Media Releases

Effort towards patient-centered medical home pays off with designation

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PCMHHANCOCK – The effort of Portage Health over the past two years was rewarded this week as Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan designated three Portage Health clinics as patient-centered medical home (PCMH) clinics.

“This is a program we’ve been heavily focused on since 2009,” said Dr. Kirk Lufkin, chief medical officer at Portage Health. “Nothing like this happens without a massive group effort.”

Portage Health Pediatrics, Hancock Family Practice and Houghton Family Practice (located in the University Center location) all received the designation.

“Each of these clinics showed tremendous improvement in the PCMH mission over the last year,” said Lufkin, who credited much of the change to electronic medical records. “We did well because of our transition to the EMR. It’s an incredibly powerful tool and we’re still in the early stages with it.”

The electronic medical records will allow doctors to easily see who needs preventative measures such as mammograms, and then easily contact those patients.

To earn the (PCMH) designation, Portage Health primary care clinics, focused on a checklist of 126 capabilities, while also having to meet performance measures determined by Blue Cross Blue Shield.

“This designation is a huge success story for Portage Health and the entire community,” Lufkin said. “The more things like this that we do, the healthier our community is and the stronger local healthcare can become.”

Portage Health Pediatrics includes Anas Jaber, MD, Rajanee Sripaipan, MD and Colleen Vallad-Hix, DO. The Hancock Family Practice includes William Anderson, MD, David Kass, MD, Doug McKenzie, MD, Mercedes Maki, PA and Cynthia Blake, NP. The Houghton Family Practice includes Audrey Liston, DO, Allison Helman, DO, Bruce Trusock, MD and Melissa Becker, PA.

For more information about patient-centered medical home visit

Five vital tips for a safe Copper Country summer

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As plans are made for another beautiful summer in the Keweenaw, Portage Health wants to remind residents and visitors of the importance of safety by providing five vital tips for a safe and enjoyable summer. Vicki Peterson, manager of Portage Health Trauma Program, generated the following tips:

Sunlight1.    Protect from the sun. While the warm temperatures provide limitless fun, especially near the water, those areas can be the most damaging for skin as ultraviolet radiation exposure can cause serios burn in the short term and skin problems in the long run. Wear sunscreen and if possible shield your body, especially children.
2.    Drink plenty of water. Heat exhaustion shows up more and more often as the days get warmer, especially for athletes. Don’t forget to bring a bottle of water on your next bike ride (and a helmet), or have a cooler ready for the kids as they spend a full day playing at the playground.
3.    Always swim safely. We have plenty of beautiful swimming holes in the Copper Country, but we can’t forget when we use them to be safe. Always swim with at least one other person and be sure to stay within the safe limits of the short, a boat or some other floatation device. Also, be aware of underwater obstructions.
4.    Be cautious with fire. Whether it’s fireworks for the Fourth of July or a bonfire at the camp, fire is a common form of entertainment in the Copper Country. However, it’s also a common reason for people to visit the emergency room. Make sure to keep a safe distance and exercise caution.
5.    Practice safe boating. Leaving the shore without the proper amount of lifejackets is not only illegal, but also extremely dangerous. One jacket per person will keep all passengers safe in case the worst happens. It’s also important to remember drinking and boating isn’t any safe than drinking and driving.

Dr. Jennifer Bow joins orthopaedics team at Portage Health

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HANCOCK – After five years in residency and three years of fellowship, Dr. Jennifer Bow is joining the orthopaedics team at Portage Health.

Bow is an expert in hips and knees, including performing reconstructive and revision surgeries. She’s also highly trained in foot and ankle issues, especially when associated with arthritis.

JenniferBow “I really like hip and knee replacement surgeries,” said Bow. “One of the reasons I chose this as a specialty is that you can clearly see the benefit of the surgery. My patients’ pain is remarkably improved and the quality of their lives improves notably, that’s rewarding as a doctor.”

That excitement is part of what made Portage Health interested.

“Dr. Bow is talented, experienced and eager to make a difference in the lives of her patients,” said Jim Bogan, president and CEO of Portage Health. “Her experience in hips alone will make a world of difference to her patients.”

Dr. Bow completed her residency at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario and completed fellowships at the Rothman Institute in Philadelphia and Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont. prior to spending a year at Hôpital Notre-Dame Hospital in Hearst, Ont. She also has a Masters in Applied Sciences in Mechanical and Materials Engineering.

“This opportunity allows me to keep my subspecialty focus in lower-limb reconstruction, while also practicing general orthopaedics,” said Bow. “I want to live in a small community with my family, so finding an area like the Copper Country, while still being able to work in a state-of-the-art technical hospital, was vital.

Dr. Bow will begin work in early July, but appointments can be made at any time by calling 483-1040. For more information, visit

Low-cost or free health insurance plans for children available

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Child and Doctor

LANSING - A coalition of Michigan hospitals, urban school districts and community-based health centers has launched Enroll Michigan, a campaign to enroll eligible children in the state’s low-cost and free health insurance programs known as MIChild and Healthy Kids.

It is estimated nearly 90 percent of Michigan’s 172,000 uninsured children are eligible for one of the programs, but have not enrolled for reasons including language barriers, lack of transportation or means of communication, and unawareness of eligibility and/or how to join.

While most of those children live in urban areas downstate, many children in the U.P. are eligible as well.

“These programs are a great opportunity for youth, even in our area,” said Jim Bogan, CEO and president of Portage Health. “Our children need proper healthcare, these programs make that a possibility for many of our youth.”

The Michigan Primary Care Association has set up a simplified online and telephone enrollment process to assist in registering children. To find out if a child in your life is eligible, or for more information, call 2-1-1 or e-mail

If you refer a child to one of the programs a $10 gift card is available. Visit to learn more about the referral bonus.

Transition to electronic medical records completed

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HANCOCK – Patient-centered care at Portage Health took a major step forward as Portage Health Medical Group upgraded to electronic medical records.

The transition began in October with family practice in Hancock and finished in March with internal medicine.
“We are now completely live,” said Dr. Kirk Lufkin, chief medical officer at Portage Health.

The tools will allow doctors and nurses to have easy access to patient’s charts, and receive notices for simple screenings, such as mammograms.

No more sending requests to medical records and having to pick them up or have them delivered. No more missing papers or unsure dates. Instead, patient records are securely stored and readily available for staff.

Implementation has made it easier to track preventative-care results like cancer screening. The most recent quarterly review showed successful utilization of pap smears and mammograms at 98 percent.

“Numbers like that show how valuable this system is for the patient-centered medical care we provide,” said Lufkin. “It’s an incredibly powerful tool.”

The records have made appointments more efficient, and now that staff is fully transitioned, patients are noticing a difference.

“This has increased our efficiency, allowing our staff to better meet the needs of our patients,” said Shannon Richter, RN, medical group unit manager.

A small slide show explaining the benefits of electronic medical records will be available Saturday at the third annual Health and Safety Fair. Go to to learn more about the fair or to learn more about electronic medical records.


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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