Before and after: In summer 2019, Mary Pearson needed the help of a walker to get around. Less than six months later, she lost more than 100 pounds, seen here walking the indoor track at Tamarac in Fremont, with Gerber Memorial health educator and certified weight management consultant Ruth Barkel, in January 2020
Weight management class empowers woman to turn life around at 62
FREMONT, Mich. (Feb. 11, 2020) – Some people make New Year’s resolutions. Mary Pearson makes New Year’s transformation.
“I told my family I’m starting a new lifestyle,” Pearson says. “I’m done buying candy and baking cookies. That’s just the way it is. I have to change my life. This is how it’s going to be. They know why I’m doing it.”
Between April 2019 and January, Pearson shed 112 pounds, an astonishing achievement by any measure. At 62, after a lifetime of unchecked eating, a diet high in carbs and sugar, and a practically sedentary life, Pearson experienced a sudden awakening when she learned that her developmentally challenged daughter needed surgery to fix her cataracts and allow her to see any farther than her outstretched arm.
“When I found out she was almost blind, I realized I’ve got to do something because if something happens to her, who’s going to take care of her? It’s got to be me,” Pearson says.
Her problem: Obesity.
“I couldn’t walk, I had a cane, I had a walker,” Pearson says. “In stores, I would use an electric cart, and I wasn’t doing much walking at home either. I wasn’t doing anything.”
Pearson’s transformation began when she started following her sister to a weight management class at Tamarac, Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial’s health and wellness center, around the time she learned that her daughter would need surgery.
At the class, called WE (for “Weight Empowered”), Mary and her sister Kathy heard Gerber Memorial health educator and certified weight management consultant Ruth Barkel talk to the room of about dozen participants about personal accountability and taking responsibility for their actions.
“She said, ‘It’s your choice, you got to think about what you put in your mouth,’ and that really stuck,” Pearson says.
Pearson’s pantry and kitchen were the first places she turned to as she began making changes.
“I got rid of a lot of food in my house,” she says. “That was it. I made the decision and I quit eating junk food. I quit buying cookies. I stopped eating the way I used to eat.”
She started walking more. She parked further away. Eventually, as she began losing more weight, she gave up her cane. She ditched the electric cart next. And after five years of being trapped by excess weight and her immobility, Pearson says she finally went Black Friday shopping in 2019 and bought, among other things, new clothes.
“I walked all over the stores,” she says, smiling at the memory of roaming through the shops as if she had been unchained and set free.
Today, Pearson makes the 30-minute drive from her home in Walkerville to Tamarac for her WE class every week, joining about a dozen other people just like her, hoping to lose weight so they can live fuller lives.
Barkel emphasizes that her WE classes tap into the notion of personal responsibility as well as personalized care. She encourages the people in her class to find paths of lesser resistance in their journeys to better health and wellness, to simplify and not overcomplicate or overthink.
“Each person responds differently to different situations, and just as we encourage people to be accountable for their actions, we also want people to recognize that each of them has unique strengths and unique capabilities that can help them get to where they want to be,” Barkel says. “In a group setting, that sense of personal responsibility and discovery can also be a source of shared strength.”
For Pearson, the camaraderie of her WE class is what she finds most enjoyable and productive.
“The best part of the WE class is all of us sharing our stories, sharing ideas, motivating each other,” Pearson says. “We have a dozen people or thereabouts all trying to reach the same goal. It helps us see we’re not alone. We don’t have to do this on our own. Other people are in the same boat, and that sense of support is amazing.”
Barkel chimes in: “When Mary says it’s hard to get in enough water for the day, other people offer suggestions about adding lemon. Likewise, people who struggle with exercise are motivated by other people who like exercise, so they share good ideas and inspire each other.”
Weight management programs like the WE class Pearson attends are central to Gerber Memorial’s social mission.
