From the Board

of the

Beaver Island Rural Heath Center

July 17, 2003

Dear Patient and Friend of Beaver Island Rural Health Center:

The board and management of the Health Center have had to make some very difficult staffing and financial decisions during the last year.  In all cases, decisions were made carefully, with the best interest of the Health Center and the community in mind.

One of the hardest decisions was not to renew a contract, which resulted in the immediate resignation of Susan Meis, PA-C.  We understand that many patients regret her departure and see this as a personal loss.  Several steps have been taken to ensure that we can maintain the coverage and the high quality of health care services that you have come to expect, and that the community deserves.  Chris VanLooy, PA-C, continues to serve in a full time capacity as our primary care provider.  In addition, we have the full cooperation and staffing assistance of BIEMS personnel, and have made arrangements for two professionals, Jo Hendrix, Nurse Practitioner, and Holly Nielsen, PA-C, to provide services to patients.  Both Jo and Holly are experienced care providers and well known to the Beaver Island Community.

Financially, the Health Center is facing many challenges, including the loss of its expected annual state grant of $75,000 - $100,000 this year, and a substantial write-off in accounts receivable, a problem that has plagued the organization for many years.  It is small comfort that every health system in the state is dealing with similar crises.  Nonetheless, BIRHC is in a position to address these problems.  With increased support of the community in various fundraising efforts over the past few years, we have built a small financial reserve which will sustain us through this difficult period.  Your continued support and interest will be critical.

The BIRHC Board and staff are committed to fulfilling our mission of providing high quality, cost effective patient treatment and wellness services to the whole Beaver Island community.  We are giving our best efforts to ensure that the Health Center not only survives, but thrives.  The new facility is progressing on schedule and within budget, and will open early in 2004.  It will dramatically improve working conditions for the staff and treatment options for our patients without measurably increasing operating costs.  In the meantime, our Transition Manager, Arlene Brennan, is proceeding as planned to help us improve the efficiency and accuracy of all management systems, raise funds, and generally demonstrate that BIRHC is worthy of your continued support and trust.  We ask for your patience and invite your constructive input as we make changes that will be for the long-term good of the community and the Health Center.

Sincerely yours,

Connie Wojan

President, Beaver Island Rural Health Center Board of Directors

Concerned Citizens Meeting

On Friday, July 18th approximately 75 concerned citizens met at the Peaine Township hall to make comments, silently observe, share and/or seek information, and ask questions about the Beaver Island Rural Health Center and its Board of Directors.

The meeting was moderated by Kirk McBride and Jeff Powers who first set out the conditions and order of conduct for the gathering.  McBride stated that he had contacted Board President Connie Wojan 24 hours in advance of the meeting inviting her and the entire Board to attend.  Wojan chose not to attend the meeting.  The only member of the Board to attend was Gerald LaFreniere, Jr., who was there to observe.

Carol Wierenga opened the meeting by thanking attendees for their interest and expressed hope that the problems will be resolved with cool, calm heads.

Recognition to speak was granted by the moderator by a show of hands and time was not limited to a pre-set amount of minutes.  Many individuals stated their comments or asked questions that were then written on a flip-board to be compiled, sorted and distributed.  Due to the fact that taping or tacking to the walls of the township hall is not allowed, the flip-sheets were taken by Jeff Powers who will put together a list of questions/comments and concerns  and will make them available.  Two individuals did express derogatory or character disparagement and were asked to desist immediately.

At the end of the meeting McBride thanked Wierenga for pulling the meeting together.  Susan Meis was thanked for coming and for her comments.  Jeff Powers for assisting in moderating, and the audience for making this an orderly meeting.

NOTE: When/if I receive the list of questions/comments and concerns I'll post it here. 

