Creativity, Innovation Spark Future's Promise

July 21, 2008
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Health Quarterly is packed with news and information but represents a fraction of the entire spectrum of health-related business in West Michigan, even when combined with the daily and weekly news and updates in parent publication Grand Rapids Business Journal.

Consider the very recent developments in West Michigan, including Kalamazoo, Holland and Muskegon — not just along the “Medical Mile” of downtown Grand Rapids — and it is evident that this leg of the regional economy continues to grow and thrive.

Grand Rapids Business Journal readers have been informed of the University of Michigan Health System’s new alliance with Metro Health to pay half the cost of the linear accelerator at the Cancer Center at Metro Health Village under a joint venture agreement announced in June. The U-M system also will hire and pay the salary for a radiation oncologist to oversee the program at Metro and join the University of Michigan Medical School faculty, said Dr. Theodore S. Lawrence, chair of the department of radiation oncology. He said he plans to conduct a nationwide search to fill the post. The center opened for chemotherapy patients June 30 and will provide radiation therapy in the fall.

As this publication was going to print, Spectrum Health was cutting ribbons for the Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion, which opened June 30, another achievement in Spectrum Health’s 21st century facilities investment. Reporter Elizabeth Slowik notes in her story on page 8 that Spectrum Health treats about two-thirds of the approximately 3,000 new cancer patients diagnosed in Kent County annually. It joins other major health systems in West Michigan in combining chemotherapy and radiation treatment under one roof.

But there is more to health care than hospitals and clinics. From lollipops to OstialPro, the inventive nature of regional health care professionals also is flourishing. Borgess cardiologist Tim Fischell has dozens of medical device patents, and his work on his AngelMed Guardian System is an astounding opportunity for patients to manage a heart attack — before they have it.

Dentist John Bruinsma and his wife, Deborah, a dental hygienist, are manufacturing and distributing Dr. John’s herbal lollipops. The story relating a Chinese licorice plant extraction by a UCLA researcher and the resulting pending improvements to the lollipops is on page 19.

“Connections” is the brainchild of two women who met at an Inforum function in Grand Rapids. Potentia and Gymco Sports have teamed to bring an adult “brain fitness club” to West Michigan, and they’re preparing to launch its inaugural class. Physical literacy is physical movement designed to increase neural connections through repeated movements. This component is provided in partnership with Gymco Sports and its founder, Doreen Bolhuis, a nationally recognized physical education professional with extensive knowledge of brain research. Laughter aerobics — the act of laughing out loud, combined with breathing — reduces stress, strengthens the heart-brain connection and boosts positive brain chemistry, a lot of which is connected to learning and memory, said Cynthia Novak, founder of Potentia. The new program stimulates neural connectivity and slows decline in brain function. The article is on page 12.

It must be said that any these products and services can save patients thousands of dollars in health care costs, which continue to escalate at double digits.

Van Andel Research Center Chairman and CEO David Van Andel in his Vital Signs column beseeches graduating students to look at the dynamic careers that are possible in West Michigan. We believe there is much more than meets the eye. 

— Carole Valade

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