a fictitious family, there are so many in the community who must continue with that difficult reality everyday. And now that the participants had experienced the frustration and stress of living in poverty, they, and all, are left with the question Bos wondered, “What might you do differently?”


To learn more about poverty education and the Living On The Edge poverty simulation workshops, please visit

GVSU Wesorick Center, KCAD partner to host artist for lecture, exhibition



By Michele Coffill

Grand Valley State University


Nationally recognized artist Ted Meyer believes in the power of art to heal both physical and emotional scars.


Through a collaboration between The Bonnie Wesorick Center for Health Care Transformation at Grand Valley State University and Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD), Meyer will visit West Michigan to discuss his journey and share stories of the patients he has chronicled on canvas.


He will present a lecture at Grand Valley in conjunction with an exhibit of his artwork at KCAD. Details of these events, which are free and open to the public, are below.


• “Art and Healing,” a collaborative exhibition between KCAD students and Meyer will run March 21 – April 8 at KCAD’s Helen Miller Kendall Gallery, 17 Fountain St. NW. More information at


• “Scarred for Life: Healing Through Art,” the Distinguished Wesorick Lectureship, sponsored by the Wesorick Center, is Tuesday, March 28, from 1-2 p.m. at the DeVos Center, Loosemore Auditorium, on the GVSU Pew Grand Rapids Campus. RSVP online at


• Meyer will give an informal presentation on March 28 from 5-6 p.m. at the Mary Idema Pew Library on GVSU’s Allendale Campus. This event is sponsored by several Grand Valley departments and colleges.


Meyer will discuss his project, “Scarred for Life: Monoprints of Human Scars,” which highlights the courage of people who have been in medical crises or accidents through artwork. Evelyn Clingerman, executive director of the Wesorick Center, said research shows that engaging with art has positive health and spiritual benefits.


“In the Wesorick Center we role-model and teach others how to create places where people can thrive, not simply survive, and how to apply a health care paradigm that is more than fixing a scar or a body part,” Clingerman said. The Wesorick Center is an endowed center promoting interprofessional collaboration through the Kirkhof College of Nursing.


Sarah Joseph, KCAD director of exhibitions, said she is proud to collaborate with the Wesorick Center and Grand Valley for Meyer’s exhibition.


“Ted’s work is a powerful reminder of how integral art is to the human experience,” Joseph said. “We look forward to seeing the community enlivened and inspired by Ted’s work and mission.”


Meyer is the current artist-in-residence at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine. His artwork has been displayed internationally at museums, hospitals and galleries. Learn more about Meyer at

Wyoming’s Hoop Heaven Basketball Academy announces youth programs

Hoop Heaven Basketball Academy will be holding introductory events this month and in April. (Supplied)

WKTV Staff


Wyoming’s Hoop Heaven Basketball Academy recently announced several youth basketball programs, including a March 11 trial event of its Travel Ball League Play and the Saturday afternoon Biddy Ball program starting in April.


Hoop Heaven events are held at the Elevation Church, 2141B Porter St. SW. The program’s mission, according to supplied material, is “Pursuing gospel transformation and leadership development in Wyoming area youth through the game of basketball.”


The Travel Ball League Play event on March 11 will start at 1 p.m. and is for both boys and girls grades 3-12. The cost of tryout is $5 per players and you must pre-register. For registration and more information on this event contact Phyllis Harder at 616-498-1128, email her at or visit their website at or visit them on Facebook at /hoopheavenbasketballacademy


The Biddy Ball program will run April 15 through May 13 and is open to both boys and girls K-2nd grade. Both friend (of teams) and entire team requests will be considered. The cost if $55 per child, with partial scholarships available, which includes a t-shirt. For more information contact Eric Vandyke at 616-272-6244, email him at or visit .


