April 2023

Volume 2, Issue 4

Welcome to Spring! We made it!

Amid the warming days and sprouting leaves there are many activities happening at HDNW. We are working to help area residents with requalification for Medicaid, hosting Community Listening Sessions throughout our four counties, gearing up for the construction season, maintaining active clinics, and so much more.

For more specifics, read on. We appreciate your time and the opportunity to serve you.

Leadership in Public Health

Meet Melissa Hahn

With Amanda Thompson moving on to the green pastures of her family dairy farm, Melissa Hahn is being promoted to HDNW Director of Family Health. She has served as co-director with Amanda for nearly a year.

In case you haven’t heard, Amanda is leaving the health department to work full-time on the farm, where they’ve expanded into the cheese business. You may see her at local farm markets this summer.

Melissa has worked in Family Health at HDNW for 12 years. She considers this next step another occasion for growth.

“This opportunity allows me to support staff, impact the community, and advocate for wellness at all levels,” she says.

Melissa is a lifelong Northern Michigan resident. She grew up in Indian River and now lives in Alanson with her husband, two teenage boys, two dogs, and lots of chickens. They reside on property that has been in the family since before the highway was put in.

When asked why she chose to work in public health, Melissa says: “I thought I wanted to be a teacher and then ended up going into nursing. Public health is the perfect combination of both! Using my nursing knowledge to promote health and educate our communities quickly became not only a job but a passion.”

She began her nursing career working in a hospital setting, first in orthopedics and then labor and delivery. In 2010, Melissa became a public health nurse, mostly providing services to pregnant mothers and their young families. 

“I loved every aspect of public health and made the decision for that to be the focus for my master’s degree,” she says. “When the opportunity to supervise and educate our staff on these great programs presented itself, I was confident I could make an even bigger impact in our community.”

Her lifelong commitment reaches from the past and into future. Melissa says that in five years, she plans to be right here doing what she loves to do.

When not leading the family health division, the Hahns are often found at the boys’ football and baseball games. Otherwise, they love boating, camping, ice fishing, and travel.

Please congratulate Melissa on her promotion. We’re thankful for her commitment to the health and wellbeing of our residents.

We Are Listening

Throughout the month of May, facilitation and communications expert Kari Kranz is hosting Community Listening Sessions throughout our four counties. The sessions are part of the health department’s desire to learn more about the public’s perceptions of and experiences with HDNW. There will be in-person and virtual meetings.

Everyone is welcome, but we ask that people register to make sure we have appropriate accommodations. The listening sessions are not debates or politically motivated. Kari will listen, take notes, review her notes with attendees, make any changes needed, and share those results with the health department. We will use those results to grow and improve.

Please attend the session in your county.

Round 1

Listening Sessions will be in-person from 6-7:30 p.m. at the following locations:

·       May 2    Petoskey Public Library

·       May 3    Charlevoix Public Library

·       May 17  Bellaire Senior Community Center

·       May 18  Gaylord United Way Building

Round 2

Listening Sessions will be VIRTUAL from noon-1:30 p.m.

·       May 17   Emmet County Residents

·       May 18   Charlevoix County Residents

·       May 24   Antrim County Residents

·       May 25   Otsego County Residents

Click here to register.

Community Support

When Cristyan Warner was eased into the hot tub for the first time, he began to feel constant pain lessen. It has been four months of suffering, questions, and fear.

“It was the first time I’d seen him smile on months,” his mother Ally Warner says. “This has been physically and mentally devastating for him.”

What Happened?

Cristyan went from local high-school athlete to bed-ridden teen overnight. On September 20, 2022, he woke up in such pain that it hurt to move. He couldn’t get through a school day.

The pain intensified. Many doctor visits and tests later—even involving University of Michigan Hospital, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital and Mott Children’s Hospital—Cristyan was diagnosed with Avascular Necrosis. Interruption or reduced blood supply causes the condition, which results in death of bone tissue and collapsing bones.

In Cristyan’s case, the disease impacted his femurs. In February, he underwent an extensive surgery at DeVos to place cadaver bone graphs in hopes that the new stem cells would improve his incurable condition. He is now amid 90 days of being non-weight baring, wheelchair bound. Still, there’s great pain. And because of his youth and the addictive nature of narcotic pain medications, doctors are avoiding their use.

