In the fall of 2010, Bob Laverty, the retired CEO of St. Joe’s Hospital in Ann Arbor and former regional leader of the Trinity Health System approached CHRT with an idea. After the Affordable Care Act was passed in March of 2010, Bob had spent time thinking about the impact of health care reform on Washtenaw County. He identified the need for better coordination and integration of care and he talked to health system and community leaders to see if there would be interest in starting a community based, voluntary planning effort to both get ready for health reform in 2014 and do better at serving the low income, Medicaid and uninsured population in the county. But, the effort needed a facilitator and Bob planted the idea that CHRT might be a good one to play that role.
Under CHRT’s guidance, what was initially proposed as a six-month effort continues to thrive today—four years later. Co-sponsored by the University of Michigan Health System and Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, WHI membership now includes more than 170 individuals representing over 70 organizations, including the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, health plans, county government, community services, physicians, and safety net providers.
Nearly every CHRT staff member has volunteered their time and expertise to help shape and support the WHI. CHRT’s behind-the-scenes support includes facilitation of the WHI Steering Committee, whose 14 health and community leaders set the initiative’s overall strategic agenda. CHRT houses WHI Project Manager Carrie Rheingans, who oversees the WHI’s numerous community-based projects, coordinates regular meetings of various subgroups, and manages WHI communications. CHRT staff provides additional support through data and policy analysis, work group project plan development and evaluation, and facilitating connections across multiple stakeholders.
To learn more about the WHI, visit their website: http://washtenawhealthinitiative.org/.