Precision medicine is the next topic in the Saugatuck Center for the Arts’ ‘Intriguing Conversation’ series

The new concept of “precision medicine” and how it’s revolutionizing the delivery of healthcare is the next topic in the Saugatuck Center for the Arts’ Intriguing Conversation series. The free program takes place Tuesday, Feb. 21, at its new morning time of 8 – 9 a.m.


Big data analytics, artificial intelligence, pharmacogencomics, and wearable are all under the umbrella of “precision medicine.  Dr. Adam Kadlec will dig into these topics and answer questions about how the intersection of technology and medicine is changing how we manage our own health care and interact with our health care providers.


Kadlec is a fellowship-trained Endourologist with expertise in all forms of minimally invasive surgery. He earned his undergraduate and medical degrees with highest honors at the University of Wisconsin and completed residency training in Urology and a fellowship in Endourology and Minimally Invasive Surgery at Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois.


Kadlec practices at the Western Michigan Urological Associates. His model of care is shared decision making, and he’s passionate about building long-term and trusting relationships with his patients as he helps them navigate health-related decisions both big and small.


Mix and mingle, grab a cup of coffee and breakfast nibbles from Uncommon Grounds, and take a peek into the future of technology and medicine.


The Saugatuck Center for the Arts is located at 400 Culver, Saugatuck. More information on this event can be found by visiting or calling 269-857-2399.

From data collected to battery life, there’s a lot to consider before purchasing a fitness monitor

