By: Bekka Neelis, Invasive Species Technician, North Country Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (NCCISMA)
Reprinted with permission from the Muskegon River Watershed Assembly Newsletter
Born and raised in Cheboygan, I was new to the area when I accepted a seasonal position as an Invasive Species Technician for the North Country Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (NCCISMA). My main objective was to complete a survey of invasive plant species along the upper Muskegon River. My work required roughly 200 miles of kayaking through Missaukee, Clare, Osceola, and Mecosta counties.
We will use the data collected from this survey to develop an invasive species management plan and to help create a river guide containing information and location on canoe liveries, campgrounds, and public restrooms along the river.
Accompanied by another technician, I began the survey at the end of June and completed it in the middle of August. The perfect time with perfect weather. Thanks to the summer conditions many other kayakers, tubers, swimmers, and anglers joined us on the water.
Missaukee was by far the most beautiful but most challenging part of the survey. High winds and erosion of the riverbank have caused a mess of woody debris. Trees stretched across the river while some were hiding beneath the surface of the water. The high-water levels in early summer made this section more manageable because it covered most of the debris that would normally make the trip nearly impossible to complete. Although potentially dangerous, particularly, to new and unexperienced kayakers, the fallen trees offered interesting and sometimes difficult obstacles to maneuver.
With each river bend came a new adventure. Sharp turns between down trees, building momentum to cross over logs floating just below the surface of the water, and ducking inside my kayak to slide under the fallen trees. The northern part of the Muskegon is mostly quiet forested areas with signs of wildlife at every glance. Birds like kingfishers, osprey, and bald eagles roamed the sky looking for prey. Blue and green herons, and various species of ducks tried to hide out of sight in the cattails and along the bank. Turtles basked in the sun and the sound of pileated woodpeckers carried throughout the forest. In Osceola and Mecosta counties, the river widened, became shallower, rocky, and clear. Peace and quiet was replaced with noise. Geese, gulls and pets replaced the wildlife. Businesses and homes replaced the mysterious green forest, but the shimmering horizon remained beautiful.
One of my favorite but borderline embarrassing encounters occurred the day that I came upon two conifers that had fallen, one from each bank, and just met in the middle of the river. Hoping that there was just enough space to push through the two tips of the trees, I began paddling hard enough to pick up speed to slide between them. Just as the nose of my kayak was about to reach the small opening, I looked to my right and saw a snake enjoying the sunshine on the fallen tree trunk. With a loud gasp, I threw my paddle up about chest height to catch on the branches and bring me to an abrupt halt, filling my kayak with needles. Now, I do not fear snakes but do not wish to share my single person kayak with anything that I don’t invite in myself. However, I did fear the phone call confessing the tipping of my kayak because I was spooked by a small and harmless snake. Needless to say, I chose a different route and pulled my kayak up on the bank to portage around the trees.
Granted, a beautiful sight seen from a boat or riverbank, a peaceful and quiet paddle down the Muskegon River has so much more to offer and adventures to experience. At times the water may seem calm, but it is important to remember that there can be logs, rocks, and a strong current hidden underneath. Different river conditions can be fun but unpredictable, so regardless of age and experience I highly recommend wearing a life jacket throughout your trip and never travel alone. If you did not make it out this summer, start planning your spring or summer trip and be on the lookout for a new river guide to help you on your way. The Muskegon River will not disappoint!
Tamarac Turkey Trot helps one man turn his health – and his life – around
FREMONT – For John Hance III, the Tamarac Turkey Trot is a milestone toward wellness and in many ways, a better quality of life.
On Thanksgiving Day, Hance will run in his first 5K, a formidable challenge for a man who carried a self-described watermelon belly and took prescription drugs for at least three chronic conditions as recently as May. Hance slept with a CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, machine and he weighed 290 pounds.
“I thought life was great, but I was unknowingly slowly dying, as many like me are today, until I took action,” said Hance, a finance and sales professional from Fremont, in a widely read LinkedIn article he published Nov. 8. “I fell into what I call the ‘success trap’ for decades. I would get home from work, get a big dinner, watch TV and go to bed. During the day I put zero thought into what I ate, just ate whatever sounded good, and ate until I was full. Second, third, and even fourth helpings of something good were the norm.”
Three life-changing events helped push Hance to begin the journey out of the success trap and toward health and wellness.
One was his son, Gabe Hance. In July, Gabe, who was going through basic training in the U.S. Army, asked him to run a 5K with him.
The Thanksgiving Turkey Trot came to mind.
“We have always known about the race in our area as they have promoted it well over the last few years,” John Hance said in an interview Nov. 13. “It was the first one to come to mind. It was local, and it was far enough time out for me to use as a great target. As soon as I mentioned it, Gabe locked me up on the commitment right there and then.”
