The University Record, May 20, 1998

Kellogg grant funds nurse-managed primary care consortium

By Amy Reyes
News and Information Services

Kellenberg at the Maple Road centerNurse practitioners in Michigan have a new opportunity to demonstrate their vital role in communities across the state.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation awarded the School of Nursing and its four partners $4.4 million for a project designed to offer quality health care to communities, inform public policy and enhance the education of students.

The four-year project, called the Michigan Academic Consortium: Nurse Managed Primary Care, is a partnership of the U-M and the schools of nursing at Michigan State, Grand Valley State and Wayne State universities. Michigan Public Health Institute (MPHI), a nonprofit health policy organization of the Michigan Department of Community Health, will administer the grant and evaluate the program.

The project enables the four universities to work together sharing resources to educate nurse practitioner students to deliver quality and cost-effective primary care. The universities operate a total of eight nurse-operated health care centers in their respective communities. Some centers are located in medically underserved neighborhoods.

"We are pleased to have the opportunity to work collaboratively on this project with our colleagues from universities across the state," said School of Nursing Dean Ada Sue Hinshaw. "One of the advantages this support allows is the opportunity to shape health promotion programs in each community based on the needs of that community."

In addition to enhancing the education of graduate students in all four nurse practitioner programs, the grant will fund a distance-learning educational program and provide Internet services for students.

Another portion will be used to create a common database among all the nurse-operated health care centers. The database will record information about the care given to patients at each of the centers and the outcome and cost of that care.

"It's a very exciting project--the fact that the four universities are working together to meet the health care needs of Michigan's underserved population. Together, we can keep people healthier and provide quality, cost-effective care, which is what advanced practice nursing is all about,'' said Joanne Pohl, project director and U-M assistant professor of nursing.

Despite research that shows nurse practitioners provide high quality and cost-effective care, some health insurance companies are reluctant to reimburse nurse practitioners for their services. Some health insurance companies require a physician be present while the nurses administer the care. At the conclusion of the project, the consortium will share its findings with health policy makers.

PohlNurse-operated health care centers serve a vital role in communities. They tend to be located in urban low-income areas, senior citizen public housing facilities and churches. These are generally medically underserved areas where health care, if it's available, is financially out of reach for some residents.

The School of Nursing opened its first nurse-operated health care center in 1992--the North Campus Family Health Services on Bishop Street. In May 1997, it opened a second, the Community Family Health Center on North Maple Road. Since 1992, there have been more than 12,000 visits at the combined sites. The U-M, in conjunction with Wayne State University, plans to open a center at Tried Stone Baptist Church in Detroit this fall.

In Michigan, there are 3,200 nurse practitioners who see 250,000 patients a year.

The W. K. Kellogg Foundation was established in 1930 to empower people "to improve their quality of life and that of future generations. Its programming activities center around the common visions of a world in which each person has a sense of worth; accepts responsibility for self, family, community and societal well-being.

"To achieve the greatest impact, the Foundation targets its grants toward specific focal points or areas. These include health, food systems and rural development; youth and education and higher education; and philanthropy and volunteerism."