Over the past year, the United States has witnessed tremendous health inequities from COVID-19 across populations defined by race, ethnicity, geography, and disability. As part of the pandemic response and recovery, communities have taken advantage of existing multisector partnerships to address individual and community-level health and social needs. Indeed, in the recently released National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness, the Biden administration commits to:
Being deeply rooted in the wellbeing of Michigan communities meant that the Community Engagement program at the Michigan Institute for Clinical & Health Research, Michigan Medicine, and the U-M School of Public Health were on the frontlines when the pandemic hit the nation.
Nearly a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, many in Michigan are asking what a post-COVID world will look like. COVID-19 has exacerbated many of the existing challenges within our healthcare system, including disparities in access to health coverage, high costs of care and medicine, inequitable outcomes, and more. As of this writing, over 475,000 Americans have died as a result of COVID-19. The American healthcare system is moving towards a value-based payment model, one in which quality of care and better health outcomes are incentivized. Our current system pays for the cost of delivering care regardless of outcome, spending an estimated $11,000 per person, compared to the $5,400 average per person in peer countries. The United States spends more on health care than almost every other developed nation in the world, yet we do not see improved health outcomes.
LANSING, Mich. — Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer appointed new members to the bipartisan Protect Michigan Commission. The appointees represent a diverse array of industries, professions, and backgrounds. Housed within the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the commission will help raise awareness of the safety and effectiveness of an approved COVID-19 vaccine, educate the people of this state, and help protect the health and safety of all Michigan residents.
Michigan is working around the clock to ramp up vaccinations and reach our goal of 50,000 shots in arms per day, and with the help of the Protect Michigan Commission we can ensure everyone has a plan to get vaccinated once the opportunity becomes available to them,” said Governor Whitmer. “The bipartisan members of this group will play a vital role in helping to reinforce the importance of everyone getting the safe and effective vaccine. I am confident that the members of this commission will rise to the occasion and help Michigan end the COVID-19 pandemic once and for all.”
The Kent County board of commissioners approved nearly $2.6 million in funding for the Ready by Five Early Childhood millage to provide continued services for families in the county.
The funds were approved after a Resident Proposal Review Committee, comprised of parents and community members, reviewed proposals and made recommendations to the First Steps Kent Board of Commissioners.
GRAND RAPIDS, MI — County leaders have put $2.6 million toward programs, such as translation services and learning kits, aimed at the healthy development and early learning of children up to age 5.
The Kent County Board of Commissioners at its meeting Thursday, Dec. 3, voted unanimously to allocate the early childhood millage dollars to 12 community programs.
The MPWRD Business Magazine Influential Awards recognize the Hispanic, Asian Pacific, Black and Indigenous Native Americans (HABI+) in our community that are shaping culture, community, business and humanity in Grand Rapids and West Michigan.
MPWRD Business Magazine and the Influential Awards were founded and are owned by Two Eagles Marcus, Tiwa Puebloan Indigenous Native American Pueblo of Taos, who also publishes Women’s LifeStyle Magazine.
“Grand Rapids has a diverse cultural and ethnic makeup that contributes to the economy and social fabric of our community and there are limited opportunities for recognition in media and awards events for Black, Hispanic, Asian Pacific and Indigenous Native Americans and not one that includes all groups collectively,” Marcus said. “The sustainability of the United States and West Michigan economies are dependent on the economic development of Black, Hispanic, Asian Pacific and Indigenous Native American populations in entrepreneurship and leadership. The time to recognize, support, encourage and invest in us is now.”
The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting almost every aspect of American life, especially housing.
In July, 32% of U.S. households missed housing payments, according to a CNBC report published July 8. With federal eviction moratoriums ending soon, the pandemic is putting increasing stress on Americans at risk for homelessness. One analysis from the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project found 20% of 110 million renters are at risk of eviction by Sept. 30.
Organizations that address homelessness and the contributors of homelessness — such as income stabilization, job placement, education and other social determinants of health — are seeing more demand for their work than ever before. One of these organizations is Community Rebuilders in Grand Rapids.