Locals Help

Through a referral from Carol Francis, a health department nurse working with Cristyan’s younger sister, Ally and Ben Warner became part of HDNW’s Community Connections program. Jodi Mundy became the family’s community health worker tasked to help connect the family to area resources. She discovered that Cristyan’s physician from Mott had prescribed hot tub use to alleviate pain and allow weightless movement.

Insurance would not pick up the cause—or cost. So, Mundy did. She prepared a letter to the community asking for support to purchase a hot tub and have it installed at the family’s Emmet County home. With his younger sister suffering from an immune disease, public hot tubs could not be considered.

“From this diagnosis, Cristyan experiences chronic pain,” Mundy wrote. “This is a lifelong diagnosis.”

She also reached out to the owner of Luxury Bath and Spa Bob Reed to check on the cost of a hot tub and whether he could help with a discount. Bob offered to match community contributions up to $4,000, meaning that his Petoskey-based business would cover 50% of the hut tub’s cost.

Donations came pouring in. Within 10 days, Mundy reached the $4,000 goal. Money came in from the Warners’ friends and employer, as well as area businesses and churches. Reed already had the installation plan in place, and the hot tub is now operational on the family’s back deck.

“He just lives in it,” Ally says. “When he gets in, his pain level will drop from a seven to a four within an hour. It increases his range of motion. He’s able to ride a pretend bicycle and does other exercises while weightless—in hopes of saving at least one of his hips.”

In May, Cristyan will carefully—with doctor supervision—try to stand, testing to see if the bone grafts “took.” If not, he’ll be headed for hip replacement surgery.

While there’s a long road ahead, the Warners find some comfort in knowing that they’re not on the journey alone. Their Northwest Michigan family is offering its own kind of strength and support.

Statewide Recognition

State Senator John Damoose congratulates Jane Sundmacher for receiving the Jean Chabut Health Policy Champion Award at Heritage Hall, State Capitol March 11. Jane is HDNW’s Director of Regional Planning. She receives this prestigious recognition for helping to establish and expand the Northern Michigan Health Innovation Region (NMCHIR), which helps residents throughout 31 northern counties, including Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego. Congratulations Jane.

In addition, the NMCHIR received the same award for receiving federal recognition for exciting innovations in rural healthcare that show promise in improving health and lowering healthcare costs. The NMCHIR takes advantage of regional partnerships that get to the root of what limits access to care and negatively impacts people’s health, called social determinants of health.

Congratulations Jane and all the NMCHIR team and partners.

Leadership in the News

HDNW continues its partnership with 9&10 News’ Wellness Wednesday on The Four. For April, we highlight vaccines, why they matter, and how big-picture results shows how they save lives. Watch the short segment here: https://www.9and10news.com/2023/04/05/the-importance-of-immunizations-and-vaccinations.

Next, airing on May 3, we speak with host Eric Brazael about food safety inspections, focusing on brick-and-mortar restaurants. A summer special on how food trucks and trailers are inspected is also in the works. Stay tuned for more!

Pinwheels for Prevention

Pinwheel gardens have been “planted” at HDNW’s Charlevoix and Harbor Springs/Petoskey offices to show our community commitment to creating happy and healthy environments for our children.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. Thank you to Lisa Clavier with the Children Abuse Prevention and Education Council and our participating staff for spearheading this effort.

It's important to wear a helmet every time you ride, no matter how short the distance or how close you are to home.

Many injuries happen in driveways, on sidewalks, and on bike paths, not just on streets.

Blood Drives

Chuck Edwards takes time to donate blood at our Gaylord office recently.

HDNW just completed its second series of blood drives in partnership with Versiti Blood of Michigan. Since January, about 114 pints of blood were collected at our drives, potentially impacting 342 lives.

In March and early April, donations tallied:

·       Charlevoix – 19 pints

·       Petoskey/Harbor Springs – 19 pints

·       Mancelona – 9 pints

·       Gaylord – 8 pints

Each pint of blood can positively impact three lives, making this latest collection potentially helping 165 people.

Upcoming drives will be shared in our next edition of HDNW Happenings and on our socials with a link to sign up. Thank you all for helping people in need. 

Established in 1871 and first held by John M. Woodworth, what federal government official is the leading spokesperson for public health matters in the United States?

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Answer: Surgeon General