Community Impact

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation grants are empowering Michigan residents to make a difference in health care. See how they've made their mark by reading their success stories.

Blue Cross Foundation agrees that Detroit Life Is Valuable Everyday
The Joy-Southfield Community Development Corporation teaches healthy eating habits
University of Michigan offers incentives to increase preventive care visits

Blue Cross Foundation agrees that Detroit Life Is Valuable Everyday

Intentional violence is a health issue for Southeast Michigan. But right now, there isn't enough data surrounding the issue. Unfortunately, this issue requires more research in poverty-stricken areas. "There is a large knowledge gap when it comes to health issues in Detroit," says Audrey Harvey, "The city just hasn't been an attractive area of study for most, and that negatively impacts our ability to help."

The Foundation funded the research of the Detroit Life is Valuable Everyday, DLIVE, program, which aims to discover the causes of Detroit's high rate of recurring injuries. "Recurrence is a serious problem in cases of violence," says Dr. Tolulope Sonuyi, the project's principal investigator. "It places preventable strain on health care resources."

The study showed that victims of violence have a high risk of experiencing another violent event within two years after the first incident. Additionally, the relationship between recurring violence and a history of psychological issues points to the importance of mental health interventions in reducing violence in Detroit.

This project is expected to lead to future Detroit studies and interventions. "This is the beginning," says Tolulope. "Increased knowledge will lead to increased health care for the city and its people. There is much to do."

Intentional violence statistics:
Gender: Male 87%, Female 13%
Mean age: 22.1 years
Ethnicity: 95% black
Mechanism of injury: Gunshot wound 59%, stabbing 16%, assault 24%, other 1%
Mean length of hospital stay: 4.4 days
Insurance status: 155 patients had insurance
Recidivism rate: 30% (three years pre-/post-index approach)
Most reinjuries occur within two years

The Joy-Southfield Community Development Corporation teaches healthy eating habits

The Joy-Southfield Community Development Corporation, with support from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, led a collaborative effort to address social determinants of health to improve health outcomes and reduce health care costs. The project attracted the attention of several leading nonprofit organizations including the University of Michigan, Eastern Market Corporation, the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan and the Kresge Foundation.

"This is the sort of collaboration that gets things done," says Audrey Harvey, "Health care organizations, nonprofits, universities and community leaders ― this is what we strive for ― multi-level collaboration. It's the way forward."

The project offered health workshops and classes that covered everything from exercise and healthy habits to food prescription and cooking demonstrations, all of which resulted in an increase in community knowledge regarding healthy eating habits. The Foundation's support created the opportunity for this project to receive an additional $100,000 from the City of Detroit Neighborhood Opportunity Fund and H.R. Kendall Fund.

The success of this project proved that health care costs can be reduced, and health outcomes improved by developing links between clinical care and community-based health and wellness programs. JSCDC continues to share the lessons learned and advocate for systemic health reform locally, regionally and nationally.

Healthy eating statistics:
82% reported increased knowledge about where to buy fresh fruits and vegetables
89% reported increased knowledge about the importance of eating fresh fruits and vegetables
82% now try new fruits and vegetables
80% now cook with fruits and vegetables
About 11,000 participants were recruited from 15,000 low to moderate income households in target area
Participant attendance rates:
Once: 23%
Twice: 12%
Three times: 11%
4 or more: 54%

University of Michigan offers incentives to increase preventive care visits

For people with low income, the cost of health care services can be difficult and frustrating. "It's a harsh reality that many feel that the health system is unfair to them," says Audrey Harvey, executive director and CEO of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, "We must make it right. They need to know that we're here for them."

The Foundation's support of a project led by Dean Yang of the University of Michigan was part of that effort, she said. Yang's team used gift cards to motivate low-income people to get preventive health care. The goal, he says, was to help build trust between patients and their providers so they would feel more comfortable using available services. "Because many of these people must be very cautious with their money, we have to give them a reason to believe that health care is worth it," Yang says. "They trust the health system so little that they would put themselves at risk rather than take a loss."

The project found that incentives were an effective method of bringing people in for basic health screens, but not enough to convince them to pursue much beyond that. It was an important first step toward resolving this unspoken issue, Yang said, adding that there's still more work to be done. "We'd like to thank the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation for their support of this work. We know that it will lead to a great change in how health care is viewed by the public."

2,004 participants
Overall, the gift card raised the average by 1.3 percentage points among people who already trusted the healthcare provider, and by 5.0 percentage points among those who did not.

To read more stories about how our latest grant recipients are making strides in health care research, see our 2017 Annual Report (PDF).


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DLIVE, or Detroit Life is Valuable Everyday, is addressing the foremost public health issue for youth and young adults in Detroit – intentional violence. Homicide is the number one cause of death for Detroit residents ages 15-34. DLIVE provides innovative targeted services for young adults who have been victims of acute, intentional trauma.