Media Releases

Bridgewalk scheduled for Labor Day Monday

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Portage Health Labor Day Bridge WalkIt's free, fun and a great way to get your body moving.

That’s right the annual Portage Health Labor Day Bridge Walk is right around the corner, scheduled for –when else– Labor Day, Monday Sept. 5. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and the walk will start at 9.

“This walk is a lot of fun for the couple hundred participants who come out every year,” said Angela Luskin, the event organizer. “It’s just a great social event, grab all your friends and come out to the walk.”

The walk is free, and put on by the city of Hancock, city of Houghton, Portage Health, Michigan’s Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Farm Bureau Insurance.

“We started this back in 2005 as a way for people that can’t make it to St. Ignace to still get out and experience a bridge walk,” said Luskin. “Even though we’re not at the Mighty Mac (Mackinaw Bridge), we still have our own bridge to walk over.”

The event starts at the Kestner Waterfront Park in west Houghton, participants will then cross the Portage Lake Lift Bridge, walk up Hancock Avenue, turn down to Porvoo Park, then walk on the waterfront to the Marina before heading back to the bridge. After crossing the bridge again, walkers will follow the waterfront path past the Super 8, then turn around and head back to Kestner Waterfront Park.

“It’s a non-competitive, fun event,” said Luskin. “There’s no timing, we just do it to get out and get some exercise.”

Preregistration is not required, for more information visit

Portage Health-University Center Expansion and Renovation

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HOUGHTON – With the total square footage more than doubling, the amount of exam rooms doubling and a staffing increase of more than 50 percent, the addition and renovation to Portage Health-University Center is a major step forward for healthcare in Houghton.

“The building expansion will enable us to have more providers to meet our community’s healthcare needs as well as gain space for our existing providers,” said Jim Bogan, president and CEO of Portage Health.

The upgrade comes as no surprise to those who work at, or use, the clinic.

More than 100 patients come through the doors during an average day, including 22 students, up significantly from when the facility opened in 2000.

“Over the last 11 years we have grown to capacity and beyond,” said Dr. Bruce Trusock, who has been at the clinic since it opened. “This expansion will allow us to continue serving the community, university faculty, staff and students.”

The expansion fits into the future of healthcare.

“This is a major step forward for our community,” said Diane Gadomski, vice president-Portage Health Medical Group. “This will increase access and provide the proper environment for a Patient Centered Medical Home model of care.”

That model of care is focused on prompt access to the primary care provider. Coupled with electronic medical records, and a renewed focus on provider-patient interaction, Portage Health is meeting and exceeding the needs of sweeping healthcare reform.

“The additional space will allow more patients to receive high-quality service,” said Dr. Allison Helman, who has also been at the clinic since the beginning. “The clinic is thriving and we couldn’t be happier to see it growing.”

The University Center is the student health service center for Michigan Technological University. With student enrollment growing, university officials want a healthcare center that meets the students needs.

“We are pleased to be working hand-in-hand with Portage Health to make healthcare services more accessible to the Michigan Tech community,” said Glenn Mroz, president of the university.

Portage Health added a provider in 2008, but the demand remained, leading to today’s announcement.

“I was hired three years ago to enhance the availability of healthcare to students through our walk-in clinic in the afternoons, said Melissa Becker, PA-C. “The added space with examination rooms will allow us to better serve both our patients in the community and the faculty, staff and students at Michigan Tech.”

Michigan Tech’s Exercise Science Department and athletic teams are also served by the University Center as students work with Portage Health staff for research and internships, and student athletes receive all of their care from Portage Health staff.

“It is a vital center for taking care of the university athletes through our Sports Medicine Institute,” said Trusock, who has been working with Michigan Tech athletes for 31 years.

The combination of a dozen new jobs at the facility and a planned cost of $4.3 million, means the project is a major boost to the local economy.

Moyle Construction of Houghton was awarded the bid for the construction, which should be completed by August of 2012.

“We are very pleased Portage Health has selected the Moyle Construction team to help expand their presence in the community,” said Peter Dupuis, vice president of estimating at Moyle. “This building expansion is a marquee project for the area and we are thrilled with their selection. We look forward to delivering Portage Health a great building on Michigan Tech’s campus.”

