The images in this photo compilation and the gallery that follows represent the most popular Health Beat posts from 2020. We are honored to share these stories of hope, compassion and courage. (Chris Clark and Taylor Ballek | Spectrum Health Beat)
Ryan Mooliyil's first Christmas will be a special memory for his parents because of a visit from Santa in the Gerber Foundation Neonatal Center at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital. (Chris Clark | Spectrum Health Beat)
Four-day-old Brielle Robertson wears a butterfly costume to celebrate Halloween in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. (Taylor Ballek | Spectrum Health Beat)
When Spectrum Health was in need of more hand sanitizer in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Amway rushed production of hand sanitizer and provided it at no cost. (Courtesy photo by Amway)
Emergency department workers share a mixture of trepidation and commitment as they work on the front line in the battle against the highly contagious virus. (Taylor Ballek | Spectrum Health Beat)
Victoria Wyatt, a 30-year-old from Grosse Pointe, Michigan, is on a mission to help others after a heart transplant gave her a second chance at life. (Chris Clark | Spectrum Health Beat)
After 10 days battling COVID-19 in the medical ICU, Don Force achieved a victory: He was off the ventilator, breathing on his own and moving to a regular hospital room. (Chris Clark | Spectrum Health Beat)
Dee Worley first met her son, Luke, when he was 9 weeks old. Despite his injuries and uncertain future she remembers the "instant feeling of love for him." (Chris Clark | Spectrum Health Beat)
A sense of dedication and pride echoes throughout the team in Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital's primary medical-surgical unit for patients battling COVID-19. (Taylor Ballek | Spectrum Health Beat)
Under the shadow of a global pandemic, Spectrum Health team members show up day after day to provide hands-on care for the sick and injured. (Spectrum Health Beat)
Charles Gibson, MD, a critical care surgeon at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital, has experienced racism in the health care setting, sometimes blatant, sometimes subtle. (Chris Clark | Spectrum Health Beat)
No one expects to suffer a stroke. But when it happened to an active teenager like Zosia Wasylewski, 14, it was especially shocking. (Taylor Ballek | Spectrum Health Beat)
As the need for COVID-19 testing grew in West Michigan, Spectrum Health opened a triage screening space outside the Butterworth Hospital Emergency Department. (Chris Clark | Spectrum Health Beat)
Spectrum Health Blodgett Hospital intensive care unit team members work together to fight back against the COVID-19 virus. (Taylor Ballek | Spectrum Health Beat)
A lumination ovation provided a stirring close to National Nurses Week. Luminary bags sent messages of affection and encouragement to health care workers throughout West Michigan. (Chris Clark | Spectrum Health Beat)
Throughout his young life, Nick Jaenicke has overcome heart problems. Last fall, his doctors said it was time for him to meet with the Spectrum Health heart transplant team. (Chris Clark | Spectrum Health Beat)
Three Cascade Township women launched a candlelight thank you for health care providers. They asked neighbors to line their streets with lights, and the neighborhood responded. (Chris Clark | Spectrum Health Beat)
West Michigan companies like Byrne Inc. switched up their specialties and produced health care items, like these face shields, that they never imagined they would be creating. (Chris Clark | Spectrum Health Beat)
Kendra Rose Ivey made her way into the world as the first baby born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 2020. (Taylor Ballek | Spectrum Health Beat)
All day long, nurses like Jennie Clevenger, RN, greet patients at their car windows to collect the samples needed to run a COVID-19 test. (Chris Clark | Spectrum Health Beat)
Holly and Nate Kroeze didn't know when they'd be able to bring their baby, Scotland, home for good. Until then, they could see her via a live video feed from the NICU. (Chris Clark | Spectrum Health Beat)
When Spectrum Health reached out to the community for help finding supplies to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, donations and assistance poured in. (Courtesy photo)
The medical ICU team at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital share their thoughts about caring for patients who have COVID-19. (Chris Clark | Spectrum Health Beat)
Spectrum Health was ready to use Grand Valley State University's Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences as a medical space to house patients seeking treatment for COVID-19. (Chris Clark | Spectrum Health Beat)
In a room at Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children's Hospital, Henry Dai celebrated his remission by destroying a replica of the tumor that once grew in his chest. (Chris Clark | Spectrum Health Beat)