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich (WOOD) – The FitKids360 Program combines basic education about nutrition, behavior, and exercise with a wide range of physical activity to help kids develop healthy habits including eating better and becoming more active! This program is a childhood obesity intervention program that benefits hundreds of children and their families to create a better version of themselves. In order to participate in this program, children must be ages 5 to 17 years old, have a BMI at or above the 85th percentile, be referred by a physician or healthcare provider, and a parent/guardian must accompany the child to each class. Not only is the child developing these healthy habits, but the parents and siblings are as well. The program teaches families on the importance of exercise, proper nutrients, and taking care of their behavioral and emotional well-being. It’s a program that exemplifies mind, body, and soul! Read more
Health Net of West Michigan has received a $270,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to expand existing equity efforts, including adding additional health equity training for Health Net staff working with families to access early childhood resources, completion of an equity-focused strategic plan, revision of policy and training for board members. https://grbj.com/change-ups/change-ups-dipiazzo-joins-chow-hound-as-cmo/
We are all living through a global pandemic, while at the same time the epidemic of government-sanctioned police violence against Black people continues. Health Net of West Michigan’s vision is to create a community where everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible. This focus on health equity is core to our work; because of this, we add our voice to those of our many partners who are denouncing the unjust and oppressive systems that allow racism to flourish in our community.
LANSING, Mich. (WLUC) – The Michigan Health Endowment Fund (Health Fund) announced today that it will support 70 health projects and capacity building efforts across the state with a total of $5.3 million in new investments. Nonprofits, universities, and government agencies statewide will receive grants ranging from $15,600 to $100,000 under the Health Fund’s Community Health Impact grant program. (See a full list of grant recipients at the bottom of this release.)
“This program is about supporting the health of Michigan communities, collaborating around improved access to services, and building organizational capacities,” said Megan Murphy, senior program officer. “We can’t wait to see how these organizations help move their communities toward more sustainable health outcomes.”
While Michigan residents have been urged to stay home and stay safe, staying safe at home has taken a broader meaning for the Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan. While traditionally laser-focused on the issue of lead and other pollutants in people’s homes, the nonprofit has spread out to address all issues of home safety.
HQ is a drop-in center for youth who don’t have a safe place to call home, are sleeping outside, or just need a safe place to connect with caring adults. This center is a free resource for youth ages 14 to 24 in housing crisis.
HQ partners with The Wisdom Center Counseling Services, Health Net of West Michigan, and Grand Valley Family Health Center to constantly improve their services and meet the health and wellness needs of local youth in crisis.
Receiving early and regular care throughout pregnancy is incredibly important for both mother and baby, as preterm birth and low birth weight put babies at an increased risk of developing cognitive, emotional, and physical health issues. Babies weighing above 5.5 pounds at birth are considered to be “born healthy.”
Across Michigan, about 8.5% of babies are born underweight (CDC), and communities of color are disproportionally impacted with rates for black and Latinx moms at a six-year high. Recognizing the need to create paths to overcoming the social determinants of health, local programs are supporting moms to improve these outcomes for babies.
Courtney Hilbert, CNM, MSN, Director of APP Services for Women’s Health and Chair of the Centering Pregnancy Program at Spectrum Health, and Kiara Baskin, Founder and CEO of Bump to Birth Doula Services are here to discuss. For more information, visit: https://www.spectrumhealth.org/patient-care/womens-health/midwifery, https://www.bumptobirthdoulaservices.com/ , or https://www.spectrumhealth.org/patient-care/womens-health.
West Michigan Works, recognized 10 area service workers with the 2019 Beverly A Drake Essential Service Awards, speaking on TMS to those involved.
Grand Rapids HQ is a drop-in center for homeless and at-risk youth that opened its doors at the end of 2014.
It doesn’t have beds, but staff there can help the homeless aged 14-24 get beds at other support facilities around town, including 3:11 Youth Housing, one of its partners in a new, three-year initiative called the Comprehensive Health Initiative. When HQ opened, there was just one facility with two beds for homeless youth. Today, thanks in part to HQ’s fundraising and partnerships, there are a total of 50 beds at various facilities around town, including the Bridge of Arbor Circle and Covenant House. Read more
West Michigan Works! last month recognized 10 area service workers with the 2019 Beverly A. Drake Essential Service Awards.
