Strengthening the Safety Net Grant

Falling sick, or just plain falling, is scary when you don’t have enough health insurance or any at all. Luckily there’s a safety net: free and low-cost health clinics. Our Strengthening the Safety Net grants help make sure these clinics are there for those who need it most.

This program strengthens and stabilizes access to health care for Michigan's uninsured and underinsured residents. Since 2005, we've awarded more than $7 million in grants so free clinics can keep operating and improve their services.

Dr. Justin Brox with a patient at the Gary Burnstein Community Health Clinic in Pontiac.

Spotlight on a Strengthening the Safety Net grant recipient

The Gary Burnstein Community Health Clinic in Pontiac provides primary care, women's health care, dental and oral services and pharmaceuticals — all free of charge — to low-income uninsured and underinsured individuals in Oakland County.

With a $40,000 grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, the clinic  collaborated with HOPE Hospitality and Warming Center in downtown Pontiac to expand health care to the homeless, a service that is in great demand in the area.

"There are 3,300 homeless individuals living in Oakland County. With the growing unemployment rates from a falling economy in Michigan, Oakland County is seeing a growing number of homeless persons. These individuals are, for the most part, not receiving adequate medical care. As a result they are forced to utilize emergency room care," said Pam Haratsis, executive director at the clinic.

This partnership was expected to generate 250 new patients, increasing access to health care by 35 percent and to oral health care by 100 percent. The clinic will recruit additional volunteer health care providers from local hospitals and universities to serve these patients.

Funds from the Strengthening the Safety Net grant program was used to purchase medical equipment, supplies and medications.

"The support we received from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan helps us with our mission of helping others. The funding they provide enables us to become a vital safety net for the community. This grant allows us to reach out and help this additional population that needs help," added Haratsis.

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