Nels Peter Sorensen, Jr. 1938-2003

Dr. Nels Peter Sorensen Jr., age 65, of Greenville, died peacefully at home surrounded by his family. He was born in Greenville on April 4, 1938 the son of Nels Peter and Kathryn A. Baylis Sorensen. He was a graduate of Greenville High School in 1956, The University of Michigan and The U of M Dental School in 1964. He practiced dentistry in Greenville for 39 years. He served on the Greenville Board of Education for 20 years serving as Treasurer, was an original member of the Danish Festival Band. An accomplished musician, he was a member of the American Guild of Organists, served on the 1976 bicentennial committee, Greenville Rotary Club and Park Congregational Church. He received the Marian Kemp Outstanding Citizen Award this year, and for many years, was a volunteer official at the High School track meets and served on the Band Boosters for the High School. His professional affiliations include; The West Michigan Dental Society, the Michigan Dental Society, the Chicago Dental Society and the American Dental Association. He was married on July 30,1960 at the First Congregational Church of Greenville to Carol Ann Mount. His parents; Dr. Nels preceded him in death in 1992, his mother, Kay in 1987 and his sister, Jean Stout in 1984. He is survived by his wife of 43 years, Carol, and their children and families; Chris and Michelle Sorensen of Southgate, Eric and Tammy Sorensen of Greenville and Lisle and Todd Merrifield of Comstock Park, his grandchildren; Kayleen, Hannah, Baker, Veronica and Audrey. Also his sister, Rae (George) Dewberry of Greenville and brothers-in-law, Gene (MaryJo) Mount of Greenville and James R. Stout of Chicago, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins. A Memorial service will be held on Thursday, July 17, 2003 at 2 p.m. from Hurst Funeral Home, Greenville with Rev. Henry Post of Park Congregational Church, Grand Rapids and Rev. Jerrold T. Jones of First Congregational Church, Greenville officiating. Memorial contributions may be given to; Park Congregational Church Music Library, Education Foundation of Greenville or Greenville Area Community Foundation.

Pete Sorensen was a long time summer resident of Beaver Island and will be sorely missed by all who knew him.  Our thoughts and prayers are with Carol and his family.

Board Brouhaha

It's a small community and seldom are things secret.  It didn't take all that long for word this past week to pass though the island telegraph that the Beaver Island Rural Health Center Board (consisting of Joe Reed, Barbara Murphy, Rick Speck - Treasurer, Connie Wojan - President, Anne Glendon - Secretary, Don Spencer, Pete LoDico, Gerald LaFreniere, and Paul Nelson) had decided not to renew the contract for PA Susan Meis.  Once given the word that her contract was not going to be renewed, Meis, opted to resign rather than stay knowing that she wasn't wanted.  According to Meis, she was not given a reason for this non-renewal.  As soon as the community got wind of what was happening the coals began to glow and by Tuesday evening, the night of the BIRHC Board meeting a large contingency gathered at St. James Township Hall to voice their concerns to the Board.  Cars lined the road on both sides from the point to the ball diamond and the Gull Harbor Road.  There simply was not room for all the concerned citizens to be in the room so many had to stand outside.

Due to the size of the crowd, observer Harold Lounsberry pointed out that the gathering at the township hall was in violation of the fire code and others asked that it be moved to another location such as the Catholic Church, which did not happen.  Unfortunately for the Rural Health Center Board, member Don Spencer, did nothing to make points when he publicly commented, "We didn't ask you to come.  You invited yourselves."  The meeting is a public and that particular comment seemed to set the tone for the rest of the assemblage.  As the room grew warmer due to all the bodies, so did tempers.  Board President Connie Wojan did an excellent job running the meeting although she was sorely pressed at times to control the crowds' comments.

A pad of paper was passed around for those who wished to make comments to sign up for a 2 minute talk allotment and many took advantage of it.  The number one question was, "Why did you opt not to renew Susan's contract?".  As the speakers each made their comments the reoccurring theme was how much they liked Meis and her way of assisting them with their medical problems.  Comments were made acknowledging the different personalities of PAs Meis and Christie VanLooy and how much they liked both.  Another question was if the Board would reconsider their decision.  One Board member made the motion to do so, but it was not seconded.  Someone in the crowd asked if the Board even cared what the public thought, that particular question never received an answer.

After the public comment, the Board responded to some of the questions.  First up was why they let Meis go.  Wojan responded by saying that although the Board is not required to give an answer to the public, that they had discussed it and were ready to state their reason which was Meis' "lack of professionalism at all times".  That answer brought boo's from the audience who evidently disagreed vehemently.  Several participants called for the removal of Board members Joe Reed, Anne Glendon and Don Spencer while others called for the entire Board to resign.  As for the question if the board cared what the public thought, that brought nothing but silence which could be construed however one wanted.

Board member Gerald LaFreniere made the motion that the Board redo the contract and change it adding a "just cause" clause.  The motion was not seconded.   Wojan stated, near tears, that it's much easier to sit in the audience and point fingers, that she personally has spent thousands of hours working with the Health Center and has made all her decisions based on what she considered to be in the best interest of the institution.  She said she didn't know if she was going to resign or not, but that she has tried her best to do what is best for the Beaver Island Rural Health Center.  She then announced the adjournment of the meeting with no motion or vote of adjournment.

If you have any comments please make them on the Forum.

