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Free Narcan vending machines popping up around Michigan

Vending machines distributing the opioid-overdose-reversing-drug Narcan are being installed in strategic locations in an effort to reduce the number of overdoses in Michigan and throughout the country. Wayne State University’s Center for Behavioral Health and Justice has used grant money to place 15 vending machines across the state, in places like county jails, centers that provide services for drug users, and the university’s undergraduate library. “You could administer Narcan, and if you are wrong – and the person is not overdosing – there is no harm to the individual,” said Wayne State University Center for Behavioral Health and Justice program manager Matthew Costello. Costello speaks with Paul W. Smith about the benefits the machines have for the community, and how people can assess and decide to administer Narcan. “We’re very excited about this program…we know it’s a lifesaving program…,” said Costello. Some of the people who are at most of overdosing are those coming out of jail. “Narcan is just one approach that the CBHJ has to address this issue. Part of my responsibility is to set up assistance programming inside our county jails so those people who are opioid-involved coming into the jails can either continue or begin treatment for their opioid addiction while they’re incarcerated…” 
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Fighting flooding: Detroit community leaders and academic experts meet to tackle future issues

By Sabine Bickford Last June, many residents of Detroit faced massive structural, economic, and health issues when flooding caused by heavy rainfall overwhelmed many of the city’s aging and unrepaired storm and wastewater systems – particularly in East Side neighborhoods such as Jefferson Chalmers. Researchers say that a combination of inadequate local infrastructure and global climate change meant that neither the storm nor the damage should have come as too much of a surprise. “There have been several news articles out there saying ‘Well, we’re having 500-year events every year,’” says Wayne State University civil and environmental engineering department chair William Shuster. “But really it’s off the scale, and there’s no way to really characterize these rainfall events.” May resident have been facing similar struggles for years. A collaborative study by WSU, the University of Michigan, Eastside Community Network, and several other local organizations found that over 40% of Detroit households surveyed between 2012 and 2020 reported household flooding. “This is something that everybody’s been struggling with around the country, around the world,” said Shuster. “If you’ve got a city, you’re struggling with stormwater or wastewater.” In April, Shuster joined several other researchers for a roundtable discussion at the Wayne State campus on Detroit’s recent flooding and infrastructure issues. The conversation was a part of the University Research Corridor’s Hidden Health Threats tour that brought together researchers, policymakers, and other community leaders to discuss some of the most pressing environmental issues facing Michigan communities.
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No snacks or drinks, these vending machine dispense something that saves lives

By Georgea Kovanis The newest vending machines in Michigan aren’t dispensing pop or chips, they’re doling out Narcan, the medication that reverses opioid overdoses. Popping up at strategic locations, the machines represent the latest attempt to make Narcan more available to the public in an effort to quell the staggering number of overdoses in Michigan and across the nation. Using grant money, Wayne State University’s Center for Behavioral Health and Justice has placed 15 vending machines across the state, including the university’s undergraduate library, as well as centers that provide services for drug users. Eight of the machines are located in county jails – Monroe, Jackson, Manistee, Washtenaw, Delta, Kalamazoo, Wexford and Oakland county jails – for use by inmates who are being released after serving time or, in some cases, by jail visitors. Jails are especially important locations because research shows drug users leaving incarceration are at high risk of fatal overdoses. “The data is clear about overdose rates about people post incarceration,” said Matthew Costello, program manager at the Center for Behavioral Health and Justice. “It’s been proven time and time again in state and state and site and site. So we understand that vulnerability. To ignore that is criminal in its own right.”
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Michigan senior’s homes, livelihoods imperiled by intensifying floods

Elderly populations are some of the country’s most vulnerable – hampered by physical and health limitations, many survive on fixed incomes with no buffer in case of an emergency. Yet when their homes flood, seniors face thousands of dollars in repairs or face living in a toxic environment if they can’t afford them. Flooding has been an issue for close to half of Detroit households. Data collected through a survey and overseen by Wayne State University and the University of Michigan determined 43% of all Detroit households experienced flooding from 2012-2020.
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State was told of problems before man fell through Detroit bridge, nonprofit says

Advocates said they warned the state that the city’s freeway walkways were in need of repair, including a pedestrian bridge a Detroit man claims collapsed beneath him last week, causing him to fall toward the freeway below. The Spruce Street pedestrian bridge was the subject of at least one previous complaint about structural problems, according to the Detroit Greenways Coalition, a nonprofit that pushes for better hiking and biking paths in the city. A spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Transportation said she wasn’t aware of any previous issues with the span in Detroit. A group of Wayne State University students in 2016 visually inspected the then-71 pedestrian bridges in Detroit. Alex Hill, a professor at Wayne State’s Center for Urban Studies who also helps run the DETROITography blog about mapping different parts of the city, helped the students with data collection and then created an online map showing the problem bridges. The study found that the structural integrity of 33 bridges, or 46%, was compromised, with the structures in operation but with observable issues ranging from crumbling and disintegrating concrete to significantly rusted support beams, down signage and missing fencing or railing. Hill said the problems have likely gotten worse since the study was conducted. “The pedestrian bridges have not gotten better since then,” Hill said. “The only change I can see is that a number of the bridges have been torn down and haven’t been replaced – so potentially that means they’re safer because those bridges are no longer there.”  
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A window to them as people’: This Detroit teacher helps adult learners return to the classroom