“We’re continually working to improve health outcomes and meet the needs of those in Newaygo County,” says Jena Zeerip, supervisor of community programs at Gerber Memorial. “By meeting community members where they are and offering a wide variety of weight management programs, we are working alongside the community to do our part to address chronic conditions such as obesity and diabetes. These groups focus on education, support, and accountability and they are critical to the success of participants who achieve positive health outcomes as a result of continued participation.”
For Pearson, motivation came in large part from a mother’s need to care for a daughter, and also from a recognition that unless she changed her lifestyle, she would forever feel as if she were being held back.
“I started watching ‘My 600-pound Life,’” Pearson says, referring to the reality show documenting the challenges of severely obese people. “And I kept thinking, if I don’t do something, that’s going to be me.”
Today, Pearson keeps to a 1,500-calorie diet. She exercises rigorous portion control. She does yoga regularly.
“I don’t know why it took me until the age of 62 to lose weight,” she says. “You’re never too old to change. I honest-to-God thought I was going to be heavy, always overweight. And why wouldn’t I? I was at my highest weight for 10-15 years. That’s a long time. When things stay the same for so long, you think nothing’s going to change.”
Pearson says her family has been supportive as she strives to make her next goal: losing another 50 pounds.
Barkel says Pearson is more outgoing, more open, quick to smile and joke with others, as if losing weight also gave her levity.
“When you’re heavy, you don’t want to stick out because you don’t want anyone to pick on you,” Pearson says. “Yoga teaches you to sit up and stand up straight. I’m more confident now. I have a lot more energy, and I can do so much more. Before I lost weight, when I was cooking, I was bent over all the time. I had to sit down. I had a walker, and I had to sit in the chair. My husband had to tie my shoes because I couldn’t reach down. I can tie my own shoes now. I can stand up the whole time I cook now. I can do yoga. I can do a whole lot of things I couldn’t do before.”
Pearson’s next move is to attend classes with the Tamarac membership her son got her for Christmas. She wants to use the hot tub, exercise on the treadmill and lift weights. Her blood pressure has gone down. Her back no longer hurts. Her healthcare providers are shocked at her progress and she says they keep telling her how happy they are with how far she’s come in just a few months.
“If I can do it, when I thought that no way would I ever change, then anyone can do it,” Pearson says. “You don’t have to accept the way you are. You can change. You can change. You don’t have to accept who you are.”
For more information about the Weight Empowered (or WE) class, call 924.3073, or sign up in person at Tamarac, 1401 West Main, Fremont
Learn about other weight management programs at Tamarac at tamaracwellness.org
Everyone is welcome to attend the next monthly CEWAC meeting on Thursday, February 13, 6pm-7:30pm at Brooks Township Hall, 490 Quarterline Street, Newaygo.
CEWAC supports environmental education and action that have local impact in Newaygo County. CEWAC works with other organizations and individuals to promote eco-sustainability, habitat restoration, restorative agriculture, right recycling and climate impact mitigation.
“We are seeking input from community members who have a passion for the environment as CEWAC plans this year’s goals and activities,” states Sally Wagoner, CEWAC Coordinator. “If someone has an idea that fits environmental restoration and resiliency, we will help turn that idea into a plan and support their energy and efforts.”
Upcoming activities in the planning are: a Newaygo Home and Garden Show presence and presentation; 50th Year Anniversary of Earth Day acknowledgement; as resurgence of the Earth Hero Awards for local restaurants; and the 2nd Annual Environmental Forum.
“We have a new CEWAC E-news format that anyone can sign up for. It will inform the community of local environmental events that are of interest to recyclers, farmers and growers, youth and students. We inform of issues that impact our environment, and actions that can be taken by individuals or communities to address them,” added Ms. Wagoner.
CEWAC E-news for 2-6-20 can be accessed by clicking this link: CEWAC Enews 2-6-20.
Sign up for CEWAC E-news by clicking this link: CEWAC Enews Sign Up!
“We hope to see lots of new as well as returning CEWAC-kians! Let’s work together to be good Stewards of our Newaygo County environment!” states Ms. Wagoner.
