Media Releases

Internationally recognized dementia expert is coming to the Copper Country

(Services, Events) Permanent link

HANCOCK – Portage Health Hospice is proud to announce that internationally recognized dementia expert Joyce Simard, MSW, is coming to the Copper Country to help the hospice program implement a new philosophy of care called Namaste (pronounced NAH-mes-tay) Care.

Joyce SimardSimard will be training Portage Health Hospice staff on Monday, Nov. 26 and Tuesday, Nov. 27. The training will commence with a wine reception on Tuesday from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Jutila Center in Hancock. The wine reception is free and open to the public. Light hors d’oeuvres will also be served.

Simard developed Namaste Care, and has been instrumental at implementing it at organizations around the world. She has written two books and dozens of papers on the topic. She continues to travel the world presenting information on it, and is currently an adjunct professor at the University of Western Australia. She will introduce the program and be available to answer questions at the reception.

“This model of care affirms the individuality and enduring spirit of each person,” said Marianne Berghefer, Portage Health Hospice volunteer and bereavement coordinator. “We’ve had our eye on this program for many months now and couldn’t be happier to have the world’s utmost expert in Namaste Care here to train our staff and help us introduce this to the community.”

Namaste Care improves quality of life through meaningful sensory activities that stimulate the senses, promote relaxation, and offer comfort and serenity. Although specifically designed for advanced dementia, the sensory approaches in Namaste Care enhance the lives of people with other diseases as well.

The public is invited to learn more about the program by joining Simard and Portage Health Hospice staff at the reception.

Bereavement support group sessions added for holiday season

(Events) Permanent link

HANCOCK – The holidays are a busy time of year, and for those that have recently lost someone special in their lives, the memories, emotions, and grief can be overwhelming. In an effort to support each other get through challenging times, Portage Health is adding a weekly bereavement support group meeting every Thursday throughout the holiday season.

"This is an especially tough time of year for a person who just lost someone close to them," said Marianne Bergherfer, Portage Health hospice volunteer and bereavement coordinator. "We want to give people the opportunity to come together and know they aren't alone in their loss."

The group sessions will take place at 10:30 a.m. every Thursday from Dec. 6 through Jan. 3 at the Kangas Café, which is on the ground floor of the Jutila Center (former hospital) in Hancock. The bereavement support group offers a safe and welcoming environment to share and help each other through the grieving process. There is no cost to attend meetings, and an RSVP is not required.

For more information, including a full schedule visit, or call (906) 483-1160.

Portage Health wins recruitment award from MHC

(Acheivements and Accolades) Permanent link

OKEMOS – Portage Health received the Michigan Health Council’s “Building Michigan’s Health Care Workforce Award for Employee Recruitment” this week.

Recruiting Award

Portage Health Director of Marketing and Communications Kevin Store and Director of Human Resources Robbyn Lucier post for a photo with their plaque for winning the Michigan Health Council's “Building Michigan’s Health Care Workforce Award for Employee Recruitment.”

The award recognizes the hospital’s improved provider-recruitment strategy. The strategy has increased the number of new medical-provider hires by an average of eight per year, while reducing expenses by more than $90,000 annually and all but eliminating the need to hire outside recruitment firms.

“Recruitment of well-trained, highly qualified medical providers is vital to Portage Health’s ability to provide the excellent level of care we offer,” said Kevin Store, director of marketing and communications. “This award is a testament to the hard work of many people at Portage Health and recognizes the quality and innovation that truly is at our core.”

The Michigan Health Council’s criteria evaluates and recognizes innovative, successful strategies used by a health care organization to recruit health professionals to meet patient-care needs. Programs receiving awards must be replicable and cost effective. In order for Portage Health to have success, the organization launched three key initiatives: 1. hired a full-time medical-staff recruiter; 2. executed a thorough community needs assessment; 3) expanded clinical rotations for medical students.

