Honoring the Values of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

mlkquote_smallToday, once again, we have an opportunity to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.. This is a day to remember and celebrate the values that he demonstrated during his remarkable life — values like compassion, commitment, moral compass and service to others. These are values that drive our Health System and define our mission. We must never relent in our work to promote diversity and equity in all that we do, from the care we provide to the people we employ. We must continue to address disparities, fight injustice and challenge complacency in societal norms.

How will you honor Dr. King and these values today, tomorrow and beyond?

Our Partnership with Michigan Athletics

Creating the Future of Health Care . . . Through Philanthropy

Since 1991, hundreds of U-M student-athletes have dedicated their Thursday evenings to visiting patients and families at our University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. This partnership can profoundly affect the young students as much as it delights our young patients. For many of the athletes, this experience marks the beginning of a commitment to Mott that continues well after they leave the university.

During their time as Wolverine students and football players, Brian Griese, Steve Hutchinson and Charles Woodson were inspired by this tradition, and since then they have become transformational leaders in supporting advancements in children’s health. Brian and Steve founded Champions for Children’s Hearts in 2007 to raise money for the Mott Children’s Hospital and its Congenital Heart Center. Charles joined them in 2011, establishing the Charles Woodson Research Fund. Together, they have inspired former teammates, coaches, sponsors, fans and participants from across the country to support Mott.

Last month, more than 1,000 people who care about kids gathered in Ann Arbor to celebrate the seventh annual Griese/Hutchinson/Woodson Champions for Children’s Hearts events, including more than 100 former U-M student-athletes, NFL stars, celebrities and coaches. The annual three-day gathering features an 11-hour radio-a-thon, a gala dinner with a live auction, and a golf tournament, and has raised more than $6 million to improve care for our pediatric patients.

The event serves as a powerful example of a remarkable journey of philanthropy, fostered by the caring culture of our U-M student-athlete community that has been a Michigan tradition for decades. I am so grateful for the exemplary philanthropic leadership that Brian, Steve and Charles have shown for the community here at the University of Michigan. I’m also grateful for our ongoing partnership with Michigan Athletics and the support our Michigan Men and Women give to UMHS in countless ways.

Please enjoy this video, which beautifully captures the essence of this inspiring relationship between our Health System and Michigan Athletics:

In Celebration of Nurses

“You must never so much think as whether you like it or not, whether it is bearable or not; you must never think of anything except the need, and how to meet it.”  ― Clara Barton, Nurse & Founder of the American Red Cross

Each year for a week, in honor of Florence Nightingale’s birthday on May 12, we celebrate those individuals who have dedicated their lives to a profession that is among the most noble, demanding and rewarding: Nursing.

Nurses are important ambassadors of the patient and family experience because they are on the frontlines delivering care and comfort 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.  They are in classrooms, labs and clinics training future generations of nursing professionals and discovering ways to improve care and care delivery. They are in the community working and volunteering at shelters and in schools.  And, across the country, nursing professionals are strong voices for innovation and change when it comes to shaping health care policy and influencing health care reform.

Under the steadfast leadership of Kate Potempa, Dean of the U-M School of Nursing, and Margaret Calarco, Chief Nurse at UMHHC, nursing at Michigan is thriving and our institution continues to be regarded as one of the country’s best academic nursing centers.  The School’s Master’s Program is the sixth best in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report, its research-focused Ph.D. programs rank in the National Research Council’s top 5 percent and it ranks sixth in NIH research funding. Additionally, it is a hub of groundbreaking innovation, as demonstrated by being the first U.S. nursing school to partner with the Peace Corps’ Masters International Program, achievement of a 5-year grant to fund the prestigious Hillman Scholars Program in Nursing Innovation, and, in partnership with the UMHS nursing community, establishing the Clinical Initiative for Excellence in Education, Practice and Scholarship to improve the quality and safety of nursing care practice and delivery. UMHS nurses have influenced the profession by publishing more than 50 manuscripts and book chapters this past year alone and presenting more than 70 paper and poster presentations to national and international audiences. Additionally, the Health System’s new Nursing governance model is enabling deeper partnerships with patients and families and establishing new models of nursing care.  As clinical mentors to the hundreds of nursing students we serve, our nurses join with nursing students and faculty to educate our next generation of nurses and create the future of health care delivery.

