Mackinac Straits Health System Foundation Sponsors 'Free Fare Day' on Nov. 1

Friday, October 23, 2009 General News
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ST. IGNACE, Mich., Oct. 22 Mackinac Straits Health System Foundation today announced its sponsorship of the first-ever 'Free Bridge Fare Day' on November 1, in honor of the 52nd anniversary of the first crossing of the Mackinac Bridge. The Health System foundation is working in partnership with First National Bank of St. Ignace and Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island to commemorate this historic moment.

"At a time when healthcare in this country is likely on the brink of major change, it is imperative that we continue to provide the residents of St. Ignace and its surrounding communities best-in-class care," said Ronald Mitchell, Chairman of the Mackinac Straits Health System Board of Directors. "We are excited to be able to thank Michiganders for sticking through these particularly difficult economic times and to acknowledge the important role continued travel to the Upper Peninsula plays for the Mackinac Straits Health System."

From 12:00 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. on November 1, non-commercial travelers will be able to cross the bridge for free compliments of the St. Ignace-based health system and its co-sponsors. In an effort to raise awareness of the hospital's vast spectrum of services including but not limited to emergency, general medical, referral and on-site skilled nursing services, toll booth personnel will be distributing travel first aid kits throughout the day.

"People don't always make the important connection between tourism and our healthcare system," said R.D. Musser III, President of Grand Hotel. "The bridge was one of the ways health systems like Mackinac Straits really began to flourish and it's important we recognize that relationship."

The bridge first opened to traffic on November 1, 1957 due in large part to the efforts of Senator Prentiss M. Brown. "We are thrilled to join with Mackinac Straits Health System and Grand Hotel to honor this milestone," said James North, President of First National Bank of St. Ignace. "It is truly a great opportunity to pay tribute to the bridge and to Michiganders as a whole."

In the early 1950s, in response to efforts spearheaded by local businessman Peter J. Della-Moretta, the Kellogg Foundation awarded a grant to begin construction on Mackinac Straits Hospital (MSH.) Since then, the hospital has grown to provide services throughout the Upper Peninsula extending to both Mackinac and Bois Blanc Islands. Through a unique collaborative relationship with the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, the hospital brought outpatient dialysis, mammography and bone density services to MSH in 2002. Recently the tribe donated 16 acres of land for a new hospital site overlooking Lake Huron. In July 2007, the foundation launched the 5 year, "$3 Million Community Health Challenge" capital campaign, co-chaired by Musser and North, to help fund construction on the new 86,000 square-foot facility. The new hospital is expected to open to the public in April 2010

About Mackinac Straits Health System

Mackinac Straits Hospital & Health Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to meeting the health care needs of those individuals visiting or residing in and around the Mackinac Straits area. Its unique geographic location is an asset to the growth of the hospital and that of the communities it serves. Mackinac Straits Health System assists in maintaining and improving the quality of life, through the provision of a continuum of care, including emergency, general medical, referral and on-site skilled nursing services, assuring access for all. Mackinac Straits operates a Critical Access Hospital, 60-bed long term care facility in addition to clinics in Naubinway, St. Ignace, Mackinac Island, Bois Blanc Island, and opening soon in Mackinaw City. For more information or to make a donation, please visit

SOURCE Mackinac Straits Health System Foundation

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