“Finding medical professionals, especially board-certified physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners can be costly and difficult, especially in smaller rural communities.” said Michigan Health Council President and CEO Anne Rosewarne. “By completely rebuilding their recruitment program, Portage Health demonstrates organizations can improve recruitment while saving costs.”

Portage Health has welcomed twenty six new providers in the past three years, and has identified several medical providers that will join them in the near future.

“These highly qualified medical providers are what elevates Portage Health,” said Robbyn Lucier, director of human resources.

For more information on Portage Health, visit Additional information on the Michigan Health Council can be found at

Winter schedule for Community Fitness Classes announced

(Events) Permanent link

HOUGHTON - The change of seasons means a new set of community fitness classes at the Portage Health Fitness Center in Houghton, including free introductory classes every week in January.

Winter Fitness ClasssesThe winter session will begin Dec. 1 with many of the popular classes returning, including indoor cycling, zumba, Pilates, yogalates and classes that combine elements of each of those things.

One new class being offered is the TRX/Kettlebell Fusion, which takes advantage of the new TRX suspension bands available at the fitness center. The recently added prenatal fitness class will also continue into the winter schedule as a six-week course beginning Dec. 4.

In addition to the usual schedule, the fitness center will now offer cycling on Saturday and Sunday, and cycle fusion on Saturday.

The community is also invited to try one of the free introductory classes, which will be held every Monday in January at 6:45 p.m.

For more information on the winter schedule, including information on how to save money with a punch card, call (906) 483-1149 or visit The full schedule for right now, and beginning Dec. 1 is available on that website.

Nicholas Stevens added to Portage Health board of directors

(Staff) Permanent link

HANCOCK – Nicholas Stevens is the newest member of the Portage Health Board of Directors after being voted in during the board’s October meeting.

Nick StevensStevens is the executive vice president of business and finance at Finlandia University, where he’s been employed since 2005.

“I look forward to bringing a fresh outlook, youthful energy and my experience in good stewardship of available financial resources to Portage Health,” said Stevens. “I’m also looking forward to continuing the tradition of a strong relationship between Portage Health and Finlandia University.”

Stevens attended Michigan Technological University after graduating from Dollar Bay-Tamarack City Area Schools.

“I have a deep commitment to this community,” said Stevens. “Houghton County has been my home since I was 3, and I understand the importance of a thriving Portage Health and what that brings to the surrounding community.

“It is an honor to serve and I look forward to the work ahead.”

Stevens lives in Dollar Bay with his wife April and their two children.

Start your Thanksgiving Day with the Turkey Trot

(Events) Permanent link

HANCOCK – The Portage Health Turkey Trot 5k run/walk is being hosted on Thanksgiving morning at 9 a.m. at Portage Health’s main campus in Hancock.

Turkey TrotThe free event is the first of its kind in the Copper Country, but it’s something very popular throughout the nation.

“Thanksgiving is a holiday that usually includes a lot of time in the kitchen and dining room,” said Angela Luskin. “We’re hoping to get people on their feet and active to start their day. We weren’t sure how popular it would be, but we already have 74 people registered online with more than two weeks to go.”

The first 100 people to preregister for the free event receive a t-shirt.

“We’re seeing people of all ages registering,” Luskin said. “This is a great event for the entire family.”

Participants will meet at the Portage Health lobby in Hancock to register and pick up t-shirts. Walkers and runners will head out toward Maasto Hiihto trails, looping around by the Keweenaw Co-op and finishing at Portage Health. Refreshments and snacks will be waiting.

Pre-register for the event by going to


500 Campus Drive
Hancock, MI 49930
(906) 483-1000


921 W. Sharon Avenue
Houghton, MI 49931
(906) 483-1777

Express Care 


945 Ninth Street
Lake Linden, MI 49945
(906) 483-1030


751 S. Seventh Street
Ontonagon, MI 49953
(906) 884-4120


600 MacInnes Drive
Houghton, MI 49931
(906) 483-1860

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