By Ethan Bakuli  In recent years, the Detroit Public Schools Community District has prioritized restructuring its GED program. Adult educator Christian Young, a Wayne State University College of Education alumni, was named Adult Educator of the Year by the Michigan Reading Association. Young focuses on welcoming his adult students back to school, recognizing that for many of them, it is the first time they have stepped foot in a classroom in years. For Young, endearing students to class assignments and term papers starts with an autobiographical essay, an exercise that focuses on the student’s life. Not only does it allow him to gauge their writing skills, but it “gives me a window to them as people,” Young said. He added, “I continue to pay attention to them throughout the year and find plenty of ways to incorporate their likes and dreams into the lessons.” 
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Detroit studies plan to reduce the fiscal ‘penalty’ of residency

By Malachi Barrett  Detroit is looking at policy changes to ease the “unsustainable” tax burden it places on residents and to deter land speculators from snapping up and sitting on vacant property. Varying tax rates – higher for open land and lower for structures and improvements – could reduce tax bills for homeowners and accelerate the development of long-vacant properties, according to a study cited by the city as it investigates how to bring down residential property taxes. The “split-rate” system has attracted interest from city leaders for years, dating back to when Detroit filed for bankruptcy in 2013, and is getting a renewed push. Matthew Roling, an adjunct professor at Wayne State University with past experience at the Detroit Economic Growth Corp. and Rock Ventures, said he’s encouraged city officials are looking at innovative ways to prevent tax delinquency and foreclosure that is “burning out” neighborhoods. “I don’t know if it’s going to be a silver bullet,” Roling said. “The devil is in the details. There is a huge problem here and it’s that the property tax regime in the city of Detroit has failed the city. Let’s start with that.” 

Michigan Legacy Credit Union partners with Wayne State University Institute of Gerontology to fight financial exploitation of vulnerable adults

Michigan Legacy Credit Union (MLCU) has announced a pilot program with Wayne State University’s Institute of Gerontology to help protect its vulnerable members from financial exploitation. New members of the credit union age 50 and up are automatically offered the Financial Vulnerability Survey – and dozens have taken it thus far. Their scores are included in a database to help monitor these members’ accounts for abnormal financial activity. All MCLU credit union staff participated in multiple training sessions with Wayne State on the survey and learned how to identify and discuss cognitive risk factors before exploitation occurs. As a result of this training, staff members have already been able to address several cases of older financial exploitation. The Financial Vulnerability Survey (FVS) is one of several tools created by Peter Lichtenberg, director of the Institute of Gerontology, to combat fraud and financial exploitation in older adults. “The FVS is easy to understand and to complete,” Lichtenberg said. “It resonates with older people who are concerned about their financial decision making. Finances are often a taboo topic for discussion, yet people are hungry for information about their own financial vulnerability level.” 
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Bank of America funds electric vehicles and expansion for Wayne Health Mobile Unit

Wayne State University and Wayne Health, its affiliated physician practice group, have received a $900,000 grant from Bank of America to strengthen the Wayne Health Mobile Unit (WHMU) program. The innovative fleet of health delivery vehicles was established in partnership with Ford X in April 2020 to deliver COVID-19 testing, education, and vaccinations to underserved populations in Detroit. The support from Bank of America will provide two fully outfitted electric vehicles from Ford Motor Company that will bring preventative health care to Detroit workers in an environmentally sustainable way. The new electric Ford Transit vehicles will make regular site visits to an estimated 16-20 small- and medium-sized businesses in Detroit through partnerships between Wayne Health, the businesses, and their health insurance providers – offering comprehensive or preventative health care services to thousands of workers. Each mobile unit will function as a mobile clinical setting with an examination and consultation area and a telehealth component. The funding from Bank of America will support the purchase of the vehicles, along with three years of personnel, medical supplies and vehicle maintenance. “We are helping businesses help their workers and with these new electric vehicles, we are doing so with a small environmental impact,” said Phillip Levy, M.D., M.P.H., project lead for the WHMU program as well as Wayne Health’s chief innovation officer. “Healthier workers mean healthier business, which translates to greater economic health for the Detroit region. We are grateful to Bank of America for helping us move from crisis response to destination care, and for giving these businesses the capacity to offer high-quality, affordable health care for their workers.”  
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Wayne State University to host day for children with incarcerated parents

