Hundreds of uninsured and underinsured students are now receiving much-needed primary, dental and behavioral health care through a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan grant to the new Ranger Wellness Center (RWC) at Ross Beatty Jr. /Sr. High School in Cassopolis. The RWC began operations at the start of the 2014-2015 school year and has already seen more than 250 new patients. Health factors such as obesity, inactivity and risk-taking are on the rise in this mostly rural and lower income region, which has a shortage of primary care providers and an extreme shortage of mental health care providers. According to Robert Wood Johnson Foundation County Health Rankings, 41 percent of Cass County’s population lives at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. As part of the Cassopolis Family Clinic Network (CFCN), RWC also provides other services, such as office space to Woodlands Behavioral Health Network to deliver services for autism screening, counseling and substance use prevention, and working with school and community partners to encourage healthy lifestyles through a wellness program. Services available through RWC were made possible with a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) capital development grant of $340,925 in 2013, and a $57,000 startup grant from Blue Cross, awarded in 2014, that helped launch the five-month-old center. The HRSA contribution was part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Grant for School-Based Health Centers Capital Program. The Blue Cross grant is part of the company’s effort to strengthen health services in rural and underserved Michigan communities. “Blue Cross is proud to support Federally Qualified Health Centers, such as the Ranger Wellness Clinic and Cassopolis Family Clinic Network, that are dedicated to helping everyone in their community get the care and treatment they need to be healthy,” said Kim Kratz, senior health care analyst for Blue Cross. “These centers provide access to care for hundreds of thousands of vulnerable, uninsured Michigan residents. Without these health centers, patients may delay and even forego care at great cost to themselves, their families and the health care system.” Mary Geegan Middleton, chief executive officer of CFCN, said, “Our dedicated staff at the Ranger Wellness Center is excited to help Cassopolis students get the care they need to stay healthy, learn and succeed. We’re here to promote health and wellness. Thanks to the generous grants from Blue Cross and HRSA, we’re improving health outcomes for hundreds of young people in our community.” State Sen. John Proos said, “The Ranger Wellness Center will help children in the Cassopolis area connect with health care providers. The center is a great example of a true collaboration involving the community, private companies like Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and health professionals. Partnerships like these are helping us build a better future and healthier communities for our families.” Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit mutual insurance company, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, a nonprofit corporation, are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more company information, visit bcbsm.com and MiBluesPerspectives.com. Photo Credit: Lauren Korns
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