Honorees are “hardworking individuals in service positions who go above and beyond,” and they “display pride in their job, a positive attitude, a strong work ethic and habits, punctuality and complete work on time,” according to the agency.
Employers and community members submit nominations. A committee of the West Michigan Works! Development Board chooses the winners.
An insurance company has donated $75,000 to Health Net of West Michigan in honor of National Children’s Dental Health Month. According to the Grand Rapids Business Journal, Delta Dental of Michigan donated the grant to increase awareness of and access to dental services for individuals with Healthy Kids Dental coverage. Read more…
An insurance company has donated $75,000 to increase awareness of and access to dental services for kids in West Michigan.
Five nonprofit organizations have collaborated to provide wraparound health and wellness services for homeless youth.
The Comprehensive Health Initiative is providing services to 400 youth, giving them connections to health care insurance, primary care providers, wellness coping strategies and crisis support therapy.
Grand Valley teamed with area nonprofits to officially launch a health initiative December 12 in an effort to interrupt the cycle of youth homelessness.
GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Hundreds of homeless teens and young adults will receive primary health care access, substance use intervention and crisis support therapy among other services through a new Comprehensive Health Initiative.
The purpose of the Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage is to provide dedicated and sustainable funding for programs that improve the health, school readiness, and well-being of children under age five; therefore allowing more children and families from across the community to participate in programs that are proven to increase their likelihood of success in school and beyond.
One year ago, Kent County voters made this funding possible. What has happened during that time? Anne Marie Valdez, President and CEO of First Steps Kent and Maureen Kirkwood, Executive Director for Health Net of West Michigan are here to give us an update. Listen here!
Meet Doug Booth
Tell us a little about your professional background
I have always worked to improve the organizations that I was a part of. While attending grad school at the University of Denver, I held multiple positions. I worked with international students in the Student Financial Services department where I assisted in the reworking of their orientation to the school, and Denver. I also worked as a department manager for the Political Science, Gender & Women’s Studies, and the Socio-legal studies departments. I like to say that my job was everything that doesn’t involve teaching. Budgets, schedules, faculty grant administration, student workers, etc. The list can go on forever.
On top of this, I was also working in a consultant role for the LGBT Center as a health educator. Within this function, I assisted in the development of a training program for physicians and medical practices to be more inclusive and equitable with how they treat their patients, specifically LGBTQIA+ patients. My thesis work was looking at LGB access and utilization of primary care services in the Denver region, so I saw many of the barriers to care that many in the LGBTQIA community face. We would evaluate their practice, then propose changes and provide training to ensure that all patients have equity in the health system. This program is still in effect today.
After returning to Grand Rapids, I worked as an operations manager for a small medical practice. I helped to create the administrative framework that all practices need and was still missing. Within this practice, we worked closely with many of the assisted living facilities around West Michigan. The physician would travel to each of the homes once per week to treat patients where they live. Knowing that transportation is a large barrier to care for the geriatric population, I was excited about this model of care and the potential that it presents.
The organizations that will receive the first round of funding from the Ready by Five early childhood millage have been selected.
The Kent County board of commissioners last week approved a total of $2.4 million to be distributed through 2021 to four organization: $763,324 to Family Futures, $50,000 to Family Promise of Grand Rapids, $930,000 to Health Net of West Michigan and $656,676 to Kent Intermediate School District.
GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan — FitKids360’s “On The Move” program recently donated more than 60 pairs of new shoes to local kids. Priority Health partnered with them to get it done.
FitKids360 helps kids and their families develop healthy habits through education, nutrition, behavior and exercise.
Organizers say the first round of funding from the Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage will help thousands of families in Kent County connect to programs that improve the health and school readiness of young children.
The initial funding is dedicated to navigation and outreach services that will help families know what is available in the community and how to access the resources that best meet their needs.
GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Kent County leaders might expend $2.4 million in new tax funds on outreach efforts and program navigation for early childhood development.
