The MHA announced the winners of its 2021 Ludwig Community Benefit Award during the association’s virtual Annual Membership Meeting June 24. The honorees include programs supported by Mercy Health Muskegon; MidMichigan Health, Midland; and Spectrum Health Zeeland Community Hospital. The award is named in memory of Patric E. Ludwig, a former MHA president who championed investing in the community’s overall health, and is presented to member organizations integrally involved in collaborative programs to improve the health and well-being of area residents. Each winner will receive $5,000 from the MHA Health Foundation to assist in its health improvement efforts.
Mercy Health Muskegon and its community health and well-being organization The Health Project established the Coalition for A Drug Free Muskegon County (DFMC) in 2005 to reduce substance abuse among youth through education, prevention and treatment. The DFMC is an organizing body for over 65 community organizations such as schools, healthcare, law enforcement, business, government, leaders and youth who make up the more than 100 volunteers.
Working through multiple subcommittees, the DFMC coalition initiatives have a larger impact than any one organization would be able to achieve independently. The coalition’s 10-year outcomes include a 24% reduction in alcohol use and 55% drop in binge drinking among youth, a 93% decline in frequent cigarette use, a 60% decrease in teen misuse of prescription drugs, and a 20% reduction in recent marijuana use by youths.
Several Mercy Health employees are engaged in the DFMC’s Muskegon Area Medication Disposal Program, which has collected over 44,000 pounds of unused medications in the past decade. Mercy Health employees also facilitate or participate in other action teams using a data-driven process supporting successful outcomes.
For more information about the Coalition for a Drug Free Muskegon County, contact Laura Fitzpatrick, manager of Community Health Improvement, Mercy Health Muskegon, at (231) 638-9850.
MidMichigan Health implemented its Bridge to Belonging program in March 2020 to address loneliness in the aging population and reduce its effect on morbidity, mortality and healthcare costs. It uses expanded screening, assessment and interventions to increase belonging.
Initially focused on older individuals with loneliness as a concern, it uses validated screening questions and an assessment tool built into the electronic health record at patients’ primary care appointments. As appropriate, patients are referred to integrated behavioral health therapists, agencies that work with older adults and/or volunteers who provide connections in the community.
The health system and 211 Northeast Michigan, which provides referrals and information to assist with essential needs, created an electronic closed-loop referral hub to address barriers to connection. A community awareness campaign was also launched.
Bridge to Belonging initially determined 40% of the system’s older adult patients were lonely, and numbers have risen during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through February, the program had impacted 750 individuals, and patient satisfaction is high. It is working with United Way, area councils on aging and 211 to link trained volunteers and people in need of a telephone connection.
For more information about Bridge to Belonging, contact Christina Krueger, community health project coordinator, MidMichigan Health, at (989) 839-1612.
Spectrum Health Zeeland Community Hospital (SHZCH) and the Spectrum Health Medical Group (SHMG) partnered with Ottawa County schools to develop the School Blue Envelope Program to prevent suicides.
With the foundational premise that “suicide is everyone’s responsibility,” this program teaches school team members how to respond at a moment’s notice to a person who has thoughts of suicide. The training explains how to have critical conversations with youth in crisis using evidence-based tools that help identify the student’s level of risk and determine next steps. The program includes training for teachers and faculty on how to keep themselves and a person with suicidal thoughts S.A.F.E.
S: Stay with the student.
A: Access help. Alert others that you need help.
F: Feelings — validate the emotions of the person.
E: Eliminate the risk if possible (sharps, pills, etc.).
Each participating school tracks Blue Envelope events, linking them with appropriate help. With each event seen as a “potential life saved,” the program may have saved 251 lives,
To learn more about the School Blue Envelope Program, contact Jodie Reimink, community program specialist II, SHZCH, at (616) 772-5746 or Jody Sprague, clinical program specialist, Spectrum Health Medical Group, at (616) 486-7437.