Michigan Hospitals Invested $4.2 Billion in Community Programming Mid-pandemic to Improve Health, Well-being of Residents

New report outlines hospital community health efforts in FY 2020

The Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA) released today the Healthy Futures, Healthy Communities report that demonstrates a nearly $4.2 billion investment in community-based partnerships and programming in fiscal year (FY) 2020. Overall, hospitals invested more than $869 million in community and voluntary-based activities, from education and prevention services to community outreach, research and workforce development.

Data in the report shows investments made throughout the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, demonstrating Michigan’s hospitals and health systems continued offering a wide range of services and resources to their communities inside and outside of the traditional healthcare setting that improved the overall health, wellness and quality of life of residents.

“Even through some of the most challenging times in healthcare, hospitals and health systems haven’t wavered in their commitment to helping improve the overall health and wellness of the communities they serve,” said MHA CEO Brian Peters. “This report gives a clear and simple message: The impact of our healthcare workforce reaches far beyond the walls of patient rooms.”

In addition to community benefit services and programs, the report also highlights the contributions of hospitals when it comes to uncompensated care. In FY 2020, the unpaid costs of patient care at Michigan hospitals totaled more than $3.4 billion, which includes both financial assistance and bad debt at cost, as well as Medicaid and Medicare payment shortfalls, other means-tested government programs and subsidized health services.

“The programs​ and services that ​hospitals and health systems provide ​have ​a long-term and positive impact on community health,” said T. Anthony Denton, J.D., MHSA, senior vice president and chief operating officer of University of Michigan Hospitals, Health Centers and Medical Group and 2022-2023 Chair of the MHA Board of Trustees. “Patients and communities bec​ame more intertwined ​than ever as ​healthcare teams worked to provide care, compassion, financial and in-kind resources and knowledge throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to do so. Our role as anchor institutions ​is and has always been vital, providing an important uplift to those in need by way of various contributions which demonstrate our value as a major community asset. Through our many efforts, we are privileged to build bridges and connect communities to inform, elevate and empower individuals and families to mitigate social determinants and advance health, inspire hope and foster meaningful presence.”

Included in the report are examples of programs implemented by hospitals throughout Michigan that expand access to care and improve the health of vulnerable populations within their communities.

“McLaren, as a large health system, serves large urban settings and smaller rural communities, and the critical charge of being a community-integrated provider is having a sound, community-based system of care in place,” said Dr. Justin Klamerus, McLaren Health Care chief medical officer. “Increasingly, health care is moving toward care that existed outside of the hospital, both in treatment and preventive practices. It’s part of our responsibility to attune ourselves to the needs of our communities, especially in critical access areas, and doubly so during a time when many may still be hesitant to seek care in a hospital setting. Our facilities in Bay, Caro and the Thumb Region are true in the commitment to their communities and are really working to meet their needs.”

The full report and stories from hospitals across the state that exhibiting community benefit can be accessed online here.

Ludwig Community Benefit Award Honors Hospital Programs

Mercy Health Muskegon pharmacists

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.

Mercy Health Muskegon pharmacists have volunteered for over a decade in the medication disposal program.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 uses billboards as one way to raise public awareness.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.

The School Blue Envelope Program trains school employees on specific S.A.F.E. steps for responding to students with thoughts of suicide.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.

To learn more about the MHA’s annual Ludwig Community Benefit Award, contact Erin Steward at the MHA.

Community Benefit Reporting and the COVID-19 Pandemic Discussed in Webinar

Community Benefits Tracker logo

Community Benefits TrackerThe COVID-19 pandemic has had significant impacts on communities, patients and the hospitals that serve them and has severely affected hospital finances. Questions have arisen regarding how pandemic-related expenses, revenues and revenue losses should be reported as community benefits on IRS Form 990, Schedule H.

MHA members are invited to participate in a webinar led by Keith Hearle, a national expert in community benefit reporting, to discuss these topics. The webinar is offered free of charge and will be presented via the Zoom platform. The information will be presented twice, and members can register for either of the following sessions:

  • Monday, June 21, 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. EDT
  • Thursday, July 22, 2 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. EDT

The webinar will cover what COVID-19 expenses and revenue losses count as community benefits and the treatment of Provider Relief Funds. Hearle also will discuss guidance he has developed, as well as that offered by the Catholic Health Association and others, to support decisions on the best ways to report community benefits for these challenging fiscal periods. Questions should be directed to the Community Benefits survey team at the MHA.

Ludwig Community Benefit Award Nominations Due Feb. 19

The MHA’s Ludwig Community Benefit Award is presented annually to recognize MHA-member healthcare organizations that demonstrate community benefit by improving the health and well-being of their communities through collaborative health, economic or social initiatives. The 2020 award winners represent the diversity in programs that hospitals implement outside their facilities to make their communities better places to live, work and play.

First presented in 1990, the award is named for Patric E. Ludwig, former MHA president and Bronson Healthcare Group president, and recognizes hospital programs that carry on the legacy of leadership and community partnership that Ludwig demonstrated throughout his life.

To complement the recognition afforded by winning the award, successful nominees will receive a $5,000 cash award to assist in their efforts to improve the health of their communities. The monetary prize is supported by the MHA Health Foundation’s Community Health Improvement Fund, which was established in 2004 to support innovative community-based health improvement programs led by Michigan hospitals.

Nominations for the 2021 Ludwig Community Benefit Award will be accepted through Feb. 19. For more information, contact Erica Leyko at the MHA.