By Deidre Burkholder
It seems to be that the last trend in fitness is the merging of fitness and technology. Pedometers got us started a while back but as the smartphones came into our lives the pedometer had to go high tech as well. With in a few years a plethora of options were on the market. I dip my toe into two different devices and spoke to friends who had other devices. Here’s what our opinions on a few of the options out there.
I turned to Groupon hoping for a good deal on something nice and affordable. Several options laid before from the cheap Fitbit wannabe’s to higher end devices. The Jawbone Up24 caught my eye. A refurbished model that would track steps and sleep as well as various food and drink I consume throughout the day. At $30 it seemed like a nice entry level option.
A week after purchasing it arrived in the mail. Setup was quick and easy. It came with its own USB changing adapter that I can plug into my computer or phone wall charging port. Once charged, I downloaded the free app and connected the wristband to my phone via bluetooth. After that it was time to set some goals, 3 goals to be exact. Move, sleep and weight. While many people are being told that they should get 10,000 steps in a day, I decided not jump on that band wagon and settled for 8,000 steps a day. Sleep however, I thought, 8 hours still sounded good and well a lady never discuss her weight.
As directed, I wore the band on my non dominate wrist and I wore it continually, except in water. The band is not recommended for full submersion into water. Wash your hands and get splashed but do not bath or swim with it. The band is semi flexible so putting it on doesn’t take a lot of effort and took only maybe a day or two to get used to having on my wrist. Along with tracking my steps through the day, it also tracked my sleep, as long as I did not remove the Jawbone from my wrist. This was interesting to me as I’m not 100 percent sure what type of Harry Potter magic is involved, but every morning I got a sleep log review that showed a variety of sleep facts: It took me 29 minutes to fall asleep last night. Of the 6 hours and 56 minutes I was in bed, 3:17 minutes were a sound sleep while the rest was light sleep. After 7 days I can see a trend of what my sleep patterns are like.
Of course the idea for me having this partly was to be moving more. The built in health coach chimes in facts and tidbits and reminds me that I just need 347 more steps to beat my daily average for the last 7 days. The band provides a gentle buzz after I’ve been sedentary for 90 minutes. The battery life was one of the things I liked the most as on average a full charge would last anywhere from 12-14 days. For a device that is on me collecting data nearly 24/7, I think that is outstanding.
Now the particular mode I bought has been discontinued but the link in the article shows you the current Jawbone line up.  I was fairly happy with it overall.
FitBit – Fitbit has been around for several years now and continues to be one of the leaders in activity tracking. Two friends of mine wear their Fitbits daily. Courtney who recent upgrade from the Fitbit Flex to the Fitbit Alta is very happy with the features even though it lacks a heart rate monitor. While it is heavier than her old Fitbit Flex, it was easy to adjust to and she found that the step tracking is very accurate. Her Alta will giver her a gentle reminder to move when she’s moved less than 250 steps in a hour. The battery life is about a week and charges over night, just like you. 😉
While Courtney is looking at being overall healthy and losing a tiny, tiny amount of weight, my friend Nathan was hoping that his FitBit Surge would help him gain better movement tracking and sleep. A auto sensing sleep feature comes with most models. The Surge is one of the the top end models from Fitbit that also allow not just heart rate monitoring but also receive notifications from your phone such as phone calls and texts and it plays music.
A weekly summary is mailed to Fitbit owners so they may review their activity and make adjustments as they see fit.
Leaf Nature – One thing that seems to be a trend is that the majority or tracking devices have to be worn on your wrist and they are not that stylish. Enter Bellabeat and its fashion versatile Leaf. This device worn by my friend Amy can easily be worn on your wrist like many others on the market. However if you want to free the wrist you can wear it as a necklace or even make it a nice belt accessory. The companion app gives you many of the same useless data recordings. While it does lack heart monitoring it makes up for that on its battery. No charge needed. Leaf runs on an actual battery. Amy likes her leaf and recommends it highly especially if you’re looking “for something pretty.”
Apple Watch – My watch was a surprise Christmas gift, so I’m still getting used to it. In order to use an apple watch an iPhone is required. Setting the watch was surprisingly simple. Take your iPhone open the watch app and it will use the camera in your phone. Align the watch in the designated area on the phone’s screen and poof the two devices sync up to each other. The watch comes with 2 bands to fit a variety of wrist and are available in multiple styles and colors. Now I highly recommend trying the bands out before buying. My normally thought of small wrist end up more on the medium wrist scale for the watch.
The watch comes with many installed apps including a remote camera app, heart monitor and Activity. Activity is a monitoring system that comes setup with a basic guideline. Your goal is to get all 3 Activities to complete a ring. Your rings complete when the watch tracks 280 calorie Moves, 30 minutes of Exercise and 1 Stand up per hour for a total of 12 hours. I do enjoy the freedom from the phone that the watch provides. I can receive and send text messages, phone calls and email. I can add apps as well like a sleep tracking app, Night sky apps to enhance your night sky viewing options and yes Pokemon Go is also available.
The watch comes with a hand full of faces including the fun Mickie or Minnie Mouse classic face. While it was temping, I choose to make a custom watch face and a quick search on the internet opened my options. Since I have not had the the watch that long I have not really tested out all the features for fitness. I have found some neat insight’s on my heartrate. Appearently Benedict Cumberbatch does not be still my heart, but slightly increases it. Now the one truly downside I find is that battery life is no where near that of my Jawbone. In fact I’m averaging about 18-24 hours per charge. Usually I charge it a few hours before I go to bed so I can wear it to track my sleep.
Now hopefully you have a little more insight into what device might work best for you and your lifestyle. Just maybe a little wrist movement will help you to get moving forward this new year.

“Aging in Place” is the topic of the February Health Forum of West Michigan

Helping senior citizens “age in place” longer and successfully will be the topic of the February Health Forum of West Michigan held at Grand Valley’s Pew Grand Rapids Campus.


“Aging in Place” is set for Friday, Feb. 3, from 8-9:30 a.m. in the DeVos Center, 401 W. Fulton St. A light breakfast will begin at 7:30 a.m.


Panelists are Julie Alicki, social work consultant with West Michigan Area Agency on Aging, and Dementia Friendly Grand Rapids; Dr. Iris Boettcher, geriatrics, Spectrum Health Medical Group; Mina Breuker, CEO and president of Holland Home; and Richard Kline, senior deputy director of the State of Michigan Aging and Adult Services Agency. Rebecca Davis, professor of nursing, Kirkhof College of Nursing, will serve as moderator.


