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Michigan Medicine

A Minute with Marschall

Working Toward Health Equity: One Step at a Time

March 15th, 2023

Last month, we opened a new mobile mammography unit at the Ypsilanti Health Center, which greatly benefits the community by bringing breast cancer screening to the Ypsilanti area. The open house was well attended and appreciated by all, but what many may not have realized that day was that the small mobile unit represents something so much bigger. It is the first phase of a full-scale effort to offer equitable access to care, expanded health care and community programs, with a special focus on addressing health disparities in the Ypsilanti community.

The existing Ypsilanti Health Center itself will be expanded dramatically, adding many more specialty services in a welcoming and reimagined space. Relocated to 300 West Michigan Avenue, the former EMU College of Business, the comprehensive 50,000-square-foot center will provide a wide range of adult and pediatric services, including family medicine, geriatrics, urology, behavioral health, cardiology, dermatology, ophthalmology, endocrinology and women’s health, among others. It will also offer diagnostic imaging, laboratory, social support and community service spaces.

The new Ypsilanti Health Center is all part of a broader U-M Health strategy to improve health equity and, with the help of community leaders, reduce disparities and address social and other determinants of health in our local communities.

Much of this work was spurred on by the pandemic’s spotlight on health inequalities. While we always had a focus on community-centered work, I am proud of how we stepped into action through our Anti-Racism Oversight Committee (AROC) with the diligent help of various sub-committees. In particular, the sub-committee focused on advocacy did a deep dive into our  Community Health Needs Assessments to help us envision the future needs of the new Ypsilanti Center.

I look forward to seeing what our new co-chairs of AROC, Dr. Michelle Caird and Dr. Maria Bobo, have planned for this coming year and beyond as they advance AROC’s mission.

In addition to AROC, other DEI efforts continue to expand. We have now launched the Health Equity Consult Service, which provides a consult to faculty, staff, patients, and family members who feel that a patient’s care may have been affected by bias, inequities, or perceived discrimination of any kind. This service, along with work on a longer-term Health Equity Road Map, is part of U-M Health’s BASE strategic priorities, which include improving Belonging and Inclusion. 

Through the Office for Health Equity and Inclusion (OHEI), we are looking five years ahead into the future – with your help. Following the campus’ lead to develop DEI 2.0 for 2023 – 2028, OHEI is asking for all of us – faculty, staff and learners — to spend just a few minutes to share their feedback in a questionnaire to help them define DEI priorities.

In the immediate future, OHEI has a variety of events/conferences that focus on health equity and inclusion. Scroll to bottom of their OHEI webpage.

These are just some examples of the work that is being done to help address inequities within our community. They may seem like small steps but together they bring us another step further on our journey forward.

Please share your thoughts in the discussion box below.

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