Media Releases

Portage Health once again hosting Turkey Trot Thanksgiving morning

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The second annual Portage Health Turkey Trot is scheduled for 9 a.m. Thanksgiving morning at Portage Health in Hancock.

Turkey TrotParticipants will meet in the hospital’s lobby to register. This free 5k fun run/walk is open to anyone, and is a great way to start off your holiday festivities.

“This event provides us an opportunity to be active with our family and friends before we feast on Thanksgiving dinner,” said Angela Luskin, community health coordinator at Portage Health.

The first 150 people to register online (click here to register) will receive a free Portage Health Turkey Trot t-shirt. In the event’s inaugural year, about 350 people attended.

“Participants loved the fun, relaxing environment,” Luskin said. “It should be even better this year with a slight course adjustment that means racers will avoid the tough uphill finish.”

The course will start going south on Portage Drive to Ingot Street, connecting with the Maasto Hiihto trail system before looping around Tomasi Road back to Portage Drive, and finishing at the hospital. There will be water and light snacks for participants at the finish.

Visit for more information or to register. Call (906) 483-1153 with any questions.

Hospice volunteer training scheduled Nov. 5 and 12

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Portage Health Hospice is hosting hospice volunteer training sessions on Tuesday, Nov. 5 and Tuesday, Nov. 12 from 6 to 9 p.m.

These sessions are free and required for anyone interested in hospice volunteering. They will take place at the Portage Health Home Health office at 821 West Water Street in Hancock.

This training serves as a crucial bridge between volunteers gaining the knowledge and skills necessary to work with hospice patients, families and professionals. Volunteers are needed for direct patient respite care, pet therapy, clerical assistance, fundraising and much more.

Preregistration is required, and space is limited. To register or find out more about the classes call Marianne Berghefer at (906) 483-1160.

Let’s kick off National Hospice Month in November with “Bells for Hospice”

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The following is a letter to the editor written by Marianne Berghefer, hospice volunteer and bereavement coordinator at Portage Health Hospice. 

To the editor:

With the calendar flipping to November shortly, it’s once again time to recognize National Hospice Month.

Hospice care is considered to be the model for quality and compassionate end-of-life treatment. Hospice involves a team-oriented approach of expert medical care, pain management, emotional, spiritual and bereavement support expressly tailored to the patient’s wishes.

Hospice care is provided in the patient’s home, a nursing facility or an adult foster care home such as Omega House. Healthcare professionals who specialize in hospice care work closely with staff and volunteers to address all the symptoms of the terminal illness, with the aim of promoting comfort and dignity. Emotional, spiritual and bereavement support is also extended to families for 13 months after the death of their loved one.

On November 1, at noon, hospice and palliative care agencies across the state will be ringing bells in honor of all who have died under hospice care during the last year, and also in respect for their families and loved ones. We hope you will join us this year in ringing a bell at your home, office or wherever you happen to be at noon as we honor those who have passed in hospice.


Marianne Berghefer, Hospice Volunteer & Bereavement Coordinator

Saturday is National Drug Take Back Day

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Safely dispose of your unwanted medication at MSP Post in Calumet from 10 – 2


On October 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the Michigan State Police post in Calumet, and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give the public its seventh opportunity in three years to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs. Bring your medications for disposal to the Michigan State Police Post in Calumet. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.

National Drug Takeback Day 2013Last April, Americans turned in 371 tons (over 742,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at over 5,800 sites operated by the DEA, and its thousands of state and local law enforcement partners.  In its six previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners took in over 2.8 million pounds—more than 1,400 tons — of pills.

This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines — flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash — pose potential safety and health hazards.

DEA is in the process of approving new regulations that implement the Safe and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, which amends the Controlled Substances Act to allow an “ultimate user” (that is, a patient or pet or their family member or owner) of controlled substance medications to dispose of them by delivering them to entities authorized by the Attorney General to accept them. The Act also allows the Attorney General to authorize long term care facilities to dispose of their residents’ controlled substances in certain instances.

