2023 Ludwig Nominee: Hurley Patient Advocate Seeks to Address Barriers to Care

Since 1990, the MHA has honored member healthcare organizations working to enrich the overall welfare of their local communities through the Ludwig Community Benefit Award. This year, the MHA is excited to showcase all award nominees, highlighting the exceptional and creative work being accomplished by Michigan’s hospitals.

Hurley Medical Center, a 2023 nominee, is advancing the well-being of Flint and Genesee County communities through their Patient Resource & Community Advocate (PRCA), which focuses on addressing the barriers that prevent or delay vulnerable patient populations from seeking care.

Data collected by the medical center revealed that many residents in surrounding zip codes are disproportionately affected by chronic illness (heart disease, diabetes, etc.), lack of transportation, food insecurity, racial disparities and provider mistrust. In an effort to remove barriers and make the community healthier, Hurley looked for someone to fill the patient advocate role. Tarnesa Martin, RN, BSN, was seen as a perfect fit based on her medical knowledge and strong ties to the community.

As Hurley’s Patient Resource & Community Advocate, Martin works on community outreach, disease prevention and staff education to better serve patients in need. She frequently engages with community groups, minority-owned businesses, faith-based organizations and other trusted entities serving minority populations outside of the hospital in an effort to better understand barriers to care.

While most of her work is done out in the community, Martin also assists with educating Hurley resident physicians on patient trust-building, communication and health literacy. Her strong relationships with the hospital staff allow her to provide direction to patients as they navigate acute care needs and challenging diagnoses.

Every year, Hurley teams handle more than 20,000 inpatient cases, 350,000 outpatient visits and see over 80,000 emergency department visits. Hospital staff continue to collect and analyze patient data to identify disparities and find solutions that reduce hospital admissions, readmissions and adverse outcomes.

Members with questions about the program or the Ludwig Community Benefit Award should contact Erica Leyko at the MHA.