Trustees approve study of transfer Mercy College to BGSU

The Bowling Green State University trustees approved a motion to explore the possibility of merging with Mercy College. The university and Mercy Health announced their intent to transfer the operations of Mercy College to BGSU earlier this month. This would also allow the university to explore additional collaborations with Mercy Health, BGSU President Rodney Rogers said. The transfer is expected to take three to four years to realize. The resolution gives Rogers and other top university officials the authority to make the decisions to realize the transfer. “I think this is a wonderful day for the university,”  said Daniel Keller, chair of the trustees. Acknowledging the work ahead for university personnel, he added: “The board will be fully supporting of you in your efforts.”

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Patients feel loss of Dr. Lavey at cancer care center

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   When Barbara Forbes got the news Dr. Robert Lavey was leaving the Wood County Hospital cancer center, she was certain he had taken a job at a bigger hospital. “He’s so gifted,” said Forbes, who was diagnosed with stage 4 Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in April 2017. “His expertise, his intelligence, his knowledge, his compassion, his communication are above and beyond.” Then Forbes was informed that Lavey had been terminated at the cancer center. “I’m being brutally frank – I was absolutely devastated when I heard he was leaving,” she said. “We’ve lost a gift and someone else is getting a gift.” Lavey, who had been medical director of the cancer center since its opening in 2014, said he was terminated in July at the Maurer Family Cancer Care Center after the number of patients being treated at the center dropped. He had been hired in November of 2013 to help design the center, select the staff, choose the equipment, and set the policies and procedures. His was the smiling face associated with the cancer center. “I feel a real pride in what we’ve done for the community and the services we provide for the patients and their families,” Lavey said during one of his final days at Wood County Hospital. “I am very much invested emotionally in the services.” Lavey said he was told the decision to end his employment was “just business.” “I was simply given notice I was being terminated.” Wood County Hospital President Stan Korducki declined to answer questions about Lavey’s departure. “I can’t comment on any personnel matters,” he said. Korducki stressed that the Maurer Family Cancer Care Center continues to provide quality patient care. “I can’t make any comment about Dr. Lavey,” he said. “We continue to have excellent physician services at the Maurer Cancer Center. Nothing has changed in terms of that.” Lavey said he was in the middle of a contract set to expire on March 30, 2019. The hospital has replaced him with Dr. Dhaval Parikh, who is board certified in radiation oncology and has practiced for more than 20 years. According to the hospital, Parikh provides care for patients “with all types of cancers through highly conformal radiation therapies, which matches the radiation beams to the shape of the tumor for precise treatment. He is well-versed in a variety of advanced treatment techniques and specializes in the latest therapies including external and internal radiation therapy.” But that’s of little consolation to patients who had come to trust Lavey for their cancer treatment. “The day I got the letter (about Lavey leaving) I felt so lost,” said Diane Ruggiero, who is being treated for breast cancer. “What am I going to do without him? I could just cry. He was my rock. I think he saved me.” Ruggiero started her initial cancer care at the Cleveland Clinic. For the past three years, she had been working with Lavey. “He’s a wonderful doctor,” she said. “I felt so cared for with Dr. Lavey. What a dedicated man he was. I could see that he was brilliant. He was welcoming and friendly.” A cancer patient’s relationship is so important, Ruggiero said. Once a level of trust is established, that relationship is vital to the treatment, she…

