Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Expands Safety Net Support, Helping Thousands of Uninsured Get Needed Health Care

Carly Getz

| 4 min read

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan presented four Kent County clinics with $15,000 each in grant funding today to help underserved and uninsured individuals gain access to health care services. The clinics – Baxter Community Center, Catherine’s Health Center, Health Intervention Services and Oasis of Hope Center – treat thousands of Grand Rapids area residents annually with limited or no access to health care. According to County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, nearly 16 percent of adults and 4 percent of children in Kent County are uninsured. “Without these clinics, patients would delay and even forego medical treatment at great cost to themselves, their families and the health care system,” said Jeff Connolly, president of West Michigan at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “They are an extremely important part of Michigan’s safety net.” With the distribution of the 2014 Strengthening the Safety Net grants, Blue Cross has provided more than $10 million to support safety net providers across Michigan since the grant program was created in 2005. The grants have enabled clinics to care for more than 60,000 people annually and have accounted for more than one million patient medical visits. The 2014 grants can be applied to daily operations and enrollment assistance for the Healthy Michigan Plan. Clinic reaction:
  • Barb Grinwis, executive director of Oasis of Hope Center: “Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s safety net grant will help free clinics like Oasis of Hope provide care to thousands of families who struggle from day to day trying to meet important health needs. This grant will help Oasis of Hope focus on mental health care as we move forward into a more integrated health care model utilizing a volunteer neuro-psychiatrist and other mental and behavioral health providers. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan to provide people with critical health care resources.”
  • Sylvia Daining, executive director of Health Intervention Services: “This generous and timely grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan will help Health Intervention Services fulfill our mission of helping people get health care and also connect with new health care opportunities they never had before. Blue Cross’ grant will help us provide a strong safety net for those who are most at risk, including a greater number of Medicaid patients. It will also help us achieve our goal of providing service more efficiently as we move toward electronic health records. Ultimately, this generous grant will help us provide quality services to more people in need.”
  • Lyndi Weener-Kuiper, navigation program coordinator, Catherine’s Health Center: “We see firsthand how people in our community struggle every day with a health care crisis and that’s why this generous grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is so important to the families we serve. Thanks to this grant, Catherine’s Health Center can meet our goal of becoming a medical home for underserved patients. That means providing a wide range of services that can significantly improve people’s health, including promoting healthy lifestyles and making better choices through education. Catherine’s Health Center looks forward to advocating for people who don’t have a voice so they can enjoy access to quality care.”
  • Melanie Beelen, executive director of Baxter Community Center: “Facilities like Baxter Community Center and our dedicated staff and volunteers can do our jobs because of the generous support of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. The people who benefit are the thousands who work hard but simply don’t have access to quality care through no fault of their own, and when they are healthier, our community is stronger.”
People seeking treatment at safety net clinics in Michigan often live in poverty. More than 32 percent of patients at Baxter Community Center, 36 percent of patients at Catherine’s Health Center and nearly half the patients at both Baxter Community Center and Oasis of Hope Center live below the federal poverty level. Residents now have access to medical care, including preventive and mental health services. “These local clinics provide a critical service to our community and this investment by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan will go a long way to help ensure their work can continue,” said state Sen. Dave Hildenbrand, R-Lowell. “Events like the one today are a great recognition of how strong our community is, and the support given every day to friends and neighbors in need.”​ State Rep. Brandon Dillon, D-Grand Rapids, said, “We know the need for quality health care services is still out there. These clinics and health care professionals really know how to get the job done on a budget – and done right. They are an asset to our community, and I appreciate Blue Cross’ investment in our community.” The Strengthening the Safety Net grants were presented to the clinics on Wednesday, Oct. 22, at Oasis of Hope Center in Grand Rapids. For more information on Blue Cross’ Strengthening the Safety Net program, visit 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 and administers health benefits to more than 4.4 million members residing in Michigan in addition to employees of Michigan-headquartered companies who reside outside the state. For more company information, visit and
MI Blues Perspectives is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association