In the news

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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Family travels to Chicago to find infant formula amid nationwide shortages

By Kiara Hay  A nationwide infant formula shortage has families in metro Detroit struggling to feed their babies. Empty shelves and signs rationing out supplies is a sight many have not seen since the early days of the pandemic. But moms across metro Detroit say it’s a constant crisis. Moms are struggling to find sensitive-stomach and lactose-free formulas, and some are relying on limited doctors’ samples or cans brought from relatives out-of-state. “We had a bad situation with access to baby formula before, and the recall by Abbott only made it worse,” said Kevin Ketels, an associate professor at the Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University. Ketels says a massive federal recall earlier in the year is one of the causes for the empty shelves, with 31% of formula products being out of stock across the country. According to Ketels, Abbott has begun airlifting formula products to the states to fill the gap, and other companies are looking at ways to stretch the supply. But he said the solution could take weeks, not months. “Hopefully, the company can ramp up production quickly and we can avoid the severe shortages that we have right now, but we ill not be able to escape the general shortages just because of the pandemic.” 
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Inflation hits 40-year high, but it’s not necessarily all bad news

By Kim Russell  The Consumer Price Index is out for March, putting the inflation we are seeing into numbers. First, the bad news: If you are one of the 1% of Michiganders who use fuel oil to heat your home, turn down your thermostat or you will be spending 70.1% more than a year ago. The cost of filling up your gas tank in March was 48% more than a year ago, and food prices are up about 8.8%. Overall, in the last year, the all items index increased 8.5%, the largest spike since 1981. “It is a little bit scary,” said professor Kevin D. Cotter, Wayne State University department of economics chair. Cotter says while there is reason to be concerned, it is not all bad news. “Food and energy costs have been bumping up largely because of the war and they almost certainly are going to come back down,” said Cotter. If you exclude historically volatile food and energy prices, inflation has moderated. “If you look at, for example, medical costs, those go up but they don’t go down, so the fact those aren’t going up so much is good news. The things that are going up the most are the things that go down just as easily,” said Cotter. Cotter says the pandemic continues to cause inflation, but there is also reason for some optimism that the Federal Reserve might be able to manage inflation without causing a recession. “The things that would lead to a recession, a drop in consumer demand or job losses, we are seeing the opposite right now,” Cotter said.  
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From warheads to warmups: Detroit Pistons assistant equipment manager goes against the norms

By Lauren Williams  Jenae Lodewky is one of the few female assistant equipment managers in the NBA. The 22-year-old Bay City native started with the Pistons as an intern in the human resources department last year, but found herself working as a team attendant after strict COVID testing protocols created staffing shortages for the team. She has earned the respect of the players and coaches, whose needs she sometimes anticipates without a word. Lodewyk is finishing up her senior year at the Mike Ilitch School of Business. ”I’m so fortunate to be with the Pistons because they’re an organization that believes in hiring women,” Lodewyk said. “So, I have role models. I have women who are 10 years older than me, 20 years older than me so on, and I’ve very lucky for that. When it comes to equipment, I think it makes me just value my community that much more. But even then, being the only woman in equipment with the Pistons, I’ve very grateful to have Kong and Black (Mahorn) and John (Narra) who believe that women belong in the locker room.” 

How you think about physical pain can make it worse

By Meryl Davids Landau Figures suggest a form of chronic pain afflicts between a third and half of the UK population, and in the U.S., the figure is 20%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The devastating consequences of addiction to opioid painkillers have motivated researchers to look for innovative treatments beyond new drugs. One promising area of new research is looking at the way “catastrophizing” about pain – thinking it will never get better, that it’s worse than ever, or that it will ruin your life – plays a central role in whether these predictions come true. Pain doctors who do recognize the importance of quelling catastrophizing generally refer patients for cognitive behavioral therapy, says Mark Lumley, a psychology professor at Wayne State University. This psychological practice is often used to treat depression, eating disorders, and even PTSD, Lumley says.  
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LaunchDETROIT marks 10 years helping Detroit area entrepreneurs

By Margaret Blohm  LaunchDETROIT, the Rotary-powered program established 10 years ago to help entrepreneurs in under-resourced areas of Detroit, has made significant strides. The program has provided business education, mentoring and networking opportunities to 83 entrepreneurs as well as micro-loans of up to $2,500 each to 39 qualifying participants. Loans have gone to businesses in Dearborn, Dearborn Heights and many Downriver communities as well as other cities in the Detroit Metro region. Wayne State University’s Mike Ilitch School of Business and International Strategic Management partnered to provide additional business education resources customized to better serve participating entrepreneur’s business needs.  
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Oklahoma state officials resist Supreme Court ruling affirming tribal authority over American Indian country

