|Photo: Martin Vloet|
We often speak of the three components of our mission as an academic medical center — those of providing the best possible medical education for our students, care for our patients, and research that contributes to the advancement of medicine and human well-being. There is a fourth component as well, quietly fulfilled but brought to light in this issue of Medicine at Michigan: service to our community.
The inspiring programs described in our cover story are a few of the many we undertake, in collaboration with the community itself, to fulfill our mission of community service. All of these efforts result in the same benefit to individuals and families in our local community: health care that is otherwise unavailable, unaffordable or inaccessible.
One of these initiatives, the Washtenaw Community Health Organization, is a highly successful collaboration between Washtenaw County and the Health System undertaken with the goal of integrating physical care and behavioral care for Medicaid participants, as well as residents with mental, developmental and substance abuse needs regardless of their ability to pay. All too often, mental and physical health care for these residents is uncoordinated and incomplete, compromising quality of care and their overall health status.
Serving approximately 4,000 Washtenaw County residents each year, the WCHO has been recognized as a model program whose best practices are being sought by community health agencies in Michigan and nation-wide. Additionally, Lenawee, Livingston and Monroe counties have affiliated with the WCHO to form the Community Mental Health Partnership of Southeastern Michigan, extending our community reach and expanding our fundamental commitment to improve overall health status and increase access to care for all.
These programs and partnerships, and so many others throughout the Health System, represent steps toward realizing our mission of community service and making a very real difference in the lives around us. We undertake them with the same dedication we bring to training physicians, caring for patients and researching medical potential, each of those efforts helping pave the way to a healthier tomorrow for everyone.
Robert P. Kelch (M.D. 1967, Residency 1970)
U-M Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs
CEO, U-M Health System