2023 Ludwig Nominee: Health Equity for LGBTQ+ Young People: A Collaboration between Henry Ford Health and Ruth Ellis Center

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.

Henry Ford Health (Henry Ford), a 2023 nominee, is improving the well-being of their community by delivering integrated healthcare and social services to LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning) youth in Detroit.

Born through an innovative partnership with Ruth Ellis Center (Ruth Ellis), a Detroit-area social services agency that has served LGBTQ+ youth and young adults for more than two decades, Henry Ford has expanded access to care to people that often feel unsupported or misunderstood by the medical community. The Henry Ford team, in collaboration with the Ruth Ellis behavioral health team, provides a safe, trusted and affirming environment at two health and wellness centers conveniently located within the safe spaces created by Ruth Ellis.

The partnership began in 2012, with the goal of improving health outcomes for members of the LGBTQ+ community. The first Ruth Ellis Health & Wellness Center opened at the Ruth Ellis Drop-In Center in Highland Park in 2018. The partnership expanded as Ruth Ellis opened its Clairmount Center in Detroit in 2022 and opened a second health and wellness center on the first floor of the permanent supportive housing development.

In 2022, Henry Ford providers at Ruth Ellis facilities cared for more than 700 LGBTQ+ patients, including 429 transgender young adults, over the course of more than 6,800 medical visits. The health and wellness centers have been a source of primary care, gender affirming care, comprehensive sexual health services including HIV prevention and treatment, and behavioral health services for dozens of adolescents and young adults.

To reduce barriers and improve access to care, the health and wellness centers offer flexible scheduling at non-traditional hours with same-day and walk-in appointments. Ruth Ellis and Henry Ford also assist with insurance navigation, healthcare navigation, case management, and other patient support services.

The partnership with Ruth Ellis is one part of Henry Ford’s widely recognized commitment to providing safe, equitable care for all. The organization regularly earns recognition from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). Its five acute care hospitals consistently receive 100% rankings on the HRC’s Healthcare Equality Index, an annual publication that scores healthcare facilities on policies and practices dedicated to the equitable treatment and inclusion of their LGBTQ+ patients, visitors and employees.

Henry Ford’s overall commitment to supporting the LGBTQ+ community and its strong partnership with Ruth Ellis undoubtedly moves the needle toward health equity for this historically marginalized community.

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

Media Recap: Age-friendly Hospital Systems and Nursing Shortages

Sarah Scranton

Sarah ScrantonThe MHA received media coverage the week of April 24 regarding the MHA Keystone Center’s work implementing the Age-friendly Health Systems initiative throughout Michigan and how Michigan health systems are utilizing foreign nurses to fill staffing shortages.

Second Wave Michigan published an article April 27 as part of their State of Health series about efforts being made throughout the state to make Michigan more age-friendly. Sarah Scranton, executive director of the MHA Keystone Center, discussed the importance of prioritizing the needs of Michigan’s aging population and how hospitals are adopting a framework to become more age-friendly.

“Older adults have very complex needs. It’s important that the medical field prioritizes what is important to the patient, not just what they think might be wrong,” said Scranton. “It’s really all about listening to the patient and taking what matters to them into consideration.”

The Detroit Free Press published a story April 28 focusing on how Henry Ford Health and other Michigan health systems are utilizing foreign nurses, particularly those from the Philippines, to fill staffing shortages in nursing. The article referenced two data points provided by the MHA, which includes the 27,000 job openings in Michigan hospitals according to a March 2023 MHA member survey and the loss of 1,700 staffed hospital beds in the state since the pandemic began.

Members with any questions regarding media requests should contact John Karasinski at the MHA.

Crain’s Healthcare Leadership Summit Features MHA and Hospital Leaders

The Oct. 20 Crain’s 2022 Healthcare Leadership Summit featured speakers from the MHA and member hospitals in a series of panels on policy issues, labor force solutions and technology integration.

MHA EVP Laura Appel spoke on a policy panel that covered what role government can play in affordability, equity & improving care.

Rising costs, uncertain governmental policies, workforce challenges, behavioral health and equity issues have put hospitals and health systems in a compromising position. The summit aimed to connect industry experts to collaborate on solutions and share best practices to tackle these issues.