Christopher Yates has gone through years of treatment for clubfoot. Spectrum Health physician assistant Susan Laham, PA-C, has helped him learn to walk, run and jump. (Taylor Ballek | Spectrum Health Beat)
A car hit Ryan Brown as he rode his moped. With a severe chest wall injury and in excruciating pain, he could barely breathe or talk upon his arrival in the emergency room. (Chris Clark | Spectrum Health Beat)
Spectrum Health nurses like Amber Besko, RN, say they don't consider themselves heroes. Providing care is what they are called to do and working during a pandemic doesn't change that. (Chris Clark | Spectrum Health Beat)
"I had no reservation about rolling up my sleeve at all," said Marc McClelland, MD, who received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at Spectrum Health. (Chris Clark | Spectrum Health Beat)
On street corners near Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital, people came with signs to show their appreciation for front-line health care workers. (Taylor Ballek | Spectrum Health Beat)
Navy reservist Ryan Thatcher served as a nurse at New York City's Bellevue Hospital during the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak in April. (Courtesy photo)
Bryar Johnston, 2, has fought acute myeloid leukemia, a rare form of bone marrow cancer, from the time he turned 6 months old. (Taylor Ballek | Spectrum Health Beat)
After months of excitement and anticipation to welcome their new son, Alecia and John Vanden Berg accepted that their daughters would not be able to meet little Jaxon in the hospital. (Chris Clark | Spectrum Health Beat)
The Elenbaas family has lived in lockdown for 3½ years, since their daughter, Jada, was born without an immune system. (Taylor Ballek | Spectrum Health Beat)
Ian, left, and Isaac Diehm are graduates of the Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children's Hospital Intensive Feeding Program. They still return to the clinic for progress evaluation. (Chris Clark | Spectrum Health Beat)
After an extremely complicated pregnancy, Mallory Hoeve delivered a healthy baby girl. "We know how blessed we are," she says. (Taylor Ballek | Spectrum Health Beat)
After 124 days in the hospital, Lexanne Sherrell graduated from the NICU in the Gerber Foundation Neonatal Center at Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children's Hospital. She was going home. (Chris Clark | Spectrum Health Beat)
Lonnie Martin returned home from a Caribbean cruise in October 2019, but the feeling of being on the high seas never left her. She felt constantly seasick, on land. (Chris Clark | Spectrum Health Beat)
Antibody testing—also known as serological testing—has been eagerly sought as a way to determine who has overcome a COVID-19 infection. (Chris Clark | Spectrum Health Beat)
A new portable intubation chamber is demonstrated. Jes Smith, MD, developed the chamber to protect front-line health care workers during the pandemic. (Chris Clark | Spectrum Health Beat)
Little Tinley never stops smiling—from adoption as a baby through months of leukemia treatments and, now, a happily ever after. (Chris Clark | Spectrum Health Beat)
June and Glenn Troyer, a couple in their 80s, both fell ill with COVID-19. After spending 10 days apart, they reunited in physical therapy. (Taylor Ballek | Spectrum Health Beat)
Unable to have visitors, Michael Clem, 68, uses a whiteboard to send a message from Spectrum Health Rehab and Nursing Center on Kalamazoo Avenue SE. (Taylor Ballek | Spectrum Health Beat)
When patients enter Spectrum Health hospitals and clinics, a cherished team of patient service representatives are there to greet them and make a difference in the care experience. (Chris Clark | Spectrum Health Beat)
As COVID-19 cases surge this fall, the Spectrum Health lab runs up to 4,800 tests a day. By December, team members processed more than 500,000 COVID-19 tests. (Taylor Ballek | Spectrum Health Beat)
After a 99% blockage and double bypass, James Cook turned his health around by cutting dairy, oil and meat from his diet. (Chris Clark | Spectrum Health Beat)
John McKay's first sign of lung disease came in late 2016. He learned he had pulmonary fibrosis, a condition that causes severe scarring in his lungs. John needed new lungs. (Chris Clark | Spectrum Health Beat)
Theresa Glass considered all the possibilities as she worried about the heavy feeling in her chest. Could it be COVID-19? A heart attack didn't seem plausible. (Taylor Ballek | Spectrum Health Beat)
After childhood heart surgery, Brent Morton didn't realize he needed follow-up treatment as an adult. He blamed his fatigue and breathlessness on being overweight. (Chris Clark | Spectrum Health Beat)
Work-at-home insurance coders joined Spectrum Health's fight against the virus, deploying to the front line to sanitize hospital touch points. (Taylor Ballek | Spectrum Health Beat)
Kaitlyn Seykora baffled medical professionals all her life. Just this year, a geneticist provided a diagnosis—one so rare, not much is known about it. (Chris Clark | Spectrum Health Beat)
Many of us learned the true meaning of that word this year as a virus turned our world upside down.
