Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation awards grants

5 local organizations benefit from funding

A grant of $65,000 is awarded to Munising Memorial Hospital at the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan office in Marquette Monday. From left, Audrey Harvey, executive director and CEO at Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of Michigan, Melissa Hall, COO at Munising Memorial Hospital and Jim LaJoie, executive director at Superior Health Foundation. Over $300,000 in grants funding was distributed amongst Upper Great Lakes Family Health, Munising Memorial Hospital, Upper Peninsula Health Care Solutions, Great Lakes Recovery Center and Bay Cliff Health Center. The funding was courtesy of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation and the Superior Health Foundation. (Journal photo by Cecilia Brown)

MARQUETTE — Five Upper Peninsula organizations were awarded grants courtesy of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation and the Superior Health Foundation Monday at the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan office in Marquette.

Over $300,000 was distributed amongst the five organizations, which included Upper Great Lakes Family Health, Munising Memorial Hospital, Upper Peninsula Health Care Solutions, Great Lakes Recovery Center and Bay Cliff Health Center.

The funding for the grants was provided through the “Investing in Upper Peninsula Health” grant initiative, which provides “one-time grants that will be used to improve health and access to cost effective, quality care for residents in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula,” according to BCBS of Michigan.

“The Foundation, our goal has always been to address cost, quality and access to health care,” said Audrey Harvey, executive director and CEO, Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of Michigan.

Jim LaJoie, executive director of Superior Health Foundation, said they were glad for the opportunity to collaborate with the BCBS Foundation on the grants.

“They were gracious enough to invite us in to be part of that process,” he said.

The grants funded a diverse array of projects that aim to improve health care quality and access and address critical health problems in the Upper Peninsula.

Bay Cliff Health Camp received at $48,000 grant to implement a wellness program for stroke survivors.

“In the years of 2019 and 2020, we will conduct comprehensive, week long therapy and wellness programs for stroke survivors, their spouses, their caregivers and significant folks to them,” said Tim Bennett, executive director of Bay Cliff Health Camp. “We will address every issue and every factor in what is important for a stroke survivor to live as healthy and as well and as rewarding of a life as possible.”

Bennet said that the program will address the gap in continuing care for Upper Peninsula Stroke Survivors.

“I think it will be a great addition to continuing care for stroke survivors in the Upper Peninsula. There is very little in resources and help for people who have suffered stroke,” he said.

Upper Peninsula Health Care Solutions was awarded $65,000 for telemedicine program that aims to increase access to screening for diabetic retinopathy by placing the equipment in offices of primary care physicians in the Houghton and Keeweenaw areas.

“It’s an innovative telehealth project and we think it will make a real difference in the lives of our patients, especially those with diabetes,” said Janey Joffee, manager at Upper Peninsula Health Care Solutions, noting that low access to eye care specialists in those areas was one reason these sites were selected.

This service aims to ensure eye health is monitored on a regular basis by increasing access.

“The patient will be able to conveniently be able to get their picture of their eye taken right in their physician’s office and then the image is sent via telehealth secure exchange for interpretation by a remotely located ophthalmologist or optometrist,” Joffee said.

Upper Great Lakes Family Health was awarded $90,000 to add X-ray services at their Gwinn clinic.

“With the help of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation and Superior Health Foundation, we’re going to be able to implement x-ray services at our Gwinn site,” said Elise Bur, administrative director at Upper Great Lakes Family Health.

Bur said offering the on-site X-ray at the Gwinn clinic should increase X-ray accessibility and reduce the number of patients who delay getting their X-rays and visit an emergency room as a result.

The Munising Memorial Hospital was awarded $65,000 to start a school-based clinic in Alger County.

“We’re very excited to have Blue Cross Blue Shield and Superior Health Foundation support us on our endeavor to start a school-based clinic in Alger County, both in Munising schools and Superior Central,” said Melissa Hall, chief operating officer of Munising Memorial Hospital. “The reason being, that just under 1,000 students in those two school districts are spread out over 5,000 square miles of water and woods and they have lack of transportation, perhaps lack of access to care.”

Hall said they hope the school-based clinics will decrease the amount of acute illnesses in the districts’ students, while increasing well-child visits and immunizations.

The Great Lakes Recovery Center was awarded $48,000 for the purchase of exercise equipment for their adolescent residential services center in Negaunee, which offers inpatient treatment for teens who struggle with substance abuse.

“We all know that teens can struggle and particularly when they have substance use issues involved, so what this exercise equipment is really going to do, is provide them with opportunities,” said Clare Mulford, chief operating officer at Great Lakes Recovery Center. “So it’s opportunities for them to learn how to process what they’re going through in a healthy way, it’s opportunities for them to experience joy and pleasure in way outside of what they’ve been doing, and i think largest is that it really gives them the opportunity to build a skill that they can take home with them that an opportunity to build a skill that they can take home with them.”

Officials at the event noted the value of forming new partnerships.

“One of the most important things about the work that’s being done in the U.P., is that we’re able to start some new partnerships with organizations that we haven’t partnered with before, that will allow them to put in place interventions that will address issues that are important to this community,” Harvey said.

For more information on the BCBS Foundation and how to apply for grants from the foundation, visit https://www.bcbsm.com/foundation.

Cecilia Brown can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248.