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    Joanne Lamar is a nurse manager for Henry Ford Hospital. She works in the hospital and sees first-hand the effects a bad economy can have on the hospital environment. The interview took place face to face and was audio recorded. We discussed multiple facets of the economy and the hospital.

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    Leah Brynaert (LB): Can you tell me some about Henry Ford? What exactly do you do there?
    Joanne Lamar (JL): Well, Henry Ford is an urban hospital that takes care of about seven hundred to eight hundred patients. There is a main hospital located in Detroit. Henry Ford also has many outreach programs. These include clinics. There are some of things located in other major cities as well as the suburbs. We are responsible for holding a school in Detroit. There is also a Tertiary clinic and some general practice units that associate themselves with Henry Ford. As for me, I am a nurse manager for the General Surgery unit. I wanted to become a nurse because I volunteered a lot when I was in school and liked it.
    LB: Pretty much everyone is seeing bad effects because of the economy. From your position in the hospital now, do you see any of the problems first hand?
    JL: Not everyone has state or federally funded insurance, so some people aren't unable to pay bills and such. But, there are more and more patients without any insurance at all. For those patients, the hospital staff has set up an emergency medical needs fund. Every year, we do fundraisers to help add to the fund. There are cookouts and such that can be fun and help patients at the same time.There are some clinics outside of the hospital that also have to deal with patients like this. In the hospital, we find it takes a lot more effort on our part to get people the things they need. We don't turn anybody away, so whoever comes to the hospital, we take care of. Even though we do have an emergency medical needs fund, it is sometimes difficult to get patients the services they need once they leave the hospital, especially if they don't have insurance.
    LB: That makes sense. It doesn't seem like many people have the money needed for much in-home care.
    JL: Right. And I think that puts more responsibility on the families and so forth. We actually talked about this in a meeting today. There are quite a few more patients that now go to these free clinics just by virtue of the fact that they don't have insurance. Now, does that mean that any of their care is any different? No. We just have to be a little more cognoscente of things. For example, if there's a choice between two medications and they do the same thing, if one is more expensive than the other, you might opt for the less expensive medication, just because the patient might only be able to spend a few dollars on a medication.
    LB: Do you ever interact with any of the doctors that take care of these patients that can't afford to pay their bills? Do they ever get really frustrated about it all?
    JL: Well Henry Ford doesn't really have any private physicians on staff. We have a physicians group. We have a whole clinic where physicians, residents, and interns see patients. They see patients will all kinds of insurance there.
    LB: So is it more a clinic where just anyone can come if they need to?
    JL: Well anyone can come to the emergency room and they're not turned away. If patients don't have insurance there are relief funds and other things in place to help out.
    LB: Do you think any of the publicity of the Henry Ford Hospital units is going down because of the economy?
    JL: Actually, we have leadership staff that has done a great job of being very thoughtful of how we handle things. And I think we have, especially over the last two years in particular with the economy being the way it is, been a little cautious about how we spend our money. But, we haven't lain off people and we've actually not lost money.
    LB: That's very interesting. A lot of other hospital groups are currently cutting employees and seem to be focusing on how to regain that lost money.
    JL: We have met out budget every year and I think the whole leadership group, especially the people at the top who make all those budgetary decisions have really set a nice vision for us. We're doing okay.
    LB: So I would take that as the publicity of the hospital is not going down. You don't seem to be having very many revenue problems. Is there any bad publicity in general about Henry Ford? Does it being in Detroit have any effect on the hospital?
    JL: Well Henry Ford also has hospitals in in Wyandot, though that one is just a medical building, in Cottage Hospital in Grosse Pointe. They have locations in Macomb, Warren, West Bloomfield. They also have other sites in Livonia, Fairlane, and Dearborn.
    LB: So it's pretty much all spread out around a variety of places.
    JL: Yes. And really there are a lot of places where people can go for service. Now, when people come down, they may go to one of the outer suburban hospitals for basic service. But if they need that's very high tech or kind of new or anything like that where there are a lot of specialists, they'll still come downtown. And there are A LOT of people that still come down town.
    LB: There are many stereotypes about Detroit and I was curious as to whether or not any of these rubbed off on the hospital.
    JL: Detroit in the past few years has not been extremely bad looking at all. If you come up Woodward, it's very nice. Michigan State actually has a building on Woodward. There are a lot of townhouses and things like that. And then you get a little ways away from the Fox Theater district and you start to really get into an artsy community. You have the Detroit Medical Center which will probably make a big economic impact that area when a new corporation takes over. They'll start building out shops and restaurants and new living arrangements. And as you come up Woodward you get to the university area. Then you get to Henry Ford and they'll be doing their own thing, as well. So I really that coming down that way in the near future will be very nice. Not to mention the fact that I am a reader for Detroit Public Schools and I was just recently on Jefferson going to Bell Isle for a picnic and really going out the way of Jefferson is very nice.
    LB: I was wondering what exactly you meant when I was told you would like to represent Henry Ford in state policy discussions.
    JL: I have volunteered to help with the policy network. It hasn't really been coming along as well as I want yet, but I'd like to represent Henry Ford to talk about some issues and things out there. One of the things I thought was interesting was the local legislation about energy drinks. I pulled some research on that. I really would like to help out with the policy making class.
    LB: Is there any else you would like to tell me?
    JL: Well, Henry Ford really does a lot of nice things. They have a lot of well-known people there. Did you know the robotics surgery came out of Henry Ford? The Chief of Surgery works with NASA on a lot of projects. And we have a lot of collaborative efforts between the nurses and physicians, pharmacists and physical therapists. It's not just the nurses working by themselves in a silo. We all work together on things like pain management or to help keeping patients who have many problems out of the hospital. Many of them come back all the time because they have so many issues. So we really work on quite a lot of projects together to help patients.

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    The Michigan Policy Network is a student-led public education and research program to report and organize news and information about the political process surrounding Michigan state policy issues. It is run out of the Department of Political Science at Michigan State University, with participation by students from the College of Social Science, the College of Communication, and James Madison College. 

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    Meet your Policy Fellow: Leah Brynaert

    Leah Brynaert is Health Care Fellow & Correspondent for the Michigan Policy Network. She is a first-year student in Lyman Briggs College at MSU.