The event is free and open to the public; RSVP online at Free parking is available in Grand Valley’s Seward Street lot.


Discussion will focus on area programs and resources that help seniors age in place, and the support that’s needed. Kline will discuss the state’s plan to provide services for this population.


For more information, visit

It’s not too early to think Tulip Time run 

Want to run through the streets of Holland at Tulip Time? There is a run for you. (Supplied)

WKTV Staff

The Tulip Time Festival has announced the opening of online registration and details for the Tulip Time Run on Saturday, May 6, at Kollen Park in Holland. The run — with a 5K, 10K and kids fun run — gives the opportunity to run or walk through Holland’s tulip-lined streets.


All run participants will be issued a race bib, a complimentary gear check tag and a free beverage ticket, redeemable at the after-party at Boatwerks Waterfront Restaurant. Registering before April 2 ensures runners a participant shirt and a personalized race bib featuring their name.


The 5K will start at 8 a.m. and the 10K will start at 9 a.m. Both races will start at the corner of 12th Street and Kollen Park Drive and finish on 12th Street in the West-bound lane. Awards will be given to the top three finishers in each age division (male and female). The kids’ run will start at 9:15am at the playground in Kollen Park.


Registration for the 5K and/or 10K is $30, $35 after Feb. 28 and $40 on race day; registration for the kids’ run is $10 through May 3 and $15 on race day. A discount of $2 off each registration is available for families of three to five people. Registration is available online at tulip


Metro Health, U-M affiliation brings more choice to West Michigan

By Joanne Bailey-Boorsma


When Metro Health moved to Wyoming about nine years ago, it was tasked with not being just a boutique hospital in a suburban community, but a catalysis to bring quality care to not only its immediate community of Wyoming but the West Michigan region. With Metro Health’s affiliation with the University of Michigan Health System, Metro Health President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Faas believes the hospital has achieved that.


Metro Health President and Chief Executive Officer Mike Faas

“We were faced with trying to clinically integrate and grow while at the same time maintain services and infrastructure that we have,” Faas said during a recent interview about the new affiliation between Metro Health and U-M. “There is having more importance to the community, more market share, more money and new buildings and as these issues kept circling we knew that we needed to get a lot bigger and more significant for some of these things to happen.”


To achieve this, according to Faas, Metro Health started exploring the possibility of a partnership with another institution. Metro Health officials first went to non-profit U-M as the hospital had formed a relationship with U-M providing radiation oncology. However, Metro Health ended up courting a few other possibilities including the for-profit Tennessee-based Community Health Systems. The deal with Community Health Systems did not happen and Metro Health officials began to look at other possibilities.


“We knew one day it could happen,” Faas said of Metro Health’s affiliation with U-M. “We had favored that one the most because we felt it was the best match. Good things came to fruition for all the right reasons.”


In fact the affiliation between U-M and Metro Health is not that unusual especially as hospital officials deal with the many challenges in health care from reform efforts to becoming more clinically integrated. Just recently, Grinnell Regional Medical Center in Toledo announced negotiations with UnityPoint Health Des Moines and University of Iowa Health Care. Several hospitals in the Upper Peninsula have similar partnerships.


While Wyoming City officials have not had any meetings with Metro Health or U-M on the affiliation, City Manager Curtis Holt said he sees it being a great thing for the community, especially since health care is one of the fastest growing industries.


“I have said ever since Metro Health came to Wyoming that it is a great addition to the City of Wyoming,” Holt said. “They do a great job. I think they are beneficial to our community and to our residents which is the most important thing.”


Holt said he is cautious over the dollar value that the new affiliation will bring to the city since it is a non-profit venture and collection from this type of development is limited. The city could benefit from the spin off ventures such as restaurants, stores, commercial businesses and other small industries that develop from the affiliation, he said, adding that he is looking forward to meeting with Metro Health officials in the coming weeks to discuss Metro Health/U-M’s plans for the future.


