Henry Ford Health System, MSU Partner to Address Health Disparities, Improve Research

Detroit-based Henry Ford Health System and East Lansing’s Michigan State University have cemented a 30-year partnership that will focus on providing health care for all Michigan residents and boost scientific discovery and education for providers and patients.
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Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit
As part of their partnership, Henry Ford Health System and MSU are planning the development of a research campus that will be housed within Henry Ford’s Detroit footprint. Pictured is Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. // File photo

Detroit-based Henry Ford Health System and East Lansing’s Michigan State University have cemented a 30-year partnership that will focus on providing health care for all Michigan residents and boost scientific discovery and education for providers and patients.

The agreement comes with the planned development of a regional campus, located in the existing Henry Ford Detroit Campus footprint. The institutions will create a new Health Sciences Center dedicated to research. It will tap the expertise of health care providers, scientists, those from academia, and public health practitioners.

The organizations, which signed a letter of intent to expand their partnership seven months ago, this week will begin work to align efforts across key departments and programs to achieve health care and educational goals while addressing social issues that impact health outcomes.

Key features of the agreement include fostering research, providing best-in-class cancer care, interprofessional training, increasing diversity among the next generation of health care professionals, and addressing the needs of traditionally underserved communities. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are core components of the partnership.

“We believe there is an opportunity to create progressive education models rooted in early collaboration across disciplines, such as primary care, nursing, and public health, that will prepare students for the integrated care models demanded in practice today and in the future,” says Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr., president of MSU.

“… Moving the dial on society’s most intractable health challenges requires the broadest of expertise, the education of whom is the purpose for a land grant institution like MSU. The scale of Henry Ford Health System provides innumerable venues for collaboration and innovation.”

A new urban-based public health program is planned and will focus on education and research as well as provide a platform to collaborate with other institutions.

“Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Henry Ford Health System and Michigan State University recognized that collaboration could make a critical impact on health care in our state and across the country,” says Wright L. Lassiter, president and CEO of Henry Ford Health System. “Our two institutions have a shared commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, which means addressing and eliminating historic inequities in health care across our state. If we bring additional focus to traditionally marginalized communities, we believe that will lead to improved clinical outcomes for all.”

The partnership also is designed to accelerate recruitment and retention of clinical and academic talent.

The Henry Ford Cancer Institute will also expand research and clinical applications through the partnership. It plans to focus on treatment, prevention, and screening to offer improvements in population health, fuel research, and close the gap in outcomes for cancer patients who face additional challenges due to their race, ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status.

“Our goal is a National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation within five to seven years, making us one of three institutions in Michigan (the two current systems are The Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit and the University of Michigan Rogel Canter Center in Ann Arbor) recognized by the federal government for cutting-edge research and innovative cancer treatments,” says Dr. Adnan Munkarah, executive vice president and chief clinical officer of Henry Ford Health System.

“We are coordinating our clinical activities so that we can expand our scope of services and access to care while improving the quality and efficiency of the patient experience across specialties and geography.”

The organizations plan to focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion to eliminate health disparities, address social determinants of health, and remove barriers to care and opportunities for medical education.

Henry Ford Health System was founded in 1915 and has five hospitals, three behavioral health facilities, a health plan, and more than 250 care sites.

MSU offers more than 200 programs of study in 17 degree-granting colleges.

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