2013 Michigan Harvest Gathering underway at Portage Health

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Portage Health is once again partnering with the Michigan Health and Hospital Association (MHA) for the 23rd annual Michigan Harvest Gathering non-perishable food drive.

Michigan Harvest Gathering 2013 LogoAll of the food gathered goes to hungry Michigan families through the Food Bank Council of Michigan. In the Copper Country, all food donated will go to the Western U.P. Food Bank in Houghton.

“This is one of my favorite events of the year because we’re able to help so many people within our community,” said Mark Pittillo, nutrition services director at Portage Health. “Hopefully we’ll have help from people all over the community again this year as we once again look to be one of the most active donation sites in the state.”

Deposit bins are setup in the main Portage Health lobby in Hancock, at Portage Health’s rehab office in Calumet, the Lake Linden and University Center clinics, and Portage Health Houghton, home of the Fitness Center and Express Care.

Portage Health has increased its collection total each of the past two years, reaching 5,000 pounds in 2012. This year the hospital is hoping to donate more than 10,000 pounds!

In addition to collecting food at the mentioned Portage Health locations, there will be collection sites at both Houghton and Hancock high schools throughout the week, at the Copper Bowl football game Friday night and at the Michigan Tech football and hockey games Saturday.

Collections at Portage Health will continue until Thursday, Oct. 31.

2013 Lights of Love submissions due Nov. 20

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Each year, the Portage Hospital Auxiliary decorates and lights a Christmas tree in honor or memory of relatives and friends. The tree will once again be lit this holiday season, and the call for people to honor and remember is underway.

Lights of Love Tree 2013To honor or remember a loved one or friend, submit their name and a donation of at least $5 to the auxiliary. You can donate online at, or stop by the Guilded Rose Gift Shop in the hospital’s lobby to fill out a form.

The auxiliary is looking to have all names submitted by Wednesday, Nov. 20 to guarantee recognition during the tree-lighting ceremony on Wednesday, Dec. 4, and placement on the poster that will be near the tree through the holiday season.

Money raised from Lights of Love will go to a scholarship fund to help local young people realize their dreams of becoming healthcare providers. Over the many years of this scholarship, our community has benefited because many of these students have returned to our area to provide healthcare after finishing their schooling.

To learn more about Lights of Love, visit, or download the Lights of Love flyer by clicking here.

Rehab lecture focusing on communication through progression of Dementia

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Oct. 24 event talking about speech therapy's role in aiding meaningful communication with loved ones with dementia

Speech therapy can be a vital tool to help maintain meaningful communication between loved ones, and those with dementia. At this month’s rehab lecture series, speech therapist Amy Haske will explain how and why.

Dementia Rehab Lecture“My goal for patients with dementia is to help them communicate as effectively as possible, for as long as possible,” Haske said. “Every ounce of meaningful communication keeps these relationships more vibrant and long lasting for the individual with dementia, and their family.”

Haske will cover common language barriers during communication, strategies to enhance meaningful and stress-free interactions with a loved one with dementia, and the role of speech therapy as dementia progresses.

Following the presentation, Haske will lead a short question-and-answer session, and offer time for free consults regarding skilled intervention.

For more information on the Portage Health Rehab Lecture Series, visit RSVP to the event on Facebook, and receive a free gift from rehab staff.

Schedule your mammogram during breast cancer awareness month

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Portage Health is hoping women across the Copper Country will take the time to have a mammogram this month. All patients who schedule a mammogram appointment during the month of October will receive a free gift from the hospital.

Although many great strides have been made in breast cancer awareness and treatment, there remains much to be accomplished. Portage Health is dedicated to educating and empowering women to take charge of their own breast health.

Portage Health offers a complete women’s health team of physicians, digital mammography, a compassionate, full-time cancer care team and a state-of-the-art cancer care center right here in Hancock.

