Media Releases

Portage Health and Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center need your help to increase awareness of respiratory disease in the community

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Portage Health has recently seen an increased rate of respiratory disease, especially in asthmatic children. The illness, being confirmed as enterovirus-D68 (EV-D68) can cause mild to severe respiratory illness. EV-D68 is a version of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease resulting in respiratory illness and may or may not be accompanied by the common mouth sores that come with Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease. 

Children with asthma or occasional asthma symptoms, even if never diagnosed with asthma, are at higher risk for developing severe illness potentially leading to pneumonia and hospitalization.
This virus is already in our community. To keep your child from getting and spreading EV-D68,

  • Avoid close contact with sick people
  • Wash your hands often
  • Cover Your coughs and sneezes
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces
  • Stay home when you’re sick

If your child is asthmatic, or has had signs of asthma in the past, our pediatricians recommend,

  • Start taking controller medicine (i.e. inhaled steroids, Singulair), even if no symptoms are present.
  • Start taking rescue medicine as well (i.e. albuterol) if child is showing symptoms such as fever, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, body and muscle aches, difficulty breathing, wheezing

For more information, see the following related health articles:

Reminder: To continue to protect yourself, your family and your community, please plan on getting your flu shot at the following clinics:

  • Community Flu Shot clinic on September 27 at Hancock High School,
  • Hancock Family Health Center Pediatric Flu Clinics: October 3, October 10, October 21, October 28. Please call for an appointment by calling (906) 483-1700.
  • Or make an appointment for a flu shot by calling your doctor’s office after October 1.

Air Medical Base Opens In Houghton-Hancock

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Valley Med Flight recently opened a fixed-wing airplane air ambulance base in Houghton-Hancock to serve the citizens of the region with quick, high-quality air medical transportation. The airplane and crew will be able to respond to flight requests from Portage Health and other locations throughout the UP. The company also has a fixed-wing base in Iron Mountain and a rotor-wing helicopter base in Escanaba. 

“It is our goal to provide timely patient transportation to all areas of the UP. Although our aircraft in Iron Mountain and Escanaba can also respond to Houghton-Hancock, a permanent base in the area will decrease response times which is much better for the patients who require our services” stated Jake Keller, Valley Med Flight’s Program Director. 

The new air medical base in Houghton-Hancock began transporting patients from the area on July 31st and has been busy during its first few weeks of operation. “We have been very pleased with the support we have received from the hospitals here and look forward to working with them long into the future” explained Keller.

The base will decrease transport times from area hospitals to Marquette General and other receiving locations substantially. The two-hour drive between Houghton-Hancock and Marquette can be completed in just over 20 minutes in the now permanently stationed Valley Med Flight Pilatus PC-12 airplane. 

“The addition of a fixed-wing air ambulance in the Copper Country provides our communities with a critical service in the time of an emergency,” said Diane Torres, Interim CEO at Portage Health. “Our goal is to decrease transport times during these emergencies and we are proud to have Valley Med Flight as our partner.”

About Valley Med Flight

Air Medical Resource Group (AMRG) manages Valley Med Flight. AMRG owns and operates more than 70 aircraft and transports over 11,000 patients per year from 40 bases located in 11 states. More information about Valley Med Flight can be found at

Brianne Sable, PA joins the Cancer Care team at Portage Health

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Sable, Brianne imagePortage Health is excited to announce the addition of a full time provider to our Cancer Care clinic, Brianne Sable, PA. Brianne will be serving patients in the Cancer Care clinic alongside Dr. Lloyd Geddes.

Brianne has a diverse medical background, most recently providing care to patients at Aurora Advanced Healthcare/Aurora Cancer Care in Glendale, WI and Grafton, WI. She obtained her bachelor degree at Northern Michigan University and completed her Physician Assistant Studies at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Manchester, NH.

Brianne is excited to be in a team-oriented environment and strives for comprehensive healthcare for patients.

Portage Health offers a full spectrum of cancer care services, including outpatient chemotherapy, radiology, biopsies, blood transfusions, clinical trials and supportive therapy, pain management, support groups and counseling for patients and families, and nutrition and health education.

Learn more about the program at Learn more about Brianne at

Reid Andress, MD joins the hospitalist team at Portage Health

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Andress, Reid imagePortage Health is proud to welcome Keweenaw native Reid Andress, MD to its hospitalist team. As an adult medicine specialist, Dr. Andress is board certified in Internal Medicine by the American Board of Internal Medicine, and will begin seeing patients in the Inpatient Unit starting August 1, 2014.

“After spending nearly a decade outside the Keweenaw, I’m excited to be returning home to care for our community.” Dr. Andress said.

Dr. Andress returns to the area with his wife Emily Kenny, MD, who will be practicing as a women’s health physician in our OB/GYN clinic.

Dr. Andress completed his residency and internship at the Maine Medical Center in Portland, ME after finishing medical school at the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. After residency, Dr. Andress served as the Chief Medical Resident for the Department of Medicine.

“I am privileged to have the opportunity to develop relationships with patients and families during challenging periods in their lives, and enjoy involving them in the medical decision making process,” he said. “I practice evidence based medicine and believe in sharing scientific and medical evidence with patients to help inform their decisions.”

Dr. Andress joins fellow board certified hospitalists Dr. Abdul Mansoor Khokhar, Dr. Terry Kinzel and Dr. Lori Vaughan. Visit to learn more about Dr. Andress.