Laura Appel, executive vice president of government relations and public policy at the MHA, spoke on a panel that covered solutions to the labor challenges and measures that reduce pressure on healthcare institutions throughout the state.

“There are no quick, easy fixes,” Appel noted. “Public health is a way for us to get people in a better place in the aggregate – we cannot solve diabetes, for example, with healthcare alone. We’ve got to do the policy work that it takes to push back and reduce rates [of illness], as opposed to just stopping the upward trends.”

Leaders from MHA-member hospitals and health systems were also featured in breakout sessions that covered workforce challenges and technological solutions to improve efficiency and safety. Panelists included:

  • Kimberly Keaton Williams, vice president of talent acquisition and development and chief diversity officer at McLaren Health Care.
  • Shana Lewis, vice president of talent acquisition and workforce development programs at Trinity Health.
  • Lisa Ouellette, interim chief human resources officer at Corewell Health.
  • Robert Riney, president & CEO of Henry Ford Health.

The event also featured keynote speaker Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, vice president and chief health equity officer at CVS Health, who spoke about attainable solutions for addressing inequities and improving health outcomes for underserved, vulnerable communities.

MHA Meritorious Service Award Recognizes Wright Lassiter III

The MHA announced the 2022 winner of its highest achievement award June 30 during the association’s Annual Membership Meeting. Receiving the award for his leadership in the fight against COVID-19 is Wright Lassiter III,  2022 chair of the American Hospital Association Board of Trustees and former president and CEO of Henry Ford Health.

At the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, Lassiter became a leading advisor to the City of Detroit and state officials. Under his leadership, Henry Ford Health quickly charted a path for vaccine research and served as a leader for the trials of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Henry Ford Health was chosen as the medical director for the state’s mass vaccination site on Detroit’s Ford Field. It was the first health system in the state to require workforce vaccination across its multiple locations, helping to keep its staff, patients, visitors and communities safe. Lassiter also provided input and guidance to the governor’s office during the pandemic as a member of the Michigan Economic Recovery Council.

Wright Lassiter III receives the MHA Meritorious Service Award from MHA CEO Brian Peters.
Wright Lassiter III receives the MHA Meritorious Service Award from MHA CEO Brian Peters.

Lassiter has more than 30 years of experience in large, complex health systems. He joined Henry Ford Health as president in December 2014 and became president and CEO in 2016. During his tenure, he has led the board and senior management to position the system for the future, completing two successful mergers, expanding its geographic footprint, generating an additional $1 billion in revenue, and opening partner hospitals in Saudi Arabia and India.

Lassiter has received many accolades, being named Crain’s Detroit Business’ Newsmaker of the Year in 2022 and Michiganian of the Year by The Detroit News in 2020, receiving the 2021 Crain’s Detroit Business Health Care Heroes – Corporate Achievement Award, and more. Lassiter gave the Spencer C. Johnson Health Policy Lecture June 30 during the 2022 MHA Annual Membership Meeting. In August, he will become the CEO of Chicago-based CommonSpirit Health.

New Podcast Explores Social Determinants of Health with Wright Lassiter

The MHA released another episode of the MiCare Champion Cast, which features interviews with healthcare policy experts in Michigan on key issues that impact healthcare and the health of communities.

On this episode, Wright Lassiter, president and CEO of Henry Ford Health, discusses social determinants of health — what they are, why they matter, and how understanding them can help achieve better health outcomes. Lassiter also shares valuable insight about how to best support healthcare workers as they continue to face pandemic burnout and what drove the organization’s recent rebranding to Henry Ford Health, previously Henry Ford Health System.

As president and CEO, Lassiter oversees the $7 billion integrated health system comprised of six hospitals, a health plan and a wide range of ambulatory, retail and various health services across more than 250 locations in Michigan and 33,000 employees. Lassiter joined Henry Ford Health in 2014 as president and assumed the role of president and CEO in 2016.

This podcast is part of the statewide #MiCareMatters campaign, launched in 2017, which aims to build a network of citizens — “MiCare Champions” — who will be called upon to engage in advocacy efforts to protect access to affordable healthcare services in Michigan. It is currently available via Spotify, iTunes and SoundCloud.

For more information, visit micarematters.org. Members with questions or who would like to submit ideas for future podcasts should contact Lucy Ciaramitaro at the MHA.