Meet your Michigan Medicine MVPs

November 12, 2020  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees,

In a year unlike any other, faculty and staff across Michigan Medicine have stepped up in incredible ways.

Many are now working from home, others are practicing patient care and teaching in PPE they aren’t used to and even more are carrying out research in labs while practicing social distancing.

But through it all, team members have never lost sight of the organization’s mission to advance health to serve Michigan and the world.

Over the past two weeks, nominations have poured in to Headlines regarding faculty and staff who have shined bright over the last few months.

Here are just a few of the nominees, along with the reason they were chosen as Michigan Medicine MVPs by their peers. All others are listed at the bottom of the story:

Individual awards

Mary Freer, chief administrator, Department of Computational Medicine & Bioinformatics

Mary is our Go Blue glue! She is cheerful, supportive and caring and has helped us hold it together during this difficult time. She nurtures our wellness and productivity through considerate actions, activities and even wellness packages — which included masks, hand sanitizer and other goodies! As our departmental administrator, she rose to the challenge of preparing us for remote work. And since, she has kept us operating at optimal efficacy even though we are separated. She’s simply incredible.

Geneva White, M.D., resident, anesthesiology

Dr. White facilitated weekly wellness check-ins with a mental health provider for anesthesiology residents. For more than two months, she created a safe space and normalized the discussions of the constant flow of critically-ill patients which anesthesiology residents were charged to care for. She did this while still working in the ICUs and ORs herself. Her consistent commitment to mental health and her 116 co-residents are a testament to teamwork and her leadership in the department.

Jeremy Gluskin, system coordinator, Office of Patient Safety

In March and April, Jeremy was pivotal in moving multiple department processes and meetings online. He’s also been working closely with the Patient Safety Event Team to ensure that patient harm events continue to be addressed quickly and effectively, even going so far as to tackle some patient safety event reviews himself to relieve some very overworked members of the team and ensure that everyone is able to maintain a healthy work/life balance. I don’t know how the department could have gotten through all the trials of this year without him.

Cherie Chang, ULAM

For much of the pandemic, my team has been working staggered schedules, and Cherie and I have been working the same days. Most of her duties require her to be on campus, but she has done an exceptional job minimizing the amount of time she needs to spend on site, which puts herself and others at risk. Cherie has also been helpful to me personally. We always take the time to touch base to vent frustrations, celebrate victories and generally check in with each other. This has helped me to better handle all of the changes that have come along with the pandemic. Thank you, Cherie!

Tony Kreyge, R.N., 4D

Whenever Tony is staffing, I know it’s going to be an exceptional day! His leadership and teamwork support not only my own staffing needs but also those of our multidisciplinary team. I appreciate how well Tony communicates with his colleagues, but what impresses me most is his character. He is kind, trustworthy and full of humor. He demonstrates genuine caring towards his patients and their families, and camaraderie and loyalty toward his coworkers. It is an honor and pleasure to work alongside him.

Lori Musson, manager, Brighton Health Center

Since the pandemic started, Lori has been an excellent leader and communicator to the entire BHC staff. She has gone above and beyond for the clinic staff and, most importantly, our patients. She keeps us safe and updated with the constant changes that have been necessary because of COVID-19. Lori also makes patients and families her No. 1 priority to assure their safety and protection. I really appreciate all she has done and all she will continue to do.

Jeremy Niedbala, lead technologist, nuclear medicine

Jeremy has been diligent about digesting all the masses of information that has been sent out to all employees. He combs through every link and table to find what pertains to our staff and calls it out in a meaningful way. As processes and protocols started changing daily, he remained on the front-edge of information, faithfully relaying that to the rest of our staff. He also assisted with the ramp down of elective procedures and exams, then stepped up as we reopened and began performing pre-procedural COVID-19 testing. It was great to have his calm demeanor help lead these changes in nuclear medicine.

Christy Vassel, administrative manager, and Milad Eshaq, M.D., dermatology

Christy and Dr. Eshaq quickly stepped up to the challenge when the pandemic began. They revised hundreds of workflows and made wholescale changes in order to keep patients, staff, residents and faculty safe. They worked non-stop to ensure that the rapid changes went smoothly. And they helped by diving into virtual care, triaging patients, ramping down clinics then ramping them back up, and ensuring every change had sound processes behind them so they could be sustainable long-term.

Amanda Hall, patient services associate, Brighton Center for Specialty Care

Amanda joined our department for our BCSC satellite location at the end of July, coming from the Livonia Surgery Center. She jumped right in, helping maintain the COVID-19 precautions for our patients and clinicians. She quickly learned the ins and outs of prosthetics and orthotics lingo and scheduling. Most importantly, she has been a friendly face for our patients as they navigate the new COVID-19 protocols. With her positive attitude, she boosts morale each and every day.

Rev. Christina Wright, associate director, Department of Spiritual Care

Rev. Wright has been a compassionate, thoughtful and positive leader for our department throughout the pandemic. She has been our rock, our advocate and an excellent communicator. We appreciate that Christina values the well-being of our department and that she always makes time to listen to any concerns. We can’t imagine having a better suited leader throughout these challenging times.