By Sarah Rahal  A community event is inviting children with an incarcerated parent to Wayne State University’s campus for a day of fun and exploration. Families of Future Warriors, the first-of-its-kind event at the university, will bring together families on April 23 for planetarium shows, science demonstrations, a tour of the Midtown campus and lunch at Towers Café. The event is designed for children ages 8-15. “Incarceration impacts millions of children across the country including those in metro Detroit,” said Stephanie Hartwell, dean of Wayne State University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “Oftentimes these children do not have access to family events.” Families of Future Warriors will showcase the university’s exhibits and aims to connect like-minded families. They’ll start at WSU’s Old Main and be welcomed by author Darryl Woods, a motivational speaker whose father was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to life in prison when Woods was a year old.  

Mobile Health Clinics reach vulnerable MI communities

By Lily Bohlke  An analysis of mobile health clinics launched in the Detroit metro area during the pandemic finds it’s a model that can deliver health screenings and health care and could be replicated in other communities. The Wayne Health Mobile Units are specially equipped vans with medical equipment and professionals. They began as testing sites for front-line workers in the early days of COVID-19, out of a partnership between Wayne State University and Ford Motor Co. Over time, they transitioned to what Dr. Phillip Levy, a professor of emergency medicine and assistant vice president for translational science and clinical research innovation at Wayne State and chief innovation officer for Wayne State University Physician Group, called a “vision of patient-centric, portable population health.” “If they have comorbidities and need doctors’ appointments or health care,” said Levy, who runs the program, “can we provide linkages around that? If they have food insecurity, can we help them get food access so that we can really be delivering on the holistic approaches that are needed in order to keep this person healthy and avoid complications?” Appointments are not necessary, and they don’t require insurance or identification – which can be barriers to care. Levy added that bringing care into communities also reduces the barriers of transportation time and cost. Beyond testing and treatment for COVID, Levy said the Mobile Health Units do blood screenings for high cholesterol, diabetes, and kidney disease, and provide prevention infrastructure – as well as blood pressure screenings for hypertension. Levy said they are also building out HIV screening and treatment, and have started working with the state’s needle-exchange program.  
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Restoring the Black communities highways wiped out

Like many things throughout Detroit’s history, the freeways that cut through the city were created without the full consent of Black residents – often displaced by such infrastructure projects. And the creation of highways didn’t just bring devastation to Black communities in Detroit, but to Black neighborhoods and communities across the U.S. It happened in Los Angeles and New Orleans, as well as other metropolitan cities in America. However, there is now a push to rectify the damages done to communities of color by freeway projects. The State of Michigan recently released its plan to tear down I-375 and create a new “urban boulevard.” Additionally, a Biden Administration spending bill pledged $20 billion for cities across the country to redevelop portions of highways that destroyed Black communities. Robert Boyle, professor of urban planning at Wayne State University, joined in a discussion on the project and said the people who suffered most from the creation of highways were the politically disenfranchised, particularly African Americans. “The past is really important today when people are discussing what to do with these neighborhoods that were severely divided by the technology of the 1950s and 60s,” Boyle said.  
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Is Michigan prepared for the next COVID-19 surge? Wastewater testing may help

By Keenan Smith  COVID-19 cases are well off their omicron surge, but in the last week, cases have plateaued. Some communities are seeing an uptick in cases and hospitalizations. Health leaders across the country are watching the omicron BA.2 variant, which is more transmissible than the original omicron strain. COVID-19 wastewater surveillance, which includes the collection and sampling of wastewater to watch for outbreaks, can play a key role in public health and predicting future surges. Researchers Jeffrey Ram, a professor of physiology at Wayne State University’s School of Medicine, and William Shuster, professor and chair of civil and environmental engineering at Wayne State University’s College of Engineering, have been testing specimens from a sewer line 20 feet below the street in Midtown. “The signal in wastewater gives a couple of days, maybe even up to two weeks advance warning,” said Ram. Shuster added, “That gives us some time to get out to our public health authorities.”  
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DOJ recognizes Wayne Law for increasing housing stability

Last week, the White House and the Department of Justice convened 99 law schools who responded to the Attorney General’s Call to Action to the Legal Profession to address the housing and eviction crisis. Ninety-nine law schools in 35 states and Puerto Rico immediately committed their law schools to help prevent evictions. In just a few months, law students across the country dedicated nearly 81,000 hours to provide legal assistance to households and communities across the country. 
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Opinion: We're infectious disease specialists at WSU. What COVID-19 has taught us so far

