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.

Nominations Open Through Feb. 19 for MHA Ludwig Community Benefit Award

Michigan hospitals and healthcare providers have displayed their value to the community in astounding ways during the coronavirus pandemic. Amid that, they have continued to provide services that go beyond the care provided within their walls. To celebrate the best of the community benefits programs hospitals provide, the MHA is accepting nominations for its 2021 Ludwig Community Benefit Award until the close of business Feb. 19.

The award is named for Patric E. Ludwig, former MHA president and Bronson Healthcare Group president, and honors Michigan hospitals that demonstrate outstanding community benefit by improving the health and well-being of their communities through collaborative health, economic or social initiatives.

To assist the winning programs in their efforts to improve the health of their communities, the MHA Health Foundation's Community Health Improvement Fund presents a $5,000 cash prize in conjunction with the award. The fund was established in 2004 to support innovative community-based health improvement programs led by Michigan hospitals. For more information, contact Erica Leyko at the MHA.