Agreement Officially Recognizes Northern Michigan Public Health Alliance

Members of the Northern Michigan team, from left to right: Jane Sundmacher, Lester Atchison, Linda Yaroch and Linda VanGills.

The Center’s demonstration site in Northern Michigan hit a milestone last fall when their health departments’ governing bodies signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that officially recognized the Northern Michigan Public Health Alliance.

Made up of six local health departments serving a 25-county rural region, the alliance’s mission is to develop, implement and sustain models of shared public health services that increase capacity, contain costs, maximize assets and more effectively impact health outcomes. A steering committee and five workgroups provide strategic direction for the alliance.

They believe one of their most important early successes is that they have received resources and opportunities they would not have received acting independently. For example, they have been awarded several grants while working together. One of those grants, the Health Innovation Grant from the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH), will allow them to continue staffing the alliance once their work with the Center ends. They were also asked by MDCH to provide input on a new mini-grant program promoting cross-jurisdictional sharing arrangements as a way to expand public health capacity throughout the state. In addition, they have been asked to serve on the advisory board of the Northern Michigan Health Network — a shared savings Accountable Care Organization. Without the alliance, they don’t believe public health would have had input on this board.

“This alliance will provide a foundation for the future,” said Linda VanGills, Health Officer at District Health Department #10. “It will put Northern Michigan in a strong position to react to changes in health care and to increased interest in population health outcomes.”

More information about the Northern Michigan Public Health Alliance can be found on the Center’s website. A copy of the MOU and an overview of the alliance’s strategic plan are in the Center’s resource library.