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Oakland County to expand, integrate health services for vulnerable residents

Courtesy of Children First

Oakland County will try a new approach to providing health services to its un- and underinsured residents.

The plan, called Oakland Health 360, calls for consolidating more services at the county’s two health centers, in Southfield and Pontiac. Those will include a range of health services, including primary care, family planning, dental, and mental health services.

The plan will also provide access to social services, including early childhood education and emergency services such as energy, food and housing assistance.

The county will implement the plan with two partners, Honor Community Health and Oakland Livingston Human Services Agency. The plan is to roll it out in four phases over three years, said Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter.

“If we’re going to address the health issues and the health disparities in our county, we have to break down the silos that currently exist between public health, primary care, mental and behavioral health services, and the support services that our residents need,” Coulter said. “We’re going to put services under one roof to reduce the barriers people face when they’re looking for care and services.”

“This is transformational. This is integrative, it is comprehensive, and I’m not aware of another county in Michigan that is trying this approach.”

Coulter, appointed interim county executive last August, has made addressing health disparities in Oakland County a priority. He pointed to differences in life expectancy throughout the county, ranging from 66 years old in some Pontiac neighborhoods to 86 in parts of Troy.

There are also shortages of both primary care and mental health professionals in the southeast corner of the county and in Pontiac, Coulter said. His office estimates that more than 227,000 county residents will be eligible for Oakland Health 360 services.

The plan needs County Commission approval. Coulter estimates start-up costs could run around $4 million as the plan rolls out after three years, but it should be self-sustaining after that.

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Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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