Betty Ford symbolizes affordable health access

September 26, 2010
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With cries of repeal hanging in the air entering the final stages of the fall election campaign season, President Barack Obama’s health reform measures remain a vivid target for his critics. But Betty Ford isn’t likely among them, reflected in her ongoing support for access to quality health care for all.

When the former first lady’s son Steven Ford accepted the Alliance for Health’s annual Hillman Award on her behalf last week, he made comments to the Business Journal beforehand that his mother has always felt “(affordable health) access is the key.

“Mom started the non-profit Betty Ford Center,” Steve Ford noted. “It’s been in operation a long time and 90,000 people have come through there. The accessible care there includes scholarship programs for those who can’t afford it.”

Ford, the son of  Betty Ford and the late President Gerald R. Ford, attended Alliance for Health’s “Once in a Blue Moon @ High Noon” event  at the JW Marriott, to accept the award on behalf of his mother. He again reminded the audience of Betty Ford’s love for West Michigan and appreciation for all that this area has done for her family.

In terms of her own health struggles with chemical dependence and breast cancer, “she never knew that what she went through would be of such service to others,” Steven Ford said.

Alliance for Health President Lody Zwarensteyn said Betty Ford was being recognized for her public and forthright approach to the breast cancer she developed in 1974, shortly after her husband took office, as well as to her dependence on pain-killers and alcohol.

Ford, now 92, co-founded the Betty Ford Center, a California substance use disorder treatment center. She also helped with the establishment of Betty Ford Breast Care Services of Spectrum Health.

“The Hillman award annually recognizes people who have truly made a difference in the quality of health care in West Michigan,” Zwarensteyn said. “This year, we are honoring one of our community’s most distinguished and inspirational leaders. Through Mrs. Ford’s courage, advocacy and activism, the nation changed the way it views, talks about and cares … for breast cancer and addiction. West Michigan is incredibly fortunate to be a beneficiary of her ground-breaking vision.”

Growing success

Last week the Business Journal reported on how well some tourist attractions in West Michigan did this summer. Amy Sawade of  Fredrick Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park saw that and let us know that “it rings true here at Meijer Gardens,” too.

According to Sawade, attendance over the summer months there was up 47 percent, and up more than 20 percent for the entire fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

In fact, it was the record year for the 15-year-old facility.

“We did fantastic, absolutely fantastic,” said David Hooker, president/CEO of Meijer Gardens.

“The West Michigan community, which blesses us every year, continued to do so this year. And on top of that, we have seen many, many visitors from out of state — and actually, out of the country,” said Hooker.

He said the staff expects the official fiscal year-end count, after this week, to be a little over 620,000 visitors.

“By comparison,” added Hooker, “the year before, we had 525,000-ish.”

“It’s a dramatic increase from the previous year,” he said, then added, “it’s a record, our biggest year ever.”

The outdoor concerts the gardens are now known for were part of the success story this year.

“We had more concerts, and more people for concerts, than we ever had before,” said Hooker.

This year also marks the 15th anniversary of the opening of the gardens, and the operation offered a lot of 15-ish things to call attention to that, such as 15 percent more butterflies for the famous annual live butterfly exhibition in the early spring; 15 percent more of the thousands of various colored flowering chrysanthemums in the Colorfall exhibition; and 15 different sites on the grounds devoted to the current major exhibition of works by the world-famous glass sculptor Dale Chihuly, called “Chihuly; A New Eden.”

The anniversary also prompted an indoor exhibit celebrating the legacy of Fred and Lena Meijer, which features about 25 pieces of what Hooker describes as “absolutely world-class modern and contemporary sculpture.”

“You could go to the best museums in New York, Chicago, Paris, London, everywhere — and I can guarantee you, you would not see all these artists represented” in one concentrated location “like we have here. It just doesn’t happen — and yet, it’s happening here.”

Meijer Gardens is also a venue for ArtPrize, with 26 entries on exhibit throughout the grounds.

Hooker said both ArtPrize and Meijer Gardens are cultural gifts to the Grand Rapids region, reflecting the unusual generosity of successful business families based here such as the Meijers, Van Andels and DeVoses.

“It is so wonderful what they are doing” in support of the arts here, said Hooker. “You could name a lot of cities that don’t have squat, and we have tons.”

Rounding up the crew

The Grand Rapids Young Professionals is holding and event Thursday to highlight some of their own members as ArtPrize artists. The group’s September Unwind will be held at Louis Benton in Grand Rapids beginning at 5:30 p.m. The event will include networking and open discussion as well as guided tours of ArtPrize entries.

Since the top10 ArtPrize exhibits will be announced the morning of the event, the tour guides will attempt to make it to as many of the Top 10 venues as possible within the hour long walking tour.

The GRYP members exhibiting in ArtPrize include those at the JW Marriott where George and Carey Bradshaw are showing their film, “Public Museum”; Abigail Bradley with her painting, “Her Open Eyes” at DeVos Place; Katy McAvoy with her photography piece entitled “Black & White vs. Color” at the Riverview Center; and another photography piece by Paul Jendrasiak and Wynnona Frances.

Pay hikes for PMs

In light of this week’s Business Journal Focus section looking at some local property management issues, it was interesting to see a new study that shows that real estate management professionals holding the Certified Property Manager (CPM) designation are maintaining a history of steady salary growth, despite continuing economic turbulence.

Professionals holding the CPM designation earned a median base salary of $94,000 in 2009, up from $90,000 in 2006; $81,256 in 2003; $72,300 in 1999; and $42,000 in 1984. Further, the typical CPM designee holds a property manager/supervisor or executive level position, supervises 44 employees, and averages 22.2 years of experience.

These are among the just-released findings of the 2010 edition of the Certified Property Manager Profile and Compensation Study published by the Institute of Real Estate Management . The Institute awards the CPM designation to real estate and asset managers “who have met strict criteria in the areas of education, examination, experience and a commitment to uphold the rigorously enforced IREM Code of Professional Ethics.”

IREM periodically surveys its CPM members and candidates — of whom there currently are approximately 8,600 and 2,967, respectively, in the United States and abroad — to compile, analyze and compare the most critical components of real estate managers’ compensation and benefit packages.

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