Media Releases

UPHS-Portage Honors Volunteers; Auxiliary Presents Scholarships

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HANCOCK, Mich. – UP Health System - Portage held its annual Volunteer Recognition Dinner at the Shelden Grill in the Magnuson Franklin Square Inn on May 12, 2015. Volunteers were recognized for service ranging from 500 to 15,000 hours accumulated between 1991 and December 2014. Also recognized were recipients of the Portage Hospital Auxiliary medical-education scholarships. 


The hospital’s 105 volunteers put in 14,325 hours of service in 2014. As the names of each of the volunteers were read, they came up to receive a pin indicating the number of hours they've accumulated.


Getting pins for both 14,000 and 15,000 hours of service was Mary Ellen Shane, who said she has been volunteering at the hospital eight years, but isn't the only place she's volunteered. She started volunteering at Children's Hospital in Detroit. The list of volunteers honored over 500 hours since 1991 is listed below. 


The Auxiliary Scholarship Committee had 26 applications for scholarships from students in medical programs at post-secondary institutions. The scholarships are funded from revenue raised in the Auxiliary's Lights of Love Christmas tree ornament sales.


Recipients of the scholarships are: 


  • Katelyn Anderson - Physical Therapist Assistant, Finlandia 
  • Laura Berg - Nursing, Finlandia 
  • Anica Gillis - Speech Language-Pathology, UW-Stevens Point 
  • Olivia Ingram - Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Michigan Tech 
  • Rebecca Mills - Pre-Professional Biological Sciences, Michigan Tech 
  • Paul Pionke - Medical Laboratory Science, Michigan Tech 
  • Mikayla Revoyr - Pre-Professional Biological Sciences, Michigan Tech 
  • Molly Simula - Surgical Technology, Northern Michigan 

Volunteers receiving pins for hours of service:  

500-999 hours

  • Belinda Bloomfield 
  • Kathy Johnson 
  • Ruth Katalin 
  • David McAdam 
  • Patricia Oldfield 

1,000 hours

  • Charleen Ahola 
  • Nancy Johnson 
  • Barbara Worrell 

2,000 hours 

  • Clarice Fowler 
  • Josette Ruska 

3,000 hours 

  • James Barroga 

4,000 hours 

  • Nancy Fenton 
  • Sharon Torgeson 

5,000 hours 

  • Mary Roy 

7,000 hours

  • Henrietta LaMotte 

8,000 hours  

  • Ronda Bogan 

9,000 hours  

  • Yvonne Fisher 

13,000 hours  

  • Gale LaFond 

14,000 and 15,000 hours  

  • Mary Ellen Shane 

Laakonen Named 2015 Mercy Award Winner at UP Health System - Portage

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/assets/0/75/2147483755/2147483937/e6f522bd-ab24-4adf-b13b-382fcbf46a88.jpg HANCOCK, Mich. – UP Health System - Portage named Brian Laakonen as the hospital’s 2015 Mercy Award winner on Thursday (May 21). The Mercy Award recognizes one employee from each of LifePoint Health’s more than 60 hospitals, including UP Health System - Portage, who profoundly touches the lives of others and best represents the spirit and values on which the company was founded.


The Mercy Award program is an annual recognition that was established in 2002 to honor the life of Scott Mercy, LifePoint’s founding chairman and chief executive officer (CEO).  The Mercy Award is considered the highest honor a LifePoint employee can receive.


“At UP Health System - Portage, we share LifePoint’s commitment to making communities healthier, and we recognize that this is supported by the good work and service of our employees on and off the job,” said CEO Jeff Lang. “We are extremely proud to recognize Brian for his efforts on behalf of our patients and our community. Brian goes above and beyond each and every day to ensure that every person he encounters is treated with the highest level of care and compassion.”


Laakonen has over 28 years of service as a courier for the Apothecary. He supplies an essential service to the community, delivering prescription medications to homebound patients. He often carries a shovel during the winter months and will always lend a helping hand during his short delivery visit. He always carries a positive, cheerful, compassionate attitude that inspires patients and his coworkers. Delivering conversation, laughter and a smile is sometimes the best medicine.


Each hospital winner, including Brian, will be considered for LifePoint’s 2015 company-wide Mercy Award. The company-wide winner will be announced this summer and honored during a ceremony in Nashville, Tenn., in August, to which Brian and all hospital winners are invited to attend.