Suddenly, we set aside our differences and came together to help our neighbors in a time of great need.
Sewing circles fired up their machines to make masks. Local manufacturers innovated to create items health care systems needed – sanitizer, face shields and more. People dug deep to donate what they could to help the cause.
Health care teams rallied to the call, holding people’s hands as they battled COVID-19, collecting and testing specimens, trying new treatments, and spreading the word about how to stay healthy and well.
Through it all, an outpouring of community support spurred these health care heroes, giving them energy when their reserves dwindled.
Then came hope as scientists made discoveries and the federal government authorized new treatments and vaccines.
It is little surprise many of the year’s top stories, chosen by our readers, are those that illustrate the best of humanity and medical innovation.
Your top 10 stories of 2020:
1. ‘Best gift ever’
Santa visits the tiniest patients at the children’s hospital to spread holiday cheer.
2. As cute as can be
Two women crafted 130 costumes so any parent who wanted to celebrate Halloween could choose an outfit for their little one.
3. ‘A hometown hero’
Amway creates hand sanitizer for Spectrum Health—and donates it to help patients and health care workers.
4. ‘This is what I am called to do’
Emergency department workers draw strength from teamwork, training and community support in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
5. Holding her heart in her hands
After transplant surgery, a woman plans to have her diseased organ plastinated so it can serve as a teaching specimen to help others.
6. ‘It is so good to have victories’
After 10 days in the ICU fighting COVID-19, Don Force grew strong enough to leave—and that called for a special celebration.
7. Life with Luke
Doctors said baby Luke Worley was 12 hours from death. Today, he’s a thriving, striving 6-year-old enjoying life.
8. ‘It is absolutely an honor’
In a unit dedicated to caring for COVID-19 patients, health care workers speak with compassion and pride about their roles.
9. Health care heroes: ‘We are all in this together’
Life on the front lines of the pandemic: altruism, dedication and expertise shine.
10. ‘This extra burden’
Racism takes a toll, physical and emotional, on Black health care professionals. Addressing it could have far-reaching benefits, improving the overall health of the community.
Wondering which stories rounded out the top 50? Here you go:
11. A stroke at 14—and a remarkable recovery
Zosia Wasylewski was “as healthy as they get” until a blood clot suddenly blocked an artery in her brain.
12. COVID-19: Triage space open for screening
A tent extension of the emergency department is helping to screen those who have symptoms so medical workers are able to best serve the medical needs of the overall community.
13. ‘We’re still in this’
Almost six months into the COVID-19 battle, Blodgett ICU team members continue the fight. Together.
14. ‘We are honored and inspired’
Communities light up the night and warm hearts of health care workers.
15. ‘The perfect match’
Facing end-stage heart failure at age 19, Nick Jaenicke held on long enough to receive a donor heart—just like his brother and grandfather before him.
16. Glowing with gratitude
Cascade Township neighbors create a luminary walk to honor health care providers.
17. ‘It’s extraordinary’
West Michigan companies work together to innovate and create protective gear for health care heroes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
18. First baby of 2020: ‘She’s perfect’
Dad hopes little Kendra Rose reaches for the stars.
19. ‘We are here to fight’
Meet the dream team that works at a drive-up specimen-collection site, helping patients learn if they have COVID-19.
20. NICU newborns take center stage
New video technology lets families stay connected with their babies—anytime, anywhere.
