MARQUETTE — The Superior Health Foundation held their fall grants celebration on Wednesday night, where they awarded more than $500,000 in grants to different organizations from around the Upper Peninsula. Since the inception of the Superior Health Foundation in 2014, they’ve been able to award over 2.7 million dollars in grants to different organizations, including the 20-plus organizations that received grants tonight.

The goal of the foundation is to help organizations all across the U.P. with health-centered funding that will continue to improve the health of all the Yoopers they help.

“The end goal is to improve the health and well-being of the people in the Upper Peninsula,” said Superior Health Foundation Executive Director Jim LaJoie. “You know, the Superior Health Foundation is all about health education, about improving programming, about collaborating, about working together to find solutions to address health issues in the Upper Peninsula. And we feel we’ve come a long way with that, we’ve got a great collaborative spirit, and to be in a position to award this kind of grant funding says a lot about where we’ve come, and where we’re going.”

While there are many different types of organizations that apply for these grants every year, LaJoie said that this year’s group were particularly impressive.

“This is probably the best selection of grants that we’ve received in our history,” LaJoie said. “We started awarding grants back in the spring of 2014, and the quality of these applicants are just amazing. So being in position to award over a half a million dollars to the good folks of the U.P., is just a great place to be in.”

 The Superior Health Foundation awarded large grants to the following organizations:

  • War Memorial Hospital ($2,500): War Memorial Hospital in Sault Ste. Marie has a long-term care wing that is dedicated to residents who need extra time to heal from surgery or illness, for physical therapy, occupational and speech therapy, and most make long term care their home. For their wheelchair-bound residents, a vehicle is required to get out and about. For the last 10 years, long-term care staff has utilized a bus that was used from Eastern Upper Peninsula Transportation Authority, and the lift on it has broken. The funds will go to purchase a new wheelchair accessible vehicle. 
  • Regents of the University of Michigan ($5,250): Project Healthy Schools (PHS) is a University of Michigan and community-based intervention program that works to reduce childhood obesity and cardiovascular risk factors among middle school students. Since its inception in 2004, PHS has impacted 120 schools, 75,000 students, and 81 communities throughout the state of Michigan. For the 2019-2020 academic school year, PHS is expanding to Blesch Intermediate School in Menominee. This project will provide the curriculum to 100 6th graders, as well as provide health education events and school environmental changes that will impact all 378 students and 23 staff members.
  • Aspirus Iron Area Foundation ($6,533): More than 350,000 people in the United States suffer from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest each year and 12 percent survive. Seventy percent off out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in residential settings.” These statistics are why Aspirus is making “Take Heart” their fundraising focus for 2019, which will support three areas related to life support; a Lucas Compression device, Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ASLS) and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) Manikins, and community training for CPR. The Lucas compression device is a mechanical chest compression-decompression system that delivers consistent, high-quality closed chest compressions for extended periods, without limiting other invasive procedures. This funding will complete the purchase for the Lucas Compression Device.
  • Pathways ($7,829.80): Pathways Community Mental Health has provided mental health services to the most severely impacted community members since its inception in the early 1960’s. Pathways has expanded to provide services for mentally ill adults, developmentally delayed adults, developmentally delayed children and severely emotionally disturbed children. The Children’s Services team is establishing a play therapy room for children in need of mental health services in hopes of allowing children to communicate their thoughts and feelings in a way that traditional talk therapy does not allow. This project was fully funded by SHF.
  • Lake Superior Life Care and Hospice ($8,440.25): Lake Superior Life Care and Hospice in Marquette serves as a teaching site for many organizations, including the MSU-CHM medical students, UPHS Marquette Family Medical Residency Program, NMU Nursing, social work and pre-med students. With this grant, it will broaden its educational reach to locations across the U.P. by bringing in-person education for health professionals to selected locations, plan to provide video conference education to health professionals wherever they reside or work, support paid and unpaid caregivers with the tools they need to better care for their communities through education in public venues, and provide in-house CPR/AED training.  
  • Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan (11,517.84): Young children and adolescents are at serious risk of ill health effects related to vaping. Currently, there is a lack of education or any interventions to address the growing use of Electronic Delivery Systems (ENDS). To help combat this problem in its area, the Inter-Tribal Council will increase knowledge and awareness on the dangers of vaping and JUUL among students in the Hannahville Nah Tah Wahsh School Academy and Bark River Public Schools, parents and the broader community, and expand polices that limit the use of vaping, in hopes of reduced its usage and improve health outcomes.
  • Feeding America West Michigan ($15,000): Feeding America West Michigan has grown into an organization that distributes nearly 30 million pounds of food each year to more than 492,000 neighbors in 40 counties. Since being founded in 1981, it has brought Mobile Food Pantries to the U.P. for the first time and forged new partnerships with local schools. The U.P. Mobile Food Pantry program delivers food throughout the year to the nine easternmost counties of the U.P. as a means of addressing food insecurity. The six western UP counties are served by Western Upper Peninsula Food Bank, a partner distribution organization of Feeding America West Michigan. Their goal for 2020 is to hold 105 distinct Mobile Food Pantry distributions in these counties with the intent of serving 2-400 families each time.
  • MARESA ($20,000):  In 2017, the Superior Health Foundation provided a grant to MARESA to address alternative seating options for those students with special needs. This grant would provide additional funding for seven Upper Peninsula ISD’s/RESA. Each ISD/RESA provides a pre-determined order form to share with their local schools to see who would want alternative seating options and which type they would prefer.  The alternative seating funds could potentially serve up to 82 districts throughout the region. The number of additional seating alternatives will be similar to the original grant, which included two types of sit/stand desks, two types of stability ball chairs and three different wobble chairs.

   In the area of non-emergent medical transportation (NEMT), the SHF provided a large grant of $400,000 ($800,000 a year over two years) to the Michigan Public Transit Association, in partnership with the Michigan Transportation Connection, for the UP Connect Project. This evidenced-based model will use a collaborative, unified approach to tie in public transit agencies across the U.P. to work together to provide safe, reliable transportation for patients to get to and from non-emergent medical appointments.

  As part of the grant, $64,000 will go to Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly and $64,000 will be dispersed to War Memorial/Eastern U.P. Care. U.P. Health Care solutions is also involved in the project and will work closely on consultation/referral services on an in-kind basis:

  1. Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly – This will go toward the purchase of a lift-equipped van and to build out its program in its service area through marketing and education, along with additional communication hardware supplied by UP Connect.
  2. War Memorial Hospital – This will cover the actual transportation expansion costs for the Eastern Upper Peninsula Transportation Authority (EUPTA) and the Sault Ste. Marie Dial-A-Ride System that currently offers limited service to St. Ignace for its direct service population.  
  3. U.P. Healthcare Solutions – UPHCS will provide consultation services among the UPHCS Assistant Director, Grant Administrator and Administrative Support team. UP Connect is committed to working with UPHCS by accessing its expertise and consulting services on the overall project. UPHCS’s connectivity to U.P. hospitals, health systems and medical providers is key to the overall project.

The Superior Health Foundation will accept applications for its Spring 2019 grants cycle in mid-December, with a deadline set for Jan. 15, 2019. For more information on the Superior Health Foundation, click here, or call (906)225-6914.