Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

How is the WHI organized?

Begun in 2011, the WHI is a voluntary collaborative focused on increasing access to health care for low-income residents. The WHI is co-sponsored by the University of Michigan Health System and St. Joseph Mercy Health System. It is not a separate organization but rather a coalition of 40 different organizations that have signed a charter committing staff time to work on the core issue of the WHI.  The WHI is staffed by the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation (CHRT), which is an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit hosted by the University of Michigan.

How is the WHI structured?

The WHI is chaired by Norman Herbert, retired treasurer from the University of Michigan, and Bob Guenzel, retired Washtenaw County Administrator, who oversee the following committee structure:

Steering Committee:  Currently includes 14 members representative of: Chelsea Community Hospital, the Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation, St. Joseph Mercy Health System, University of Michigan Health System and School of Public Health, the United Way of Washtenaw County, the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, the Washtenaw Community Health Organization, and Washtenaw County Public Health. The Steering Committee (SC) meets monthly to develop strategy, review progress on the WHI initiatives and monitor the WHI budget and communications. There are two sub-committees:

  • Finance Committee:  reviews project proposals to ensure sound project design and assists project teams in securing funding for projects, and as such, meets ad hoc.
  • Communications Committee: develops materials and updates and monitors the WHI website and social media interactions and meets ad hoc.

Work Groups: There are four Work Groups that were created by and report to the Steering Committee; each Work Group is chaired by community leaders and focuses on a specific topic area.

Work Group Topic


Insurance coverage Expand access to Medicaid coverage
Primary care access Assure adequate primary care access and increasing coordination and integration of safety net providers
Substance use disorder and mental health care Improve access to substance use and mental health care and increase coordination and integration between all entities providing these services
Community coordination and dental care Coordinate care managers in the county, provide social services support and primary care connections to the uninsured and Medicaid recipients and, improve access to dental care

Each Work Group develops ideas for and oversees projects to address identified gaps in services related to the area of focus. Work Groups set their own meeting schedule based on the work at hand. In order to implement the identified projects, Work Groups either set up project teams or work as a committee of the whole.

Planning Group:  This group meets quarterly to share information on all WHI sponsored projects. All 40 charter signing groups are members of the Planning Group.  Currently, approximately 150 individuals receive invitations to attend the Planning Group meetings and attendance averages 70 per meeting.


Most of the work done within the WHI is done on a volunteer basis.  From July 2012 – June 2013, 6,323 volunteer hours were devoted to the WHI.  Other sources of funds include the following:

Project Management Functions

A project manager and associated costs is housed at CHRT.  Funders for the project manager include the University of Michigan Health System, St. Joseph Mercy Health System, the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners, the United Way of Washtenaw County, the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation, and the cities of Ann Arbor, Saline, and Ypsilanti.

WHI projects

The WHI itself is not a funding body. The WHI project teams each develop potential funding mechanisms and the Finance Committee assists them in securing funds as needed. Some projects are funded through a reallocation of existing resources, some are funded through health system contributions, and others are funded through external grants, health plans, and the Washtenaw Health Plan.



What has the WHI done so far?

The WHI has developed 13 major initiatives, 11 of which are either implemented or being implemented now, and two are still in development. Results of these projects to date can be seen on our annual reports page.

How are projects identified?

The initial projects were identified by the Planning Group based on a review of data and metrics on gaps in care to the low income, uninsured and Medicaid populations in Washtenaw County.  The Work Groups developed specific project proposals to address these gaps.  Other projects have been brought to the attention of the Steering Committee as needs have been identified. The Steering Committee approves all projects to be undertaken under the auspices of the WHI.


How are WHI projects monitored and evaluated?

Project teams must each develop an evaluation plan as part of the project design, including stated goals and objectives.  Project team leads report progress monthly to the Steering Committee.

How can I get involved?

  1. An organization can join the WHI as a charter member which means  the organization agrees to the WHI’s mission and values and commits the organization’s time and resources (financial or in kind) to achieving the WHI’s goals. The WHI Charter is an agreement signed by the WHI co-chairs and each member organization’s leadership. In turn, the WHI commits to reporting progress back to each member organization’s leadership.
  2. An individual may also volunteer and contribute his or her time to implementation of a specific WHI project in which he or she has an interest.

If an organization wants to join the WHI or bring a new project idea or community concern to the Steering Committee, they can contact the WHI Project Manager, Carrie Rheingans, at or 734-998-7567

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