Al Carlson Recipient of Justus and Paulina Stearns Legacy Award
August 12, 2019
Community activist, Allan Carlson, 88, received the Justus and Paulina Stearns Legacy Award at the Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital “Mad Hatter” Benefit Ball Friday evening, August 9. Carlson was honored for his many contributions to the Ludington area community, his years of service as an active hospital volunteer, his annual giving to Spectrum Health Foundation Ludington Hospital and his advocacy for the hospital and its mission.
“I was surprised as heck!” Carlson said about being selected for the award. “I didn’t expect it at all. I was so honored.”
“It was heartwarming to see Al Carlson honored in this way,” said Debbie Nellis, volunteer coordinator, Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital. “He’s such an upbeat, active person who always works for others’ best interests. It’s been a joy to have Al as a volunteer.”
“It’s also been a joy to have Al as a donor,” echoed Kaley Petersen, director of community services and the Spectrum Health Foundation Ludington Hospital. “Our foundation committee was really pleased to honor him with the Legacy Award because he’s so deserving of it. Al leads with his heart in everything he does, and it shows in his many accomplishments. He’s been very active in this community for years, quietly giving his time, talent and treasure. We’re just very happy to have his support of our organization and our causes.”
“I’d like to thank everyone involved for selecting me for this award,” said Carlson. “The hospital is a good place to work and a good place to volunteer. You feel like you’re making a good contribution in the community.”
This year’s ball raised over $100,000, which will be split between three Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital initiatives: the cancer patient assistance fund, the Reach Out and Read pediatric literacy initiative, and the Win With Wellness Fit Club health education and fitness program that is in fourteen elementary schools in Mason, Oceana, and Lake counties.
Cancer Patient Assistance Fund
Cancer impacts patients’ everyday lives: lost wages, expensive medications, travel costs for treatment, specialized food, co-pays, deductibles, and the list goes on. A cancer diagnosis will result in a financial burden that many patients are without means to handle or manage.
The Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital Cancer Center averages 800 patient visits a month. The care team in the Center identified that patients’ financial difficulties were causing immense stress, often impeding their healing. The team asked the Foundation to provide financial assistance to help alleviate patients’ stress and help them to focus on healing. From this request, the donor-driven Cancer Patient Assistance Fund was created to alleviate financial burden. The fund is a sustainable assistance option that provides financial help for patients of the Cancer Center.
The initial creation of the fund provided a short-term solution. But through wide-scale community and hospital involvement, the fund reached $500,000 in principal, allowing an endowment to be established, which means that funds will be available in perpetuity to provide support to cancer patients served at Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital. As of early summer, 2019, 124 patients received over $93,000. This program is an example of what can be accomplished when donors work together to provide assistance to those in need.
Reach Out And Read program
Reach Out And Read (ROAR) is a national pediatric literacy program focused on increasing childhood reading in order to improve children’s literacy and promote lifelong success in school and learning. The Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital Pediatrics office is an official ROAR site. At each well child visit, children ages 0 to 5 receive a free developmentally appropriate book. And teens and tweens can select a used book from a lending library set up in the clinic’s waiting area.
Parents are also given instruction and education about the importance of reading to their children daily and promoting reading at home and at school. Studies show that children who read and are read to have better literacy levels than children who are not read to. Children who hear fewer words in the first five years of life start school developmentally behind and may never catch up.
The Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital Pediatrics office currently provides new books to 2,700 children every year.
Win With Wellness Fit Club
Fit Club is a free, fitness and health education program designed to encourage heathy behaviors in children. It was created for all kids to learn about health topics, participate in fitness activities and have fun, thereby teaching children that focusing on health and wellness and dedicating time to it can be a positive experience and provide rewards.
Fit Club is now offered in 14 schools in Mason, Oceana and Lake counties. Each year, new education modules are offered, new prizes are available for kids to earn, and new opportunities provided to engage in fitness activities that are happening across our communities.
The health education modules are taught during the school day by members of Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital’s community wellness department, made up of a health educator, a nurse, a dietician, and a certified physician assistant. The modules cover topics such as the importance of staying hydrated, portion control, nutrition, staying safe near water, germs, dental hygiene, downtime and mindfulness, safety on wheels, being fit, heart health, the importance of breakfast, and the dangers of too much sugar. Modules are rotated year to year so that children are not being taught the same thing in the program as the previous year.
Last year, education was provided to 3,457 students and 2,247 students were enrolled in Fit Club and collectively achieved 88,874 miles of activity.
Spectrum Health System, a not-for-profit, integrated health system, is committed to improving the health and wellness of our communities. We live our mission every day with 31,000 compassionate professionals, 4,600 medical staff experts, 3,300 committed volunteers and a health plan with more than 1 million members. Our talented physicians and caregivers are privileged to offer a full continuum of care and wellness services to our communities through 14 hospitals, including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, 150 ambulatory sites and telehealth offerings. We pursue health care solutions for today and tomorrow that diversify our offerings. Locally-governed and based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, our health system provided $550 million in community benefit in calendar year 2019. Thanks to the generosity of our communities, we received $37 million in philanthropy to support research, academics, innovation and clinical care. Spectrum Health has been recognized as one of the nation’s 15 Top Health Systems by Truven Health Analytics®, part of IBM Watson HealthTM.