CEWAC is a taskforce of the non-profit 3R Environmental Education. Visit the Facebook Site of 3R Environmental Education and website: www.3r-education.org. For information contact:
MDHHS activates Community Health Emergency Coordination Center in response to 2019 Novel Coronavirus
LANSING– As cases of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) continue to increase in the United States and internationally, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) activated the Community Health Emergency Coordination Center (CHECC) today to support local and state response to the outbreak.
“We at MDHHS recognize the potential threat associated with this virus and are working to identify any suspect cases in Michigan along with our local health partners,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “To help coordinate Michigan’s response to 2019 Novel Coronavirus, we are opening the Community Health Emergency Coordination Center to assist the multiple public health jurisdictions involved in the response and prevention of coronavirus here in our state.”
The CHECC will develop and distribute guidelines and educational materials concerning 2019-nCoV to public health agencies and healthcare providers as needed. This includes coordination with local health departments, including Detroit and Wayne County Health Departments especially as Detroit Metropolitan Airport has become a 2019-nCoV screening location.
To date, there are no confirmed cases of 2019 Novel Coronavirus in Michigan. MDHHS has issued statewide messages through the Health Alert Network encouraging healthcare providers across Michigan to assess patients for exposures associated with the risk of 2019-nCoV infection, including travel to China or close contact with a confirmed case, and for symptoms consistent with 2019-nCoV infection. This includes coughing, shortness of breath and fever.
The first U.S. case-patient was identified on Jan. 21, and had recently traveled from Wuhan, China. Since that time, additional cases have been confirmed in the United States among persons who traveled from Wuhan, and two close contacts of confirmed cases. Globally, reported illnesses in people with 2019-nCoV have ranged from mild to severe, including death.
Last week, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declared the coronavirus a public health emergency in the United States. In response to the evolving threat of the novel coronavirus, and to minimize the risk of the virus spreading, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has begun enforcing restrictions for all passenger flights to the United States carrying individuals who recently traveled from the People’s Republic of China. Any U.S. citizen who has been to China in the last two weeks will be diverted to one of 11 airports, including Detroit Metropolitan Airport, to be checked and potentially quarantined for an additional 14 days.
According to DHS, as of Sunday, Feb. 2, U.S. citizens who have been in Hubei province within 14 days of their return will be subject to up to 14 days of mandatory quarantine to ensure they are provided proper medical care and health screening. U.S. citizens who have been in other areas of mainland China within 14 days of their return will undergo proactive entry health screening and up to 14 days of self-quarantine with health monitoring to ensure they have not contracted the virus and do not pose a public health risk.
Generally, foreign nationals (other than immediate family of U.S. citizens, permanent residents and flight crew) who have traveled in China within 14 days of their arrival, will be denied entry into the United States.
As this is a rapidly changing situation, more information about the 2019 Novel Coronavirus outbreak and current recommendations will be updated at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC. gov/Coronavirus.
Newaygo Girl Scout Troop 4581 met with members of Newaygo Fire Department and Newaygo Police Department on Monday, January 20 to show our appreciation for their service to our community by giving each department a case of honey roasted peanuts.
By Katie Clark
On this snowy morning, first-grade students wander into the classroom after hanging up their coats, snow pants, and backpacks. Their classroom Foster Grandma is there to greet them gathering up hugs and morning stories. She reminds them to order their lunch and get ready for the day to start. The classroom teacher is thankful for this extra set of arms and ears as she gets ready to start class.
Tori Nader, of White Cloud, is one such volunteer. She’s volunteered in Stephanie Cruzan’s 1st-grade classroom at White Cloud Elementary every day, all day since last March.
“Having a foster grandparent in my classroom has helped my students in many ways., states Cruzan. “‘Grandma Tori’ has established rapport and a special, unique bond with each of my students this year. They are always eager to find out who gets to sit with her at her table in the morning to do Morning Practice. She just automatically goes into grandma-mode when she helps tie shoes, zip coats, fix books, or gives hugs. I’ve had volunteers through the Foster Grandparents program for about three consecutive years, then several years without. This program allows students and senior volunteers to establish relationships and support education. It is much appreciated, and I hope that it continues for many years.”
