The Michigan Area Health Education Center — a program established to recruit, train and retain a diverse health care workforce in the state — has received a $750,000 grant from the Kresge Foundation in support of its efforts.
The Wayne State University School of Medicine and College of Nursing received an initial federal grant in fall 2010 to establish the MI-AHEC program and are now partnering with community groups and schools in southeast and mid-Michigan to establish regional centers during the next two years that will develop and implement programs to increase interest in health professions.
The AHEC program is particularly important because Michigan is suffering from a severe shortage of health care professionals, and the problem is only expected to worsen.
“Our AHEC program is committed to promoting the health and well being of people in underserved rural and urban areas,” said Valerie M. Parisi, M.D., dean of the WSU School of Medicine and co-principal investigator of the grant. “That mission lines up perfectly with the Kresge Foundation’s priority to foster healthy and safe communities. The grant is just what the doctor ordered.”
A statewide advisory board representing more than three-dozen community organizations has been established to guide MI-AHEC.
“The advisory board will be absolutely central to the success of MI-AHEC because this is a community based and community driven initiative,” said Barbara Redman, dean of the College of Nursing and co-principal investigator of the grant. “This is a true partnership.”
Wayne State’s Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, the WSU School of Social Work and the University of Detroit-Mercy School of Dentistry will provide additional leadership, support and training.
The southeast Michigan AHEC has already been established at the Detroit Wayne County Health Authority. The center serves nine urban counties (Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Lapeer, Saint Clair, Genesee, Monroe, Livingston and Washtenaw.)
During the second year of the grant, Central Michigan University will work with the MI-AHEC Program on the development of an AHEC center serving mid-Michigan and will assist in the identification of an agency to host of the Mid-Regional Center that will serve 13 rural and six urban counties (Arenac, Bay, Midland, Saginaw, Shiawassee, Clinton, Eaton, Ingham, Tuscola, Huron, Sanilac, Gratiot, Isabella, Clare, Gladwin, Osceola, Mecosta, Montcalm, and Ionia.) The long-term goal is to establish five regional AHEC centers over five years, giving access to all 83 Michigan counties.
According to the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, 75 of Michigan’s 83 counties have at least partial designation as primary care health professional shortage areas and 45 counties are designated as mental health care professional shortage areas. Rural and urban areas often suffer greater workforce shortages because of inadequate distribution of health professionals.
The Kresge Foundation is a $3.1 billion private, national foundation that seeks to influence the quality of life for future generations by creating access and opportunity in underserved communities, improving the health of low-income people, supporting artistic expression, increasing college achievement, assisting in the revitalization of Detroit, and advancing methods for dealing with global climate change. The foundation works in six program areas: arts and culture, community development, education, the environment, health, and human services. For more information, visit http://www.kresge.org/.