The proposal would allocate $2.4 million in early childhood millage tax dollars for contracted organizations to complete those tasks. It heads to the Kent County Board of Commissioners on Sept. 12.
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV) – The FitKids360 Program combines basic education about nutrition, behavior, and exercise with a wide range of physical activity to help kids develop healthy habits including eating better and becoming more active! This program is a childhood obesity intervention program that benefits hundreds of children and their families to create a better version of themselves. In order to participate in this program, children must be ages 5 to 17 years old, have a BMI at or above the 85th percentile, be referred by a physician or healthcare provider, and a parent/guardian must accompany the child to each class. Not only is the child developing these healthy habits, but the parents and siblings are as well. The program teaches families on the importance of exercise, proper nutrients, and taking care of their behavioral and emotional wellbeing. It’s a program that exemplifies mind, body, and soul!
In times past, pregnant women and new mothers received abundant support from family and community, but today that tradition has faded. Western culture now expects moms to be showing off their newborns on social media within a week, and back to work within six weeks.
That doesn’t leave much opportunity for moms to form the deep bonds they need with their babies. But a wide range of perinatal home visiting programs bring professional support to Michigan’s new moms and moms-to-be, helping to fill the void of community support and develop vital skills.
Did you know moms who live in Kent County who give birth at Metro Health University of Michigan Health have the option to be referred to the Welcome Home Baby program? Read the story of one of the many families referred and connected to resources through the program!
Before being discharged, Maggie requested to be referred to the program for resources for her new son Leo. A community health worker from Health Net, Jennifer, called a few days after they had settled in at home. As Jennifer and Maggie chatted about how the program worked, Maggie shared that she had a history of depression and felt anxious about bonding with Leo. Unsure of whom to contact or if there were programs available in the area, Maggie was beginning to feel overwhelmed.
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Sometimes something as simple as a foot massage can make someone feel better, especially if they’re down on their luck.
For 40 homeless women, the St. Mark’s Church did that and more, offering a free spa day on Thursday.
The staff that work at St. Mark’s say the need for services like this in Grand Rapids is there and at an all-time high, so they wanted to provide a special day for women who they say don’t see many special days.
As Dental Director for Health Net of West Michigan I work to improve the oral health of vulnerable populations in Kent County through education and access to dental services. I work with Kent County residents of all ages and backgrounds. Oral health is a key component of comprehensive health care and although it seems logical, Americans have not always publicly recognized the connection between oral health and general health. In the last twenty years, we have made strides in connecting the importance of regular dental check-ups and care with other health problems such as diabetes. Yet, some social services have not kept up with the need to have regular dental care – specifically, Medicare.
Julie needed dental care to get her customer service job at Home Depot back.
Home Depot employees greet customers with “Can I help you find something?” But without front teeth, Julie was unable to say “find” clearly and kept substituting other words. Finally, she was demoted to the store room, where she had no contact with customers and got paid less per hour.
When she tried on her dentures for the first time, she said, “Can I help you find something?” and burst into a huge smile. Julie got her customer service job back.
Most of us wouldn’t go running in bone-chilling freezing rain. But no wintry mix or frigid temperatures were going to stop eleven families in Grand Rapids from crossing the finish line at the annual Alger Heights Halloween 5K. After ten weeks of preparation, which focused on increasing running time and other forms of physical activity each week, these families were ready to compete.
Yale New Haven Hospital and Hackensack University are among the 32 organizations that will test a new Medicare and Medicaid model beginning in May that aims to bridge the gap between clinical and community providers.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced Thursday it selected 32 participants that will serve as local hubs that link clinical and community services and address such social needs as housing instability, food insecurity, utility needs, interpersonal violence and transportation.
The state has awarded $5 million total to more than 120 employers in West Michigan for workforce training programs.
Michigan awarded the funds as part of its Skilled Trades Training Fund, or STTF, initiative for use by employers in the West Michigan Works! region in 2017.
We talk about Oral Health with guests from the Kent County Oral Health Coalition.