Other UP Health System - Portage Mercy Award Nominees: 


  • Tim Andress 
  • Brian Brewster 
  • Jim Delene 
  • Jaclyn Dessellier 
  • Joni Erkkila 
  • Myrna Gondek 
  • Patricia Hill 
  • Karen Kelley 
  • Linda Kesti 
  • Marion Kreivi 
  • Rod Paavola 
  • Tiffany Paavola 
  • Glenn Patrick 
  • Della Petaja 
  • Jena Riutta 
  • Joan Rundman 
  • Debra Siira 
  • Jennifer Sleeman 
  • Kim Tober 
  • Jeff Twardzik 
  • Fawn Vater 
  • Melissa Vertin 



Lassila Recognized with Excellence in Nursing Award at UPHS-Portage

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/assets/0/75/2147483755/2147483756/59e06283-f6b4-48b2-af51-050761c465d9.jpg HANCOCK, Mich. – UP Health System - Portage named Stacey Lassila as the 2015 recipient of the Gertrude Decker Hellman Excellence in Nursing Award on Thursday (May 14) at the annual service awards ceremony. 


The award was founded in 2005 in honor of Gertrude Decker Hellman, who had been a patient at Portage. It’s presented each year to a nurse who demonstrates excellence in the provision of patient care. Patients and their family members nominate candidates for the award.


Lassila has previously worked in the clinic and PortagePointe before moving to her current position on med surgical and ICU. Paula Polso, the unit manager, presented Lassila with the award.


The Gertrude Decker Hellman Excellence in Nursing Award:

  • Exemplifies care in a compassionate and caring demeanor 
  • Consistently practices patient advocacy while demonstrating integrity in communications and actions 
  • Demonstrates excellent critical thinking skills 
  • Demonstrates teamwork and collaboration in addressing the health needs of the patient   

Previous award winners are Kristina Huhta, RN (2014), Joy Dennis, RN (2013), Cindy Ransom, RN (2012), Ann Brotherton, RN (2011), Debra Maki, RN (2010), Carol Vater, RN (2009), Elizabethe Gilreath, RN (2008), Anne Lett, RN (2007), Pat Corrigan, RN (2006) and Sally Smith, RN (2005).


Also at Thursday’s service award ceremony 53 members of UPHS-Portage’s staff were recognized for their years of service. Those recognized were celebrating their 10th, 15th, 20th, 25th, 30th, 35th or 40th anniversary with UPHS-Portage. They have a combined 925 years of experience. The longest-serving member of the group is Paul Peterson, a pharmacist in the Apothecary, who has been with Portage for 40 years.


Comments from the nursing supervisors: 

I've had the pleasure of working with Stacey Lassila for about three years now. She is the highest senior ICU RN on nights. She excels at all aspects of patient care, and is extremely conscientious. Stacey has excellent assessment and critical thinking skills, and at the same time provides compassionate, patient-coordinated care while following facility standards and protocols.  


With our current staffing guidelines, Stacey spends a lot of time as 'float' to med/surg. She is extremely versatile as she embraces this role without complaint and performs duties above and beyond expectations in helping out her coworkers in any way she can. I have never had a complaint about Stacey from either a patient or coworker. 


I have had the privilege to know and work with Stacey for the last four years here at UP Health System - Portage. I have learned much about critical thinking, time management and quick decision making from the example she sets every shift. She is a kind, compassionate and knowledgeable nurse who always puts the needs or her patient first. She handles difficult ethical and clinical situations with poise and confidence, with exceptional clinical skills to compliment. She is the definition of a team player. Her fellow staff members compliment regularly on her work ethic and willingness to jump in and get the job done. Her upbeat and positive attitude is infectious and keeps the moral high on every shift she works. I could not think of another nurse that would be more deserving of this award. 

UP Health System - Portage Earns ‘Top Performer on Key Quality Measures®’ Recognition from The Joint Commission

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UP Health System - Portage announced it has been recognized as a 2013 Top Performer on Key Quality Measures® by The Joint Commission, the leading accreditor of health care organizations in the United States. UP Health System - Portage was recognized as part of The Joint Commission’s 2014 annual report “America’s Hospitals: Improving Quality and Safety,” for attaining and sustaining excellence in accountability measure performance for Pneumonia and Surgical Care. UP Health System - Portage is one of 1,224 hospitals in the United States to achieve the 2013 Top Performer distinction.

