The Washtenaw Health Initiative was conceived in 2010, after the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Bob Laverty, the retired CEO of St. Joe’s Hospital in Ann Arbor and former regional leader of the Trinity Health System, was concerned about the impact of health care reform on Washtenaw County, and he identified the need for better coordination and integration of care. Bob talked with health system and community leaders to determine their interest in starting a community-based, voluntary planning effort to get ready for health reform in 2014, and improve service for the low-income, Medicaid and uninsured population in the county. During those formative discussions, Bob recommended CHRT as a facilitator for what was originally planned as a six-month effort
Eight years later, under CHRT’s guidance, the Washtenaw Health Initiative continues to thrive. Co-sponsored by Michigan Medicine and the Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, WHI now includes more than 200 individuals representing over 80 organizations, including the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, health plans, county government, community services, physicians, and safety net providers.
CHRT’s support includes facilitation of the WHI Steering Committee, whose 14 health and community leaders set the initiative’s overall strategic agenda. CHRT also houses WHI Project Manager Carrie Rheingans, who oversees the WHI’s numerous community-based projects, coordinates regular meetings of various subgroups, and manages WHI communications. CHRT staff provides additional support through data and policy analysis, work group project plan development and evaluation, and facilitating connections across multiple stakeholders.
To learn more about the WHI, visit their website: http://washtenawhealthinitiative.org/.