Sixty-plus restaurants donated $1 each from meals sold during the recent 12-day Restaurant Week Grand Rapids, which will help make a difference with area culinary students’ education. The largesse resulted in a $16,000 check being presented to the Grand Rapids Community College Foundation, which grew its Secchia Institute for Culinary Education Student Scholarship Fund to $126,906. Six SICE students also received RWGR 2016 scholarship awards. RWGR contributions to SICE began in 2010, the year RWGR launched.
The Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting a half-day summit on health care for employers on Friday.
The Health Care Summit will take place from 7:30-11:30 a.m. in Grand Rapids at Thousand Oaks Golf Club, at 4100 Thousand Oaks Dr. NE.
The event will feature discussions around disparities in health care and the factors limiting population health and wellness, impacting productivity and creating unnecessary costs.
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV) As kids start a new school year, they need a dental checkup just as much as they need a physical. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children see a dentist by 12 months old or as soon as they have teeth.
Gracias a nuestros amigos de Health Net of West Michigan, por su valiosa información y ayuda enorme que ofrece a nuestra comunidad latina en cuanto a servicios de salud se refiere
Para más preguntas acerca de los programas con los que cuenta Healt Net marque al teléfono (616) 726 82 04, lo atenderán en español.
PETOSKEY: Michigan has some of the highest obesity rates in the nation, with roughly a third of Michigan children considered overweight or obese. Close to home, the northwest Michigan region is significantly high.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 12.7 million of U.S. children and adolescents aged 2 – 19 are obese. (Obesity is classified as Body Mass Index (BMI) above the 95th percentile.)
GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Spectrum Health and Priority Health are among a handful of service providers – and the only ones in Michigan — chosen for a nationwide health initiative that brings together private, public and nonprofit sectors.
The Green and Healthy Homes Initiative, a national nonprofit and a grantee of the Social Innovation Fund’s Pay for Success program, and the Calvert Foundation announced on Tuesday, May 19, that five recipients will participate in their regional Pay for Success projects.
Today, the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI), a grantee of the Social Innovation Fund’s (SIF) Pay for Success program, and its collaboration partner Calvert Foundation, selected five service providers to participate in regional Pay for Success (PFS) projects. These awardees, selected by GHHI through a national competition, will work in collaboration with local health care organizations to conduct feasibility studies of PFS models that fund home-based asthma interventions, including remediation of asthma triggers and resident education.
Inside a converted fruit warehouse near the Grand River in Grand Rapids sit several specialists on the front lines of ensuring that young children get a healthy start in life.
They work for Health Net of West Michigan, a nonprofit community healthcare hub that connects families with doctors and other community services in the Grand Rapids area. One of Health Net’s primary tasks seems simple at first glance – making sure low-income children have a primary care physician.
Grand Rapids GiveCamp recently produced an exhausting and successful weekend for 15 nonprofits and the tech community.
From its humble beginnings on Cherry Street to becoming the largest federally qualified health center in the state, Cherry Street Health Services is holding on to its roots while changing its name.
Volunteers from area IT firms used their skills to help non-profit organizations during Grand Rapids’ GiveCamp. A weekend-long hackathon, the event paired teams of software developers, designers and other IT workers with projects proposed by non-profits. Teams worked closely with clients to create websites, applications and databases over the 51-hour event held in the offices of Open Systems Technologies (OST).
Fifteen area non-profits, providing services ranging from sterilizing stray cats to teaching girls how to code, participated in GiveCamp this year. Many organizations, including Health Net of West Michigan and the Kent County Parks Foundation, asked for help redesigning their websites and social media presences. The Otsego County Commision on Aging proposed a system to coordinate, schedule and log in-home assistance for the elderly.
GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Community engagement efforts to improve health are the focus of the Alliance for Health First Friday forum on Oct. 3.
The monthly meeting will highlight organizations that seek to reach marginalized populations, the uninsured and under-insured, and that address social, cultural, psychological and biological forces that affect lifestyles. Organizations taking part include LINC Community Revitalization, Health Net of West Michigan and the African American Health Institute.
“Factors that contribute to a person’s current state of health. These factors may be biological, socioeconomic, psychosocial, behavioral or social in nature.”