That happened in July. He’d also been warned by his doctor to do something about his health – or get put on what he called “nasty statins.” And his 21-year marriage was hitting a rough patch.
Hance went on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet. On June 10, he walked in the gym at Tamarac for the first time feeling intimidated.
“I just slid onto the first machine that I came to and figured that I would keep my head down and do this for a week or so to establish a pattern, get a feel for the place and get past my feelings of intimidation,” Hance said. “Fortunately for me it was one of the Precor exercise bikes up front that I landed on. I loved bicycling and always have.”
He researched physical activities and exercises he could do. He steadily increased the intensity of his workouts. He bought some good earbuds. He lost 12 pounds the first week. Hance was hooked, and he never looked back.
Over the course of the summer, Hance and his wife April, who kept up her own running schedule, lost a total of 125 pounds.
By the fall, Hance’s routine included lifting weights for 10 minutes and doing 30 minutes on the treadmill, mixing runs with walks, and he’s planning to increase his cardio workout.
On Thanksgiving Day, Hance will run his first 5K together with his son, Gabe, who completed basic training on Nov. 12.
“He cares about me a lot and is very excited that I did what I did for him,” Hance said in his recent interview. “I do not know of any other father to make and keep a promise to his son like that. He was really scared of the physical work in basic training as he had not run at all in preparation. I looked him right in the eye and promised him that I would do it at home also and we could suffer together.”
Sign up for Turkey Trot 2019 on Thanksgiving Day:
Read Hance’s full LinkedIn article: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/surviving-success-trap-how-i-saved-my-own-life-you-can-hance-iii/
Gerber Memorial nurse gets DAISY honor for exceptional ‘compassion, professionalism and gentleness’
Fremont – Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial surprised registered nurse Drue Berry with the DAISY Award recognizing exceptional care shortly after he finished checking in on his patients in the ICU floor, doing what he loves best.
“What I like about being a nurse is doing the little things and being able to help someone through the hard times,” Berry said. “Doing that one little act of kindness that gets them through, I think that’s the thing that I like most.”
As a DAISY Award honoree, Berry received a certificate commending him for being an “Extraordinary Nurse.” The certificate reads: “In deep appreciation of all you do, who you are, and the incredibly meaningful difference you make in the lives of so many people.” The honoree also receives a beautiful sculpture called A Healer’s Touch, hand-carved from serpentine stone by artists of the Shona tribe in southern Africa.
Nurses may be nominated by patients, families and colleagues, and they are chosen by a committee of nurses at Gerber Memorial to receive the award.
The nomination Berry praised his “compassion, professionalism and gentleness” with his patient, a parent of the person who nominated him.
“He openly communicated with me at all hours of the day and night,” the nomination read. “His personality was comforting. He took the time to explain what was happening. He had a calming, reassuring presence.”
Part of a national program, the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses is part of the DAISY Foundation's program to recognize the super-human efforts nurses perform every day.
Nomination forms are available at nursing stations throughout the hospital and patients can submit those forms either by placing them in gray boxes near those forms or by handing them to a nurse or other hospital staff. Nominating forms will also be available at the hospital’s main lobby, as well as included in admission packets.
The not-for-profit DAISY Foundation is based in Glen Ellen, Calif., and was established by family members in memory of J. Patrick Barnes. Barnes died at the age of 33 in 1999 from complications of Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP), a little known but not uncommon auto-immune disease. The care Barnes and his family received from nurses while he was ill inspired this unique means of thanking nurses for making a profound difference in the lives of their patients and patient families.
For more information about The DAISY Award and the Foundation’s other recognition of nurses, faculty and students, visit www.DAISYfoundation.org.
Patients, visitors, nurses, physicians, and associates are encouraged to nominate a deserving nurse by filling out the nomination form at reception located at the main hospital entrance. Completed forms can be dropped off or emailed to email@example.com.
Come to a FREE Quit Tobacco and Nicotine Class for the annual Great American Smokeout and enter to win a Thanksgiving turkey and sides! The Class is on Thursday, November 21st from 6pm-7pm at Vera’s House, 18 Justice St. Newaygo, MI. 49337.
The free class is open to the public, and is sponsored by BreatheWell Newaygo County, Headway Coalition and Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial. “We are going all out to help people quit smoking once and for all at this year’s Great American Smokeout,” stated Caitlin Schuker, BreatheWell Chairperson.
The Great American Smokeout (GASO) is an annual American Cancer Society event that inspires thousands of people to quit for the day or quit for good. You don’t have to stop smoking in one day, start with day one. By quitting tobacco and nicotine use, even for 1 day, smokers will be taking an important step toward a healthier life and reducing their cancer risk.
“The Great American Smokeout is the perfect time to make a plan and get the help you need to quit smoking, stop vaping, or be through with chew,” states Caitlin, who is also a Community Health Program Specialist and Tobacco Treatment Specialist at Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial.