Every year, our Governor sends out a proclamation recognizing the vital Foster Grandparents program. This year, Wednesday, January 22 was Foster Grandparents Volunteer Recognition Day within Michigan’s Mentoring Recognition Month of January. Through Catholic Charities Senior Corps Foster Grandparent Program, twenty seniors volunteer in the six different Newaygo County Public classrooms, working with students each day to give them additional support. Chelsea Clark, NC Senior Corps Coordinator, explains, “Our Foster Grandparents serve 225 students a year and give a combined average of 46,000 hours of service. Each day, they make a positive difference in the lives of children and teachers. In addition, our seniors find a deep sense of purpose and report the benefits of staying active and having meaningful connections with the children and staff at their schools.”
Grandma Tori is busy the moment she arrives at 7:30 am until she leaves at 3:15 pm. “My day starts with waiting at the front door to greet a student and guide him to the classroom as he is very social. I help him with getting into the classroom quickly. I then work with three students at my table to do morning ‘seat work’. Not that they need help, but because it’s special to sit with Gr’ma. I also work with students by helping to sound out words, ask questions before a test, listen to them read, and sometimes repair torn classroom library books.”
She helps students stay on task and encourages students to continually try when they get discouraged. During the times students are out of the classroom, she helps Cruzan set-up the learning stations that the students will be working on after their gym or music class. Once the students return, Grandma Tori works with one small group at a time with extra math or reading practice. Now and then, she helps them complete an art project-glue, glitter, grins, and all. She takes great care to help students rework or finish learning practices to make sure that they are fully understanding.
When Grandma Tori started with the Foster Grandparent Program last March, she helped to further the building-wide program called Character Cards by creating an end of the year auction. As students demonstrate positive behaviors (respect, on-task, work-completion, kindness, etc) during the day, she or Cruzan will give them a Character Card. Nader then went out and purchased toys for an end-of-the-year Character Card Auction which was a big hit with the students. “The kids loved it as I made sure that everyone got something, and now that they know to expect the auction, the behavior patterns have improved.”
Clark gives an initial orientation training to every new volunteer to the Foster Grandparent Program and then plans and gives her volunteers six continuing half-day trainings in the spring and fall each year. They are trained on meaningful topics such as relationship building, working with youth of different backgrounds and struggles, and even self-care. Clark visits the classrooms on a monthly basis to make sure all is going well and help to solve any needs or issues. “Most of our Foster Grandparents are women at this time, but we have a Foster Grandpa starting this week. We are always in need of more volunteers,” Clark states.
New Volunteers Wanted
Qualifications for being a Foster Grandparent are the ability to give the kind of comfort and love that sets a child on the path toward a successful future. If you’re 55 or older and want to share your experience and compassion, you have what it takes. If you would like to find out more information about the Newaygo County Foster Parent Program, contact Chelsea Clark at email@example.com.
Season starts March 16th
Total Trek Quest (TTQ) is a running-based substance abuse prevention program for boys in 3rd-5th grade. Teams train for a 5k and through games and activities learn about goal setting and achieving, peer refusal skills, how to create pro-social habits, and the truth about substances such as tobacco and alcohol through.
TTQ started in Ottawa County in 2005 and has served over 6,000 boys since. Over the years, TTQ grew into four more counties: Muskegon, Allegan, Kent, and Newaygo. Teams meet at their local elementary schools twice a week for 90 minutes after school. The program runs for 9 weeks in the Fall and Spring. Each team consists of at least 5 boys and 2 trained and CPR/First Aid-certified coaches.
TTQ is looking for 3rd-5th grade boys and coaches of any running experience and gender for the Spring 2020 season. The cost of the program is $45 per participant; we offer scholarships with no questions asked. Participating schools in Newaygo County are: Daisy Brook, Newaygo, Hesperia, Grant, and White Cloud Elementary schools, pending enough coaches and participants.
