Saginaw, MI —  On Friday, January 25, 2019, the 10th Annual “Region’s Health and Health Care Systems” Conference was co-hosted by Hospital Council of East Central Michigan, Michigan Health Improvement Alliance, Inc. (MiHIA), Mid-Central Area Health Education Centers (AHEC), and Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU).  The conference was held at SVSU, with simulcasts at Central Michigan University and Kirtland College -Grayling, and attended by almost 200 healthcare leaders in the Great Lakes Bay Region. The interactive conference focused on improving population health outcomes. Specifically, the conference was designed to impart information upon the best practices to develop, maintain and enhance quality healthcare and health outcomes across the continuum; to engage attendees in ways to strengthen their vision of improved population health for the region; and to identify strategies to promote and support community awareness regarding ways to effectively achieve community health.

The conference featured two keynote speakers. The first was Karen E. Timberlake, BA, JD, Principal at Michael Best Strategies, who presented on advancing population health through collaboration. Timberlake advised he audience that “Before you can shift the conditions that hold the problem in place, you have to know what the problem is you are trying to solve.”  Participants were inspired to look at what could be accomplished if it didn’t matter who got the credit.

The second speaker, Vondie M. Woodbury, BS, MPA, President of the Woodbury Group, examined opportunities to successfully achieve population health improvement through redesign that is done locally. Ms. Woodbury encouraged the attendees to ask themselves and identify what gets in the way of progress; then focus on forming cross sector collaborations to get outside of the four walls of the healthy systems to see success.  Woodbury motivated participants to “grab the steering wheel and steer where you collectively want to go.”  A moderated panel followed the keynote speakers where alignment around common goals and the lasting power of a shared vision can ultimately transform communities and improve health outcomes.

The conference closed with seven regional organizations being recognized for their efforts in creating a culture of health excellence. Dow Chemical Company, Great Lakes Bay Health Centers, Greater Midland, MidMichigan Health, Sanilac County Health Department, Saginaw County Department of Health and the YMCA of Saginaw received the Michigan Health Improvement Alliance’s (MiHIA) 2018 Community Health Excellence Award. The award focuses on identifying outstanding contributions to improving the health status of our communities through evidenced-based and innovative actions.  The award provides the opportunity to celebrate achievements, shifting awareness to catalyze improved health and well-being.

“I am so grateful that our region has hosted this conference for the past 10 years. It is wonderful to see health care leadership from across the region come together and continue the discussion on developing long term, sustainable initiatives to improve community health. Today’s speakers talked about the importance of collaboration and we are fortunate to have regional organizations be recognized by leaders in driving these initiatives in the Great Lakes Bay Region,” said Laura Love, Community Health Education Coordinator for McLaren Bay Region.