The Health Fund is partnering with four other funders to accelerate telehealth in Michigan, awarding nearly $3 million to 61 Michigan organizations ramping up their remote care efforts. The partnership and grants were expedited in response to public health risks of in-person care due to COVID-19.

Joining the Health Fund in this collaborative are the Ethel and James Flinn Foundation, the Metro Health Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, and the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation. Grantees include Federally Qualified Health Centers, behavioral health providers, human service agencies, PACE programs, Area Agencies on Aging, and other safety net providers.

The grants will help organizations implement new procedures, set up billing services, train or add staff, educate patients about telehealth, treat uninsured patients, and procure HIPAA compliant licenses or equipment.

A Familiar Need

The problem of hard-to-reach healthcare is not a new one to the Health Fund. Our 2019 behavioral health access study underscored the dire need for more treatment and highlighted the ways technology could make a difference. Whether the issue is lack of transportation, a shortage of doctors in the area, or a public health emergency—virtual care provides an option for those stuck at home.

“Telehealth is a key strategy for expanding access to care, and we’ve supported this work for a number of years,” said Health Fund Program Director Becky Cienki. “The current urgency underscores this ongoing need, and our goal is for these projects to both spur immediate action and create lasting infrastructure for telehealth.”

The foundation of that infrastructure is already in place. Many providers have seen the same need that we have and have turned to telemedicine in the past, such as the University of Michigan, who brought video-based support to recently hospitalized veterans, and Family Medical Center of Michigan, who brought telehealth services to various Southeast Michigan schools.

Adapting to a crisis

Due to the urgency of the current environment, we made funding decisions on a significantly quicker timeline than usual. These organizations have patients across the state that cannot afford to wait for their services. Some are rooted in rural communities, whose previous gaps in access have only grown larger. Northwest Michigan Health Services, Inc., for example, will receive funds to provide virtual medical, dental, and behavioral health treatment to residents of all ages across seven counties.

Many other grant recipients are located in the populous areas of Southeast Michigan, which are seeing the highest number of COVID-19 cases. For example, the Detroit Area Agency on Aging will use the funding to virtually support older adults impacted by COVID-19 and develop a sustainable telehealth program for a wider population of older adults.

Like the Health Fund, our funding partners believe strongly in the power of technology to increase access to healthcare in our state.

“We share a long-term commitment to advancing telehealth as a best practice in Michigan,” explained Flinn Foundation Executive Director and CEO Andrea Cole. “Now more than ever, remote treatments offer a lifeline for families and children in need of behavioral health services.”

“Increasing access to health care is our core mission at Blue Cross. We are proud to join forces and help equip safety net providers with the resources they will need to provide quality care during this pandemic,” said Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan president and CEO Dan Loepp. “Now, perhaps more than ever before, Michiganders need safe access to their doctors.”

The full list of grants can be found below.

The awards totaled $2,950,153 and ranged from $25,000 to $50,000.

2020 Rapid Response: Safety Net Telehealth Initiative Grants

All Well-Being Services | $50,000

Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services | $48,705

Arab-American and Chaldean Council | $30,000

Arbor Circle | $50,000

Area Agency on Aging of Northwest Michigan | $50,000

Baldwin Family Health Care | $50,000

Care Free Medical Inc | $25,000

Care Resources (PACE) | $49,909

Catherine’s Health Center | $50,000

Catholic Human Services, Inc. | $50,000

Catholic Social Services of Washtenaw | $50,000

The Children’s Center of Wayne County, Inc. | $50,000

Central City Integrated Health | $50,000

Cherry Health | $50,000

Child & Family Services of Northwestern Michigan | $50,000

Common Ground | $47,500

Community Health and Social Services Center, Inc. | $50,000

Covenant Community Care, Inc. | $50,000

Cristo Rey Community Center | $50,000

Detroit Area Agency on Aging | $50,000

Development Centers, Inc. | $50,000

East Jordan Family Health Center | $50,000

Exalta Health | $50,000

Family Medical Center of MI | $50,000

Great Lakes Bay Health Centers | $50,000

Great Lakes Recovery Centers, Inc. | $45,105

Hackley Community Care Center | $50,000

Health Emergency Lifeline Programs | $49,203

Hope Network | $50,000

Ingham County Health Department | $49,801

InterCare Community Health Network | $50,000

Isabella Citizens for Health | $39,230

Jewish Family Service of Metropolitan Detroit | $50,000

Jewish Family Services of Washtenaw County | $50,000

Judson Center | $48,500

Lakeland Immediate Care Center | $50,000

Luella Hannan Memorial Foundation | $41,550

Northeast Integrated Health | $50,000

Northern Lakes Community Mental Health Authority | $37,140

Northwest Michigan Health Services, Inc. | $50,000

Oakland Integrated Healthcare Network | $50,000

PACE North | $49,812

PACE of Southwest Michigan | $48,600

PACE Southeast Michigan | $50,000

Packard Health, Inc. | $50,000

Presbyterian Villages of Michigan Foundation | $47,400

Region II Commission on Services to the Aging | $50,000

Reliance Community Care Partners | $47,200

Ruth Ellis Center, Inc. | $50,000

The Senior Alliance Area Agency on Aging 1-C | $50,000

Senior Resources of West Michigan | $50,000

Southwest Solutions Corporation | $50,000

Starfish Family Services | $50,000

Starr Commonwealth | $50,000

Sterling Area Health Center | $50,000

Thunder Bay Community Health Service, Inc. | $50,000

Traverse Health Clinic and Coalition (d/b/a Traverse Health Clinic) | $45,498

United Methodist Retirement Communities (UMRC) Foundation | $50,000

Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center | $50,000

Upper Peninsula Health Care Solutions | $50,000

Western Wayne Family Health Centers | $50,000


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