Our final 5k event will be the Challenge Inspire Achieve (CIA) 5k Race in Newaygo on May 16th! This race will be open to the public to support Arbor Circle and TTQ. Volunteer and sponsorship opportunities are available. Stay tuned for more details.
If you are interested in registering a 3rd-5th grade boy or would like to support this program, please contact Hanna Visser at firstname.lastname@example.org or 616-481-6813. You can support the program as a coach (no running experience needed!), by donating in-kind gifts such as healthy snacks, volunteering at or sponsoring our CIA 5k in May, or donating financially to provide scholarships.
Hope 101 Ministry, Inc., gives a heartfelt THANK YOU to the individuals and businesses who supported the ministry with their donations during our recent Festival of the Wreaths. They are a true blessing to our mission: “with the help of God, to provide a home-based program which offers Christian support, friendship and direction to empower participants to reach beyond their circumstances to a place of stability and self-sufficiency”. Those generous people and businesses are Barb Davis, Sue Ellen McCreary, Tom Briggs, Karen Nottelmann, Margaret Feravich, Newaygo Floral, Shari Meyer, Deb Hoag, Ronald Leyder, D.D.S. Family Dentistry, Hometown Pharmacy, Nancy Noble-Park, Mary Jane Flowers, Jim Maatman, Judy Bowen, Newaygo Family Dental, Robin VanWyk, Kathy Painter, Jim Rynberg, Wendy Cronk, Joyce Pierce, Sportsman s Bar and Restaurant, Nancy Passage, Market 41, Pattie Mrotek, Lynne Dyer, Tracy Marshall, Sharon Cronk, Brenda Liner, M & J Hardware, 37 North, Log Carpenter, New Ewe, Sui Generis, Dottie Pratt, Jen Espinosa, Newaygo Family Dental, Fusion Hair Solon, RE/MAX River Valley, Lori Harmon, Lois Moon, Marsha Laninga, Gene’s Supermarket Croton, Connie Johnson, Rachel Sherman, Norma Scheidel and Kat Snapper. Because of their generosity we were able to raise over $900 to help the homeless of Newaygo County. For more information go to Hope101ministry.com or call 231- 245-8877.
Gerber Memorial’s new nurse midwife excited to empower women to take charge of their healthcare
Fremont– Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial’s newest member of the OB/GYN clinic is excited to help women take charge of their healthcare.
“One of the things I really focus on as a certified nurse midwife is empowering women as they go through their healthcare experiences,” said Katie Van Heck, CNM. “As a nurse midwife, I firmly believe in providing women with information and options so they can be active decision makers and ensure the health care they receive is personalized to their individual needs. Personalizing care is very important because every person has specific needs and goals, and developing personal relationships with patients can help improve outcomes and satisfaction.”
As a certified nurse midwife, Van Heck will provide the full scope of midwifery care to patients in both the office and hospital setting. She is also a lactation educator and counselor.
“Working in a smaller hospital is definitely something I’m excited about because Gerber Memorial’s OB/GYN clinic is providing quality care and up-to-date resources that many rural communities across the country often lack,” said Van Heck, who began in December 2019 and is accepting new patients. “Working in a smaller community allows providers to better connect with patients and the families we serve. Everyone knows everybody else and our interactions are more personal, which allows us to provide care on another level.”
Van Heck has experience providing primary care for women along with prenatal and gynecological care; high-risk pregnancy co-management; family planning advice; and education regarding general nutrition and exercise. Van Heck is an advocate for safe, supported, physiologic birth as well as empowering women through education and informed consent. She takes pride in, and has been successful at, minimizing interventions for low-risk women.
Van Heck has worked in West Michigan as a nurse midwife for four years. She received her Master of Science in Midwifery from the Midwifery Institute of Philadelphia University.
For further information, referrals or appointments, call 231.924.1212.
