New Collaboration Offers Free Medical Care, Legal Advice

DETROIT, MI (September 5, 2013)—City Covenant Church and Covenant Community Care have partnered with two legal assistance organizations, a local health system, and several colleges to offer four-day health fairs and free legal services.

The Brightmoor Health Outreach Collaborative launched last week with its first fair and served several hundred people in one of the poorest communities in the city. The fairs will be offered quarterly.

The $268,000 project is supported by a three-year grant from the Jewish Fund and corporate donations from Comerica Charitable Foundation. It is the only collaboration of its kind in Michigan.

The church hosted the event. Covenant Community Care offered dental services, including exams, fillings, cleanings, and basic restorative work, as well as assistance with insurance enrollment, to at least 17 people a day.

Beaumont Health System provided adult and pediatric screenings and medical care. Legal Aid for Children and Families and the Legal Aid and Defender Association offered assistance with issues related to housing, disability, insurance, personal protection, guardianship, and record expungement. Student volunteers from the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine and Cooley Law School also participated.

Participants screened at the events were referred to local clinics for follow-up care, including the Covenant Community Care Clinics in Detroit and Royal Oak, the Newton Healthcare Clinic in Detroit, and the Outpatient Clinic at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak.

“It was an amazing experience,” said Semmeal Thomas, City Covenant’s pastor. The fair proved to be educational for Thomas, who has ministered in the community for years.

“I never realized just how great the need is for legal services,” he said. He had not realized that many city residents don’t receive the full amount of federal benefits to which they are entitled because they didn’t know how to fill out the forms correctly. The same was true for Social Security disability benefits.

Thomas hopes to set up a day offered through the church that would provide those services. The collaborative will sponsor another health fair in November, on a date yet to be set.

Brightmoor, a four-square mile area in northwest Detroit, was one of the locations served through Mission Detroit, which was held prior to the Covenant’s Annual Meeting in June. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 50 percent of its 12,836 residents have incomes below $25,000 annually and one-third live below $15,000.

The neighborhood has Detroit’s highest child poverty rate, and Brightmoor children have the highest number of emergency room visits for asthma-related complications in the metropolitan area.

Covenant Community Care is a ministry to the underserved sponsored by denominational churches in the Detroit area and Covenant Ministries of Benevolence. It offers integrated medical, dental, and behavioral health care to nearly 10,000 patients annually through its three locations.

“Covenant Community Care provides health care to those who need it most,” said Paul Propson, executive director of Covenant Community Care. “We are privileged to work with our partners to meet health care needs that our neighbors at the Brightmoor Alliance and City Covenant Church have identified as priorities for their residents.”

In 2010 Beaumont and Covenant Community Care partnered to open a federally qualified health center in Royal Oak. The center provides primary care for all ages, including obstetrics, pediatrics, and preventative care, such as wellness checks for children and immunizations. Beaumont also supports the Covenant Community Health Centers in Detroit with volunteers, specialist services, inpatient care, and lab testing.

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