Ludwig Community Benefit Award Honors Hospital Programs

The MHA announced the winners of its 2023 Ludwig Community Benefit Award during the association’s Annual Membership Meeting June 29. The honorees include programs supported by Detroit-based Henry Ford Health; Trinity Health Livonia; and ProMedica Charles and Virginia Hickman Hospital, Adrian. 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.

Dr. Adrian Munkrah receives the Ludwig Award on behalf of Henry Ford Health.
Dr. Adnan Munkarah receives the Ludwig Award on behalf of Henry Ford Health.

Henry Ford Health partnered with the Ruth Ellis Center, a Detroit-area social services agency serving the LGBTQ+ community, to provide primary care and behavioral health services, at both Ruth Ellis Health & Wellness Center (HWC) and Ruth Ellis Clairmount Health & Wellness Center in collaboration with Henry Ford Health.

The first HWC opened in 2018 at the Ruth Ellis Drop-In Center in Highland Park, and the second opened in February 2023 inside the new Ruth Ellis Clairmount Center, which is a permanent supportive housing development in Detroit. The goal of the partnership is to provide an integrated healthcare model in a safe, trusted, and affirming environment to increase healthcare access and utilization, with a long-term goal of improving overall health outcomes for LGBTQ+ young people in the Detroit area.

Data from December 2020 through December 2022 shows the HWC in Highland Park saw 728 unique patients, including 429 transgender young adults, and completed 6,873 medical visits. This partnership is important work towards achieving health equity for a historically marginalized community.

Health Equity for LGBTQ+ Young People: A Collaboration between Henry Ford Health and Ruth Ellis Center will use its cash award to support HWC operations, including enhancing the video intercom system to improve facility security, ongoing medication support for under- or uninsured patients, and general clinic supplies to most effectively meet the needs of patients.

For more information on Health Equity for LGBTQ+ Young People: A Collaboration between Henry Ford Health and Ruth Ellis Center, visit LGBTQ Health Resources | Patients and Visitors | Henry Ford Health – Detroit, MI or Ruth Ellis Center.

Shannon Striebich receives the Ludwig Award on behalf of Trinity Health.
Shannon Striebich receives the Ludwig Award on behalf of Trinity Health Livonia.

Trinity Health Livonia is a partner in the Western Wayne Suicide Prevention Coalition (WWSPC), which is made up of seven school districts, seven community-based organizations and the hospital. The coalition implements a program of evidence-based behavioral health services, youth activities and education aimed at zero complete youth suicides.

Trinity Health Livonia’s 2015 Community Health Needs Assessment identified behavioral health as one of the area’s priority health concerns, which motivated community stakeholders to develop the coalition to provide behavioral health education, improve early detection for suicide, decrease stigma and increase identification of depression. Behavioral health continues to be a prioritized community health need for the ongoing 2021 Community Health Needs Assessment, as the COVID-19 pandemic has increased concerns around youth mental health. Western Wayne County school districts represent more than 52,000 students, and data from the Michigan Profile for Health Youth survey shows at least 4% of high school students and 11% of middle school students have reported suicide attempts.

WWSPC initiated a comprehensive program to train teens, families, school staff and community members, and to change policies to better support suicide prevention. The initiative offers thousands of young people the opportunity to be screened for mental health concerns, recognize suicide risk in themselves and others, obtain knowledge and skills to address factors that contribute to mental health problems and receive treatment as needed.

So far, WWSPC has certified trainers and offered the Question, Persuade, Refer training model to more than 3,000 school personnel and 1,000 students. WWSPC also hosted conferences for school mental health practitioners and parents. The money from the Ludwig Award will be offered as mini grants for student-led mental health and resilience initiatives in WWSPC districts.

For more information on the WWSPC, contact Laurie Gustafson, director of Community Health and Well-Being for Trinity Health Livonia, at (734) 655-8943.

Dr. Julie Yaroch, president,
Promedica Charles and Virginia Hickman Hospital (left), receives the Ludwig Award on behalf of ProMedica.

ProMedica Charles and Virginia Hickman Hospital, Adrian, created ProMedica Farms and the Veggie Mobile collaboratively with the Lenawee Health Network to improve access to fresh, affordable produce and education, encouraging healthy lifestyles. The programs have been progressively implemented over the course of 10 years to improve the health and well-being of people and whole communities.

Located on the hospital campus, ProMedica Farms includes a clinically accessible hoop house, outdoor gardens, an education center, and walking trails connecting to the main hospital and a playground, all of which are open to the community. The program provides an interactive space for residents, patients and staff to engage in gardening, participate in evidence-based workshops and access produce grown by ProMedica Farms or sourced by the Veggie Mobile. It is also used to provide resources for patients and staff screening positive for food insecurity.

The Veggie Mobile is ProMedica’s mobile market that travels to 17 locations throughout Lenawee County, offering residents a range of fresh, low-cost produce sourced from ProMedica Farms and local farmers. The Veggie Mobile visits various locations, including senior centers, non-profit organizations, schools, apartment complexes and more.

The Ludwig Award will be allocated toward providing food to patients screening positive for food insecurity and supply costs for gardening workshops.

For more information about ProMedica Farms & Veggie Mobile, contact Amy Gilhouse, manager, ProMedica Farms, at ProMedica Charles and Virginia Hickman Hospital, at (517) 577-1020.

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

Prior Authorization, Statewide Broadband Efforts Advance to Governor

capitol building

capitol buildingDuring the week of March 21, the Michigan Legislature advanced several bills related to MHA priorities, including legislation to change the prior authorization process for commercial insurers, expand the Essential Health Provider Loan Repayment Program, and to provide supplemental appropriations to implement statewide broadband. Hospital testimony was also provided to the House Health Policy Committee on the ongoing staffing crisis for Michigan hospitals.

Senate Bill (SB) 247, which would decrease wait times for commercial insurance prior authorization requests, is now heading to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s desk for signature. Introduced by Sen. Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington), the legislation would shorten the timeline for approval to seven calendar days, or 72 hours for urgent requests, as well as ensure that emergency care can be provided without prior approval. Both the House and Senate voted during the week of March 21 to advance the bill before legislative spring break. The MHA provided testimony in support in both chambers and has shared a letter with the governor encouraging her to sign the bill.

The governor March 24 signed SBs 246 and 435 into law, which will expand the allowable use of the Essential Health Provider Loan Repayment Program. The two MHA-supported bills would increase the total allowable repayment from $200,000 to $300,000 and make certain mental health professionals eligible for the program. An MHA-proposed amendment to SB 435 was added in the House that will extend the sunset on the Physician Licensure Compact, which was set to expire March 28. More information on the program is available on the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services website.

The Michigan Legislature passed SB 565, sending the $4.7 billion supplemental appropriation bill to the governor for signature. The new spending was infrastructure focused, including $250 million and eight new full-time positions for the Michigan High-Speed Internet Office (MIHI). The MHA supports the MIHI funding, which will help Michigan take advantage of available federal funding to ensure access to reliable broadband for telehealth.

In the House Health Policy Committee, Julie Yaroch, DO, president of the Charles and Virginia Hickman Hospital, spoke to members on behalf of the MHA about the ongoing staffing crisis. Yaroch shared how the shortage is directly impacting her hospital, as well as the data from the most recent MHA survey that revealed there are 50,000 open positions across the state, with an average hospital vacancy rate of 16.6%. She told the committee that “staffing shortages took an average of 1,200 beds offline during the most recent surge, which in terms of bed capacity is equivalent to pulling the entire U of M Health System offline.”

Questions regarding state legislation affecting healthcare should be directed to Adam Carlson at the MHA.