21. COVID-19 donations: ‘It gives me goosebumps’
Donations of masks, gowns, food and flowers pour in to help the health care workers on the front line.
22. ‘You put your heart and soul into it’
The ICU team draws on support from each other and the community as they care for patients with COVID-19.
23. Nursing classrooms transform into an annex hospital
A long-standing preparedness plan allows Spectrum Health to use a Grand Valley State University building as an off-site medical space, should the need arise.
24. Crushing cancer
A teenager celebrates remission by smashing a replica of his tumor into a thousand tiny pieces.
25. ‘Look at us now’
To see Christopher Yates walk, run and jump, you’d never know he went through years of treatment for clubfoot.
26. A ‘simply jaw-dropping’ injury
Extensive surgery following a terrible crash has given nursing student Ryan Brown a unique perspective on the patient experience.
27. ‘We’re going to be OK’
Nurses give and receive support in providing frontline care while sharing messages of hope and gratitude.
28. ‘We are making history right now’
Five health care team members become the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccination at Spectrum Health.
29. ‘You are loved’
Neighbors rally outside the hospital with signs to show gratitude for health care workers serving the community during the pandemic.
30. ‘It’s not fear mongering, it’s the truth’
Navy reservist recounts his six-week medical support deployment in New York City during the toughest fight of his nursing career.
31. Brave like a bear
Bryar, a 2-year-old from northern Michigan, fights back after a bone marrow transplant to treat acute myeloid leukemia.
32. Through the looking glass
The Vanden Berg family found a way around COVID-19 restrictions to share their newborn son with his siblings—holding him up to a hospital window while his sisters waved and blew kisses from the lawn below.
33. Lessons from ‘the bubble’
The parents of a little girl born without an immune system have tips for families trying to stay safe and happy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
34. ‘Huge progress’
For their first three years, twins Ian and Isaac got all their nutrition from feeding tubes. Then they learned to eat.
35. ‘The most terrifying thing we have ever done’
After an extremely complicated pregnancy, Mallory Hoeve delivered a healthy baby girl. “We know how blessed we are,” she says.
36. Pomp, despite the circumstance
Lexanne Sherrell lost her twin sister in utero. Soon thereafter, the 1-pound-5-ounce preemie forged her own path to graduate from the NICU.
37. ‘My brain still thinks it’s on a cruise ship’
Lonnie Martin, 48, loves cruises. But then a cruise left her feeling like she’s forever on the high seas.
38. Antibody tests: ‘Another piece in our toolbox’
Those seeking to learn whether they have already suffered through a COVID-19 infection are now able to find out.
39. ‘First line of protection’
A new portable intubation chamber may protect frontline health care workers during the pandemic.
40. ‘The greatest feeling ever’
Little Tinley never stops smiling—from adoption as a baby through months of leukemia treatments and, now, a happily ever after.
41. ‘We are so thankful’
June and Glenn Troyer, a couple in their 80s, both fell ill with COVID-19. After spending 10 days apart, they reunited in physical therapy.
42. COVID-19 window messages: ‘I miss you’
Through a window and whiteboard, patients share their love and insights with community and family members.
43. Heroes at the door
To put patients at ease, hospital team members have honed the perfect blend of helpful and friendly.
44. ‘Running full-tilt’
Getting tested for COVID-19? Thank the dedicated laboratory services team for getting the results for you.
45. ‘I’m telling everyone who will listen’
After a 99% blockage and double bypass, James Cook turns his health around by cutting dairy, oil and meat from his diet.
46. ‘We are supposed to grow old together’
With great determination—and with the gift of new lungs—John McKay begins a new life with his wife and family.
47. ‘Thankful to be alive’
She thought she might have COVID-19. She soon learned she’d suffered a severe heart attack.
48. ‘Where have you been?’
After childhood heart surgery, Brent Morton didn’t realize he needed follow-up treatment as an adult.
49. COVID-19: ‘It takes all of us’
Work-at-home insurance coders join Spectrum Health’s fight against the virus, deploying to the front line to sanitize hospital touch points.
50. ‘She’s tenacious’
Kaitlyn Seykora baffled medical professionals all her life. Just last month, a geneticist provided a diagnosis—one so rare, not much is known about it.