Tipping the scales – local fight against childhood obesity

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   When Diane Krill was a child, she spent summer days playing in the park – not parked in front of the TV. “We were there from sun up to sundown,” she said of days of non-stop activity. “We didn’t go home until the dinner bell rang.” But times are different now, said Krill, CEO of the Wood County Community Health Center. Parents afraid to let their children roam the neighborhood sometimes prefer to use the TV as a babysitter. And when they do activities – like soccer or baseball – busy parents often rush through a fast food drive thru to pick up dinner. “We are seeing trends that are leading from childhood to adulthood,” said Wood County Health Commissioner Ben Batey. The likelihood that an obese child will learn healthy eating and exercise habits as an adult is, well, slim. So on Tuesday, the Wood County Health Department held a meeting on childhood obesity for interested community members. A recently conducted Community Health Assessment showed that 72 percent of Wood County adults are overweight or obese – higher than the state average of 67 percent. That adds up to about 37,000 Wood County adults who can be labeled as obese. “That seems staggering,” Batey said. “What can we do about that?” The survey found slightly better results among local youth, where the number of obese youth dropped a bit in the last three years. “We’re seeing a positive trend with our youth, and we don’t want to lose that,” he said. A big problem appears to be that many Wood County adults are not modeling healthy exercise or eating habits for their children. And discussing people’s diets can be a potential minefield – like bringing up politics or religion, Batey said. When surveyed about exercise, many local adults said they don’t have time for physical activity. However, in the same survey, adults averaged 2.4 hours a day watching TV, 1.5 hours on their cell phones, and 1.4 hours on the computer for non-work items. “We’re not taking time to get up and move,” Batey said. “I’m not saying don’t watch TV. But get up and move while you’re watching TV.” Batey admitted to being a “couch potato” himself, and eating too much fast food – until he and his wife had their first child. “This is about childhood obesity. But kids learn from our behaviors as adults,” he said. In the countywide health survey, 76 percent of the parents said the most physical activity they participate in with their children is cleaning and yardwork. While that’s all good, it’s not showing kids that exercise can be fun. “Are we setting the standard that kids want to get physical activity,” Batey said. “What messages are we sending to our kids?” Batey’s household has a rule that each family member must be in some structured physical activity that they enjoy – so there is a commitment. “It becomes important that we make time,” he said. Otherwise, exercise is often the first item to be cut from daily schedules. “The majority of people, we’re just not wired that way,” Batey said of exercising when a comfy couch is the other option. “We’re wired for comfort.” But even for a public health professional, it can…

Hospice of NW Ohio seeks volunteers, offers training

From HOSPICE OF NORTHWEST OHIO Hospice of Northwest Ohio is seeking compassionate individuals to provide companionship and support to patients living in long-term care facilities and in their own homes. Volunteers play a vital role in enhancing the end-of-life experience for our patients and their families. The skills and interests of each volunteer are matched to the important needs within our organization. Hospice volunteers receive comprehensive training to ensure they have the confidence to perform this important role. Training includes understanding the hospice philosophy of care, communicating with patients and families, learning about what to expect at the end of life as well as basic health and safety precautions. For more information about becoming a volunteer and when the next training session is planned, contact the Hospice Volunteer Department at 419-931-5534 or To learn more about Hospice of Northwest Ohio or to complete a volunteer application, visit our website at Find us also on FaceBook and Twitter.

Weighty issues – county citizens getting fatter & sadder

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County residents have gotten fatter and sadder in the last three years. The latest Community Health Assessment results for Wood County adults show growing numbers of people carrying around extra weight physically and mentally. Nearly 40 percent of local adults classify themselves as obese, while another 33 percent say they are overweight. A total of 14 percent of adults reported feeling sad or hopeless for two or more consecutive weeks. The surveys are conducted every three years by the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio. “We can be confident that this is pretty accurate,” Wood County Health Commissioner Ben Batey said earlier this week. A total of 1,200 adult surveys were mailed out to randomly selected residences. In order to be statistically accurate, 383 responses were needed. A total of 431 adults responded. The youth surveys fared even better, since they were conducted at schools. The health survey process began in 2008 – which allows the health department make comparisons to past health data. “How are we trending? Are we getting better in this trending?” Batey asked. The answer is yes and no. Overall, the youth data is positive. “I was very happy to see the trends with our youth,” Batey said. “We’re either holding the line or improving.” Obesity and overweight numbers among youth are gradually improving. Physical activity among youth is increasing. “Those are good things to see,” he said. Cigarette smoking among youth is at a record low. Overall substance abuse is down in kids. The numbers of youth trying alcohol and engaging in binge drinking are also down. Adolescent sexual activity is down. And bullying has dropped a bit. The one area seeing a troubling increase is in mental health. More youth responded that they have considered suicide, and experience regular sadness or hopelessness. “Mental health still seems to be declining,” Batey said. “It’s a trend that’s going in the wrong direction.” In the survey responses of parents with children ages birth to 5, a positive trend was seen in a majority of families reading to children every day in the past week. The biggest negative was a drop in mothers attempting breastfeeding. “That jumped off the page for me,” Batey said. “I think that’s huge.” But overall, Batey was happy about changes seen in younger respondents. “I’m very optimistic about the trends we’re seeing in our children and youth,” he said. Adults, on the other hand, slipped in some key areas especially weight and mental health. A total of 39 percent of adults ranked themselves as obese, compared to 22 percent three years ago. That compares to 32 percent of Ohioans and 30 percent overall in the U.S. that consider themselves as obese. Combined, 72 percent of local adults described themselves as either overweight or obese. “That’s a pretty big swing for us from where we were,” Batey said. “That’s a pretty significant number that’s concerning to me.” Wood County adults also showed a decline in mental health. When asked for the average number of days of poor mental health in the past month, local adults said 4.8 compared to 1.9 in 2015. When asked about having two or more weeks in a row of feeling sad or hopeless, 14 percent of adults said they had experienced…

