Detroit’s latest model is one for health

Former Detroit Lions wide receiver Herman Moore talks about working with kids as a health, education and fitness ambassador in Michigan. (Meena Ganesan/The Washington Post)
Former Detroit Lions wide receiver Herman Moore at The Washington Post’s Health Beyond Health Care forum June 18. (Photo by Evelyn Hockstein/The Washington Post)

“How do we engage the youth? How do we get the youth more involved in physical fitness and activities that have been taken out of the school systems? We jump rope. I jump rope — even though sometimes I have a bad knee. Jumping rope doesn’t cost money. You don’t have to worry about whether you have a $250 pair of shoes, or whether economically you can afford it.

“We try to bring them nutritional information. We bring fresh produce to their environment. I came from a low-income family. I used to be one of those kids who pushed the broccoli to the side and off the plate. But when we introduce that to kids earlier, they won’t do that, as I did up into my 30s, still pushing food to the side. Now that’s my favorite.

“You can look at us as professional athletes. You can look at all the glamour and all the money, but let’s dial it back: This is your health.”

-Herman Moore, former NFL player and Detroit Lions Play 60 ambassador

Nicholas Mukhtar is the founder and CEO of Healthy Detroit, a public health organization aimed at creating healthy, active communities in Detroit. (Meena Ganesan/The Washington Post)
Nicholas Mukhtar at The Washington Post’s Health Beyond Health Care forum June 18.

“Living in a bankrupt city, you see all of the social determinants firsthand and how they affect health. You know what a lack of exercise does when you have over 300 abandoned parks in the city and you don’t have streetlights. Seeing all of these things led to the creation of Healthy Detroit.

“Through our HealthPark initiative, we’re trying to take city parks and convert them to one-stop shops for everything you need to live a healthy life. We’ve gotten Eastern Market to put up farm stands in the parks. We’ve gotten some of the hospitals and health-care networks to offer screenings and immunizations in a park setting. We have yoga, Zumba. We had an event with the Detroit Lions, a kickball tournament.

“I don’t really think that there’s anywhere in the country where you’ll see the private sector playing as large of a role as it plays in Detroit, obviously because of lack of public sector [funding]. So Detroit could kind of be a model for this because we are rebuilding.”

-Nicholas Mukhtar, founder and chief executive of Healthy Detroit

Chris Allen, CEO of the Detroit Wayne County Health Authority, says health organizations in Detroit are learning to collaborate -- moving the city's care system from a sick care model to one based on population health and wellness. (Meena Ganesan/The Washington Post)
Chris Allen at The Washington Post’s Health Beyond Health Care forum June 18.

“I believe that Detroit is an epicenter for change. When it works in our city, it will work in many cities around the United States. There’s an energy in our city today that I’ve not seen in a long time. We’re moving from a sick-care model to a total-population-health model. That requires skill sets around housing, environments, stress that people experience daily, food insecurity. The teaching health center program allows us to train 85 medical residents in the primary care specialities in community settings in areas that are medically underserved. There’s a 43 percent chance that they’ll stay in practice in that area. And the people who are living there will not have to use the emergency room for their primary-care access.

“There’s an energy around collaboration and integration of services. The day of an organization trying to do it all alone is gone.”

-Chris Allen, executive director of the Detroit Wayne County Health Authority

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Washington Post Forums · June 24, 2014