2012 - 2013 Annual Report

2012 – 2013 Annual Report

A word from our co-chairs…

December 2013

Dear Community Partners,

We are pleased to share with you our 2013 successes in the Washtenaw Health Initiative (WHI). The WHI kicked off in January 2011, and over the first three years, we’ve made a positive impact for our community members who are Medicaid recipients, are low-income, or lack health insurance.

A key feature of the WHI is its voluntary nature. As of December 2013, more than 150 people participate voluntarily in a variety of WHI working groups and eleven community-based projects. From July 2012 through June 2013, more than 6,300 hours were dedicated to the effort all across the county, from safety net medical and dental clinics to various community outreach locations. Another key feature of the WHI is the facilitation and research support provided by the Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation.

The WHI has worked to leverage and coordinate financial and human resources throughout this community to support the various initiatives. We thank our numerous funders, and especially our two major sponsors: St. Joseph Mercy Health System and the University of Michigan Health System.

This year marked our first initiative-wide evaluation. We conducted 10 interviews and 3 focus groups, which resulted in feedback from 20 people from various groups of the WHI. In addition, the evaluation results were reviewed by the full membership of the WHI at our October all-member meeting, and when asked whether the WHI should continue into the future, the response was overwhelmingly “yes”. Other key findings were that WHI members felt their participation was valuable and impactful. Members also recommended more communications to the community about our successes. To this end, we will add information to our website and look for more opportunities to interact with community members via online social media in addition to the newsletter that we are already producing.

Next year’s work will consist of continuing the planning and pilot project implementation that has begun, as well as developing new ideas to improve access to coverage and better coordinate care for our community’s most vulnerable. Thank you for your participation and support of the Washtenaw Health Initiative. We look forward to working with you to continue these successes in 2014 and beyond.


Robert Guenzel

Norman Herbert

WHI Co-Chairs


Who We Are

The Washtenaw Health Initiative (WHI) originated in 2010 when local community leaders convened to prepare health services within the county for the full implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). A steering committee was formed to clarify the initiative’s goals and scope, and to identify organizations and individuals to participate. Since that time, the WHI has grown into a county-wide collaboration of more than 40 provider, payer, safety net, and service organizations that have come together to improve the health of the low-income, uninsured, and Medicaid recipients in Washtenaw County, Michigan. This voluntary, non-governmental collaborative is sustained through the dedicated work of more than 160 members who are focused on identifying community health needs, emphasizing primary care over emergency care, and increasing communication in order to improve access to—and the quality of—care in the county. The goals of the WHI are to:

  1. Increase and maintain insurance coverage;
  2. Improve access to coordinated, integrated care, and;
  3. Become a model and resource for other communities considering how best to serve the needs of their most vulnerable citizens.

The WHI has 11 community-based projects in operation to achieve these goals. The following are accomplishments from October 2012 to November 2013, organized by the goals of the WHI.

Increasing and Maintaining Insurance Coverage

With more than 25,000 uninsured Washtenaw County residents as of 2013, the WHI has prioritized increasing and maintaining health coverage. Through three projects, the WHI and its partners have increased the number of Washtenaw County residents enrolled in health coverage.

  • By collaborating with more than 40 organizations and agencies, WHI-initiated projects assisted more than 3,000 Washtenaw County residents in applying for and renewing participation in state assistance programs, such as: Food Assistance, Medicaid, Child Care Assistance, State Emergency Relief and Cash Assistance.
  • The WHI assisted 16 agencies to become designated by the federal government to provide hands-on enrollment assistance for consumers newly enrolling in health care coverage. This has yielded approximately 50 to 60 individuals who are trained and designated to do enrollment county-wide.
  • The WHI trained more than 60 University of Michigan graduate students and community volunteers to conduct community education, outreach, and referrals among the uninsured in Washtenaw County. In just the first month, the students provided education about enrollment, as well as enrollment support and referrals, to more than 150 community members.

Improving Access to Coordinated, Integrated Care

The WHI is committed to increasing the integration and coordination of health care in the county, particularly within the areas of mental health, substance use disorders, primary care, and dental services. To this end, the WHI has:

  • Helped coordinate health care providers who developed the first county-wide substance use disorder detoxification protocol and have trained staff at seven safety net clinics and two emergency departments on implementation of the new protocol.
  • Worked to increase primary care capacity in safety net clinics by increasing the number of providers and the level of coordination among clinics.
    • To date, two primary care providers have been hired at Packard Health Clinic and Academic Internal Medicine. Ypsilanti Health Center is currently recruiting one primary care provider.
    • Developed a Reduced Fee Dental Initiative that includes nine dentists who have treated over 75 low-income patients.

Building a Model for Community Collaboration and Planning

The accomplishments of the WHI have gained wide recognition across the county and the state of Michigan:

  • Since its inception in early 2011, the WHI has more than doubled in size, from 40 members representing 20 organizations to more than 150 members from more than 40 organizations in late 2013.
  • More than 70 WHI members regularly attend the quarterly, all-member meetings to share updates, network, and enhance their collaborations. These contacts have enabled the development of multi-partner “spin-off” projects, such as:
    • Implementing a screening, treatment, and referral process for substance use disorders in local safety net clinics.
    • Partnering with schools and immigrant-serving agencies to conduct targeted outreach and enrollment for Medicaid in those settings.
    • The University of Michigan Health System and Saint Joseph Mercy Health System incorporated seven of the WHI’s projects into their health improvement implementation plans as models for addressing needs in access to health care coverage, primary care capacity, and mental health and substance use disorder care.
    • WHI staff provided input to the State of Michigan Department of Community Health as they developed a statewide model of integrated care.
    • WHI staff met with public health leaders in Macomb and Oakland counties about replicating the WHI within their own communities. This early work has laid the groundwork for potential future partnerships.
    • WHI leadership met with faith institutions in the City of Detroit and social service agencies in Ingham County to consult about coordinating Medicaid and other social service enrollment processes across these communities.
    • The WHI leadership has now established relationships with each elected state official in Washtenaw County.

In addition to these accomplishments, the WHI has also:

  • Coordinated with the Washtenaw County Department of Human Services, the United Way of Washtenaw County, and AmeriCorps to place workers at the Washtenaw Health Plan and Food Gatherers to increase access to state assistance programs.
  • Received nearly $180,000 in funding for a program designed to improve mental health management support within the primary care setting.
  • Established the CareNet, a group of more than 80 Care Managers, who meet regularly to identify shared patients, improve coordination of care and receive professional training on a variety of topics to better serve these patients.
  • Convened eight organizations representing 15 safety net clinics collaborated to identify priority areas to improve operational efficiency.