Ruth Ellis Health and Wellness Center Announces Partnership with Henry Ford Health System

By |2018-01-15T19:08:05-05:00August 25th, 2016|Michigan, News|

REC Executive Director Jerry Peterson, REC Board Chair Elliott Broom, HFHS CEO Nancy Schlichting, HFHS Pediatrician Maureen Connolly, M.D., and REC Behavioral Health Director Monica Samson come together to announce their partnership. BTL photo: Kate Opalewski

Highland Park –LGBTQ youth and young adults living in one of the most medically-underserved cities in the state of Michigan will now have access to mental health, substance use disorder treatment and prevention, and primary healthcare.
This is possible as a result of the partnership between the in Highland Park and Henry Ford Health System announced on Aug. 23.
“For the last year, more than 500 LGBTQ youth have relied upon the Ruth Ellis Center in Highland Park for a hot meal, showers, supplies, peer suport, mental health services, and a safe place to be off the street and be themselves,” REC Executive Director Jerry Peterson said.
“Over the course of the last 17 years, we have provided those basic services, but we knew something was missing. Young people we serve talk to us about healthcare and what they expect when they go to their local healthcare providers…the kind of discrimination and ridicule they experience, an extreme lack of safety…to provide them with the kind of healthcare they need, culturally competent healthcare…we can’t do everything alone,” he said.
So REC connected with community partners to help guide the planning of the new Health and Wellness Center project.
“It makes sense to be involved,” HFHS CEO Nancy Schlichting, who is openly a lesbian. “We have a history, 100 years, of serving the needs of diverse communities.”
Schlichting drew attention to the many primary care services to be offered, including a focus on transgender medicine as a clinical area of interest.
“The importance of these services cannot be overestimated,” she said.
Schlichting said their goal is to address disparity issues in healthcare for LGBTQ youth, and the depression and anxiety caused by these issues including rejection, HIV stigma, isolation, the psychological effects of being displaced or homeless, and the mistrust of a system which lacks cultural competency training.
“It’s really an honor for us to be involved. It’s part of our mission, part of our value system. We really look forward to some great results as we continue this work,” she said.
A mobile outreach vehicle has already been in service every Monday since May 2016. The mobile clinic has allowed the HWC to introduce the HFHS team to young people while the HWC is under construction.
“The world is often unkind to LGBTQ adolescents and adults. We all know that,” HFHS Pediatrician Maureen Connolly, M.D. said. “Let’s provide services that are most relevant to their healthcare needs in a space where they already feel safe, in a way that makes them feel respected, valued and cared for. Walking in the door of a space like this is a huge step for them. Let’s celebrate that with them and support them on their journey toward health and wellness.”
Read a more in-depth story about the new Ruth Ellis Health and Wellness Center here. To contribute to the non-profit agency’s capital campaign, please contact please contact Mark Erwin-McCormick, REC Director of Development at 313-680-3359 or [email protected]

About the Author:

Kate Opalewski is BTL's features editor and has been since 2015. She has covered a variety of topics ranging from art, politics and community outreach. Recently, she was honored by the Detroit Police Department LGBT Advisory Board for her work for the local LGBTQIA community.