Fall 2015 Forum

Social Determinants of Health: The Front Line in the Battle to Improve Health

It is recognized that social determinants affect as much as 60% of the health status of society but receive scant resources compared to the medical care delivery system that impacts only 20% of the health status of society. As scientific studies repeatedly put emphasis on the importance of social determinants and evolving healthcare financing mechanisms increasingly reward health care systems that prevent encounters with the healthcare delivery system, the importance of acknowledging and acting on the social determinants of health is becoming widely accepted. The combination of the former Michigan Department of Community Health and Michigan Department of Human Services to become the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services was taken in recognition of the fact that we cannot presume to improve the health status of Michigan citizens if we separate an individual's medical needs from their social environment.









Gail Christopher

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Dr. Gail Christopher is vice president for policy and senior advisor at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. In this role, she serves on the president’s cabinet that provides overall direction and leadership for the foundation. Since joining the foundation in 2007, Gail has served as vice president for program strategy with responsibility for multiple areas of programming, including Racial Equity; Food, Health & Well-Being; Community Engagement and

Leadership; as well as place-based programming in New Orleans and New Mexico.

Gail is a nationally recognized leader in health policy, with particular expertise and experience in the issues related to social determinants of health, health inequities and public policy issues of concern to our nation’s future. Her distinguis

hed career and contributions to public service were honored in 1996 when she was elected as a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration. In 2011 she was awarded the “Change Agent Award” by the Schott Foundation for Public Education; in 2012 she was the recipient of the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs (AMCHP) John C. MacQueen Lecture Award for her innovation and leadership in the field of maternal and child health. Most recently in 2015 she was the recipient of the Terrance Keenan award for Grantmakers in Health. She is president of the board of the Trust for America’s Health.

Renee Branch Canady

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MPHI’s Board of Directors named Renée Branch Canady, PhD chief executive officer in early 2014. She is working to set the Institute’s strategic direction in the midst of unprecedented changes spurred by national health reform, as well as transformations in Michigan’s public health system. She is continuing to build a world-class infrastructure to support MPHI’s innovative program areas and projects.

Dr. Canady is a nationally recognized thought leader in health disparities and inequities, cultural competence, and social justice. She came to MPHI from the Ingham County Health Department, the state’s first public entity local health department and federally qualified health center, where she served as the appointed health officer. She is also an assistant professor at Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine’s Program for Public Health.

Dr. Canady earned her PhD in Medical Sociology from Michigan State University, a master’s degree in Public Administration from Western Michigan University, and a bachelor’s degree in Public Health Nutrition from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Susan Moran

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The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced the appointment of Susan Moran to the position of Senior Deputy Director for Population Health and Community Services.

Most recently, Ms. Moran served as a Principal with Health Management Associates, where she assisted public and private sector clients with projects involving healthcare policy, analysis, design and improvement. Prior to that, she worked with the Medical Services Administration within MDCH from 1998 to 2013 where she held a leadership role in the implementation of Medicaid managed care plans within the Michigan Medicaid Program. Her responsibilities included working with broad stakeholder groups such as Medicaid managed care organizations, administrative oversight of managed care contracting and procurement activities, performance measurement and quality improvement, and policy development.

Ms. Moran is responsible for leading Michigan’s core public health services through procurement and administrative oversight of the Bureau of Local Health and Administrative Services; Bureau of Family, Maternal and Child Health; Bureau of Disease Control, Prevention Epidemiology; Bureau of Laboratories; and Office of Public Health Preparedness. This position works in coordination with the Chief Medical Executive.    

Moran received her Masters of Public Health in 1985, and her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1980 from the University of Illinois. Moran currently lives in Williamston with her family.

Barbara Petee

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Barbara Petee is the Chief Advocacy and Government Relations Officer for ProMedica, a non-profit health system based in Toledo, Ohio serving northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan. With a specific emphasis on community relations and redevelopment, she is responsible for connecting organizations and agencies in collaborative work so that the mission of ProMedica – to ensure health and well-being for all – is achieved. With the health system’s commitment to addressing the social determinants of health, Ms. Petee’s work is currently focused on building awareness of and addressing hunger as a health issue, as well as the role the health care industry must play in helping ensure all individuals have access to affordable, healthy food.

