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Michigan Medicine

A Minute with Marschall

Caring: Michigan Medicine’s Cornerstone Value

October 9th, 2020

It is fitting that we focus on Caring as our first core value since it is foundational to everything we do at Michigan Medicine. Consider these words:

“I will treat everyone with dignity, kindness and respect, promoting the well-being of self and others.”

These are behaviors we not only believe in, but I know we share and exhibit every day. Since many of us are working remotely or under different conditions than in the past we may not see the caring moments that shape our world, but they are there.  I am constantly reminded by colleagues of what kind, devoted and caring individuals support the care of our patients – here in Ann Arbor and beyond. I find the several examples of caring and compassion inspiring and I think you will too.

Our care is evident in how we treat our patients. Many ongoing projects are designed to improve the patient experience. One example is the Poke Program where an interdisciplinary research team and a front-line group of phlebotomists have studied and are now addressing the pain and anxiety of blood draws among young children. The end result is a tool kit of comfort methods to ease these children’s anxiety over having their blood drawn, an anxiety that is often intense and longer lasting.

The Rewrite the Script team has embraced the mission of reducing the dependence on opiates and has developed powerful and innovative approaches. These include introducing patient pain profiles, expanding non-pharmacologic options for pain including acupuncture, aromatherapy, art/music, and other therapies and increasing access to Substance Use Disorder (SUD) treatment and recovery support. This team continues waging this war despite COVID-19 disruptions.

Bringing dignity to our patients in their last moments of life is an example of our continued caring approach. Recently I heard about Sophie Heitkamp from CW Child & Family Life who at the request of a patient and family, played guitar and sang while the patient passed away. The PICU team commented it was one of the most compassionate withdrawals of care they had ever witnessed.

Even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the committed group who developed and are involved in the No One Dies Alone (NODA)  bedside program have continued their work. The program was launched by Social Worker Amanda Schoettinger, in 2017 and is supported by volunteers, many of whom are U-M medical students.

In kindness we also reach out to families and community. Each and every day we know clinical care teams reach out to family members to support them as their loved ones go through difficult medical procedures. That is only part of what “our family” brings to others. Many other Michigan Medicine employees reach out with kind gestures. For example, our security team is known for the “behind-the-scenes” work that keep us safe, but they also serve as a comforting frontline face for many. Recently Guest Services Specialist Greg Hardin received a box of cookies from a Mott family, who wanted to thank him for “listening to them and encouraging them when they were a little frustrated. Even though it was hard to be here, you helped make our stay better.”

Also on that team, Officer Chan Duckworth found a visitor sleeping on a cold concrete bench outside the hospital, due to the COVID-19 visitor restrictions. After verifying the patient’s status, he decided that the right thing to do was to bring the visitor inside to rest on a couch in an empty lobby. It was a wonderful act of kindness and the visitor was so grateful. 

Community outreach is also in our blood and we have seen this increasingly throughout the pandemic. Most recently the med school class of 2024 has teamed up to fundraise for Auntie Na’s Village .

Thinking not just of ourselves, we remain concerned for the well-being of our co-workers. Perhaps, most importantly, there are the moments when we turn to each other for support. Here are just a few excerpts from our new online Recognition Platform that not only made me smile, but reminded me that each and every one plays an important and valued role at Michigan Medicine:

Tessa Adzemovic from Anesthesiology called out her House Officer, Steven Halter as “welcoming, supportive, and knowledgeable. His approach to patients was compassionate and thoughtful. He worked well with his attendings and supervisors. He was respectful of nursing staff and team members. I hope to be more like him in my approach to care and particularly to off-service learners.”

Sean Sivils of the HITS team really came through for the Advanced Genomics Core team, according to Software Developer Joseph Gregoria. “Sean saved me 4 days of work, and our research scientist 2 weeks of pain to get on to a new computer. Literally hundreds of hours.”

