Unpacking the 2022 Health Care & Human Resources Summit

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The Grand Rapids Chamber’s 2022 Health Care & Human Resources Summit featured an extended conversation between health care experts and business leaders from across the region. We were joined by a variety of medical professionals from specialized fields such as mental health, pharmaceuticals, disease prevention & more, in addition to experts from our local health systems and insurance organizations sharing the latest information on the medical needs of our nation and recent changes to the health care landscape.

HR professionals and other business leaders continued this conversation to share what these advancements in the medical field means for our West Michigan business community. Our speakers broke down the latest best practices of how we can simultaneously take care of our employees’ well-being and overcome other obstacles, such as the talent crisis, while reducing unnecessary costs.

From instituting sweeping improvements such as changing the health care plans in your organization, to simple updates like providing private space in your office for employees’ telehealth visits, this event was designed to equip you with the latest solutions to provide the best people-focused health care in our community.

Read on to get some of the biggest takeaways from the 2022 Health Care & Human Resources Summit.


Data Download: Wages and Benefits in West Michigan

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Maggie McPhee, the Director of Information Services at The Employers’ Association, kicked off the event with a presentation of the latest statistics and data-driven conclusions about wages and benefits amidst a competitive talent crisis. Her biggest takeaway was how employers can address this talent shortage, that, as she predicted, “doesn’t really see an end”.

McPhee recommended that companies offer employees as much flexibility as possible, provide benefits on an earlier timeline than what was previously standard, and educate their employees thoroughly about how to take advantage of their benefits.


Discussion: Benefits and Talent Attraction

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Carrie Caverly, Regional Sales Manager at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan; Doug Himmelein, Executive Vice President of Operations & Human Resources at Holland Home; and Andy Johnston, Senior Vice President of Advocacy and Strategic Engagement at the Grand Rapids Chamber, continued the conversation on wages and benefits from a business leader perspective.

Some creative solutions that our guest speakers shared on retaining employees and optimizing employee benefits are:

  • Prioritizing employee work-life balance
  • Communicating wages and benefits information via electronic information, such as sending a pdf summary or using videos to explain benefits
  • Implementing internship or apprenticeship programs
  • Offering a “cafeteria benefit plan” where employees can purchase what benefits they want
  • And providing additional resources such as the Employer Resource Network

Members can find access to these resources and more at This page is only accessible to members and has a special access code that was sent to all members in an email on March 22. If you have any questions about accessing this page, please reach out to


Talent and the Role of New Americans in Health Care

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Wendy Falb, the Executive Director of The Literacy Center of West Michigan, and Kevin Vos, the Sr. Director of Hospitality Support Services at Spectrum Health, shared about the creation of their English Language Proficiency program that has assisted Spectrum Health’s hiring efforts. Joined by Omar Cuevas, the Vice President of Investor and Corporate Relations at the Grand Rapids Chamber, our guest speakers explained how the partnership has benefited their whole staff as well as members of the community.

Through working at Spectrum and being able to participate in this partnership, non-English speaking individuals learned fundamentals of English language and grammar that not only helped them succeed in their job, but also helped them gain a sense of belonging and integrate within their community.

“We’ve seen the incredible talent that has been brought to our community and the potential if we are able to remove barriers and upscale some of these individuals. The perspective they bring on their own community is a rich, rich resource,” said Falb.

Learn more about their partnership here.

Innovation and Entrepreneurism in Health

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Nate Baar, the Founder & CEO of HealthBar in Grand Rapids, explained the importance of community-based health care and how his organization has been increasing access in the West Michigan community.

As health care often comes with an enormous price tag, Barr highlighted alternate models of health care that has increased quality of health care while reducing cost. Bringing health care directly to our community, in schools and workplaces, and developing the relationships between providers and patients, may be the future of health care.

Mental Health and Issues in the Workplace

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Mark Eastburg, President & CEO of Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services, shared a number of stories on how mental health can have a ripple effect on our personal and professional lives and how this impact can carry over into the workplace. Whether it’s your employees themselves or their loved ones that are in need of mental health care, it’s essential that employers take note of how critical mental health is and how they can best support their employees. Resources such as employee assistance programs offer free access to behavioral health visits, and are critical for staff to have access to.

“Your employee’s health trickles throughout your organization. One person’s mental health can have a direct impact on your company,” said Eastburg. “When we have a healthier, happier workforce, we win the talent war against the rest of the country and make West Michigan a great place to work.”

New Advancements on Tackling Obesity

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Jenny Goins, President & CEO of Kentuckiana Health Collaborative, emphasized the complexity of obesity in our nation and how seriously we need to view this disease as a serious medical issue.

Goins explained that HR and business professionals need to consider how detrimental impacts of obesity can be on all other health conditions and how the prevalence of the disease can cost your company real money.

“When your body is already sick, [other conditions] are going to be worse. From a people perspective, that’s bad. From a fiscal perspective, that’s worse.”

Goins recommends business leaders to take a deep dive into their health plans and find data that shows what disease states are costing them the most in order to make better-informed decisions.

“The HR component and the health care component come together. You’re looking at it from a fiduciary responsibility, but also a people responsibility.”


Social Determinants of Health

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Joyce Chan Russell, the Senior Vice President of Government Markets at Priority Health, helped us gain a deeper understanding of the external factors that are shaping our health and the health of those around us. The biggest social determinants of health include factors such as access to food, education, social support, health care systems, and the stability of your economic situation. Each of these factors not only affect an individuals’ ability to access health care, but the cost and effectiveness associated with it as well.

With these factors in mind, Chan Russell shared what her organization has created to help improve the health of the entire community and how they have been working to connect members to the health care that they need.


Thank you to our Premier Sponsor, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, and all of our sponsors for making this event possible!



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