From care at the bedside to outpatient appointments to nursing education and research to professional and peer support and mentorship, there is no more committed community of nurses than the 4,000 plus nursing professionals at Michigan.

While it shouldn’t take a national event to remind us to thank the incredible nursing professionals who enable excellence across our Health System and University, there certainly is no better time for all of us to offer gratitude to the nursing heroes, teachers, mentors and leaders in our community. Thank you for all that you do!!

I’m Not a Rockette, But I Played One “For The Kids”

The caliber of students at the University of Michigan never ceases to amaze me! Their academic excellence and ambition are impressive, as is their extraordinary passion to serve others. This month, I experienced two powerful reminders of the important role that our terrific students play in the Health System.

On March 15, I got to stop in and say hello during the Match Day luncheon. I was incredibly inspired as I talked to members of the Medical School’s remarkable 2013 graduating class and their beaming friends and families. It was an exciting day for all as the students learned where they would be doing their residency training. This year, 72% of students matched to residency programs in the nation’s top hospitals, including U-M, Barnes-Jewish Hospital/Washington University in St. Louis, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle, UCSF Medical Center in California and other leading academic medical centers across the country.

Later that day, I participated in a video shoot with members of the Dance Marathon at University of Michigan team. DMUM is one of the largest student-run non-profit organizations on the U-M campus. We taped a PSA to promote this year’s Marathon – an event where hundreds of students stand on their feet for 30 hours to show their support for pediatric services at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and Beaumont Hospital. Since 1998, DMUM has raised funds to support pediatric rehabilitation programs at Mott Hospital, as well as our Child and Family Life program and Trails Edge Camp for ventilator-dependent children.

In an email I received after the video shoot, Monica Walls, DMUM Internal Director 2012-2013, said: “. . . As a senior at the University of Michigan, I can truly say that DMUM has defined my college career and shaped me into the person that I am today. It has taught me the value of hard work, dedication and passion for a cause that I truly believe in. It means so much to have the support of Health System leadership in our mission. I feel so blessed, honored and humbled to be a part of this wonderful community, and know that I will forever feel tied to the Maize and Blue. . . .For The Kids, Monica”

I encourage all faculty and staff to support our students through mentoring, by celebrating Match Day and other milestones, or by participating in fundraisers like the Galens Medical Society’s Tag Days or Smoker, and the University of Michigan Dance Marathon. These and so many other opportunities are how we demonstrate a true community of Leaders & Best.

Be one of the first to see the official DMUM PSA:

Giving Back & Giving Thanks

Standing in line to vote last week, I felt a great deal of pride in being an American – of living in a country where I have the right to vote and where I have a voice in how the country, our state and our University are run. This is a precious privilege, as well as an important responsibility that doesn’t end when election results are in.

Being an American means feeling a responsibility not only for oneself, but for all other Americans and for those in need around the world. This is rooted in compassion, which is one of my 7Cs and one of the values that defines our University of Michigan Health System community.

Many of you have told me that you like my 7Cs, so with election week behind us and Thanksgiving on the horizon, I want to talk about the C of Compassion and the importance of giving back.

Compassion is the idea that you can put yourself in another person’s shoes and feel empathy. It’s so important to remember that we are not alone in this world and that there are others who experience pain and suffering – many who have it worse than we do. Right now, there are individuals, families and entire communities who are facing long-term recovery in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. People who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina are still struggling to put their lives back together. Just this month, U-M Wallenberg Medal honoree Dr. Denis Mukwege was almost murdered because of his heroic work treating survivors of sexual violence in the Congo. He was subsequently forced to flee his home and the country where he has helped tens of thousands of women and children.

