Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan give innovation grant to Mercy Hospital, Helping Thousands Get Mental Health Care

Meghan O'Brien

| 3 min read

The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan presented Mercy Hospital of Grayling with a $50,000 grant to improve mental health care and access for adults and youth across northern Michigan. Through the grant, Mercy Hospital will implement a telepsychiatry and phone consultation care model to enable access to psychiatric treatment for underserved children and adults in Grayling. The program helps primary care physicians in three, rural health clinics in Crawford and Roscommon counties provide better mental health care through collaboration with psychiatrists at the University of Michigan. The innovation grant is one of five being awarded across the state by the Blue Cross Foundation and the Blue Cross Social Mission department to help Michigan-based safety net organizations enhance primary care and increase access to care and services for underserved populations. “This grant will help us identify and treat early stage mental illness in youth and adults, making a real difference in many areas of life such as improving academic performance, preventing violence, reducing substance abuse and preventing further medical problems,” said Kirsten Korth-White, chief operating officer/chief practice administrator at Mercy Hospital Grayling. “This pilot program funding will help us provide access to therapy, treatment and support for our patients and will help to build a stronger, healthier community.” The Blue Cross Foundation is Blue Cross’s philanthropic affiliate and supports health care research and innovative health programs. “These grants will improve health care for local communities and give us a way to study and assess how we can work together across the private and public sectors to further strengthen health care delivery at the ground level,” said Audrey Harvey, vice president of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation. “Our innovation grants are a critical step toward improving our efforts to promote community-level health care services throughout Michigan. This is a forward-looking partnership and a real investment in a strong future for Michigan.” The five grants from the Blue Cross Foundation and Blue Cross, totaling $250,000, are being provided over two years to health centers meeting several criteria. Recipients submitted winning proposals for how the innovation grants would help their programs and families they serve. The Blue Cross Foundation has also hired an independent evaluator to monitor the results of the programs in the hopes of sharing lessons learned with other care providers across the state. “We applaud Mercy Hospital Grayling for developing an innovative program that can help youth and adults connect with mental health professionals, overcoming obstacles to quality care in a cost-effective and efficient way,” said Jeff Connolly, senior vice president of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Large Group Business and president West Michigan. “We recognize that many Michigan residents continue to face challenges in accessing quality care through no fault of their own and Blue Cross is eager to work with local communities to help meet their health care needs.” AuSable Free Clinic, associated with Mercy Hospital Grayling, also received a grant for $15,000 from the Blue Cross’ Strengthening the Safety Net program, which has provided more than $10 million to safety net providers across Michigan since 2005 to help the uninsured. The grants have enabled safety net clinics to care for more than 60,000 people annually and accounted for more than one million patient medical visits. For more information on Blue Cross’ programs, visit 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. 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 Photo Credit: Texas A&M University
MI Blues Perspectives is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association