Hospital Spotlight: Saint Joseph Mercy Health System Takes Person-centered Approach to Care

Posted on September 07, 2017

Hospital Spotlight graphicThe mission and values at Saint Joseph Mercy Health System are centered on those in the community. The system is focused on having a transforming, healing presence within each community it serves, as well as a strong commitment to serve those who are in need.

"Our mission really drives our overall culture,” said Elisabeth Vanderpool, director of community health, St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor and Livingston hospitals, which are part of Saint Joseph Mercy Health System.

Every three years, Saint Joseph Mercy Health System hospitals conduct a community-based health needs assessment to determine the specific needs of its communities. Overall, the assessment provides valuable insight, as well as an opportunity to improve the health and well-being of local residents.

“The community health needs assessment is conducted every three years as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requirements for not-for-profit hospitals,” said Vanderpool. “It’s been a really good tool for us and a cornerstone of health planning throughout the year.”

Outside hospital walls, Saint Joseph Mercy Health System staff and advocates have focused their efforts on caring for the poor and underserved, as well as being a transformative healing presence within seven counties in southeast Michigan, including Oakland, Macomb, Livingston, Lenawee, Jackson, Washtenaw and Wayne.

One hospital within the Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, has sought to improve the health and wellness of its communities in part by focusing on the following efforts:

  • Obesity and health-related issues: In partnership with health departments in Livingston and Washtenaw counties, Saint Joseph Mercy Health System provides the Prescription for Health Program, which focuses on increasing availability of healthy produce options while encouraging long-term healthy eating behaviors.
  • Behavioral health: Supports efforts to improve appropriate access to healthcare for individuals experiencing behavioral health issues, particularly those who are also experiencing housing insecurity.
  • Prenatal and preconception health: Provides Centering Pregnancy programming through the Academic Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinic, which focuses on group prenatal visits in an effort to improve birth outcomes and increase social support.

In 2010, it also created The Farm at St. Joe’s, one of the first hospital-based farms in the U.S., to serve the community by improving access to fresh food, nutrition education and therapy. The Farm at St. Joe's is located on the hospital campus and produces food year-round using hoop houses.

The Farm is also the site of the nation's first clinical accessible hoop house. The accessible hoop house was built in 2012 in partnership with the Eisenhower Center to provide an innovative space for patients who experienced traumatic brain injuries. Now the site is used for innovative programming, including agritherapy, vocational, recreational, occupational and physical therapies.

"The Farm is the embodiment of the hospital's commitment to keeping our population healthy," said Amanda Sweetman, Farm Manager. "In addition to growing food, the Farm grows a healthy community by educating and engaging people around what real food is and how we can support one another as we work to make a change toward better health. We're so pleased to be able to host everyone from elementary students to our elderly population.”

At the end of the day, it’s all about contribution at Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, not attribution.

“We’re so glad we can align our resources with other partners to make a deep impact in the community,” said Vanderpool. 

This article was featured in the new MHA Keystone Center Newsletter. To subscribe or to share a success story with other MHA members, please contact Ashley Sandborn, MHA Keystone Center communications specialist.


  • Hospital Spotlight: Saint Joseph Mercy Health System Takes Person-centered Approach to Care

Tags: MHA Keystone Center, Patient Safety and Quality, person- and family-centered care

Posted in: Patient Safety & Quality

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