Gerber Memorial shares tips as flu starts to appear in West Michigan
Safeguards in place to contain spread and protect patients, staff
FREMONT (Jan. 9, 2020) – With flu spreading in West Michigan, Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial recommends residents follow some simple steps to help minimize symptoms and even avoid the flu altogether, including getting a flu shot and handwashing.
Additionally, people are asked to avoid going to the hospital if they are ill and all visitors are expected to be healthy, with Gerber Memorial facilities taking steps to protect patients, visitors and staff. These include asking visitors about possible symptoms and making facemasks available. Staff are also wearing masks in certain situations to contain the disease. (See warning signs for all ages, below.)
“By taking some simple steps, families can better prepare for the flu and minimize its impact as it starts showing up in hospitals and clinics across West Michigan,” said Teresa Fountain, Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial infection preventionist. “Bracing for the flu requires people to take multiple precautions. Even though flu shots are not a 100-percent guaranteed defense against the illness, people should still get vaccinated. And the best defense is really prevention, and that means handwashing, covering coughs and being proactive in staying safe and healthy.”
Gerber Memorial joins the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health experts in recommending the following steps to avoid the flu:
Influenza is a respiratory illness that is especially harmful to children, people over 65 years of age, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems or chronic conditions. Common symptoms include cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, chills, fatigue and sometimes diarrhea and vomiting. Fever is another symptom, although not everyone with the flu will have a fever.
Fountain said patients can treat the flu at home with over-the-counter fever and pain reducers, cough medicine and products. Patients in high-risk groups should go to a primary care provider, convenient care or urgent care if they are not experiencing warning signs. People who are experiencing shortness of breath, numbness, facial or arm paralysis, slurred speech or other heart attack or stroke symptoms, should call 9-1-1 for immediate medical care.
Spectrum Health’s telehealth virtual service, Spectrum Health Now, is also available as an app on smartphones.
Michigan is among the hardest hit states for respiratory illnesses this season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Respiratory illnesses, including RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), can be especially dangerous to the young, frail or elderly.
A healthy visitor is someone who does not have the following symptoms:
WARNING SIGNS OF THE FLU
Gerber Memorial urges patients and caregivers to watch for certain symptoms in high-risk groups and get emergency treatment:
Warning signs in children
Warning signs in infants:
Warning signs in adults
WHERE TO GET HELP: SPECTRUM HEALTH LOCATIONS IN NEWAYGO COUNTY
Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial Multispecialty Clinic – Fremont: 230 W Oak St,Fremont, MI 49412-1575. Phone: 231.924.4200
M-F 8 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sat. 8 a.m.-noon
Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial Pediatrics and Walk-In Clinic – Fremont: 204 W Main St,Fremont, MI 49412. Phone: 231.924.1800 M-F 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
(Walk-in Clinic, no appointments needed) M-F 8 a.m.-8 p.m. and Sat. 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial Family Medicine – Newaygo: 211 W Pine Lake Dr.,Newaygo, MI 49337. Phone: 231.652.1631 M, W, F 8 a.m.–5 p.m.; Tu 6:45 a.m.-7 p.m.; Th 6:45 a.m.-5 p.m.
Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial Convenient Care Walk-In Clinic – Newaygo: 211 W Pine Lake Dr., Newaygo, MI 49337. Phone: 231.652.1631(No appointment needed) M-F 8 a.m.-8 p.m.
Spectrum Health Family Medicine – Grant: 230 S Maple St, Grant, MI 49327. Phone: 231.834.5995M-Th 7 a.m.-7 p.m.; F 7 a.m.-5 p.m.
Spectrum Health Family Medicine – Hesperia: 78 N Division Ave, Hesperia, MI 49421. Phone: 231.854.6415 M, W, F 7 a.m.-5 p.m.; Tu 7 a.m.-7 p.m.; Th 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Virtual telemedicine, through smartphone
Spectrum Health Now, download the smartphone app.