Portage Health Receives Governor's Award of Excellence

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MPro Governor's Award 2014

Pictured: Michigan Department of Community Health Director James Haveman, Portage Health Registered Nurse Kelly Aho, Portage Health Quality Manager Shannon Lahnala Bleau and MPRO CEO Robert Yellan

Portage Health is pleased to announce it has received MPRO’s 2014 Governor’s Award of Excellence for outstanding achievement in the Prevention Learning and Action Network. To receive this honor, Portage Health improved rates of breast cancer screenings. Portage Health also used electronic health records to effectively implement care management and patient self-management interventions.

“This award demonstrates Michigan’s deep commitment to providing high quality, safe and efficient health care,” said Snyder. “By using proven, evidence-based practices, these organizations are making sure individuals get the right care at the right time.”

This year, 188 Michigan hospitals, physician practices, nursing homes and community coalitions were honored with the award, which recognizes participants for their dedication to improve health care quality and patient safety in Michigan. To be eligible for the award, participating organizations must have achieved, maintained and continually improved in specific and rigorous milestones.

“We’re very fortunate to be able to partner with Portage Health and other dedicated organizations across the state of Michigan,” said MPRO President and Chief Executive Officer Robert Yellan, MPH, J.D, FACHE. “To be able to recognize these accomplishments with the Governor’s office underscores the importance of these efforts to improve health care quality in the state.”

The Governor’s Award of Excellence was developed in 2003. The current award is based upon work from 2012-2014 in the following areas:

  • Reducing health care associated infections
  • Reducing health care acquired conditions in nursing homes 
  • Reducing adverse drug events
  • Integrating care for populations and communities through improving care transitions and coordination
  • Improving preventive care and early diagnosis through immunizations and screening
  • Improving clinical quality measures associated with improving cardiac health
  • Improving clinical quality measures among acute care and critical access hospitals 
  • Reducing disparities of care in cardiac health

The award criteria are based on the National Quality Strategy, Partnership for Patients and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Quality Improvement Organizations’ 10th Statement of Work. The preventive care metrics also align with the Governor’s Healthy Michigan 4X4 plan. 

Award recipients were honored May 9, 2014 at the Eagle Eye Golf Course in Bath Township, MI.

For more information about the Governor’s Award of Excellence, including a list of winners, go to


About MPRO 

MPRO is an independent nonprofit and a national leader in health care quality improvement and medical review. MPRO serves as the federally designated Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) for Michigan under contract with the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). MPRO also provides consultative services, medical and utilization review, data analysis and health information technology education and technical assistance to federal agencies, state Medicaid and public health agencies, health care facilities, private health plans and other third party payers. For more information, visit

Portage Health welcomes Dr. Tim LaBonte to Lake Linden Family Health Center

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LaBonte, Timothy imageCopper Country native providing family medicine care beginning in August

We are pleased to announce that Tim LaBonte, MD will be joining our team of family medicine providers.

Dr. LaBonte is board certified in family medicine, and will be providing a full spectrum of family medicine care. He will be joining Tom McConnon, MD and Melissa Salani, PA at the Lake Linden Family Health Center.

“We are so excited with the addition of Dr. LaBonte to our team,” said Shannon Richter, director of operations for Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center. “He is highly skilled and is dedicated to creating long lasting relationships with his patients to create personalized care.”

Dr. LaBonte completed his undergraduate studies at Michigan Tech, earned his medical degree at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine and completed his residency through the Marquette Family Medicine Residency Program.

“It has always been a passion of mine to come back to the Copper Country to practice medicine,” Dr. LaBonte said. “Portage Health has an excellent group of dedicated professionals and state of the art facilities. I am excited to be a part of it.”

Dr. LaBonte is currently accepting new patients of all ages. Call (906) 483-1030 to make an appointment. Visit to learn more about Dr. LaBonte.

Emily Kenny, MD joins the Women’s Health team at Portage Health

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Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center and Portage Health are pleased to announce the addition of a new provider to their Women’s Health team. Emily Kenny, MD is joining the obstetrics and gynecology team in August 2014.

Kenny, Emily imageDr. Kenny is a native of Michigan, having grown up right here in the Copper Country. She received her undergraduate education from University of Michigan, completed her medical degree at the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine Rural Physician Program, and served her residency at the Maine Medical Center in Portland, Maine.

“We are so excited to have Dr. Kenny join our team,” said Shannon Richter, Director of Operations at Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center. “Dr. Kenny’s modern medical knowledge and excellent patient interaction will be a wonderful complement to our team.”

Dr. Kenny will be joining Julie Meyer, DO in the obstetrics and gynecology clinic at the main campus in Hancock. She will see patients in the clinic during normal business hours, which are Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.­–5 p.m. Dr. Kenny will also assist expecting mothers with deliveries in the Family Birthing Center and perform out-patient and in-patient surgery.

“I’m honored to come back and serve in the community where I grew up,” Dr. Kenny said. “I look forward to creating meaningful relationships with both patients and the community.”

For more information about Dr. Kenny, please visit


500 Campus Drive
Hancock, MI 49930
(906) 483-1000


921 W. Sharon Avenue
Houghton, MI 49931
(906) 483-1777

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945 Ninth Street
Lake Linden, MI 49945
(906) 483-1030


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Ontonagon, MI 49953
(906) 884-4120


600 MacInnes Drive
Houghton, MI 49931
(906) 483-1860

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