Reporting Matt Roush
VAN BUREN TOWNSHIP — The global business giant GE Monday showed off some of what it’s been doing in western Wayne County since taking over part of the former Visteon Corp. headquarters in 2009.
And oh yes, GE also donated $500,000 to two medical clinics in Detroit that serve the uninsured and less fortunate.
GE now has nearly 850 employees at what it calls the Advanced Manufacturing and Software Technology Center, or AMSTC. The center’s employees develop software and data-sharing systems that make GE technologies from jet engines to locomotives to wind turbines work more efficiently. The center also studies the “manufacturability” of coatings and materials advances in GE labs, moving innovation from the bench to the factory.
GE’s “technology showcase” showed off everything from remote monitoring of jet engine performance to a plant performance monitor to digital analysis of pathology samples to the connected home.
As for the gifts, $250,000 each, in two $125,000 installments, went to the Wellness Plan’s Gateway Medical Center, 2888 W. Grand Boulevard, and Community Health and Social Services Southwest Center, 5635 W. Fort St.
The GE Foundation provided the grants as part of the GE Developing Health program, which provides funding and GE employee volunteer support to non-profit health centers across the United States. These grants build on a $750,000 Developing Health investment GE made to three Cherry Street Health Centers in Grand Rapids earlier this year, bringing GE’s total Developing Health grants across the state to $1.2 million.
“It is estimated that 1.7 million Michigan residents lack access to primary health care due to a variety of barriers,” said Charlene Begley, president and CEO of GE Home & Business Solutions and senior vice president and CIO for GE. “We recognize the need for health care is real. Through these grants, GE aims to bring increased access to primary care for underserved populations like the more than 34 percent of uninsured patients that turn to Michigan-based health centers each year.”
Developing Health is a multi-year, $50 million GE program that aims to help improve access to primary care in targeted underserved communities across the U.S. The program aligns with GE’s “healthymagination” initiative, a commitment to reduce costs, improve quality and increase access in health care.
A sizeable GE employee volunteer program accompanies the grants. GE’s Detroit- area Affinity Networks will work closely with the community health centers to assess and manage skill-based support and best practice sharing at The Wellness Plan and CHASS. In addition to any site improvements at the clinics, the GE teams and clinic staff will focus on business-based process improvements and other value-added skills to benefit patients and workflows.
“Each year, The Wellness Plan Gateway Medical Center treats over 19,000 patients, roughly 95 percent who are uninsured or underinsured,” said Anthony King, CEO and Executive Director, The Wellness Plan. “This grant from the GE Foundation couldn’t come at a better time as the number of clients in need of our services continues to increase.”
Added J. Ricardo Guzman, CEO of CHASS: “We pride ourselves in providing integrated medical, dental, and wellness programs to those in need, regardless of their income or insurance status. We are excited about the added financial and volunteer support that will result in increased access to health care and expanded services including nutrition and behavioral health to the people of Detroit.“
Developing Health is a partnership between GE Corporate Citizenship and the GE Corporate Diversity Council. Modeled after GE’s successful philanthropic program Developing Health Globally, the program was launched in New York City in October 2009, and has since expanded to Milwaukee, Houston, Cincinnati, Louisville, New Orleans, Atlanta, Erie, Fairfield County, Baltimore, Schenectady, Greenville, S.C., Salt Lake City, Wilmington, N.C., Chicago, Dayton, Miami, Boston, Grand Rapids, and now Detroit.
The Developing Health Globally program was launched in Africa in 2004. This philanthropic program now extends to 13 countries across Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia. DHG aims to improve health care for some of the world’s most vulnerable populations. DHG uses GE core competencies including technology, expertise and employee engagement to provide sustainable “enterprise solutions” that address some of the critical gaps that exist in developing-world health care facilities.
More at www.gefoundation.com.
GE CEO Bob Immelt is scheduled to give a speech Tuesday at the SAE World Conference. And Wednesday, the company’s annual meeting of shareholders is to take place at the Renaissance Center.
Protesters have pledged to show up at the shareholder meeting to complain about GE’s federal tax status. But Begley, in response to a reporter’s question, suggested Monday that the protesters have the wrong target.
Begley said many companies are facing protests at shareholder meetings, and “we’ve always encouraged freedom of communication.”
But. she said, “relative to taxes, GE does pay taxes, we did pay taxes in 2010, and we will continue to always pay the appropriate and required level of taxes. We support reform. If protesters are unhappy with the tax code, I think they’re probably protesting at the wrong venue.”