The Top Performer program recognizes hospitals for improving performance on evidence-based interventions that increase the chances of healthy outcomes for patients with certain conditions, including heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, surgical care, children’s asthma, stroke, venous thromboembolism and perinatal care, as well as for inpatient psychiatric services and immunizations.

To be a 2013 Top Performer, hospitals had to meet three performance criteria based on 2013 accountability measure data, including:

  • Achieving cumulative performance of 95 percent or above across all reported accountability measures;
  • Achieving performance of 95 percent or above on each and every reported accountability measure where there were at least 30 denominator cases; and
  • Having at least one core measure set that had a composite rate of 95 percent or above, and (within that measure set) all applicable individual accountability measures had a performance rate of 95 percent or above.

“Delivering the right treatment in the right way at the right time is a cornerstone of high-quality health care. I commend the efforts of UP Health System – Portage for their excellent performance on the use of evidence-based interventions,” said Mark R. Chassin, M.D., FACP, M.P.P., M.P.H., president and CEO, The Joint Commission.

“We understand what matters most to patients at UP Health System - Portage is the quality and safety of the care they receive. That is why we have made it a top priority to improve positive patient outcomes through evidence-based care processes,” said Betty MacInnes, VP of Quality at UP Health System - Portage. “Portage is proud to be named a Top Performer as it recognizes the knowledge, teamwork and dedication of our entire hospital staff.”

For more information about the Top Performer program, visit

Lights of Love ceremony scheduled for December 4

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HANCOCK – The Portage Hospital Auxiliary is hosting its annual Lights of Love ceremony on Thursday, December 4 at 5 p.m. in the UP Health System - Portage lobby. 

2010 Lights of Love Tree “It will be a lovely program,” said Barb Worrall, chair of the Portage Health Auxiliary. “We’ll read all the names of people the lights are dedicated to, the Hancock High School music ensemble will be playing Christmas music under the direction of Ryan Watt and afterwards we’ll have a charming reception in the UP Health System - Portage Conference Center.” 

The ceremony marks the beginning of the Lights of Love program for the season, which features a beautifully lit Christmas tree in the lobby of the hospital. Each light on the tree is either in memory of someone who has passed, or honoring someone still alive. 

The proceeds of the lights, which are sold $5 each, go toward scholarships for local students.

There are several $1,000 scholarships available, but students must have completed at least one year of college in a health-related field. Eligible students must also originally be from surrounding four counties of Houghton, Keweenaw, Baraga or Ontonagon.

Notices for the scholarships will be sent out in early 2015 and awarded in the spring. For more information on the scholarship, click here.

The public is invited to attend the reception. 

UP Health System combines clinical excellence with quality care, as Bell, Marquette and Portage hospitals unite

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Hospitals unveil new brand promise and underscore commitment to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

ISHPEMING, Mich. (October 21, 2014) – Bell Hospital, Marquette General Hospital (MGH) and Portage Health celebrated their coming together as a regional health system focused on delivering exceptional patient care through the unveiling of a new name, logo and brand image representing the cohesive service of quality care that is the UP Health System. Bell Hospital and Portage Health are LifePoint Hospitals® and MGH is a part of Duke LifePoint Healthcare.

The unified messaging combines the experience and services of two historic community hospitals, Bell Hospital and Portage Health, with the tertiary care of MGH to provide exceptional healthcare and value to the UP community. Working together, the UP Health System will improve patient satisfaction and focus on delivering exceptional quality care in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

The new logo represents a sense of teamwork and celebrates the opportunities created as Bell, Marquette and Portage facilities move forward with a resolute commitment to quality health services in the UP.

 UPHS Logo Color 300px w 

“These hospitals represent more than three centuries of combined service in the UP and, together as part of Duke LifePoint and LifePoint Hospitals, we see incredible potential for the long-term impact the UP Health System will have in the region as a unified system of care,” UP Health System President Jim Bogan said.  “Today, we are excited to unveil the visual representation of our hospitals’ partnership and celebrate the leaps forward we are all taking to provide exceptional care in our communities.”

The UP Health System boasts a proud history, built on a tradition of quality care in the UP. In the 1800s Bell, Marquette and Portage hospitals each made a promise to provide high-quality care for their communities. Today, that promise is reaffirmed as these hospitals combine to offer improvements both large and small – like new technologies, enhanced services and a deliberate focus on enhancing the delivery of healthcare to the region.