Wood County residents urged to get up and get active

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County residents are being politely prodded to get up off their sedentary seats. The Wood County Health Department has launched a campaign encouraging local residents to get more exercise using free community parks and trails. Health surveys have shown that too many people are overweight, and too few are getting the recommended 2.5 hours of moderate exercise each week. Only 28 percent of Wood County adults surveyed last year said they exercise five days or more per week. Ten percent said they did not have any physical activity in the past week. Inactivity and obesity are tied to many areas of a person’s health and can lead to a variety of serious diseases. And last year’s physical activity and nutrition survey showed that Wood County residents need to do better at both. “It was enough to give us some ideas of where we should prioritize,” said Alex Aspacher, community outreach coordinator for the Wood County Health Department. “It’s pretty much common knowledge that lack of physical activity and obesity are big problems across the country,” Aspacher added. The survey conducted last year showed that not only were many people not getting enough exercise, but many also weren’t aware of local exercise options available to them. So health department officials decided to start a motivational campaign, encouraging local residents to use the exercise options already available throughout the county. “We have great parks. We want to promote what we already have,” Aspacher said. In addition to the county parks, nearly every community in Wood County also has its own park. “You can go to the park in Grand Rapids and see something completely different than you would see in the park in Bradner.” A new website,, lists parks and trails in different communities, as well as events such as 5Ks and fun runs, and links to recreation programs, fitness groups, SilverSneakers sites for seniors, and several links to cycling resources. “There is one place to go for the information,” Aspacher said of the website. “This might inspire someone to go to a park.” Having a goal in mind can create the motivation people need to stick with an exercise routine, but many people have a tough time getting started. Wood County Health Department will post encouraging messages, exercise tips and photos showing the diverse parks and recreation opportunities that Wood County has to offer. Local residents are asked to share those messages on social media. “We want them to help amplify the people we reach,” Aspacher said. The health department’s physical activity campaign will culminate Aug. 17 at the Pemberville 5-Miler, which also includes a free 1-mile fun run, making it a great target for people of all fitness levels, he said. “Walking is something that everybody can do,” he said, adding that fitness events can be good ways to change up a routine or set an exercise goal. Wood County Health Department is partnering with Pemberville Independent Merchants Association, a group working to promote area businesses and community events. PIMA and other partners have provided feedback on messages and advertising and will help evaluate the reach of the campaign.

Cocoon hotline number will change as of July 1

With the closure of The Link, the phone number to access Cocoon services 24/7 will be (419) 373-1730. This new number will take effect July 1, 2018. The Cocoon has partnered with The Link, a program of Harbor Behavioral Health, for the last 13 years to answer hotline calls from survivors of domestic and sexual violence.  These calls were then routed to Cocoon advocates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  The new number will not affect services in any way. All callers seeking services will be immediately connected to an advocate. The Cocoon advocates will continue to provide the same excellent services to the Wood County community. The Cocoon provides safety, healing, and justice to survivors of sexual and domestic violence. In 2017, the organization responded to 5,739 service calls and provided more than 3,100 nights of emergency, safe housing.