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.