Henry Ford Health System Receives $266,000 Grant from BET COVID-19 Relief Event Through United Way for Southeastern Michigan

June 4, 2020

Funds to support outreach, education, safety regarding COVID-19

DETROIT – Henry Ford Health System has received $266,000 in funding following Saving Our Selves: A BET COVID-19 Relief Effort, which will support relief programs in the City of Detroit, where the African American population has been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. 

Through a multi-pronged approach, Henry Ford’s Office of Community Health, Equity & Wellness will execute a rapid-response model of community outreach to address African American health disparities exacerbated by COVID-19. At Your Door: Food & More (AYD, pronounced “aid”) is an innovative project aimed at promoting health and well-being, mitigating chronic disease, enhancing trust and building community engagement among those with the worst COVID-19-related outcomes. Using a strategy to minimize the amount of possible exposure and time out of the house for vulnerable populations, AYD will provide contact-free deliveries of food boxes, PPE, diapers, culturally informed education, and equipment for virtual support.  

AYD builds on three of Henry Ford’s most successful community programs: 1) Fresh Prescription; 2) Women-Inspired Neighborhood (WIN) Network: Detroit; and 3) Knock & Check. Along with the deliveries, participants will receive culturally relevant nutrition information and recipes, and virtual chef-led events. WIN Network, which traditionally provides in-person prenatal group visits for primarily African American women who experience high rates of maternal and infant death, will convert to virtual group prenatal sessions. Blood pressure cuffs and doppler machines will be provided so that women can monitor their health at home, supported by certified nurse midwives. Senior citizens’ social isolation will be addressed through phone visits with community health workers. Lastly, team members will identify community assets and virtually convene networks of community partners as advisors, to be most responsive to future needs, including ever-changing COVID-related information. 

BET established the BET COVID-19 Relief Fund in partnership with United Way Worldwide, with 100 percent of proceeds divided among select local United Ways in Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, New Orleans, and New York City. The funds will be disbursed to their community partners, including those providing direct services and supports to individuals and families impacted by the pandemic. 

“We are immensely grateful to BET and United Way for Southeastern Michigan for this opportunity to take three proven programs to reduce health disparities and transform their delivery for the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Kimberlydawn Wisdom, M.D., senior vice president of community health & equity and chief wellness & diversity officer at Henry Ford Health System. “Further, given the times, we believe AYD will provide a culturally relevant bridge to help restore trust in systems of care.” 

Recent reports show that the health outcomes and economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are disproportionately impacting the African American community. Mortality rates for COVID-19 are higher for African Americans; financial instability is being worsened by layoffs and closures in sectors like retail, hospitality and healthcare, where African American workers are over-represented; and low-income African American students face a greater risk of learning loss and inadequate access to nutritious food with massive school closures.

“We are glad to be able to continue to support the work of Henry Ford Health System they help families greatly impacted by the Coronavirus. We are thankful to BET for launching this effort,” said Dr. Darienne Hudson, president and CEO of United Way for Southeastern Michigan. “While no one is exempt from COVID-19, we know that large urban centers like Detroit are feeling the brunt of its impact. The economic and racial disparities that exist here mean even more people are having trouble meeting their basic needs.”

“The support of the United Way for Southeastern Michigan and BET will have an incredible impact on the Detroit community, which was one of the hardest hit by COVID-19 in the country,” said Mary Jane Vogt, senior vice president and chief development officer at Henry Ford Health System. “At this time when we’re experiencing challenges we’ve never encountered before, the generosity of organizations like United Way for Southeastern Michigan and BET is helping Detroit recover and emerge even stronger from this crisis.”

Those interested in helping support Henry Ford’s COVID-19 relief efforts may do so by contributing to the Henry Ford COVID-19 Emergency Needs Fund

Anyone who would like to donate to the BET COVID-19 Relief Fund can go to www.BET.com or text “BETGives” to 51555. Those who would like to donate directly to United Way for Southeastern Michigan can visit www.UnitedWaySEM.org/COVID or text “PROTECT” to 50555. 


MEDIA CONTACT: Jeff Adkins / (586) 307-2027 / jadkins6@hfhs.org


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