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Close Cut Conversation: a Men’s Health Special




GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Inside of the big picture window at Henchman House Barbershop in Grand Rapids, there is a back bookshelf wall filled with men’s hair products, awards and old-school barbershop memorabilia. Push past the wall and there’s a hidden room. Inside the dimly lit space is a single chair. It’s almost a speakeasy setting for a haircut.

It was in that chair that four West Michigan men got a trim as they shared their personal health journeys this Men’s Health Awareness Month. The goal: educate their community about common men’s health struggles including heart disease, diabetes, prostate cancer and mental health.

Talking is the first step in taking control of your health. Dr. Ken Dood of University of Michigan Health-West in Cedar Springs says it’s paramount.

“You’re going to need to see a physician at some point in your life, probably sooner than later. If there’s something wrong, make an appointment. If there isn’t anything wrong, that’s great. Get in for that yearly physical and we’ll get things checked out,” Dood said.

Dood said men’s health is like a car. He inherited a 1966 Ford Mustang from his grandfather. No one would believe him if he said he still drove it without putting in some routine maintenance. Just like a car, which needs oil changes or belt replacements, a body needs regular attention. At certain ages, men should start getting screened for common health concerns.

“If I had a dead battery and someone said, gosh, all you need to do is change the battery, and I said I don’t like to talk about batteries, that’s not really a helpful answer. So you’re going to have to talk about it. Find someone that you’re comfortable with,” Dood said. “If you see something in a man in your life that is an issue, you see something’s changed or they start complaining of something that they think is really minor, get an appointment, call the office, let’s get it addressed.”

Dood said listening to the body, knowing personal risk factors and taking action plays a big role in getting ahead of any health problems.

For men, that starts with the heart. Heart disease is the number one killer in America and it’s responsible for 1 in 4 deaths among men, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But regular screenings, Dood says, can give vital information to doctors to see what’s going on inside of the body.


Two years ago, Jonathan Kueppers nearly became part of the staggering statistics.

He was on his way back from working in Holland and stopped at a light near Byron Center and 84th Street. He put his car in park and rolled down his window. What happened next was told to him later by those who saved his life.

“The lady two cars behind she came up to me and she checked my pulse and I didn’t have a pulse. The fire captain, which (the fire station) was less than a block away, was leaving at that time pulled up behind all the commotion going and said, ‘What’s going on?’ She said, ‘He doesn’t have a pulse,’” Kueppers said. “They pulled me out, put me on the grass. She did a chest compressions and then he got the defibrillator. They shocked me. And then within six minutes, they had to shock me again.”

Jonathan Kueppers in the chair at Henchman House Barbershop in Grand Rapids as he discussed his heart condition, which nearly killed him.

Kueppers has a condition called cardiomyopathy, a chronic disease that makes it hard for the heart to pump blood to the rest of the body. Whereas a healthy heart is pumping at 100% capacity, his was only 15%.

“I’m a miracle. There’s nothing short of the fact that I’m a miracle because I fully recovered,” Kueppers said. “I think it’s 3% of the people that survive what I went through.”

CDC: Heart disease

“A lot of that stuff we’ll pick up on a yearly physical,” Dr. Dood said of heart problems with no signs or symptoms, like Kueppers’ condition. “There’s some screening blood work that we can do and we can get a lot of information out of that and kind of give us a direction as to where to head. If we start to pick up some abnormalities, then we start working those up further.”


Tom Turner, a longtime director at WOOD TV8, had just hit the game-winning shot during a round of pickup basketball at the YMCA. He said he stepped off to the side and collapsed. It took 13 minutes to revive him. He then spent seven days in a coma.

After waking up and having quadruple bypass surgery, his cardiologist told him that he had likely had diabetes for longer than either of them knew.

“We were trying to get control of my diabetes at the time of the heart attack and didn’t really know how bad it was,” Turner said. “I didn’t really have any true symptoms that I was aware of at the time. I just knew that my blood sugars were high at times.”

Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death for men in America. The CDC says that men account for more than half of all cases and that 4 million men are living with diabetes now and don’t realize it.

CDC: Diabetes

Not controlling the body’s blood sugar can put stress on other areas of the body and lead to long-term damage or death.

“What happens is as the blood sugar increases over time, the little arteries in the around the heart, the brain, the kidneys make changes,” Dr. Dood said. “They don’t know why the blood sugar is high and they don’t really care, they just make those changes. So then you end up with arteries that aren’t working as well and you have a blood supply issue. That leads to all kinds of issues down the road.”

Dood said it’s like lifting a dumbbell over and over again but telling the bicep muscle not to get bigger: it’s not going to happen. The longer a body’s blood sugar is left high, the more damage that is done to the vascular system. He says people should be looking for signs or symptoms like excessive thirst or urination. They should know their family history and their body mass index; diabetes is more common in those with a higher BMI.

Tom Turner in the chair at Henchman House Barbershop.

Turner knows the dangers of unmanaged blood sugar. It can kill you. He’s thankful that now he has an insulin pump. It’s programed to his body-specific requirements and gives him an adequate amount of insulin when he needs it to help maintain his blood sugar.

