The MHA announced the winners of its 2022 Ludwig Community Benefit Award during the association’s Annual Membership Meeting June 30. The honorees include programs supported by Ascension Michigan, Warren; Spectrum Health Lakeland, Saint Joseph; McLaren Bay Region, Bay City; and Chelsea 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.
Ascension Michigan School-Based Health Centers are an initiative of Ascension Southeast Michigan Community Health, committed to improving the quality of life in the communities the health system serves. Since 1996, the program has developed mental health and medical plans for each of its 29 centers, with funding from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the school districts where clinics are located.
With the increased need for children’s mental health services caused by the pandemic, the health centers set a goal to provide mental health services to students transitioning from in-person instruction to remote learning. The health centers expanded telepsychiatry services to maximize access to care and applied for additional state funding to add service sites.
The School-Based Health Centers collaborate with several Ascension Michigan programs and community organizations to address severe mental health issues, substance use disorders, violence, grief, environmental or safety problems, and more.
The Ascension Michigan School-Based Health Centers will use its cash award to address the stigma attached to using mental health services through schoolwide educational activities and youth-produced videos.
For more information on the Ascension Michigan School-Based Health Centers, contact Kenneth Coleman, LPC, PhD, director, community health, at Ascension Michigan at (248) 849-5715.
McLaren Bay Region and its foundation opened the Helen M. Nickless Volunteer Clinic in March 2004. The clinic serves the primary healthcare needs of disadvantaged residents in Bay and surrounding counties, connecting them with basic health resources through education, prevention and treatment.
The clinic operates Wednesdays from 4 p.m. until the last patient is seen. Three part-time employees oversee clinic operations and patient needs, arranging referrals, prescription assistance, volunteer scheduling and more. More than 175 volunteers, including licensed professionals and lay volunteers, provide more than 2,000 hours of service each year.
From March 2004 through September 2021, the Nickless Clinic provided care to 9,275 individuals during 31,568 visits. When asked where they would have sought care without the clinic, 65% of new patients said they would have forgone care and 20% indicated the emergency room.
The clinic is financed through an endowment fund and annual grants from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, as well as by annual donations from the community. The money from the Ludwig Award will be used to assist in patients’ prescription medication costs.
For more information on the Helen M. Nickless Volunteer Clinic, contact Lynn Weaver, vice president, philanthropy, McLaren Bay Medical Foundation, at (989) 895-4728.
Spectrum Health Lakeland established the Center for Better Health in downtown Benton Harbor in November 2020 as a two-month rapid response to COVID-19-related health inequities. Eighty-five percent of Benton Harbor residents are African American, nearly half live in poverty, and many experience conditions such as hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, and pre-term and low birth-weight babies.
The disparate impact of the pandemic on Benton Harbor residents and findings from recent Community Health Needs Assessments highlighted the need for increased access to healthcare services. Spectrum Health Lakeland responded with additional resources to support the center’s operations and expansion. It is moving from its current 1,200 square foot facility to a 30,000 square foot building donated by the Whirlpool Corporation. Since its opening, more than 2,500 individuals have used the center to conveniently access culturally customized healthcare.
The Ludwig Award will fund a health equity leadership development program designed to prepare community members and hospital staff to effectively collaborate in strengthening Lakeland’s ability to meet the healthcare and social needs of the residents of Benton Harbor and other underserved communities in its service area.
For more information about the Center for Better Health, contact Lynn Todman, vice president of health equity at Spectrum Health Lakeland, at (269) 208-2254.
Chelsea Hospital, a joint venture hospital, whose partners are Trinity Health Michigan and University of Michigan Health, spearheaded development of the WAVE Stockbridge-Manchester Shuttle to address a need recognized through the 2019 Community Health Needs Assessment, which identified social isolation as a high priority need and lack of transportation as a risk factor in Stockbridge and Manchester. These towns had no public transportation options, are among the most financially vulnerable communities in the area, and had recently lost vital businesses.
Chelsea Hospital partnered with the nonprofit Western Washtenaw Area Value Express (WAVE) to create routes between these towns and services in Chelsea. The hospital and community leaders worked to ensure the free transportation was available to those who most needed it to build social connections and reduce barriers to employment, education, food access and healthcare.
Chelsea Hospital underwrote initial costs for the WAVE bus to connect the three towns, and Michigan Department of Transportation funding allows it to continue. Between August 2020 and January 2022, the shuttle provided 1,005 rides, more than two-thirds of them to disabled riders.
The Ludwig Award funds will ensure widespread awareness of this service. For more information on the WAVE Stockbridge-Manchester Shuttle, contact Reiley Curran, Chelsea Hospital community health improvement manager, at (734) 593-6269.