A community healthcare practice that treats low-income, uninsured, underinsured and homeless patients is brightening up its clinic in Warren with a mural that tells the story of what community health care means to people with little or no access to doctors, dentists or mental health treatment.
The mural at Advantage Family Health in Warren -- the newest of the federally-funded practices operated by Advantage Health Centers -- is being unveiled this week during a presentation that includes video interviews with patients and employees. The interviews were compiled in January and February, about a month after Advantage moved one of its Detroit clinics into a renovated warehouse in Warren. The interviews with patients -- new ones and old ones who followed the clinic from Detroit -- were interpreted by a storyteller and then made into the mural by an artist, says Joseph Ferguson, executive director of Advantage Health Centers.
"The mural depicts the community's feelings about our role in their lives," says Ferguson, adding that community health clinics such as his and others that serve some 170,000 patients in greater Wayne County are preventing the over and unnecessary use of emergency rooms and are also giving care that leads patients to be healthy enough to work: "to be productive again."
The mural decorates the lobby of the clinic on 8 Mile Road, and the artwork will also appear in patient education materials. It was made possible by a $35,000 grant from the Kresge Foundation through its Health and Arts & Culture Healing Spaces initiative.
A mural that already decorates the clinic's community room was paid for by the Kellogg Foundation.
Advantage Health Centers
operates seven practices, Warren being the newest. Its other clinics are located in Detroit and are seeing increases in patient numbers. AHC is hiring, and has added several employees to its staff in recent months as it works to complete community outreach and provide education in neighborhoods used to relying on the emergency room as their primary form of medical care. Dental care and behavioral health care are also offered to adult and pediatric patients through Advantage Health's clinics and practices. Outreach workers are also teaching patients how to use the Affordable Health Care Act and the Healthy Michigan program to find appropriate and affordable health care rather than using hospitals they can't pay or forgoing medical care until treatment becomes more costly and taken on by hospitals.
Since 2008, Ferguson says, the number of patients has increased from about 8,000 to more than 20,000. By the end of the year, that number will be up to 25,000 or 26,000, he says.
The Health Centers originally started in 1986 and targeted the homeless and veterans due to the high number of homeless vets. Eventually it grew to also serve uninsured, underinsured and neighborhoods with little or no access to doctors.
Source: Joseph Ferguson, executive director, Advantage Health Centers
Writer: Kim North Shine