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Blue Cross awards $50,000 grant to Corktown Health Institute to support growing need for LGBTQIA+-affirming services

DETROIT, June 23, 2022 – Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan today announced $50,000 in grant funding awarded to Corktown Health’s new affiliate organization to advance equitable LGBTQIA+ health care practices in Michigan: Corktown LGBTQIA+ Health Institute. Building upon a nationwide model for equitable care inclusive of sexual orientation, the Institute will provide expanded education and training to health care providers and organizations, equipping them with the tools, resources and insight to effectively and compassionately treat all patients in an affirming and inclusive manner.

Corktown Health Center, a Blue Cross Strengthening the Safety Net-recognized clinic, already offers a variety of integrated health care services in southeast Michigan, including primary care, behavioral health, comprehensive HIV care and treatment, support for older adults, food assistance, and health insurance and general patient navigation. Roughly 70% of Corktown Health’s patients identify as LGBTQIA+. According to UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute, as of 2020 approximately 373,000 people in Michigan ages 13+ identify within the LGBTQIA+ community.

Corktown Health Institute will serve as the education, policy and advocacy arm of the health care practice, committed to creating educational tools for Michigan health care systems and strengthen community partnerships. Key strategic priorities for Corktown Health Institute over the next year include developing online training programs that will dive deep into the nuts and bolts of LGBTQIA+-affirming care, compiling and distributing a directory of LGBTQIA+-affirming providers in Michigan and training of medical professionals on LGBTQIA+-affirming care.

“The establishment of Corktown Health Institute is historic for our community in advancing health equity for all and reaching a resilient, connected LGBTQIA+ community,” said Ken Hayward, vice president and special assistant to the president for Community Relations at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “This partnership exemplifies the very need to identify the disparities in health and health care in some of our most underrepresented populations, understand what the barriers to care are and provide actionable solutions through education and dialogue.”

“The Institute’s goal is to bring together medical professionals, researchers and community members working in areas of LGBTQIA+ health so that we can improve access to affirming care for all Michigan residents,” said Patrick Yankee, chief development officer at Corktown Health, who is leading this effort.

Corktown Health Institute recently convened an Initial Advisory Group to review LGBTQIA+-affirming care training modules and the institute’s strategic framework through 2023. Corktown Health is located at 1726 Howard Street in Detroit, in the historic Corktown neighborhood. Learn more about the health center at https://corktownhealth.org.

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About Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit mutual insurance company, is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. BCBSM provides health benefits to more than 4.7 million members residing in Michigan in addition to employees of Michigan-headquartered companies residing outside the state. The company has been committed to delivering affordable health care products through a broad variety of plans for businesses, individuals and seniors for more than 80 years. Beyond health care coverage, BCBSM supports impactful community initiatives and provides leadership in improving health care. For more information, visit bcbsm.com and MiBluesPerspectives.com.