It takes a village to raise a child—from the parents to the family members who offer love and support to the teacher who encourages the child in school.
It takes a village to run a business—from the owner to the clients who shop in the store to the accountants who help keep track of the books.
And, it takes a village to keep a community healthy—from healthcare providers and technicians, therapists, nurses and so many others who care for patients to nonprofits that distribute food to families in need to organizations that ensure families have transportation.
Staff members at MyMichigan Medical Center Mt. Pleasant know just how much they need to rely on their village to keep local residents healthy; and, they have found ways to help ensure their village thrives.
“Our mission is: Creating Healthy Communities—Together. That happens outside of the healthcare system, rather than just within our four walls,” says Sydney Zuke, community health supervisor at MyMichigan Medical Centers in Alma, Mt. Pleasant, and Clare. “So, being able to provide for our communities in different ways is essential for the wellbeing of the whole person within our community.”
MyMichigan Medical Center Mt. Pleasant focuses on that word “together” in several ways, including building meaningful partnerships in the community and encouraging employees to volunteer.
Partnerships support a village
One of the ways MyMichigan Medical Center is working to support the village that keeps the community healthy is by creating meaningful partnerships within the community. MyMichigan Health regularly sponsors various events around town; however, one of their most notable partnerships is with Central Michigan University College of Medicine to put on a health fair.
“We work with the second-year medical students at CMU. They work together with us to go over ideas about what providers that they want accessible to the community,” explains Zuke. “We also bring local organizations to provide information about resources available in the community.”
For example, in 2022, a few providers available at the health fair included Primary Care, Obstetrics-Gynecology, and Psychiatry, among others; and, local organizations present included Helping Women Period, Isabella County Restoration House, and Disability Network, among others.
One of the seasonal volunteer opportunities that MyMichigan Medical Center Mt. Pleasant employees participate in is Fill A Mayflower. (Photo: Gabrielle Haiderer/Epicenter)
“We practice in a rural setting. CMED is really committed to developing physicians for rural health care,” says Jennifer Marar, director of operations at MyMichigan Medical Center Mt. Pleasant. “This is a great opportunity for us to touch base with these future physicians and help them see the values and the benefits for our local community members to have this top-notch care—care that they will be providing some day. It not only engages them in what it's like to work in a rural community and live in a rural community, but it really helps them see how being a provider of medical care in these settings is essential. It helps them see how challenging it can be sometimes to get the resources to the right people. The health fair is an opportunity for them to delve into that in a different way than they do in their regular studies.”
Volunteerism supports a village
Another way MyMichigan Health is supporting the village that keeps the region healthy is by encouraging their employees to volunteer in the community through Community Service Time (CST).
Last year 29% of employees at MyMichigan Medical Center Mt. Pleasant volunteered in the community by using their Community Service Time. (Photo: Gabrielle Haiderer/Epicenter)
“Eligible full-time employees can use up to eight hours per year to put towards their passions and efforts in volunteerism,” says Zuke. “They can choose wherever they want to put their time into and they get paid for that time.”
Zuke says that last year 29% of employees at MyMichigan Medical Center Mt. Pleasant volunteered in the community through their CST. This is higher than the national average, which shows that about 23% of Americans volunteer in their community, according to The 2021 Volunteering in America Report
Employees use their CST to help with local food distributions, participate in book fairs at their child’s school or help in the classroom, volunteer at health fairs in the summer, and many other worthy causes throughout the year. However, many employees tend to save their CST for the holiday season.
“I'll ask employees through the year, ‘Have you used your CST yet?’ and often they’ll say, ‘I'm saving it for Christmas.’ So, we definitely see an influx in people using that during this time of year,” she says.
One of the seasonal volunteer opportunities that MyMichigan Medical Center Mt. Pleasant employees participate in is Fill A Mayflower.
“These are the places that we live—not just work. As we raise our families, we engage in all kinds of community activities as individuals,” says Marar. “We want to make sure that we're living in and providing robust communities for our patients as well as the people who work in the community.” (Photo: Gabrielle Haiderer/Epicenter)
“We've always had a really big presence with that, and we really are proud to take part in that endeavor,” says Marar.
She adds that MyMichigan Medical Center Mt. Pleasant has even won the trophy in the past for most donations.
They also recently wrapped up an internal United Way campaign, which raised $365,000 across the MyMichigan Health system.
MyMichigan Medical Center Mt. Pleasant participated in seven parades throughout this holiday season across the region as well, spreading cheer in their trailer that has been converted to resemble a sleigh. Marar says the parades are particularly enjoyable because not only do employees participate, but their families do as well. And, whether walking in a parade or distributing food to those in need, she says employees across the system are brought together by giving back to the community.
“It's really great team building for all of our team members to work together in a way that they may not normally,” Marar says. “Healthcare is a giving career. People are in healthcare because they want to give something back to people; they want to help people.”
“Healthcare is a giving career,” says Marar. “People are in healthcare because they want to give something back to people; they want to help people.”
Some may question why those who give so much already would want to spend their free time giving more, but Marar says many of the employees find it refreshing. While healthcare is a career of giving, many employees don’t see the direct benefit to the people they help. They may perform an ultrasound and send it off to be read, but never see the patient again. Perhaps they performed a test on a blood sample and sent the results off, but never know how the patient’s health progressed. Those people may find volunteering in activities such as a food distribution particularly rewarding because they see the direct impact of their efforts.
“You're making such a tangible difference for those people because you can see it,” Marar says. “If you put a box of food in somebody's car, you immediately see the impact. You immediately see the expression of gratitude, and you know it really does help.”
As the saying goes, “what goes around comes around.” Marar says this has been the case as MyMichigan Medical Center Mt. Pleasant builds partnerships and encourages volunteerism—the benefits have been mutual for the organization and employees.
“These are the places that we live—not just work. As we raise our families, we engage in all kinds of community activities as individuals,” she says. “We want to make sure that we're living in and providing robust communities for our patients as well as the people who work in the community.”