Dr. Peer goes from NFL to Portage Health

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Orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Christopher Peer starts in September 

Dr. Christopher Peer Just last week Dr. Christopher Peer was working with NFL players during training camp, but come September the board certified orthopaedic surgeon will be available for patients at Portage Health.

Dr. Peer is set to join Portage Health at the beginning of September and will specialize in sports medicine, highlighted by work on shoulders and knees.

“I believe in caring for athletes at every level,” said Peer. “I specialize in shoulders and knees, but have experience in all types of sports medicine and arthroscopic procedures.”

Dr. Peer completed Medical School at Georgetown University before doing his orthopaedic surgery training at the University of New Mexico. He then went on to an Orthopaedic Sports Medicine Fellowship in Kansas City and spent time working with the Chiefs.

A fellowship, such as the one completed by Dr. Peer, is the highest level of training any doctor can obtain in the United States.

He’s continued working with the Chiefs as an Orthopaedic Consultant while working at North Country Hospital in Newport, Vermont.

“Dr. Peer brings added expertise to our sports medicine institute as well as his experience in general orthopaedics,” said Jim Bogan, president and CEO of Portage Health.

Dr. Peer joins Dr. Jennifer Bow and Dr. Larry Carroll on Portage Health’s orthopaedic team, which is available for 24/7 emergency care. He will begin taking cases in September; appointments can be made now by calling (906) 483-1040.

Visit for more information.

Portage Health aligns with Superior Health Partners as an associate

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Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Dickinson County Health System and Baraga County Memorial Hospital also partner with SHP.

Superior Health PartnersMARQUETTE – Portage Health is proud to announce a new alliance with Superior Health Partners, an Upper Peninsula healthcare delivery system formed in 2010 to enable more people to receive accessible, quality health care in the U.P.

The announcement was made on Thursday, Aug. 11 in conjunction with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Baraga County Memorial Hospital and Dickinson County Health System, which also partnered with SHP, joining Marquette General Hospital, a founding member.

“This partnership will enable more people to receive their healthcare close to home,” said Jim Bogan, Portage Health CEO/president. “As a team, we are working together to provide higher quality, greater service and to manage healthcare costs.”

SHP’s mission includes growing the amount of services rendered in the U.P. by combining resources and proactively preparing for national healthcare reform.

“Keeping quality healthcare close to home for years to come is something we strive to do,” said Bogan.

Currently, more than 75 percent of outgoing referrals by Portage Health stay within the U.P. for further care.

 “This alliance should strengthen our ability to keep high-quality care available throughout the U.P.,” said Bogan.

All of the healthcare organizations will remain completely independent, while the association with SHP will strengthen each hospital’s ability to compete with out-of-state healthcare providers, which in recent years have systematically tried to steer specific healthcare services out of the U.P.

In 2010 Blue Cross Blue Shield subscribers living in the Western U.P. alone spent an estimated $70 million outside of Michigan.

“This migration is a staggering trend,” said Patrick Prichard, director of Upper Peninsula regional sales & operations and West Michigan regional initiatives for BCBSM. “With the talent and expertise right here at home, from highly-skilled primary and specialty-care physicians, to state-of-the-art medical facilities, there should be no reason why patients would choose to cross the borders.”

Cost is also an issue for patients who leave the U.P. for services. For example, inpatient admissions cost an average of 3.3 times more, while outpatient admissions were more than double in the first quarter of 2011.

“We don’t want our friends, neighbors and family to travel further and pay more for services we can provide right at home,” said Bogan.

Fast Facts, courtesy of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan:

  • Payment per inpatient admission in 2010 was 3.3 more for out of state than in the U.P. for U.P. residents
  • In the first quarter of 2011, inpatient admissions averaged a payment of $7,694 for in state, compared to $22.967 for out of state.
  • In the first quarter of 2011, outpatient admissions averaged a payment of $218 for in state, compared to $532 for out of state.


