Blue Cross offers grants to U.P. health care providers

By JEFF MAKI

Journal Intern

GWINN — Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has made over $800,000 available in grants to Upper Peninsula health care providers as part of its Investing in Upper Peninsula Health campaign.

Among the recipients was the Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center, who received a grant of $90,000. Founded in 2009 in Houghton by Dr. Catherine Kroll, UGL operates 11 clinics in nine locations, including Gwinn and KI Sawyer, and sees more than 25,000 patients annually.

The primary use for this grant is for UGL to add X-ray services to its Gwinn location.

UGL employs the patient-centered medical home to give relationship-based health care, having doctors get to know the patient and including the patient’s family in the recovery process. Involving patients in the decision- making process of health care makes them more likely to follow protocol, said Elise Bur, administrative director at UGL.

“We refer people to get X-rays at Marquette and only 65 percent of those people are actually doing it,” said Bur.

With X-ray services at the Gwinn health center, patients will be able to schedule the test easier and faster.

“With X-rays at Gwinn, we expect 90 percent compliance,” said Bur.

Getting tests done sooner means that health complications can be caught and treated before they advance to an emergency stage, said Bur, particularly in cases of pneumonia.

A total of $90,000 was given by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation and the Superior Health Foundation.

“We really appreciate those agencies,” Bur said. “If communities can continue to do that, we can really improve the health of the Upper Peninsula.”

Jeff Maki can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 254.