Hygiene products collected at ERMC for school backpack program

Eaton Rapids Medical Center (ERMC) employees Antonette Guillen and Lori Althouse began collecting toiletry items in a very large Christmas stocking in December of 2014. Their goal was to supplement the Eaton Rapids Weekend Food Backpack Program organized by United Methodist Women and Eaton Rapids Public Schools. The food was distributed to eligible children in the district in which backpacks were used as inconspicuous, easy-to-carry, refillable containers for recipients in the program.

Formerly known as the Weekend Survival Kit Program funded through the American Red Cross, the Backpack Program began in 2006 and was a huge success. Unfortunately, it was cancelled in September of 2011 when funding ended, leaving approximately 160 children in grades K - 12 living in Eaton Rapids without much needed nutritional support over the weekends. Today, the program continues strictly through donations made by generous citizens, and serves children who meet federal income guidelines for free and reduced lunches.

"I first learned about the program from a member at HealthWorks Fitness Center who volunteered with homeless kids right here in Eaton Rapids," recalls Guillen. "I thought, food is great, but there are pantries and churches and food stamps to help with that, too. Who is helping with other items like toothpaste, razors, and shampoo? So, since it was the holiday, I put a huge stocking out front with a sign on it - and people started to fill it!"

Guillen, who lives in Lansing and works in the Rehab Department at ERMC, spends her day off, along with her son, Dreon, sorting the items that were collected over the course of the week, discarding any that are broken, leaking, or used. Althouse then delivers them to the school. It has become a family affair for Guillen, who feels compelled to reach out and seek participation from others through donations.

"My heart just broke when I found out how many poor and homeless teenagers there are here. Eaton Rapids is a small town. This shouldn't happen." She went on to explain how teens, especially, need to feel good about themselves and their hygiene in order to be accepted and successful - that's when the idea of collecting toiletry items began to take shape. "We are in constant need of donations including toilet paper, feminine products, sewing kits, hand sanitizers, hair brushes, lice kits and anything else that kids would need for body care. I am so grateful to everyone who has already given to the program, and the bucket will be here as long as I am allowed to keep it!" Donations can be dropped off at the HealthWorks Fitness Center on the second floor of Eaton Rapids Medical Center.

For more information about the program, or to inquire about volunteering to help stuff backpacks for distribution, please contact the Eaton Rapids McKinney-Vento Liaison, Kelly Ballor at 517.663.1313, or kballor@erpsk12.org.

Article posted on September 22nd 2016. - Article Permalink

Eaton Rapids Medical Center to expand facilities

Amy Jo Kinyon, Flashes Advertising & News

The Eaton Rapids Medical Center will be adding 25,000 square feet to its footprint. Construction will soon begin on a new wing that will be attached to the rear of the current hospital. CEO Tim Johnson said the addition will house the family practices, redicare and physical therapy departments. Currently, the family practices are located across Spicerville Road and patients must navigate through traffic to visit the main campus.

"The newer facility will really help with patient flow and also help with efficiency," explained Johnson. "There will be more rooms and we will be able to see patients faster."

The project requires the demolition of several houses currently located on the property. Six of those houses were previously owned and used by the hospital and the other six were recently purchased.

The hospital received a conditional zoning permit to begin the process, and while a couple of the houses will be moved, the others will be demolished to make way for the new facility. The current building will be demolished to make more room for parking. Currently, the need for parking spaces causes staff to park on local streets, which can cause congestion when events such as the farmers market take place. Johnson is hopeful that the project will be completed before Christmas 2018. Construction will be completed by Vision Quest of Bloomfield Hills, a group that specializes in medical facilities. The estimated cost of the entire project is $6 million.

During a time when other small independent hospitals are being purchased by larger corporations, Eaton Rapids Medical Center has remained independent and Johnson is certain that the community is the key to its success.

"The number one reason is the support of the community," said Johnson. 'We have donors who support us financially and the community supports us by turning to us for their medical needs. Many small hospitals are struggling but our hospital remains strong and doing relatively well."

Lindsay Peters, director of marketing and fund development, explained that the ability to remain independent means decisions are made locally.

"We are completely independent and wish to stay that way," said Peters. "We are run by a board of directors from the community. We hope to keep decisions about healthcare in Eaton Rapids, in Eaton Rapids." Peters said another unique feature of ERMC lies in those who serve on staff and as volunteers.

"We have volunteers who have been here since the doors opened," explained Peters. "That is what makes this place really special."

Article posted on August 10th 2016. - Article Permalink

FDA makes major changes in nutritional labeling

On May 20 the US Food & Drug Administration finalized the new look of the Nutrition Facts label that will appear on all packaged food products beginning July 26, 2018.

This is the first major revamp of the Nutrition Facts Label since 1993 - over two decades ago! The current system makes consumers think that they are eating better than they actually are. The new labels will help people be more aware of the actual contents of food and make better choices when they are shopping; an important step to take to reduce the risk of heart disease and obesity.

Potassium and Vitamin D are two key nutrients Americans need for bone and heart health, and many do not consume them in adequate amounts. Vitamin D deficiency can be common especially in those us of who live in Michigan. These nutrients will now be added to labels to help people choose foods that contain higher levels of both.

Leslie Neubecker-Czubko, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at Eaton Rapids Medical Center (ERMC) is especially happy that added sugars will now be addressed on the new labels. She comments, "The old labels made it very difficult for the public to decide if a food had too much added sugar, and many times I have had to reassure patients they could eat fruit and milk even though the grams of sugar seemed to be high. Now, we won't have to be 'detectives' and check the ingredient list for sugar and any other names that also mean sugar! It also makes it easier to comply with the updated 2015 Dietary Guidelines which recommend to not have more than ten percent of our calories from added sugars."

The FDA website at www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/ explains the changes in more detail. The goal of the new labeling system is three-fold: to be more realistic to reflect consumer intake, to add or eliminate certain nutrients based on the current dietary needs of our society, and to make it easier to make informed food choices. The site provides a side-by-side label comparison that highlights these changes which include large, bold type servings and calories sections; updated serving sizes, daily values, and footnote the actual amounts of added sugars, Vitamin D, and Potassium in the product. There is also an Infographic of serving size changes and a Question and Answer section.

The President's Council on Fitness, Sports, & Nutrition at www.fitness.gov is another resource that outlines dietary guidelines for Americans and encourages the development of healthy eating patterns across the lifespan.

Kevin Trudell, Personal Trainer and Wellness Manager for the ERMC HealthWorks Fitness Center, comments, "Eating well and exercising need to be a lifestyle, yet people treat them like on/off switches - either they do or they don't. Instead, they need to look at them like dimmer switches that are always on, just to a larger or smaller degree. To be successful, treat each meal or workout as an entity in and of itself. Don't set yourself up to fail with an all or nothing mentality. Count each success as a win, and commit to wellness for at least six to eight weeks in order to establish a habit and begin to feel and look better than ever before!"

Article posted on July 20, 2016. - Article Permalink

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