As co-directors of the Wayne State University Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases, Marcus Zervos, M.D., Teena Chopra, M.D., M.P.H., Paul Kilgore, M.D., M.P.H., and Matthew Seeger, Ph.D, share their perspectives on lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. The experts discuss parallels between previous pandemics, exacerbated health disparities, a lack of response and resource coordination, the dangers of misinformation, and ways the public health system can better prepare for future pandemics. Together, the co-directors assert that if we learn from this pandemic, our post-COVID-19 world will be more resilient, health disparities will be reduced, and our public health system will become stronger.  
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Report says some 2020 Census undercounted Detroit by 8%, costing city millions in funding

City leaders in Detroit say they’ve got proof that the city was severely undercounted in the 2020 Census, meaning Detroit likely missed out on tens of millions of dollars in future federal funding. Mayor Mike Duggan and researchers with Wayne State University and the University of Michigan outlined evidence during a press conference Thursday suggesting the city may have been undercounted by about 8%. The report used data from the United States Postal Service and a Wayne State audit of 10 block groups in the city shows the census may have missed about 964 residents in those areas alone.  
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Youth-led groups reach out to Oxford students to ‘grieve, heal, grow’

By Hani Barghouthi  Gun violence survivors, educators and students gathered on Sunday at a community healing event in downtown Oxford. The event, which was focused on offering mental health resources and resources to the Oxford community and others who were affected by the shooting, was organized by the Michigan chapter of March for Our Lives, a youth-led organization dedicated to gun violence prevention, and the Detroit Area Youth Uniting Michigan, a youth-led social and economic justice organization. Some the support comes from the Mental Health and Wellness Center and the Family and Mental Wellness Lab at Wayne State University, which has been providing in-person and telehealth therapeutic services to people in Metro Detroit who have been affected by the Oxford High shooting. “The kids we’ve spoken to are having a very wide range of feelings, and their feelings are changing all the time,” said Dr. Erika Bockneck, a professor of educational psychology at Wayne State University. “They’re experiencing grief and loss, then the next day they might be feeling really angry. And then there are some days where they’re kids, and I think they’re just not sure what to feel.” In addition to direct counseling, Bocknek and other counselors at the center are working with the Mala Child and Family Institute in Plymouth to develop a free text service where they send out messages of support and information about trauma response.  
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What Americans hear about social justice at church - and what they do about it

By R. Khari Brown, assoicate professor of sociology, and Ronald Brown, associate professor of political science.  On June 5, 2020, it had been just over a week since a white Minnesota police officer, Derek Chauvin, killed George Floyd, an unarmed, African American man. Protests were underway outside Central United Methodist Church, an interracial church in downtown Detroit with a long history of activism on civil rights, peace, immigrant rights and poverty issues. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the church was no longer holding in-person worship services. But anyone walking into its sanctuary that day would have seen long red flags behind the pastor’s lectern, displaying the words “peace” and “love.” A banner reading “Michigan Says No! To War” hung alongside pictures of civil rights icons Fannie Lou Hamer and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., as well as labor-rights activist Cesar Chavez. In line with her church’s activist tradition, senior pastor Jill Hardt Zundell stood outside the building and preached about her church’s commitment to eradicating anti-Black racism to her congregants and all that passed by.
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Jail vending machine provides naloxone to discharged inmates

A jail in southeastern Michigan has a vending machine that dispenses kits designed to reverse the effects of opioid overdoses. Naloxone nasal rescue kits are available free of charge to inmates being discharged from the Oakland County Jail in Pontiac. As part of the release process, deputies advise discharged inmates they can take the kits for personal use or for a family member who may be dependent on opioids. The narcan project is through Wayne State University’s School of Social Work and its Center for Behavioral Health and Justice.   
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Archeologists dug up MOCAD site: Here's what they found

The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit partnered with Wayne State University's anthropology department to conduct an excavation on the museum's grounds as part of an ongoing art exhibit entitled "All Monsters" by Chicago native Jan Tichy. Random household items, including pieces of a clay pot and an old medicine bottle, were unearthed by Wayne State students and will be transformed into works of art. The exhibit is located in artist Mike Kelley's "Mobile Homestead," a full-scale replica of Kelley's 1950's ranch-style home in Detroit, which sits on a plot adjacent to the archeological site that was once a women's prison and a place that housed homeless women and children. Wayne State University professor of anthropology Krysta Ryzewski said the team wanted to incorporate the land's history into the exhibit. "He (Tichy) though that archaeology might be a really interesting way to connect with the art that's on display in his part of the homestead," she said. "So we thought it might be a way to dig underground and bring up the stories of this property and the people who used to live here and utilize the space and many of those people are not known to Detroit's history...We are literally excavating other histories that have been rendered inaccessible because of the changes to the landscape and Detroit over time."