Patients can schedule an appointment to see a physician for a breast exam and mammogram by calling the Portage Health Women’s Health Team at (906) 483-1050, or by contacting their family practice physician.

Zumba and Kettlebell Pump added to fall 2013 fitness schedule

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The fall fitness group exercise classes are well underway, and this week the Portage Health Fitness Center is announcing a few edits to the schedule:

  • Zumba has been added on Mondays and Wednesdays from 6 to 7 p.m.
  • Kettlebell Pump has been added on Mondays and Wednesdays from 5:15 to 6 p.m.
  • An additional session of Indoor Cycling has been added Saturday from 8 to 9 a.m., beginning Nov. 9.
  • Yoga classes have been removed for now.

For a complete description of classes, please visit Remember, the fitness center now allows you to book your place in group fitness classes online here, and via the iPhone/iPad app MemberMe (coming soon to Android). As always, your first class is free!

Brey joins emergency department, express care staff

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Portage Health is proud to announce Hancock native Whitney Brey, PA, has joined its staff. Brey is seeing patients at the Portage Health Emergency Department in Hancock, and Express Care clinic in Houghton.

Whitney Brey, PA“I always knew I wanted to live in the Copper Country,” said Brey. “Serving the community that I grew up in is a great honor for me.”

Brey is not a new face in the Portage Health hallways either. While finishing her post-graduate studies, Brey completed rotations at a variety of Portage Health clinics. Most recently, she served as a locum provider in Portage Health’s family practice suite in Hancock.

“My time spent at Portage Health has been tremendously positive,” Brey said. “The staff is welcoming and high spirited. The atmosphere makes me excited to come to work on a regular basis.”

After graduating from Hancock Central High School, Brey earned her undergraduate degree from Northern Michigan University. She completed post-graduate studies at Central Michigan University.

Learn more about Brey at

The Portage Health Emergency Department is one of just two in the state to be verified by the American College of Surgeons as a Level III Trauma Center. It provides emergency medical care to the four-county area 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week.

The Express Care clinic is located on Sharon Avenue in Houghton, in the building that was formerly home to Blockbuster Video. The clinic is open 365 days a year for illnesses or injuries that require medical treatment, but are not serious enough to warrant a visit to the emergency department.


About Portage Health 

Portage Health’s mission is to improve the health of the community by providing high quality, safe and compassionate healthcare. Portage Health owns and operates a 36-bed acute-care hospital and a 60-bed skilled nursing unit and related health care services in Hancock-Houghton, Michigan, along with nine other locations throughout the Copper Country, each offering a variety of services provided by a full spectrum of healthcare professionals.

Next home MTU football game dubbed Portage Health Game Day

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The Portage Health Sports Medicine Institute and Michigan Tech athletics are proud to present Portage Health Game Day - Saturday, October 12th as the football Huskies take on Northern Michigan University.

Kickoff is at 1 p.m. at Sherman Field in Houghton. The first 200 fans through the gate will receive a free Portage Health water bottle.

Portage Health will also have a tent at the main entrance where fans will have a chance to enter a drawing for a team-autographed helmet or football.

Free Michigan Tech Huskies football posters will be available at the Portage Health tent during the fourth quarter and immediately following the game. Kids are invited to join the Huskies on the field after the game for players to sign the posters.

Visit for information on tickets to the game.

Ontonagon clinic hosting flu vaccine clinic on Oct. 15

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The Ontonagon Community Health Center is hosting a flu vaccine clinic on Tuesday, October 15. The clinic will go from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with a break between 12:30 and 1:30.

Appointments are not needed. Patients are asked to bring their insurance card.

The Ontonagon Community Health Center is located at 751 S. Seventh Street, and is home to Dr. Gerald Takela and Family Nurse Practitioner Rebecca Shifra. The clinic is a partnership between Portage Health and Marquette General Health System.  Call (906) 884-4120 with any questions.


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


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

Express Care 


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


751 S. Seventh Street
Ontonagon, MI 49953
(906) 884-4120


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

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