Team awards

Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory

As cases began to rise in April, molecular diagnostics anticipated that testing volumes could exceed capacity in the microbiology laboratory and volunteered to add COVID-19 to their test menu. Their help came in handy in July as testing ramped up even more. What started as a couple hundred patient samples a day quickly surpassed 600. No matter the challenges, they work together and support each other to find a way to overcome. I am humbled by their dedication, selflessness and ability to maintain a positive attitude, and am so very proud to be a part of this team.

U-19 Unified Mental Health Response Planning Team

During the initial stages of the pandemic, faculty from several divisions — including PM&R, pediatrics, developmental behavioral pediatrics and psychiatry — joined forces to provide support to both front-line workers and families struggling with the impact of COVID-19. Their response was organized, thoughtful and continues today. They provide mental health support in the units, disseminate resources for struggling families and train mental health providers on psychological first aid. Their advocacy for families and hospital personnel likely changed the trajectory for several people and reflected the incredible compassion we strive for at Michigan Medicine. 

MHealthy Tobacco Consultation Services

Prior to COVID-19, the team provided comprehensive quit-tobacco care and alcohol management services to faculty, staff and patients. Then the pandemic hit and it had to pivot to remote work. The team made the transition flawlessly. They set up home offices, reconfigured workflows and processes, conducted inpatient bedside visits via phone and started offering outpatient sessions via Zoom. This transition was very stabilizing for our clients who were dealing with a high level of uncertainty and fear. I’ve always been proud of this team, but I have been especially proud over the last seven months.

Also nominated:

  • Creative Services Team, Department of Communication
  • Emergency Management Operations Team
  • Pediatric neurology faculty
  • Radiation oncology radiation therapists
  • Supply Chain
  • Laura Baker, R.N, 10E
  • Melissa Byrne, D.O., anesthesiology
  • Kate Clifton, animal care supervisor, ULAM
  • Ed Deneke, M.D., psychiatry
  • Sam Dettling, M.D., anesthesia
  • Deby Evans, site engagement manager, Michigan Value Collaborative
  • Claire Foley, R.N., West Ann Arbor pediatrics
  • Michelle Fugate, administrative manager, Domino’s Farms Allergy Clinic
  • Chris Gates, manager, BRCF Bioinformatics Core
  • Samir Gadepalli, M.D., pediatric surgery
  • Lois Hamilton, patient services associate, Brighton Center for Specialty Care
  • Gloria Harrington, M.S.W., M.B.A., interim CDA, psychiatry
  • Elyssa Henry, patient financial coordinator, specialty pharmacy
  • Keri Hiller, nuclear technologist, Frankel Cardiovascular Center
  • Stacy Jones, patient services associate, Brighton Center for Specialty Care
  • Lyndsey Kennedy, medical assistant, Northville Health Center
  • Dawn Keys, veterinary technician intermediate, ULAM
  • Hilary King, M.S., R.N., director, Emergency Management Operations Team
  • Carrie Klein, office administrative intermediate supervisor, pediatric neurology
  • Ann Marie Kochanek, lead, pediatric rehab
  • Kathryn Krukowsi, M.D., anesthesia
  • Megan Loftin, office manager, Registration Call Center and Patient Business Services Help Desk
  • Sherrie Luttman, patient financial coordinator, specialty pharmacy
  • Renee Maas, off-site radiology manager
  • Alex Morrison-Nozik, M.D., anesthesia
  • Jeremy Niedbala, nuclear medicine technologist
  • Helen Noack, veterinary technician lead, ULAM
  • Paresh Patel, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Liz Pekrul, office manager, Registration Call Center and Patient Business Services Help Desk
  • Danielle Peoples, medical assistant, Northville Health Center
  • Nichole Pichla, patient financial coordinator, specialty pharmacy
  • Bethany Price, administrative specialist, cardiology
  • Renee Prince, M.H.A, B.S.N., R.N., CNOR, NE-BC, interim senior nursing director, perioperative services
  • Amy Puffenberger, communications manager, ULAM
  • Joanna Quigley, M.D., psychiatry
  • Ken Rates, administrative manager, urology
  • Lisa Reppenhagen, administrative specialist, GME administration
  • Danielle Saab, M.D., anesthesia
  • Sean Sivils, Microsoft Systems Engineer, HITS
  • Kristen Smith, M.D., pediatric ICU
  • Janell Steel, nursing supervisor, 7E
  • Marleah Stickler, clinical administrator, urology
  • Jen Sullivan, administrative manager, psychiatry
  • Geraldine (Dee) Walton, medical assistant, Northville Health Center
  • Yilun Wang, M.D., anesthesia
  • Michaela White, physical therapy clinical specialist, Briarwood Pediatric Rehabilitation
  • Pavlina Zefirovska, necropsy technician, ULAM