Health Matters: Community connections

Andrea Leslie, president of Spectrum Health Big Rapids, Reed City, United and Kelsey Hospitals

Andrea Leslie, president of Spectrum Health Big Rapids, Reed City, United and Kelsey Hospitals

Courtesy of John Norton, Spectrum Health

It’s great to see you again!

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing many of you at community gatherings the past few weeks. It’s so refreshing to be out and about after a couple of years of precautions due to COVID-19.

It was a privilege to represent Spectrum Health at the groundbreaking for the improvements being made at Hemlock Park.

Hemlock Park is a Big Rapids community gem and the improvements being made will encourage people of all ages to enjoy outdoor recreation and physical activity.

We know less screen time — and more court time — or time kayaking or picnicking along the beautiful Muskegon River is good for our physical and mental health, which is something near and dear to my heart.

Much like our involvement with the city and the Big Rapids Rotary Club in developing the outdoor gym near the hospital, we value our partnerships with everyone in the community that invests in ways to improve our health and wellness.

It was also heartwarming to see the turnout for the Wheatlake Wellness Walk and 5K as the community gathered to raise money for local patients battling cancer. Proceeds from the event support the wellness center at the Susan P. Wheatlake Regional Cancer Center in Reed City.

The wellness center includes a resource library, beauty boutique, gift shop and integrative therapy rooms. Patients have access to services such as massages, acupuncture, reflexology, wig fittings and more. The center hosts support groups and educational sessions to assist patients on the road to recovery.

Susan Wheatlake, the center’s namesake, along with an amazing and accomplished group of her sorority sisters from Michigan Tech, led walkers and runners along Big Rapids Riverwalk in this important cause. We saw hope and felt the energy as patients and survivors came together in solidarity. The event also honored loved ones with memorial stakes.

On behalf of those receiving care at the cancer center, we thank you for helping us raise more than $14,000 as well as lifting spirits the morning of the event.

Lastly, it was so exciting to see so many members of the community and Spectrum Health staff attend the groundbreaking for the new Big Rapids Primary Care/Urgent Care facility being constructed next to Menards in Big Rapids.

The 33,000 square-foot building, to open next year, will house the Big Rapids Family Medicine clinic, the first Spectrum Health Urgent Care in the area, outpatient rehabilitation, occupational health and a walk-in clinic. Our team members will have more space to provide top-notch care to our community members in a more modern and expanded space.

Being close to US 131 and Perry Street, we hope this location will provide convenience for patients coming for care from throughout the area.

Special thanks to long-time Big Rapids physicians Peter Macdonald, MD, and Scott Vanderhill, MD, who helped us commemorate the occasion.

As you can see, a lot of positive things are happening in our community. It’s great to be a part of it!

I wish you all a safe and healthy summer.

— Andrea Leslie is president of Spectrum Health Big Rapids, Reed City, United and Kelsey Hospitals