Blue Cross Employees Donate Time to Help Promote Detroit Health Clinic

McAuley Health Center is a nurse-led clinic located on the lower east side of Detroit. It serves primarily low-income residents and operates on a lean budget.

“Zero to small,” is how project director Carla Groh ruefully describes her marketing budget.

When a Wayne State University student reached out to ask her if there were any communications projects she could take on to complete her degree, Groh welcomed the opportunity.

The resulting promotional video is proudly displayed on McAuley’s website and Groh said she was extremely happy with the end result and grateful to be thought of.

“It’s extremely helpful,” she said. “I think it’s a wonderful video.”

Sheryl Johnson-Fambro (left) with her classmates.

The student who took on the project was Sheryl Johnson-Fambro, a communications specialist with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. She celebrated nine years with the company in December, while pursuing her second bachelor’s degree in organizational communications. She plans to start work toward a masters’ degree in health communications this fall, taking advantage of Blue Cross’ tuition reimbursement program.

For her senior capstone project, Johnson-Fambro was assigned a service learning project. The idea was to take her skills and apply them in the community, ideally with a local non-profit. Wanting to focus on health care, she reached out to Audrey Harvey, executive director and CEO, and Nora Maloy, director of programs, from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation for ideas on local grantees who might be in need of assistance. They led her and the two classmates she partnered with to McAuley.

Along with Groh, the team decided to replace a video that had focused on patients, making one that works harder as a recruitment piece for the students and nurses that might be considering studying or working at McAuley. The clinic is part of the University of Detroit Mercy and the video is also featured on the school’s website as a recruiting tool for the nurse practitioner’s program.

“The three of us put our heads together and agreed that we could do something better,” Johnson-Fambro said.

She thinks the video will be relevant for a long time and her 100 percent grade on the project would seem to indicate as much.

“It has legs on it,” she said.

Helping Johnson-Fambro was Mike Miller, digital content coordinator at Blue Cross, who volunteered his time to work on the video. While Johnson-Fambro and her classmates provided the idea and structure for the video, she said it was Miller who really brought their vision to life.

“I was happy to help shine a light on good people who devote their waking hours to taking care of folks whose means and opportunities in life, let alone their health care, aren’t as accessible or abundant,” Miller said. “That story always needs to be told.”

Overall, the experience for Johnson-Fambro has been a highlight of her educational and professional career. She said Blue Cross’ commitment to volunteerism, community and their employees played out through the project by way of help from Miller, the connections she was able to make through Foundation staff and in her ability to further her education.

“This is how things are supposed to work,” Johnson-Fambro said.

For Groh, the project was an extension of the support her clinic has received from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation through grants that have supported different health prevention programs there.

“Blue Cross has just been so generous with the clinic here and I just can’t tell you how much we appreciate that,” she said.

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Photo credit: Mike Miller

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