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MiThrive: Collaboration for Health and Well-Being

NC3 Interview with Erin Barrett, Public Health Planner, District Health Department #10.

Hello Erin, who do you work for and what is your role?

I work for District Health Department #10 as a Public Health Planner. I am also a Regional Community Coordinator for the Northern Michigan Community Health Innovation Region (CHIR). Informally, I am a systems and collaboration enthusiast. Within my role, I have the opportunity to support and engage in numerous collaborative efforts, like MiThrive, and work with amazing community partners across Northern Michigan.

MiThrive is a collaboration of seven local health departments, three hospital systems, and cross-sector community partners. The purpose of MiThrive is to assess community needs and collaborate for community health improvement. MiThrive’s vision is a vibrant, diverse, caring region where collaboration affords all people equitable opportunities to achieve optimum health and well-being.

What are Social Determinants of Health?

Social determinants of health also referred to as SDOH’s or SDH’s are the community conditions in which people live, learn, work, play, and age. Healthy People 2030 groups these conditions into five domains: economic stability, education access and quality, health care access and quality, neighborhood and built environment, and social and community context. These conditions impact our quality of life and health outcomes. Additionally, these conditions can contribute to health inequities and disparities. Examples of SDOH’s include racism, lack of safe and accessible active transportation options, polluted water, affordable childcare, and jobs with living wages.

Why is collaboration important as we work to determine the needs in our community and region?

We know that it takes all of us working together across sectors to improve community conditions that impact health across Northern Michigan. No one agency, organization, health system, or individual can address the multitude of issues alone. A powerful strength of collaboration is that we all bring a different flavor to the table meaning we have different lived experiences, priorities, expertise, resources, and ideas. By working together, we strengthen our collective capacity to address complex problems.

What is the North Central MiThrive Workgroup?

The North Central MiThrive Workgroup is one of three workgroups throughout the 31 counties of Northern lower Michigan. The North Central Workgroup covers Arenac, Clare, Gladwin, Isabella, Lake, Mason, Mecosta, Newaygo, Oceana, and Osceola. We are the boots on the ground component of MiThrive and assist in local implementation of primary data collection, participate in assessment and ranking activities, health improvement planning, and oversee the implementation of the collaborative community health improvement plan. This group meets virtually the third Monday of every month from 10:30-12:00 pm and is open to anyone who is interested.

How will Newaygo County residents benefit from this process?

The MiThrive process seeks to learn about issues and needs impacting residents so that solutions are coming from the those experiencing the issues, not from decisionmakers at the top. By engaging with residents we will have a better understanding of our community which will allow us to develop effective strategies to address our community’s most pressing health issues.

How can people get involved?

We recognize everyone’s schedules and capacity look different right now so there are lots of different ways to get involved.

· You can join the MiThrive Steering Committee, Design Team, or one of three regional workgroups (North Central, Northwest, and Northeast).

· You can engage in upcoming MiThrive events.

· You can attend the upcoming MiThrive information session in May.

· You can join the MiThrive email list to stay in the loop.

Please email if you are interested in any of the above options or have any questions. We can’t wait to connect with you!

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