Press release from Superior Health Partners


MARQUETTE – Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and three new Upper Peninsula hospitals have entered into an alliance agreement with Superior Health Partners (SHP) to strengthen healthcare in the Upper Peninsula. The new hospitals include Portage Health of Hancock; Baraga County Memorial Hospital of L’Anse; and Dickinson County Healthcare System of Iron Mountain.
SHP is a healthcare delivery system formed in 2010 by Marquette General Hospital (MGH) to enable more people to receive accessible, quality healthcare in the Upper Peninsula. The alliance agreement announcement was made today at the BCBSM office in Marquette by Blue Cross, SHP and Upper Peninsula healthcare leadership representing each hospital facility.
By combining resources, managing the talent of healthcare providers and proactively preparing for national healthcare reform, SHP will focus on enhancing quality healthcare services and medical treatments that are being delivered in the Upper Peninsula. The agreement will create more access, improved clinical quality outcomes, patient satisfaction and create more healthcare-related employment opportunities.
SHP Board of Directors Chairman Tim Larson said, “Our focus is to allow patients access to quality healthcare in the Upper Peninsula. We are strengthening our commitment to the region’s patients, residents, doctors, nurses and medical technicians.  By providing access to affordable healthcare, creating jobs and offering options to keep patients from leaving the region for quality patient care, we are assuring our individual communities that we are committed to them.”
Portage Health President and CEO Jim Bogan said joining SHP fits Portage Health’s mission, which is to improve the health of its community by providing the highest-quality healthcare service.  Healthcare access and service within the Upper Peninsula is a goal that all the participants espouse, as well as providing the jobs that support our communities.
 “This partnership will enable more people to receive their healthcare close to home,” Bogan said.  “As a team we are working together to provide higher quality, greater service and to manage healthcare costs.”
 “High quality healthcare and its local accessibility have been the two central components of Dickinson County Healthcare System’s mission since it was founded in 1951,” commented John Schon, Administrator / CEO.  “We have had a long history of strong community support, which has allowed us to grow our services and technology, double the size of our medical staff, and double the number of staff we employ.  Our success has always come from the unique partnership we have with our community; the more utilization of local services, the more services we can continue to provide.  Additionally, federal and state quality indicators consistently rank us as a top performer when compared to other hospitals our size.”
“National healthcare reform has added new challenges, and it is now more important than ever that we not only continue that strong partnership with our community, but find ways to collaborate with other hospitals to pool our resources for a more regional strengthening of healthcare services,” Schon continued.  “As together we navigate the challenges that face us, we will all have a better chance to remain viable, and our patients will continue to receive the high quality, locally based healthcare they deserve.”  
 “This signifies another step in reducing fragmentation of local healthcare services, enabling the delivery of even higher quality healthcare,” stated Tim Zwickey, Baraga County Memorial Hospital CEO.  “Baraga County Memorial Hospital already possesses the picture archiving and communication system (PACS) for immediate reading of all x-rays, CT scans, MRI’s, mammograms, etc., by any specialist within the SHP Alliance.  This is available through the established network, along with the sharing of laboratory tests results and medical records for care delivered locally at Baraga County Memorial Hospital.”
Zwickey continued, “Arrangements have already been made to provide a pediatrician locally at the Baraga County Memorial Hospital Physician Group as a replacement for a physician who is leaving, which is an example of what the partnership, through the alliance, can deliver.  This latest effort is in addition to the provision of after hours and weekend access to a hospital pharmacist for consultation with our physicians and nursing staff, and assistance with physician recruitment.”       
U.P. residents will see their community healthcare organization remain independent, while the affiliation with SHP will strengthen each hospital’s ability to compete with out-of-state healthcare providers, which in recent years have systematically tried to steer specific healthcare services out of the U.P.  In 2010, an estimated $70 million was spent outside of Michigan from those living in the western U.P. alone.
“This migration is a staggering trend,” said Patrick Prichard, Director of Upper Peninsula Regional Sales & Operations and West Michigan Regional Initiatives for BCBSM.  “With the talent and expertise right here at home, from highly skilled primary and specialty-care physicians to state-of-the-art medical facilities, there should be no reason why patients would choose to cross the borders.”  The BCBSM affiliation with SHP is a direct response to patient “outmigration” to other states, most notably Wisconsin where healthcare costs for many services are significantly higher than Michigan.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is a nonprofit corporation and an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
For more information, media can contact:
MGH: Dave Edwards: 906- 225-3430 or 225-4770,
Portage: Victor Harrington: 906-483-1550,
DCHS: Suzanne Killian: 906-776-5671
BCMH: Faye Lozier: 906-524-3322,
BCBSM: John Zimmerman: 616-776-3511,



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