Dood said a diabetes diagnosis is nothing to be intimidated by.

“I have not met a patient that we can’t get under control relatively easily. It may take a little bit of time but we can get you there on a regimen that you can follow,” Dood said. “It’s overwhelming at first but it doesn’t have to be once you get into the regimen and you keep those follow-up appointments and we continue to check things and make sure we know where we’re at. We can typically get it under control.”


The prostate: It is not an area that men are overly excited to talk about. Alejandro Alvarez knows that feeling. He told no one when he had a burning sensation during intercourse with his wife. It wasn’t until two months later, as the symptom persisted, that he finally told his wife.

Alejandro Alvarez in the chair at Henchman House Barbershop, discussing his battle against prostate cancer.

“She said, ‘I have an appointment for you and you got to go and do it,'” Alvarez said his wife made him go to the doctor. “When the doctor called me and said, ‘You have cancer but we need to know how much you have in your body,’ it was like everything stopped.”

CDC: Prostate cancer

In May, when he got his prostate cancer diagnosis, Alvarez was just 54, much younger than the average age of 66. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among men. According to the West Michigan Prostate Health Alliance, 1 in 7 men in West Michigan will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.

Catching it early dramatically increases the chance of survival.

“What you’re looking for is changes in your urinary habits, so if you urinate more often or you feel like you’re urinating often but you’re not emptying your bladder so you have to go again in 20 minutes or half an hour. Those are signs that that prostate may be enlarged, which may be a simple fix and not necessarily cancer, ” Dr. Dood said. “We want to catch it ahead of time. We want to do that blood work, make sure we know what’s going on so if it is cancer we can get it fixed.”


Brad Gill was 23 years old and walking back to his desk at his first major job out of college when his mom called him. She asked if he was sitting down. When he was, she told him the devastating news: His father Don had killed himself.

Don Gill was 48 years old.

“My dad, just kind of the way he operated, he was kind of like Superman. I mean, all of his clients relied on him, my family relied on him, so many friends relied on him for everything, helping them make decisions. And if there was ever a problem, Don would come to rescue them, Don would fix it,” Brad Gill recalled. “He even said in the letter he left, he said, quote ‘I went too fast for too long.’ And, you know, whatever he was running from or whatever was going on, he just thought that he could keep going and, you know, work more, earn more, buy more things, whatever and, you know, keep running away from it.”

Gill said that he and his family had no idea their dad was suffering. Even though he felt like they had adult conversations between them, Gill wishes his dad would have felt comfortable sharing how he was feeling.

“Something I’ve learned, especially in my work in mental health advocacy since he passed, is that people kind of have a certain kind M.O. or a way of operating,” Gill said. “If they change or if you notice something that’s different, it usually opens up a door maybe to have a conversation and say, ‘Hey, what’s going on?'”

Gill’s dad was like many other men who struggle with mental health. Men are more than 3.5 times more likely to die by suicide than women and middle-aged men are more susceptible than any other age group.

Dr. Dood says at his office and most other doctor’s offices, physicians will have patients fill out a mental health questionnaire. He said the seven to nine questions are enough to start a conversation about what is the next appropriate step.

“We’ll take a look at that and I’ll ask, ‘This looks like maybe you’ve got some depression issues or some mental health issues, let’s talk about them,'” Dood explained. “Sometimes all that happens is that you were fatigued, but you’ve been working a lot lately and it’s not a mental health issue and that’s great, but that’s one way that we try and open the door for patients. And then know that it’s common.”

CDC: Mental health

If you’re in crisis, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline anytime for free at 1.800.273.8255.


Making men’s health a priority by finding a physician and getting an annual physical is the easiest way to take control of your health. Dood explained that in a physical, a patient will be checked for all the major things: kidney function, liver function, cholesterol, diabetes, prostate level and mental health.

But it’s also an opportunity to start a conversation with a doctor about anything that may be concerning you.

“We’ll decide, is it something that we can handle down the road or do I need to see you in the office the next day or in a week if it doesn’t clear up? It’s really easy, but you’ve got to ask those questions. I can’t read minds,” Dood said.

Brad Gill in the chair at Henchman House Barbershop.

Gill said that starts now with his 8-week old son, being more emotionally accessible for him and his wife to help break a masculine cycle of passing down poor health habits.

“Everything I think now or decide or choose or how I act is going to reflect on (my son) in some way, shape or form,” Gill said. “So trying to do the right thing is a lot more amplified when you’re doing it for a next generation who looks up to you and he relies on you and everything.”


Health News

New GR Pharmacy to Serve Spanish-speaking Patients




GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — By the end of the year, Grand Rapids’ Roosevelt Park neighborhood will have a new pharmacy.

Trinity Health Clinica Santa Maria began construction Monday morning on the $1.5 million project. The new pharmacy will include both walk-up and drive-thru services.

Trinity Health Clinica Santa Maria practice leader Kameron Selleck it will offer convenience in a neighborhood that doesn’t have a pharmacy close in proximity, making it challenging for patients to get their prescriptions in a timely manner.

“A lot of our patients do encounter a lot of social barriers in their lives,” Selleck said.