Tobacco continues to be the single largest preventable cause of chronic disease and premature death in the world. Tobacco and nicotine use, whether from cigarettes, cigars or smokeless tobacco like chew and snus, all cause dozens of kinds of cancer, lung disease, heart attacks, circulation problems and even gum disease, cavities and tooth loss.
“Most people who successfully quit tobacco get support from a specialist who has been trained in how to help people break their nicotine addiction and smoking routines. The GASO Start Fresh planning events will help people learn about the best medications, nicotine replacement products, tools and professional help so this time they can quit for good,” added Mrs. Schucker.
People interested in learning more about quitting tobacco, chew or vaping are encouraged to attend our free “Great American Smokeout- Quit tobacco” class on November 21st. Those who attend will receive a quit booklet along with resources about local classes and coaching programs. Participants will also be entered into a drawing to win a free turkey and Thanksgiving sides.
The free GASO Quit Class will be held:
Thursday, November 21st from 6pm-7pm at Vera’s house – 18 Justice St. Newaygo, MI. 49337.
Registration is not needed to attend. For more information about these programs, call Caitlin Schucker at 231.924.7589, or email:
Mary Johnson, Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial nursing supervisor who served in the Army during Operation Desert Storm, addresses a gathering at the Healing Garden at the hospital in Fremont on Monday, Nov. 11, as the nation honored Veterans Day. More than 140 Gerber Memorial staff and their family are veterans who have served in uniform.
Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial receives 2019 Outstanding Patient Experience Award in national study
FREMONT – Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial is the recipient of a 2019 Outstanding Patient Experience Award from Healthgrades, which conducts a national survey of hospitals across the United States.
In addition, Gerber Memorial Hospital was 5-star rated for sepsis outcomes.
"Being ranked among the best hospitals in the nation is an honor. It is a great reflection of the people who provide exceptional care at Spectrum Health," said Gwen Sandefur, president, Spectrum Health Hospital Group. “This recognition validates the excellent outcomes and care provided by our caregivers. It translates to better care and value for our West Michigan communities."
The achievement is part of findings released this week in the Healthgrades 2019 Report to the Nation. The new report demonstrates how clinical performance differs dramatically between hospitals nationally, regionally and at the local level, and the impact that this variation has on health outcomes.
For its analysis, Healthgrades evaluated approximately 45 million Medicare inpatient records for almost 4,500 short-term acute care hospitals nationwide to assess hospital performance in 32 common conditions and procedures and evaluated outcomes in appendectomy and bariatric surgery using all-payer data provided by 15 states and the District of Columbia. Healthgrades recognizes a hospital’s quality achievements for cohort-specific performance, specialty area performance, and overall clinical quality. Individual procedure or condition cohorts are designated as 5-star (statistically significantly better than expected), 3-star (not statistically different from expected) and 1-star (statistically significantly worse than expected) categories. The complete Healthgrades 2019 Report to the Nation and detailed study methodology can be found at www.healthgrades.com/quality/.
For more information on all of Spectrum Health’s honors, please visit www.spectrumhealth.org.
Saturday event provides coats for kids, adults
FREMONT— TrueNorth Community Services’ 29th annual Coats for Kids (& Adults) Distribution was Saturday at the TrueNorth Service Center.
The event had served 421 children and adults as of Saturday afternoon, according to Mike Voyt, Volunteer and Special Projects Coordinator for TrueNorth. Voyt reported a half dozen volunteers took part Saturday, with nearly 70 volunteers helping with set up and the month-long coats drive at 12 sites throughout the county. The groups and organizations volunteering include Fremont Rotary Club, Fremont Christian School, Nestlé Gerber and Randy’s House.
Coats for Kids (& Adults) is supported, in part, by grants from The Gerber Foundation and the Fremont Area Community Foundation. The Burlington Coat Drive, which is done by Burlington in partnership with Delivering Good, and Operation Warm are affiliated program partners.
Conservation officer’s lifesaving efforts at Newaygo motel earn fourth DNR honor
Michigan Conservation Officer Jeff Ginn’s actions last year to resuscitate a man in a Newaygo motel were recognized with a Department of Natural Resources Lifesaving Award – his fourth such honor. Ginn was presented with the award at the October Michigan Natural Resources Commission meeting in Lansing.
Nov. 13, Ginn responded to a medical emergency involving a 75-year-old man who was reported unresponsive at Cronk’s Oakridge Motel, located at 9135 Mason Drive in Newaygo. Within four minutes of receiving the call, Ginn arrived at the scene and evaluated the man, who did not have a pulse and was not breathing. Ginn moved the victim to the ground so he could use his department-issued automatic external defibrillator – a portable medical device that analyzes the heart’s rhythm and, if necessary, automatically delivers an electrical shock, or defibrillation, to help the heart restore an effective rhythm.
