Lansing, Mitch. – In an underdeveloped neighborhood in Michigan’s capital city, a health clinic is being built with about $ 900,000 from the Federal Epidemic Relief Fund, a project that could transform access to community care.
Divided into new affordable apartments and a community center, the clinic symbolizes the rapid impact of funding on many local public health programs.
In Michigan and some other states, stimulus aid for cities and counties is set to use faster than billions of state-funded funds, some of which are tied to the legislature in stalemate over how to spend them. And while most of the local aid is moving to other priorities, many cities and counties are saying that rescue funds have opened up a long way to improve the under-funded public health system as they recover from the epidemic, addressing health inequalities that have made Covid-19 worse. .
Here in the middle of Michigan, where officials warned of escalating violence, drug addiction and delayed care during the epidemic, last year’s stimulus bill, local aid from the American Rescue Plan rewrote the economic fate of Ingham County and its people. Health programs – at least for now.
Of the $ 350 billion for states and locals in the rescue plan, $ 195 billion went to state governments, another $ 130 billion went to cities, counties and other local governments, many of which were projecting substantial revenue losses at the outset of the epidemic. Local governments have been given wide-ranging prudence on how to spend money, and many are using some of it for public health.
About 60 60 million was sent to Ingham County, home to about 300,000 people in Lansing and its suburbs and rural neighborhoods. Local officials were quick to use the initial level of 28 28 million last year and are ready to begin implementing another ড 28 million to arrive this spring, some of which could be spent on an ambitious series of public health proposals.
“We have relationships within the community and we know where it can go fast,” said County Controller Greg Todd.
The Inham Health Department requested funding for the replacement of septic systems in rural counties; Hire a nurse case manager and more healthcare providers for new clinics and a separate addiction clinic; Renewing a community dental practice; And start a harm reduction program to reduce HIV and viral hepatitis infections. So far, the county plans to use the money raised for the septic program, Mr. Todd said.
The impact of the money is nowhere near as clear as the new clinic, Allen Neighborhood Community Health Center, which will join the network of community health centers that serve thousands of patients each year. Linda Weill, Ingham County public health officer, said that before the stimulus fund arrived, her department planned to open the clinic in a “bare bones” fashion and pull staff from other community clinics, “robbing Peter to pay Paul.” The stimulus fund, 750,000 for the construction of the clinic and $ 137,956 for staffing, allowed the county to cancel that plan and speed up the timeline.
The county expects the clinic to open in the summer and begin serving two dozen patients a day.
About two miles from the Capitol, Republican-controlled legislators have yet to allocate billions to state-funded American Rescue Plan funds, which some state Democrats have described as an attempt to thwart Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s agenda, a Democrat. Congress last month considered withdrawing unspent state funds, including Michigan, raising lamentations from both sides.
Curtis Hartel Jr., a Democratic state senator who represents Ingham County, said the rapid use of the county’s stimulus funds was a fitting counter-example of the state legislature’s hold on the larger container of money, which he said could already have a significant impact. Most of it was released quickly.
“Michigan’s mental health structure is crumbling,” he said. “We could have saved more lives in Michigan.”
Local officials will have to spend money on the American Rescue Plan until 2026. In some communities, money has just begun to flow. Throughout, stimulus funds are proving to be a litmus test of local priorities.
Ingham County’s first 28 million trench is not just for public health initiatives, but for infrastructure projects and hundreds of local businesses. One million dollars has been spent on emergency medical equipment, including new ambulances and training. The county has spent $ 150,000 to repair public storm drains and আরও 450,000 to hire more behavioral health professionals in a local mental health program that focuses on adolescent mental health.
Resources have spread beyond public health. More than 8 8 million in small business grants have helped Lansing overcome some of the commercial downturn during the epidemic. Nicki Thompson Frazier, owner of Sweet Encounter Bakery and Caf in Downtown Lansing, said her $ 5,000 grant allowed her to buy more mixers, make more pastries and take more baking classes. Snowfall in further growth of money, he said, has allowed him to hire two workers.
“Sometimes you need that little push,” he said.
The Allen Clinic is hiring a small staff that is expected to expand gradually if further funding is implemented: two front office staff, a nurse, two medical assistants, a behavioral health specialist and a physician assistant. Local officials hope to eventually hire a doctor and another medical assistant.
The clinic will have a pharmacy that will provide free or low cost prescriptions to patients and a lab for blood.
According to Joan Nelson, who runs a community center next to the Future Health Clinic, the neighborhood that will serve the clinic has more than 17,000 inhabitants and about 20 percent black, 12 percent Hispanic, 60 percent white and 3 percent Asian. He said about 25 percent of the community lives below the poverty line and 20 percent of households do not have their own car. A new bus stop has recently been added outside the center to help patients get to the clinic.
Dr. Adeni, the medical director of the county health department, called the investment in the Shoinka Allen Complex a “template” for rebuilding the public health program in Lansing.
The community center next door has a food pantry that produces and produces more than 1,000 pounds of baked goods per week, and has a year-round farmer’s market, garden classes and a community-supported farming program. The center lists low-income residents in Medicaid and Affordable Care Act coverage. But Mrs Nelson said her staff often had to refer people to community clinics far away, which would no longer be the case after the clinic opened next door.
The flow of stimulus funds has helped renew the focus on primary care in the area, said Ms. Val, County Health Officer. It served a different purpose than vaccines, tests, treatment, and personal protective equipment, he said, but it was equally important.
“Recovering from an epidemic takes investment and money, not just to respond to an epidemic,” he said.
The new resource, Ms Val added, could help restore trust in the local public health department, some of which are working to restore the reputation of people affected by epidemic restrictions after they were targeted.
“I think we have a lot of work to do to regain confidence,” he said. “Unless people trust us, they will not continue to come to us for everything we can for them,” including “immunization, nurse home visiting programs that prevent mothers from losing their babies before” Year old ‘and food aid program for women, children and infants, known as WIC.
U.S. Rep. Alyssa Slotkin, a Democrat whose district includes Ingham County, recently traveled to Lansing to announce a project she shepherded with federal funding that would add social workers to the Lansing Police Department for mental-health-related calls.
Ms Slotkin said she was concerned that the benefits of Federal Covid-19 stimulus assistance could be temporary in a state where some counties have only one public health officer.
Referring to stimulus funds passed under both the Trump and Biden administrations, he said in an interview that “the entire healthcare system is being run by Covid Money.” “What are they going to do to take some of this temporary gain and turn it into a strategic shift for the state in terms of public health and mental health?”
The next day, at another community health center a few miles north, staff members prepare a strip of suboxone, a drug that could help opioid users stop taking drugs, as part of a program aimed at tackling a spiral fentanyl crisis in Lansing.
The clinic, which treats homeless residents of a nearby shelter, is still looking to hire more providers. More funding is needed for a new project to reduce drug overdoses and deaths, which increased during the epidemic, Ms Val said.
Further south, at the Forest Community Health Center, federal stimulus can be used to restructure dental practice facilities, which are in great demand. In a refugee resettlement city, the clinic treats thousands of refugees each year, including more than 300 who have recently returned from Afghanistan.
Federal relief was initially a challenge for the rapid use of the clinic, says Isabella Wakowski-Norris, who oversees it. However, federal and local support eventually helped the clinic carry protective equipment, an outdoor drive-through structure, and telehealth software, among other resources.
Mrs Wakowski-Norris said she hoped to soon hire a psychiatrist and a dietitian and create a clinic HIV treatment program.
“We are here, and we try our best,” he added. “But we can’t do what we want to do, because we’re not made with money.”