One Year Later

COVID-19 landed on our shores one year ago. It shut down life as we know it. And while the vaccine is giving us a much needed light at the end of the tunnel, it’s still not entirely clear when life will get back to normal.

In the face of this crisis, the board of trustees for North Ottawa Community Health System could not be more proud of our staff and the community for the way we have come together. This has been a tough year to be a healthcare worker. It’s been demanding, highly stressful, and risky. But the NOCHS team of more than 700 professionals has risen to that challenge, delivering quality care with compassion and dedication.

They voluntarily jumped in to lead the lakeshore’s COVID-19 response early on, and have not wavered since, giving it everything they have, each day, to accomplish truly amazing things like:


  • Setting up the first, and longest running COVID-19 testing site on the lakeshore.
  • Improving the COVID-19 PCR testing process, which made statewide news!
  • Convincing other labs to open more test sites in Grand Haven, increasing capacity.


  • Collaborating with larger hospitals that were full to take the overflow of non-COVID-19 patients from other communities.
  • Retrofitting separate operating rooms with new technology and safety protocols to handle emergency surgeries for COVID-19 positive patients.


  • Helping local businesses establish their own emergency plans.
  • Providing weekly updates through media and other means to educate the community.


  • Securing one of the very first allotments from the State to immediately inoculate not only our staff, but staff of every other physician and dental practice in the community – way ahead of our neighbors.
  • Deploying a highly trained pharmacy team to personally draw each dose from the vials ensuring the maximum amount possible was captured, with zero waste.
  • Volunteering to be the first hospital in Ottawa County to send staff to independent living and group living homes to run vaccination clinics.
  • Setting up the first and only hospital-based vaccination clinic in the County that serves the general public.


  • Partnering with Four Pointes to vaccinate vulnerable seniors who are not able to use technology or find transportation.

When we think about all our community hospital has achieved, innovated and led, we are in awe. The thanks go directly to our employees, whose fierce commitment to their neighbors ensured that our community did not get overlooked or ignored during the COVID-19 shuffle.

It’s ironic to recall that our hospital was birthed in a time of similar crisis during the Spanish flu of 1919. William Hatton lost his beloved wife, Elizabeth, to disease. In response, he donated his home so that Grand Haven could have a hospital. This silver lining, rising up from the chaos and fear of a pandemic, has protected and served our community ever since. Many of you have discovered this for yourselves. You’ve found that having a local, committed, community-oriented healthcare system is a blessing. We hear time and again how grateful you are to have found us, and how glad you are that we’re here.

Everyone reading this probably knows at least one of the 700 people who work at NOCHS. You know that they’ve taken no vacation. They’ve worked countless hours of overtime. The line between “work” and “home” has become blurry or even nonexistent. They’ve answered your calls and questions at home, at work, at school, at the grocery store, regardless of whether it was “their job” or not.

You’ve also asked “What can I do?” And the answer is simple: keep using our services. Come here for your surgery, your blood work, your x-rays, and your testing. You have a choice about where to go, and we need you to choose this hospital. Make the choice, and then enjoy the simplicity, the personalized service and the quality of NOCHS. It’s the only way we’ll be able to keep leading, caring for and healing this community.

“Thank you” seems so inadequate, and yet so right. We are grateful to our staff, honored by the community’s support, and hopeful that the steps we continue to take together will bring this painful and challenging chapter to a close.


NOCHS Board of Trustees

Joy Gaasch – Chair, Grand Haven Township

Tim Parker – Vice Chair

Judith W. Hooyenga – Secretary

Tom Godfrey – Treasurer

Tami Harvey – City of Grand Haven

Claire Sheridan – Crockery Township

Eric Hayward – Robinson Township

Harry Dyck – Spring Lake Village/Township

Tim Barron – At Large

Jeff Beswick – At Large

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