The AED delivered one shock to the victim and then advised Ginn to deliver chest compressions. Ginn performed chest compressions until paramedics with Life EMS of Newaygo County arrived. While paramedics provided care to the victim, Ginn continued chest compressions. The AED reanalyzed the victim and administered another shock. First responders continued to care for the patient while they prepared to transport him by ambulance to a hospital in Grand Rapids. While en route to the hospital, he regained his pulse.
One day after the incident, the man was conscious with full neurological function.
“Jeff’s help gave this patient a fighting chance of survival,” said Jason Best, field supervisor at Life EMS of Newaygo County. “It is very nice to have this compassion and helpfulness in a rural county where help is limited.”
Conservation officers live in the communities that they serve and often are the first emergency responder to arrive at a scene.
“I’m honored to recognize Conservation Officer Jeff Ginn for providing lifesaving care to this man,” said Chief Gary Hagler, DNR Law Enforcement Division. “His fast response and training that helped save this man’s life are excellent examples of what a conservation officer is capable of. You never know when an emergency is going to arise, and we are prepared to serve our communities.”
Ginn has been a conservation officer with the DNR since 2006 and patrols Newaygo County. His earlier lifesaving actions include:
Apply now for the next Conservation Officer Academy
Those interested in pursuing a career as a Michigan conservation officer are encouraged to submit an application for the DNR’s 10th conservation officer academy, which will begin July 12, 2020, in Lansing.
Michigan conservation officers are fully commissioned state peace officers who provide natural resources protection, ensure recreational safety and protect the public by performing general law enforcement duties and lifesaving operations in the communities they serve. These officers undergo extensive search and rescue training to locate missing persons and have specialized equipment to navigate rural and difficult terrain.
Learn more about conservation officers and the hiring process and qualifications at Michigan.gov/ConservationOfficers.
Hope 101 Ministry Inc. of Newaygo has received a $4,712 grant from the Great Lakes Energy People Fund. The grant has been used to remove broken, sunken concrete, replace sidewalks and enlarge the driveway at Anchor Home, Hope 101’s three-unit apartment home on Quarterline in Newaygo. The new driveway and sidewalks have improved the appearance of the home and the neighborhood. The cement work by AAA Concrete has provided more off-street parking and eliminated muddy and icy areas, which have been a hazard for Hope 101 program participants.
The Hope 101 Ministry Board appreciates members of Great Lakes Energy who support the People Fund by voluntarily rounding up their bills to the next highest dollar. The rounded up amount, which averages $.50 a month per bill, is distributed to non-profit organizations and charitable activities that benefit people in communities served by the cooperative. The People Fund has awarded over $3.3 million to local charitable groups since 1999. Persons who belong to the Great Lakes Energy Cooperative are encouraged to participate in this program of community support. Contact Great Lakes Energy at 888-GT-LAKES or visit gtlakes.com for more information.
Hope 101 Ministry is a transitional program providing housing to persons who are homeless while they work to become self-sufficient. The participants pay a program fee to live in the home. They must be employed, follow program rules, set goals, and work on them weekly. The program provides a case manager and mentors to support participants. In addition to Anchor Home, Hope 101 Ministry owns Mercer Home on W. Washington in Newaygo, which provides housing for a family with children.
Hope 101 Ministry was started by Family of God Community Church in Newaygo in 2015 but became an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in 2018. Grants and donations from churches, individuals, and businesses support the ministry financially. Volunteers from the community are always needed to serve as mentors, members of committees or the Hope 101 Board, and to help prepare units for participants, to do handyman jobs and landscaping. Interested in volunteering? Please call 231-652-1056 for more information.
Persons who would like more information about program participation can go to the web page www.hope101ministry.com, call 231-245-8877, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Old medications? Drop-off event across Newaygo County on Oct. 26
FREMONT – Got old, expired and unused prescription medications lying around?
The public is invited to dispose of unwanted medications at locations throughout Newaygo County on Oct. 26. The sites will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The locations are:
Organized by the Opioid Prescribing Engagement Network, the drop-off event includes partnerships with Headway Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition and the Newaygo County Sheriff’s Department.
“These drop-off sites are a good way for people to safely dispose of medications that can’t be used anymore, and we encourage everyone in our community to visit our five locations,” said Rachel Uganski of the Headway Coalition. “Our drop-off events are also a good time to educate people about the potential and the dangers of misusing medications.”
Jena Zeerip, supervisor of community programs at Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial and chair of the prescription drug action team at Headway, said: “By safely and responsibly getting rid of unused medications, we can better remove drugs from our homes that are at risk of getting in the hands of children and individuals who could potentially misuse them.”
While Michigan saw a 25-percent decline in the number of opioid prescriptions between 2013-2017, the most recent year for available data, the number of deaths more than doubled in that time span to 2,033 in 2017, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse.