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6.28.18 – SPOKES Notes & Photos

SPOKES Notes written by Paul Arnold


The following four people were inducted into the club as new members:

Bill Gilbert – Oncore AV

Mark Hynes – Hope Network

Jon Propper – Park Church & First Congregational UCC of Lowell TJ Simmons – Shield Insurance Agency

Our keynote speaker for the day was Tasha Blackmon from Cherry Health. Cherry Health is a Federally qualified community care organization. It is a non-profit that provides a sliding scale fee for service to high needs patients.

Cherry Health is celebrating 30 years of service and has grown from one clinic to 25 sites throughout the State. It is Michigan’s largest organization of it’s type and employees 900 people including 209 clinicians.

64% of clients at Cherry Health are people of color. 82% of clients are below the federal poverty level. All clients are invoiced at least $15/visit, although even some of those payment can be deferred. Services include: vision care, dental, behavior health and general medical services in one integrated, holistic system. In 2017, they served 78,000 clients (800,000 visits). Their budget is $79,000,000 of which 45% is provided by Medicaid. Cherry Health has received many awards and also provides 260 medical students opportunities to learn their craft.

The five-year goal is to focus on chronic diseases, improve services for women and children, provide better care for mental health and substance abuse clients and to provide a more “vertical platform” with better technology.

Since employees at Cherry Health can be paid as much as $20,000/year less than traditional health care facilities, recruitment of talent is always a struggle. This struggle is partly overcome because of national scholarships for staff working in underserved communities. The students that work at Cherry Health during their studies are often the best recruits.

Cherry Health saw much of its growth in 2011 when it merged with two other organizations in the state. They also run a prisoner re-entry program that teaches life skills. Those going through the program are three times less likely to recidivate.

Cuts to ObamaCare would have Cherry Health looking to further diversify its income sources.


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