“Together, we are moving confidently into a future of unparalleled expertise, delivered to the communities we remain dedicated to serving,” said Bogan. “It’s not about big business; it’s about a big idea. With the changes happening in healthcare today, the best way for community hospitals to stay community hospitals is to work together to make our communities healthier.”

As a Duke LifePoint hospital, Marquette has announced improvements including a new $280 million, 279-bed hospital and 80,000-square-foot medical office building. In addition, Marquette announced earlier this year its affiliation with Duke Medicine in Heart and Cancer, home of the Duke Cancer Institute and Duke Heart Center, programs respected worldwide for their clinical excellence and research expertise. At Portage, a $60 million commitment to capital improvements from its joint venture with LifePoint Hospitals® is providing significant investments in technology, equipment and improved facilities. Inside Bell, also a LifePoint hospital, a $5 million commitment to capital improvements will result in investments for physician recruitment and retention, increased scope of medical service offerings and investments in hospital infrastructure.

Visually, the community will witness the impact of the UP Health System’s new logo and brand image in the coming months through new facility signage at each hospital, updated websites and a powerful campaign featuring local patients, doctors and community members highlighting the bright future ahead for the UP. More than an updated look and a new name, the new logo clearly demonstrates a bond with and commitment to the region.

About UP Health System

The UP Health System made up of Bell, Marquette and Portage hospitals, and in partnership with LifePoint Hospitals® and Duke LifePoint Healthcare, is a system dedicated to providing exceptional healthcare and value to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The UP Health System brings unparalleled expertise in clinical excellence and quality care to the UP. The UP Health System is making our communities healthier. For additional information, visit

About LifePoint Hospitals®

LifePoint Hospitals® is a leading hospital company focused on providing quality healthcare services close to home. Through its subsidiaries, LifePoint operates more than 60 hospital campuses in 21 states. With a mission of “Making Communities Healthier®,” LifePoint is the sole community hospital provider in the majority of the communities it serves. More information about the Company, which is headquartered in Brentwood, Tennessee, can be found on its website, All references to “LifePoint,” “LifePoint Hospitals®,” or the “Company” used in this release refer to LifePoint Hospitals®, Inc. or its affiliates.

About Duke LifePoint Healthcare

Duke LifePoint Healthcare, a joint venture of Duke University Health System, Inc. and LifePoint Hospitals® (NASDAQ: LPNT), was established to build a dynamic network of hospitals and health care providers. The joint venture, which brings together LifePoint's experience in community-based hospital management and Duke's world-renowned leadership in clinical service, is strengthening and improving health care delivery by providing community hospitals the clinical, quality and operational resources they need to grow and prosper. For additional information, visit 

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Portage Health and Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center need your help to increase awareness of respiratory disease in the community

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Portage Health has recently seen an increased rate of respiratory disease, especially in asthmatic children. The illness, being confirmed as enterovirus-D68 (EV-D68) can cause mild to severe respiratory illness. EV-D68 is a version of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease resulting in respiratory illness and may or may not be accompanied by the common mouth sores that come with Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease. 

Children with asthma or occasional asthma symptoms, even if never diagnosed with asthma, are at higher risk for developing severe illness potentially leading to pneumonia and hospitalization.
This virus is already in our community. To keep your child from getting and spreading EV-D68,

  • Avoid close contact with sick people
  • Wash your hands often
  • Cover Your coughs and sneezes
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces
  • Stay home when you’re sick

If your child is asthmatic, or has had signs of asthma in the past, our pediatricians recommend,

  • Start taking controller medicine (i.e. inhaled steroids, Singulair), even if no symptoms are present.
  • Start taking rescue medicine as well (i.e. albuterol) if child is showing symptoms such as fever, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, body and muscle aches, difficulty breathing, wheezing

For more information, see the following related health articles:

Reminder: To continue to protect yourself, your family and your community, please plan on getting your flu shot at the following clinics:

  • Community Flu Shot clinic on September 27 at Hancock High School,
  • Hancock Family Health Center Pediatric Flu Clinics: October 3, October 10, October 21, October 28. Please call for an appointment by calling (906) 483-1700.
  • Or make an appointment for a flu shot by calling your doctor’s office after October 1.
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