Guided by Ms. Petee since 2006, ProMedica’s work in this area has been used as a model within the industry and hailed among other NGOs as groundbreaking for health systems. In October of this year, ProMedica and the AARP Foundation partnered to form The Root Cause Coalition, a national coalition focused on bringing a stronger and broader emphasis on addressing hunger as a public health issue. Many national, state and local organizations have joined The Coalition and together the group is developing a national framework to the issue through education, advocacy and research. Ms. Petee serves as the Executive Director for The Root Cause Coalition.

Ms. Petee has held numerous roles in her 29-year tenure with ProMedica, including Chief Communications and Public Affairs Officer. She serves on many local, regional and national boards and committees, including serving as a board member of the Alliance to End Hunger, an affiliate of Bread for the World, based in Washington D.C.

A graduate of Michigan State University, Ms. Petee has been married to her husband, Tim, for 25 years and they have two children.

Katie Mitchell

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Katie Mitchell is the project director for the Michigan Community Health Worker Alliance (MiCHWA). MiCHWA is a partner-driven coalition whose mission is to promote and sustain the integration of Community Health Workers (CHWs) into Michigan’s health and human service systems. She has worked with MiCHWA since its launch in August 2011, supporting the partnership by engaging CHWs and their stakeholders statewide as its sole full-time staff person. Ms. Mitchell oversees MiCHWA’s activities, including its Steering Committee, working groups and statewide initiatives related to CHW policy, financing, appreciation and workforce development. She also speaks frequently on the CHW workforce at the local, state and national levels.

In addition to work with MiCHWA, Ms. Mitchell serves on the Executive Council of the American Public Health Association’s Community Health Worker Section, participates in state and national advisory boards on CHW practice, and sits on the Legislative Social Policy Committee of the Michigan Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. Most recently, Ms. Mitchell was appointed to the American Public Health Association’s Action Board, an advisory board that engages APHA membership and elected officials in advocacy around the association’s legislative priorities. Ms. Mitchell teaches health care policies and services to graduate-level social work students at the University of Michigan and holds a Master of Social Work degree from the institution.

Mary Ellen Benzik

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As a family physician, Mary Ellen Benzik has over 20+ years clinical experience coupled with a decade of leadership in ambulatory care transformation to impact population health. She and her work have been recognized nationally by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), Patient Centered Primary Care Collaborative (PCPCC), and Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (ARHQ).

Dr. Benzik most recently served as the Chief Medical Officer for Trinity Health, the second largest Catholic Health System in the country, overseeing their employed physician network of 4000+ providers in 23 states. She was responsible for the development, implementation and measurement of care redesign, quality and safety initiatives to position the network for evolving population health environment since 2012.

Concurrent with her role at Trinity Health, she serves as the Associate Medical Director for the Michigan Primary Care Transformation Project (MICPT), with her focus related to primary care redesign. Prior to her role at Trinity Health, she was the Medical Director for Integrated Health Partners (PHO), evolving into an Accountable Care Organization during her tenure, with the creation of the Calhoun County Pathways to Health Initiative to address population health.

Accomplishments include:

  • Successful ambulatory redesign at significant scale measured against process and outcome metrics for quality and cost
  • Innovative program designs around measurement of patient experience
  • Significant financial success across large system change related to care management billing
  • Creation of ambulatory safety initiative at scale , integrating multiple funding and supporting partners

Dr. Benzik has her medical degree from Southern Illinois University. She completed her Family Medicine residency at McNeal Hospital in Berwyn IL. , serving as Chief Resident. She is currently enrolled at Thomas Jefferson University for a Masters in Population Health.

Reports and Resources

  1. HFA Report- Medicaid Will Need More GF To Meet Match
  2. House Fiscal- Healthy Michigan Could Cost $117M GF Next Budget
  3. Michigan Community Health Workers & Michigan: Outcomes - Opportunities to impact health & health disparities
  4. Community Health Workers 101 - Understanding the CHW
  5. Bringing Community Health Workers into the Mainstream of U.S. Health Care
  6. Strategies for Supporting Expanded Roles for Non-Clinicians on Primary Care Teams
  7. Addressing Chronic Disease through Community Health Workers - A Policy and Systems-Level Approach
  8.   MDHHS Winnable Battles - Social Determinants of Health