Wellness Plan to Open Clinic in Madison Heights School

Originally published by Crain’s Detroit

The Wellness Plan Medical Center will open a sixth clinic location, this one in a school in Madison Heights. The clinic at Keys Grace Academy charter school, which will serve a predominantly Chaldean and Assyrian refugee population, will be the first clinic in a school for the federally qualified health center. It is scheduled to open June 1.

“We have tripled our size since we started” as a health center, said CEO Anthony King, who has been with the center since 2007. The Wellness Plan had earlier been a Medicaid health plan and converted to a health center in 2009 after it emerged from state-supervised bankruptcy.

Each year, the Wellness Plan serves about 24,000 patients, including 9,353 children last year. It has more than 170 employees, including 30 involved in direct patient care.

“We offer obstetric services, dental services, behavioral health services and are a level three patient-centered medical home,” King said. “We continue to grow in staffing and patient care delivery to serve the community.”

The TWP-Keys Grace Clinic will be open 8 a.m.-4 p.m Monday-Friday after Labor Day through mid-June. It will be staffed with a bilingual family nurse practitioner and a medical assistant. The clinic will bill health insurers or charge uninsured patients based on a sliding fee discount Keys Grace President Nathan Kalasho said the school has had a glaring need for health care services for its students and families.

“Our families come from 16 different countries and speak 14 different languages,” said Kalasho, adding that the school’s enrollment has nearly doubled to 450 in the past two years.

“Our vision from inception has been to provide several wrap-around services in order to alleviate obstacles that families may face at home,” Kalasho said. With the clinic, “students and families will have efficient access to health and behavioral services, directly out of our school.”

King said his goal is to improve the health of the populations of patients the medical center serves.

“At the end of the day, we need to provide improved services, help people get healthier through preventive care so they can go to work and that is good for the community,” he said.

Reducing infant mortality rates is a goal for many providers in Michigan as the state has one of the nation’s highest rates.

“Adding OB (obstetrics) services has been a tremendous boom to our patient population. We don’t have to send them out and it adds to the services we offer across the whole spectrum,” King said. “Our birth rates are very high because we provide that access.”

But King said there are still pockets in Detroit where there isn’t enough prenatal care. “We see 15 percent of the people we should be seeing. Many people still go to ERs when they should be coming to clinics. It’s a generational issue.”

The Wellness Plan operates in a variety of locations in Southeast Michigan. There are two clinics in Detroit (2888 W. Grand Blvd. and 4909 E. Outer Dr.); Oak Park (21040 Greenfield; two clinics in Pontiac (at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Hospital, 44405 Woodward Ave., and 46156 Woodward Ave., the former site of Oakland Primary Health Services), and now Madison Heights.

It recently completed a 2,500-square-foot renovation at its East Area Medical Center in Detroit, nearly tripling the patient capacity of the location’s full-service dental suite.

In 2002, the predecessor to the Wellness Plan Health Centers was a health plan that was the largest Medicaid HMO in the state with more than 100,000 members. But the plan became insolvent and the state closed it down and required it convert into another use.

In 2010, the Wellness Plan opened as a health center with three locations, $9 million in cash reserves and $14 million in property and equipment.

View the original Crain’s Detroit press release here