Amanda Louks from the HR team appreciates Angela Galvin for doing such a great job processing all of the PTO donation requests for the payroll team. “You make each request a priority and you take care in communicating throughout the process. The important information you provide to the decision making committee ensures they have what they need to review each request.”

Training Specialist Sharon Sheets wanted Kristina Bell, a training specialist in nurse information services, to know she makes a difference by caring about the success of others.  “Her training goes beyond the classroom as she serves as a valuable resource and wealth of knowledge, while supporting institutional goals.”

When we care for others, we support the whole team. We are better together.

Thank you for all you do.

Do you have a caring story to tell? Share it in the discussion box below

You can also submit photos and captions explaining how your team lives our Mission, Vision and Values to Headlines by using this email:


  • Carrie McClintock

    I want to highlight the transformative resources that the Gifts of Art program offers our patients. Greg Maxwell, a Michigan Medicine Certified Music Practitioner® with the Gifts of Art program, has cultivated a truly powerful therapeutic relationship with a patient on 6C. This patient has had an extraordinary health journey over the course of the last three years. I sincerely do not think he would be alive today without the ongoing therapeutic support that Greg has continued to provide during his numerous, lengthy and complex hospital admissions.

    – Brian Nickerson LMSW, Clinical Social Worker

    Submitted by Carrie McClintock, Communications Coordinator for Gifts of Art program at Michigan Medicine

    • Carrie and Brian, thanks for bringing forward this caring story about Greg and the impact his music has had on one of our patients. Greg, you and the Gifts of Art program are a great representation of how our Caring Value can be seen, felt, and heard here at Michigan Medicine. I am very proud of this program and the important work its creative staff continues to do, especially during the more challenging circumstances of the pandemic.

  • Brian Rooks, Sterile Processing Tech, always brings flowers in from his garden to brighten up his coworkers day. He truly care about his fellow coworkers.

    • I agree, Talia. This small gesture goes a long way to creating a great workplace atmosphere. Thank you Brian, for promoting the well-being of others around you.

  • I would love to shout out to the entire ED staff for the kindness they showed to my son and I super early Monday morning. So many people to thank, especially:
    The valets that allowed me to park my car in the lot because I didn’t have a key-card with me.
    Al in PES. He was awesome, and even brought me a cup of coffee!
    The ER social worker, was kind and caring and after asking me to leave, was able to find out what was contributing to my son’s anxiety.
    Dara – the PES social worker that helped us draft a plan for my son’s continued care
    Phil – the ER nurse that took care of my son
    Jackie and Diane – the patients attendants that sat with us while we awaited the psych eval.
    The poor valets that had to shuffle cars around in order for us to finally head home.

    Please send a huge shout out to all the staff working 2:00am thru 2:00 pm Oct. 12, 2020.

    Their caring and kindness had a huge impact on both my son and I. We are very grateful.

    • Tammy, I am so glad to hear that you received excellent care at every step of your son’s treatment here, which is what we all continue to strive for here at Michigan Medicine. I also appreciate that you point out that it is not one person or a small group that contributes to our quality health care, but everyone – from the valets who greet you to the attendants that sit alongside you and every caregiver in between. We couldn’t provide an excellent patient experience without every one of them. My thoughts to you and your son as he continues in his treatment.

  • one day after work I was craving a burger so I went to the drive-thru at my local Mcd’s and ordered a cheeseburger meal. It came to a little under $5 so I got my fiver out for payment. When I got to the window the cashier told me that the person just ahead of me had paid for my meal-did not know this person, it was just a random act of kindness. So, paying it forward I just gave the cashier my fiver and told him to put it toward the payment of the person just behind me. Their amt.was under $5 so the cashier was going to give me the change–I just told him to keep it as a tip. So, that first act of kindness by a complete stranger gave them and three other people a small bit of joy and hope in their fellow human beings–which when all is said and done cost that first person very little and gave back so much.

    • Mary Anne, What a great story. Thank you for sharing. This is a great example of how showing a little kindness can have a greater impact on a person’s day, just, as I hope, supporting a value of caring can have a great impact on a large institution like ours.

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