Leaders from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and St. John Providence Health System got together recently to celebrate a new partnership to help the growing number of uninsured in southern Oakland County and the northwest border of Detroit. The Blues awarded a two-year $300,000 grant to St. John for its St. Vincent de Paul Health Center.
The Center is located in Southfield and serves uninsured adults who have incomes at 200 percent or below federal poverty levels.
“It’s more than just the money,” said Patricia Maryland, president and CEO of St. John Providence Health System. “This partnership with Blue Cross also helps us provide the human capacity to make a difference. We understand how many individuals suffer on a daily basis because they are not able to get access to the type of care they need.”
The Health Center patients are treated by the hospital’s volunteer doctors as part of the Physicians Who Care project. Patients are also eligible for free or discounted medications through the hospital’s outpatient pharmacy.
Dr. Michael Kobernick, medical director at the St. Vincent de Paul Health Center, says that means patients with chronic diseases and nowhere else to go are able to get the care they need.
“By offering uninsured people access to health services through the St. Vincent de Paul Health Center, we’re helping to prevent expensive trips to the emergency room by managing chronic diseases such as asthma and diabetes, and providing an alternative source for acute care needs,” said Sue Barkell, the Blues vice president of Health Care Value. “This partnership between our organizations is really how we’re going to make a difference.”
The grant money will help St. Vincent de Paul Health Center do the following:
- Increase capacity for primary care and specialty care
- Reconfigure location to double the number of exam rooms (from two rooms to four)
- Increase the number of patients enrolled
- Increase focus on chronic disease management as measured by improved HEDIS scores for patients with diabetes
- Explore implementation of electronic medical records to improve the quality and efficiency of care
- Explore the usage of Telemedicine for specialty care visits
- Help patients find transportation to offsite specialists
BCBSM also supports the safety net by providing $1 million in grants to free clinics throughout Michigan.