Ypsilanti Health Center: Caring for its community

June 3, 2019  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees,

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Michigan Medicine’s Ypsilanti Health Center (YHC) is located on the second floor of an unassuming two-story brick building on Arnet Street, only a few miles southeast of Eastern Michigan University’s campus. The clinic is anchored by two practices — family medicine and pediatrics — and is a major site for teaching U-M medical students and residents.

But what makes this clinic unique?

“Along with providing high-quality, comprehensive and cost-effective health care, we offer invaluable community-based services not usually seen in a traditional health center,” said clinic manager Ladele Cochran.

Bridging cultural differences

In YHC’s community, about 20 percent of the population does not have a high school diploma — or speak English as their primary language.

“Cultural and language barriers often keep patients and providers from building strong relationships, posing considerable issues in a patient’s ability to obtain quality care,” Cochran said. Therefore, the clinic employs bilingual health professionals who speak Spanish, French and Arabic, making it easier for non-native English-speaking patients to receive care.

The clinic also offers access to free civil legal advice and representation to low-income and senior citizens within Washtenaw County as part of a collaboration between YHC Pediatrics and Legal Services of South Central Michigan. This grant-funded pilot program was approved for three years with the possibility of renewal if successful.

Among the services the program offers are:

  • Consumer cases (credit problems, debt collection, utility disconnections, contracts and bankruptcy)
  • Family law (divorce, child custody, child support, parenting time, probates issues and domestic violence issues)
  • Public benefits (food stamps, Medicaid, Medicare, SSI/SSDI and unemployment compensation)
  • Taxes (federal and state credits, IRS tax debts or problems and property tax issues)
  • Housing (unsafe housing, foreclosure, evictions, reasonable accommodation requests, housing discrimination, rent subsidy assistance, low income loans and property tax foreclosures)
  • Employment issues (wrongful termination, employment training and hiring, working conditions, job discrimination, unemployment compensation and work-related injuries)
  • Veterans benefits (vocational and rehab counseling, employment and training services, educational assistance, health care services, home medication programs, homeless vet services and veteran’s disability pension program)
  • Education (school services for children, the GI bill, and education benefits for family members)

Providing food for the hungry

In a community made up of almost 20,000 people, more than 30 percent of the clinic’s residents live below the poverty line, with many experiencing food insecurities.

Enter Maggie’s Marketplace, Michigan Medicine’s only food pantry, housed within the YHC. The marketplace provides patients and community members with fresh fruit and vegetables — along with basic staples such as potatoes, milk, cheese and eggs — at no cost. The marketplace opened its doors in May 2017, and in two years, an estimated 7,950 people have been served, providing more than 15,000 meals.

Benefiting children

Across the hall from Maggie’s Marketplace, the clinic stores important safety items and child essentials. Car seats, helmets, infant safety toolkits, baby safety gates, gun locks and digital thermometers are all available for parents to help protect their children. Over the years, clinic faculty, residents and staff have donated school supplies, backpacks, hats, gloves, clothes, scarves, underclothes and toys to give to kids. Like the marketplace, these items are given out free of charge to anyone within the community.

In cooperation with the U-M Dental School, a research program provides dental services to YHC pediatric patients on-site. This service provides dental screenings cleanings and cavity treatments to area children.

“By providing dental services, we are able to improve a patient’s overall health — and the overall health of our community,” Cochran said.

Behavioral health services

YHC offers a vast array of community behavioral health services through partnerships with Washtenaw County Community Mental Health and other county agencies. Programs/services offered include:

  • Collaborative care for mild-to-moderate disease
  • Therapy for children and adolescent patients
  • Adult therapy
  • Weekly psychiatry consult clinics

A community steward

The Ypsilanti Health Center continually evolves its programs to maintain a close community relationship. Clinic leadership seeks to hire staff from within the community whenever possible and participates in local events such as Ypsilanti’s Heritage Days, kindergarten roundups, open houses, the Parkridge Summer Festival and back-to-school events.

What does the future hold for YHC?

“We have some lofty goals,” said Cochran. “Along with continuing to provide top-notch health care to our community, we hope to address the challenge of transportation for our patients and work to get more funding and support for the marketplace, including possible expansion into a clothes closet.”

One visit to the clinic is all it takes to see the exceptional patient care YHC provides, along with an unwavering passion for its patients and a strong sense of community. Now that’s the Michigan Difference.

To learn about or help support one of the Ypsilanti Health Center’s many philanthropic programs, contact Ladele Cochran at 734-544-3202 or ladele@med.umich.edu. Monetary gifts can be given on its giving link. Food donations are also accepted and can be made directly to Ypsilanti Health Center, 200 Arnet St. Suite 200, Ypsilanti.

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