Back Stateside

1st Sergeant Ron Gregg, son of Phil and Lillian Gregg of Beaver Island, arrived back in Tennessee Sunday, July 13th, from Iraq.  Needless to say, our family is thankful, happy (or should that be ecstatic?) and grateful that he met his wife and children all in one piece.  Having spent the past half hour talking to him via telephone I can say he's still his old self despite having been to war.  Ron said when he left Iraq it was 130o and although his face and neck had become accustomed to the heat and sand storms he had to keep waving his hands about to keep them from burning.  He compared it to one of those hot air hand dryers that one sees in public restrooms.. "that's what the weather was like".  Since he left his home in Clarksville, Tennessee in February he slept on the ground, minus a cot, for all but eight days until his return home.  Things he's enjoyed most in the past few hours he's been home?  Upright porcelain toilet (evidently he wasn't too thrilled with latrine sharing with hundreds of soldiers); taking a shower and stepping out into an air-conditioned bedroom; seeing green (not desert brown) and, of course, having a cold beer.  One thing I did notice, he didn't mention missing the odor of 120 unwashed feet in an unventilated tent in the hot desert, it's a given that Ann, Tom and Kay won't provide him with that scent.  Ron's page on this site will be updated as soon as he sends me the information... in the meantime he's going to enjoy a short leave with his wife and kids.  Welcome home, Ron!

Aleta "Doris" Kenwabikise 1955~2003

Doris peacefully passed away on Saturday, July 12, 2003 in Houston, Texas.  She was born and raised on Beaver Island, Michigan and is survived by her children, Rebecca (Mike) Trester of Chelsea, Michigan; Roland Hatchey of Charlevoix, Michigan; and Rachel Davis of Muskegon, Michigan; Randi Davis of Boyne City, Michigan; and Regina Davis, also of Boyne City.  She also has for surviving grandchildren, Devyn, Mackenzie, and Zachary Trester of Chelsea, Michigan and Justin Hachey of Charlevoix, Michigan.  There are many surviving nieces and nephews as well.  Doris was the sister of John, Caroline, Nancy, Pauline, Sarah, Robert, Leonard, Joey, Diane, Mary, and James.  She was preceded in death by her parents, Isabelle (Wabinimkee) and Paul Kenwabikise, by her sister Margret and brother Steven, and several nieces and nephews.

Doris had numerous friends and family members across the country who love her and will miss her.

A memorial service will be held at Holy Cross Catholic Church on Beaver Island at 11:00 a.m. on July 22, 2003.

(The above obituary was submitted by Doris' daughter, Rebecca, who also wrote the following poem about her mother)

May the Angles Take Her On Their Wings to Heaven's Gate

At the water's edge, should she step in?

Not sure if the choice is the beginning or end.

Water laps at her toes, gentle and warm,

Reminding her of the place she was born.


The island's her home, where she was born and raised.

A place where her life has been happy and crazed;

A place she'll call home forever, and after;

No matter that it brought her sadness and laughter.


Her life took many turns, bad and good;

And when it came down, her ground she's stood.

Small, proud, and feisty she never did lack

To find true friends to watch her back.


She left home many times, but always came back,

But eventually she found something it lacked.

To be a face in the crowd, she wanted to be;

She moved to the South, to great company.


Down in the South, far, far away

No one could convince her to come back and stay.

Her family she'd visit, here or there;

Tears they would shed, laughter they would share.


In her weakest of moments, when she needed us most,

She let her family love her, and be her host.

We comforted and cared, and stepped up to the plate,

While Heaven prepared to open it's gate.


She went back to Texas one last time,

But God knocked on her door, and gave her a sign.

He called her to Heaven, ready or not;

How much we loved her, He hasn't forgot.


We bring her back home, where it all began.

Back to the island, we all ran.

Not ready to bid our final goodbye,

We comfort and love, and yes, we cry.


She's at the water's edge, should she step in?

Not sure if it's the beginning or end.

Water laps at her toes, gentle and warm,

She's back to the place in which she was born.

Remembering Harriet Rafferty

Harriet plaque.jpg (67333 bytes)

On Saturday afternoon, July 12th, the entire Rafferty gang descended on the Beaver Island District Library parking lot to place a plaque in front of the blue spruce that was planted in memory of Harriet Rafferty who passed away in 1992.  Children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren gathered around to honor a great lady.

Rafferty children2.jpg (84097 bytes)    Rafferty grandchildren.jpg (100769 bytes)    Rafferty great-grands.jpg (88629 bytes)

Rafferty gang.jpg (92177 bytes)

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