“I believe that [Metro Health] has been so focused on getting this affiliation in place, and now that it is, they can start to focus on how they are going to make a difference in the community,” Holt said.


Which is exactly correct according to Faas. Now that the affiliation is in place, plans will begin to move forward on various projects which will include the building up of the Metro Health Village. However, the biggest change area residents will see is that for the first time in awhile, there will be a real choice in health care services in West Michigan, Faas said.


“U-M has been providing health care to all the residents of Michigan for more than a century,” Faas said. “Now with this relationship with Metro Health, U-M health care is more accessible, more convenient, and less expensive then everyone driving to Ann Arbor.”

2017 will bring three new services for Kent County older adults

Amanda Haberlein

Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan


The Kent County Senior Millage (KCSM) was passed in 1998 as a way to help older adults live in their own homes. Now in its 19th year, the millage has grown to offer more than 51 unique services, with three new services starting in January 2017; Handy Helen, Community Food Club, and Dental Services.


The KCSM services are available to Kent County residents age 60 and over and may require individuals to pay part of the cost (based on their income). The three new services below will help meet the diverse needs of a growing senior population.


Community Food Club: Some older adults with low incomes have difficulty affording groceries; especially fresh fruit and vegetables. Others without the means to afford food simply skip meals and go without. The Community Food Club (CFC) is designed to help meet nutritional needs, reduce the use of emergency food resources and make sure people are not going hungry. Individuals pay a small membership fee to participate in the CFC and are then given a set number of points for the month. Members can shop at the CFC and spend their points for whatever grocery items they choose such as milk, eggs, fresh produce, meats and more. The CFC is set up like a regular grocery store and includes a check out where items are added up and the points spent are deducted from their monthly total. Members can come as many times as they would like in a month until their points are gone. For more information including how to become a CFC member, contact Community Food Club of Greater Grand Rapids at 616-288-5550.


Dental Care: Regular dental care can be expensive, causing older adults without coverage to delay or ignore recommended dental hygiene. When not dealt with, dental issues often affect the whole body and can cause additional complications and health issues. Exalta Health (formerly Health Intervention Services) will be providing dental care to eligible older adults. Services offered will include general dentistry such as teeth cleaning, examination, x-rays, fillings and tooth removals, root canal treatment to diminish pain or eliminate infection of the tooth or jawbone and dentures and partials for those needing to replace missing teeth. For more information, including eligibility requirements and appointment scheduling, contact Exalta Health at 616-988-4301.


Handy Helen: Due to traditional gender roles some older women may have relied on their husband to be the handyman around the house; fixing the leaky faucets and keeping up with the home maintenance. But, what happens when their husbands are not able to do these chores due to health or memory issues and the role of wife now also includes caregiver?  For some women, the added task of home repairs becomes an additional stress and expense. Handy Helen is a class designed to empower female caregivers (age 60 and over) with the skills they need to tackle minor home maintenance projects. Each interactive series will include instruction in minor plumbing, electrical and seasonal home maintenance. Participants will also learn how to use the more common tools in the toolbox and who to call when you can’t fix it yourself. Classes are offered by Home Repair Services. For more information, including class schedules and registration information, call Home Repair Service at 616-241-2601.


Each year the KCSM holds an open proposal process and proposals are reviewed by the Millage Review Committee, a group consisting of Kent County Commissioners and older adults that live in Kent County.  Agencies whose proposals are approved then make a presentation to the committee in the fall. Funding recommendations for KCSM services is determined by the Millage Review Committee and approved by the Kent County Board of Commissioners. This year the committee and the Commissioners approved adding the three new services above to an already robust list of services ranging from in-home care to healthy aging programs. Funding for the services come from taxes paid by Kent County homeowners and is anticipated to be over $10.2 million for 2017.


Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan administers the KCSM, including a full list of KCSM services, visit