By nature, the work we do at UMHS requires compassion. I have yet to meet one person working in health care who wasn’t drawn to the field because of a fundamental desire to help people. Another thing that I’ve noticed about the UMHS community is that so many of you go above and beyond your work roles to help and serve others as volunteers within UMHS and in the broader community and the world.

For example, last month, more than 30 UMHS physician assistants helped renovate the future home of a fellow U-M employee and raised $4,000 for Habitat for Humanity. This was the fourth year that the group volunteered with Habitat.

Then there is the group of U-M medical students and faculty physicians who donate their time and skills to run a free clinic for uninsured residents of rural Livingston County every Saturday from 1:30 – 5 p.m.

I also hear many stories similar to that of Jennifer Schwab, R.N. Jennifer is a clinical care coordinator and certified diabetes educator in pediatric endocrinology who has used her personal time off time to volunteer as a cabin clinician at Camp Midicha, an American Diabetes Association summer camp in Fenton, MI, for five of the last six years.

The faculty, staff and students of UMHS are lending their hearts, hands and minds across Michigan, across the country and across the globe – all in the name of compassion and service to others.

Volunteering is one of the most rewarding ways to give. Several years ago in December, my family and I spent a week in Guatemala helping to build schools with a group from our synagogue in Indianapolis. We also brought food, decorations and other items with us to create a memorable Christmas celebration for impoverished families. It was an amazing experience to share as a family, and it reinforced in each of us the importance of volunteer work.

Currently, there are more than 1,800 active volunteers who help create a culture of compassion and service in our Health System. From the Motley Crew, a group of U-M student volunteers who provide monthly entertainment for children at Mott, to employees of the Oliver/Hatcher Construction company who volunteer every Thursday at our Skyline Café, to the specially-trained four-legged friends and their human companions who bring the Therapaws program to UMHHC, to employees who volunteer at UMHS in roles other than their day jobs, we are incredibly fortunate to be part of – and to benefit from – such a generous community.

All of these are wonderful examples of people doing amazing things for others. I know that there are many more examples out there in our UMHS community and I want to hear about them.   Today through Thanksgiving, I invite you to share your volunteer story and experience – your personal  “Story of Giving” -  in the comments section below. In doing so, you can inspire others and generate awareness of the countless ways we can give.

I want to wish you and your families a wonderful Thanksgiving. We have much to be thankful for.


Dr. Denis Mukwege: Uncompromising Humanitarian & Defender of Human Dignity

In November 2010, the University of Michigan honored Dr. Denis Mukwege, Medical Director of the General Referral Hospital of Panzi in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, with its Wallenberg Medal because of his heroic work treating survivors of sexual violence in the Congo. Two days ago, he was almost murdered because of this work.

As a University community, we were shocked to hear of the threat to Dr. Mukwege and want to express our deepest concern and support for him, his family and his team. At the heart of our institutional values is a commitment to public service, and the belief that one person can make a difference in the struggle for a better world.

Dr. Mukwege and his colleagues at Panzi Hospital have been responding to a calamity of a scale that is simply beyond our imagining. Since the founding of Panzi Hospital in 1999, Dr. Mukwege has performed reconstructive surgery on more than 21,000 women and children, many suffering from severe wounds and mutilations spurred by rapes and violence during the deadly regional war.

A team of University of Michigan faculty, representing multiple disciplines and our global initiatives has been working with Dr. Mukwege to continue to improve the health of women and children throughout the world.  Additionally, we are committed to launching a research and clinical hub in the Congo with Dr. Mukwege for the improvement of the lives of women and children. We call on the international community to recognize the importance of this work and push the appropriate authorities to ensure his safety.

Timothy R.B. Johnson, M.D., Professor and Chair, University of Michigan Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Ora H. Pescovitz, M.D., Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Michigan, and CEO, U-M Health System


Additional Information: