Wayne State opens Midtown health care center

Karen Bouffard
The Detroit News

Access to primary and specialty health care will increase by tens of thousands of patients in Detroit with the opening of a new medical center in Midtown this month, according to Wayne State University officials.

The new 400 Mack Detroit Health Center already is staffed by physicians with Wayne Health, the 300-member practice affiliated with the Wayne State University School of Medicine. The group previously was known as the Wayne State University Physician Group but changed its name on Sept. 9. 

Wayne Pediatrics,  which includes Wayne State University Department of Pediatrics faculty physicians, will move to the health center on Sept. 21. 

The facility also will house a  new Center for Population Health Accountability, designed to address social determinants of health — like poverty, housing issues and food insecurity — that affect the health and well-being of many Detroit residents.

Colette Stimmell, a spokeswoman for Wayne Health, said the facility will increase health care access by as many as 80,000 adult patients in Detroit. The group also has multi-specialty clinics in Dearborn, Southfield, Troy and on the Detroit Medical Center campus in Detroit, in addition to a psychiatry clinic in Livonia, dermatology clinic in Monroe, and ophthalmology clinic in Taylor. 

The newly renovated 50,000-square-foot facility, in a former hospice center, will provide a full range of integrated primary, preventive, behavioral health and obstetrics care. It was approved by the Wayne State University Board of Governors amid some controversy in July 2019. 

“The 400 Mack Detroit Health Center represents another new chapter in the evolution of the newly renamed Wayne Health,” Dr. Charles Shanley, president and CEO of Wayne Health, and vice dean of clinical affairs at the WSU medical school, said in a press release.  

“It demonstrates our commitment and investment to lead innovation in whole-person care and to improve urban health outcomes through novel approaches to population health.”

Dr. Herman Gray

Dr. Herman Gray, chair of Wayne Pediatrics, said the facility will attract pediatricians to the practice group and Wayne State University, The group includes 13 Wayne State University faculty physicians after about 80 pediatricians left Wayne State in recent years to affiliate with Central Michigan University.

The Department of Pediatrics at Wayne State's medical school also includes doctors who are not members of Wayne Pediatrics, as well as PhD faculty, who will work with pediatricians at the health center, he noted. 

"Our intention is to build the practice so that all the pediatric specialties would be represented in our group," Gray said in an interview with The News on Wednesday. 

"There's a shortage of pediatricians in the city of Detroit ... and we believe it's important for us to improve access for people that live in the city, and who may be constrained by lack of access to transportation and things of that sort.

"As an urban research university we believe it's important to care for all people, whatever insurance they have, or if they don't have insurance to try to accommodate those people as best we can," he added.

"There will be more pediatricians in Detroit as a result of this building opening, and there will be more (pediatric) specialists in Detroit as a result of the building opening, and the practice growing over the next year or two."

Herman said the facility is attractive and well-equipped, with more than 20 exam rooms for pediatric patients.

"They're lovely," he said. "This is a setting where anyone who brings their children there can expect high-quality care from well-trained specialists who are also actively involved in teaching the next generation of physicians and doing research."

The health center's overarching focus will be population health improvement, officials said, with the Center for Population Health Accountability at the core of those efforts. 

The center will use community-based approaches, such as mobile outreach and telemedicine, to expand access to screenings, preventive health and chronic disease management services. Interventions will be targeted to specific populations in Detroit using data from the university's Population Health Outcomes and Information Exchange, known as PHOENIX.

“Our goal is to halt the development of future deadly, debilitating and costly downstream health complications by focusing on upstream risk reduction,” Dr. Phillip Levy, Wayne Health's chief innovation officer and assistant vice president for translational science and clinical research innovation at the university, said in a press release.

 “Through community outreach partnerships and events, we will meet people where they are to provide care — including non-traditional settings such as neighborhood pharmacies, barber and beauty shops — through telehealth and mobile units.”

Gray, the Wayne Pediatrics chief, said the center's mission dovetails with that of the Urban Children's Health Collaborative, a Wayne Pediatrics initiative to address the needs of children in Detroit. 

Through the collaborative, the 400 Mack facility will have a social worker, psychologist and nutritionist on site to help children whose health has been affected by social disparities or adverse childhood experiences. 

The collaborative also will work with community partners, such as food pantries, to meet the needs of children who come to the health center.  

"We want to provide culturally competent care to children and their families... and help families work through how to make sure their children grow up to be happy and successful," Gray said. "So we will be collaborating with partners of all sorts, including partners at our own university — we have a great nursing school, we have a great law school, a pharmacy school.

"We've got all kinds of people, and students who can come in and work in our practice setting and partner with us as part of this collaborative, and both teach them as well as serving this population."


Twitter: @kbouffardDN