He added that a language barrier can make it difficult patients to get their prescriptions. He said nearly every employee at Clinica Santa Maria is bilingual in Spanish and the plan is for that trend to carry over to new pharmacy and pharmacy tech hires.

“I think this project was announced almost five years ago, so it’s here,” Selleck said. “I just really encourage the community to be as excited as we are.

The pharmacy is at 730 Cesar E. Chavez Ave. SW (formerly Grandville Avenue) at Martin Luther King Jr. Street (formerly Franklin Street) in Grand Rapids. It will be the seventh Trinity Health pharmacy in the Grand Rapids area, with the other locations being Cathedral Square, the Wege Building at Trinity Heath Saint Mary’s, Hudsonville, Rockford, Byron Center and Southeast Grand Rapids.

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Tulip Time Crowds Encouraging for Returning Festivals




HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Tulip Time saw big crowds this year as it returned to a more regular schedule.

The event was cancelled in 2020 and scaled back last year because of the pandemic.

Hot temperatures caused damage to some of Holland’s tulips, Tulip Time organizers say.

The heat caused challenges for the 2022 festival. The Tulip Immersion Garden, a new attraction, had to close early because the hot temperatures caused too much damage to the flowers, Tulip Time Executive Director Gwen Auwerda said.

“They don’t like 80 degree, 90 degree weather. Tulips prefer it to be about 40 at night, 60 to 70, maybe 80 during the day,” Auwerda said.

Heat closes down Tulip Time Immersion Garden early

The organization is working on final numbers but saw attendance return to pre-pandemic levels.

“I do know that the carnival exceeded 2019 by 25 to 30%, so that was fabulous for them and it was packed everywhere in town,” Auwerda said.

Kevin Knight, the owner of Market Zero, said the festival definitely provided a boost as they worked to keep up with demand. 

“It’s a huge kick off to your summer season,” Knight said. “Our fridges were completely full and got completely empty and completely full and completely empty, so it was about everything we could handle.”

Market Zero in downtown Holland on May 16, 2022. Inside Market Zero in downtown Holland on May 16, 2022.

The return of crowds could be good sign for other events coming back this summer, like the Festival of the Arts in Grand Rapids. Mark Azkoul, an organizer for the event that began in 1970, sees the success of Tulip Time as encouraging.

Tulip Time has record-breaking opening weekend

“We’ve been out for two years so this is a big thing for us and for the city to get Festival back up and going,” Azkoul said.

Organizers created the Plein Air event for 2021, which combined outdoor art and music.

The 2022 event runs June 3 through June 5. After taking a break because of the pandemic the festival needs extra help.    

“A lot of people still don’t know yet festival is coming back, so we really want to get the word out. We need more volunteers,” Azkoul said.

People interested in volunteering can sign up on the Festival of the Arts website.


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Health News

Mom Does ‘small Part’ to Help Parents Who Need Formula




HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Though there appears to an end of the baby formula shortage in sight, it’s still causing problems for parents, so a mother in Holland did what she could to help.

Abbott Nutrition has announced its entered into an agreement with the federal Food and Drug Administration to restart its Sturgis plant within two weeks. The closure of that plant has been a huge contributing factor to the shortage. The company expects its products to ship to stores eight weeks after production resumes.

But for now, many parents can’t find the formula they need. The low supply has some stores limiting the number of formulas customers can purchase, adding that they are in “extraordinary high” demand.

The baby formula shelves at a Meijer in Holland.

So Caitlin Dampier, a mother of two whose youngest is a 3-month-old girl, stepped up to help where she could.

“I really wish I could help out more, but this is just my small part,” Dampier said.

She got a box of Enfamil formulas that she’s not using because she’s breastfeeding.

“When you’re pregnant, you get free samples and so I thought I would just offer mine for free for mothers who need them,” Dampier said. “I kept it around in case I wasn’t able to breastfeed.”

5 things to know if you can’t find baby formula

Dampier made a post on Facebook this week directed at parents who can’t find formula. The box she received included three cans of Enfamil formulas and two ready-made formulas.

Two mothers reached out to her, including Kourtney Hann, another Holland resident. She’s one of thousands of mothers across the country who have had to go to great lengths to find food for their baby.

“I have had to go to stores maybe 45 minutes away just to even try to get formula,” she said. “It’s very hard to find them where I’m at right now. I went to Walmart yesterday and all they had was Similac and my daughter has a really bad reaction to Similac.”

Hann was able to connect with Dampier and picked up a can of Enfamil. Dampier left the box on her front porch with the message, “Please take only the formula you chose and tear out some coupons for yourself. My prayers are with you during this difficult time.”

The box of Enfamil products Caitlin Dampier left at her door for mothers to pick up.

Hann said she was down to her last can of baby formula which lasts her about five days. Now that she has received another can from Dampier, she’ll be able to feed her 9-month-old for the next two weeks.

“Being a mom is hard enough as it is. You have so many other struggles and to be afraid to know if you’re going to be able to feed your baby or not is a struggle,” Dampier said. “You want to do everything for your kids so when you’re not able to it’s hard. It’s just the worst feeling in the world.”


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