Media Releases

UPHS-Portage Café Partners with Niemela’s Market Gardens for Fresh Local Produce

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 niemela-produceHANCOCK, Mich. – UP Health System - Portage has started a partnership with Niemela’s Market Gardens who will supply fresh local produce for the hospital’s café. The first delivery was made on Friday (June 5).


Niemela’s Market Gardens is located in Pelkie and started growing for market in 2008. They focus on naturally growing a number of vegetables, without the use of synthetic chemical fertilizers or pesticides.


"We are happy to partner with UP Health System - Portage to provide fresh, local, naturally-grown vegetables for their patients, staff, and visitors,” said James Niemela. “We appreciate the opportunity to broaden our market and share our produce with more residents of the Copper Country.”


Niemela’s Market Gardens grows lettuce, carrots, beets, chard, kale, summer squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, green onions, escarole, endive, leeks, green onions, cabbage, broccoli, and more. The Niemela’s use tunnels to extend the short growing season here in the Upper Peninsula.


“We’re really excited to be teaming up with Niemela’s Market Gardens,” said Shannon Brodeur, the Director of Food Services at UP Health System - Portage. “It’s always great when you can invest back into our community, and our patients, employees, and visitors will appreciate the fact that some of our produce will be coming from a local farm that uses natural techniques.”


The café at UP Health System - Portage is open Monday thru Friday from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. It offers a full menu for breakfast (7-10 a.m.), lunch (11 a.m.-1:30 p.m.) and dinner (5-6:30 p.m.) along with a la carte and room service.

Portage to Host 7th Annual Health & Safety Fair

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 main-campusHANCOCK, Mich. -- UP Health System - Portage is hosting its seventh annual Health & Safety Fair on Saturday, June 6 from 9 a.m. to Noon at its main location in Hancock. The annual event is free to the public.



This year's Health & Safety Fair will bring many of the valuable offerings as in years past such as health screenings, giveaways, healthy snacks and much, much more.



This year's free screenings include total cholesterol, blood glucose, hemoglobin, bone density, heart rate, pulse oximetry, body fat percentage, waist circumference and vision. Some screenings may be limited and will be available on a first come, first served basis.



Back by popular demand is the car sear clinic, where parents work with experts to ensure their car seat is as safe as possible for their children.

Several departments from UP Health System along with organizations from the community will be at the event. This is a great opportunity to meet with medical staff and experts.


There is no preregistration for the event, and the entire community is invited. Call (906) 483-1153 for more information. 



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. 

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