By Kirsten Matoy Carlson  It’s unusual for someone to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit one of its decisions. It’s very rare for that to happen almost immediately after the ruling was issued. But in the two years since the court’s ruling in a key case about Native American rights, the state of Oklahoma has made that request more than 40 times. State officials have also repeatedly refused to cooperate with tribal leaders to comply with the ruling, issued in 2020 and known as McGirt vs. Oklahoma. Local governments, however, continue to cooperate with the tribes and show how the ruling could actually help build connections between the tribal governments and their neighbors. In the McGirt ruling, the Supreme Court held that much of eastern Oklahoma is Indian country under the terms of an 1833 treaty between the U.S. government and the Muscogee Creek Nation. Based on that treaty and an 1885 federal law, the ruling effectively means that the state of Oklahoma cannot prosecute crimes committed by or against American Indians there. Federal and tribal officials are the only ones who can pursue these cases.
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COVID-19: Mental health telemedicine was off to a slow start – then the pandemic happened

By Arash Javanbakht  In the spring of 2020, COVID-19 brought rising levels of stress, anxiety and depression. But stay-at-home orders and a national emergency prompted many psychiatric and psychotherapy offices to shut down and cancel in-person appointments. The country needed a robust – and fast – transition to mental health telemedicine. And the pandemic turned out to be just the thing to make it happen. I was skeptical of telemedicine in 2015 when I began working at Wayne State University as a psychiatrist and researcher in the medical school. At that time, the department of psychiatry and its affiliated clinics were using telemedicine in primary and emergency care and for substance use recovery. But the idea of seeing patients via video had been around since long before then. In 1973, a team of behavioral scientists studied the two-way interactive television system Massachusetts General Hospital started using in 1969. The hospital provided mental health evaluations at an off-site medical station at Logan International Airport in Boston and a Veterans Affairs hospital outside the city. “The system has proven to be feasible and acceptable to individuals and institutions in the community, providing psychiatric skills on a much wider scale, in a more accessible way, and faster than any other system,” researchers wrote in their analysis. 
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Experts compare Amazon’s first union to 1937 Flint GM strike

By Jake Neher  Last week, Amazon warehouse workers on Staten Island in New York came away with one of the biggest organized labor victories in the last century. Some experts are comparing their effort to the 1937 Flint General Motors strike that helped catapult America’s labor movement. More than 5,000 workers voted in the election to form the company’s first-ever union. The new Amazon Labor Union (ALU) won by about 500 votes. That’s despite a massive anti-union campaign by Amazon. Marick Masters is chair of the Department of Finance and chair of the Department of Accounting at Wayne State University’s Mike Ilitch School of Business, as well as an expert on organized labor. He says the comparison to the Flint sit-down strike of 1937 is appropriate. “I think it reflects that there is a large, untapped desire for worker participation,” says Masters. “I think it’s a long way ahead before labor can capture the glory of the past, but this is certainly a significant step in that direction.” 
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Push to improve conditions for Michigan's incarcerated prompts research, proposals for new facility

By Erin Marie Miller Over 30 years ago, Dr. Sheryl Kubiak made an observation that would alter the course of her career forever and, eventually, impact the future of Michigan’s incarcerated. After developing and operating a long-term residential re-entry program for pregnant women addicted to crack cocaine in Detroit for nearly seven years, Kubiak noticed many of the women she was working with struggled with unacknowledged behavioral issues, keeping them locked in a cycle that was often difficult to break free from. “I found out then that the vast majority of people who are coming out into the community (from corrections facilities), or are involved in the criminal/legal system, have behavioral health issues that they are trying to find their way through. What happens is, a lot of times, that behavior gets misinterpreted as ‘bad behavior’ or ‘illegal behavior,' and then they get wrapped up in a system they can't get out of,” Kubiak says. Now the Dean of the Wayne State University School of Social Work, Kubiak is the founding director of the Center for Behavioral Health and Justice (CBHJ) — an initiative that provides research, evaluations, training and support to local communities, behavioral health, and law enforcement agencies, and other organizations in Michigan related to jail diversion, re-entry, crisis response and more.
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Sen. Debbie Stabenow among those confirming Ketanji Brown Jackson to U.S. Supreme Court

By Hilary Golston  Over four days of Senate hearings last month, Ketanji Brown Jackson spoke of her parents struggles through racial segregation and says her path was clearer than theirs as a black American after the enactment of civil rights laws. Now, she's officially been confirmed as the third Black Supreme Court Justice, the seventh woman, and the first Black woman to hold the distinguished position. Wayne State University Law Professor Robert Sedler said the partisanship has been going on for almost 20 years, when it comes to selecting judges for the Supreme Court. "The thing that has been troubling to me. Is that she. It's highly qualified to sit on the Supreme Court and in point of fact, so have been all the nominees since 2005 when George W. Bush dominated chief Justice Roberts and Samuel Alito. What has happened and both parties are guilty of this is that they have politicized the confirmation process," Sedler said. 
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UAW reports membership drop for 2021; expenses tied to corruption scandal continue

By Jordyn Grzelewski  The United Auto Workers kicked off 2022 with a full agenda: a constitutional convention, campaigns to organize new members amid the auto industry's transition to electric vehicles, a growing unionization movement in higher education, and continued efforts to restore the union's reputation amid a years-long corruption probe. Also looming are direct elections of international officers following a historic referendum to change the way the union picks its top leaders, and a new round of national contract talks with the Detroit Three automakers. Still, even as the union works to put the corruption scandal behind it, related expenses continued to add up in last year, according to a new federal filing by the union, with new legal expenditures for some of the UAW's top leaders, additional payments to an outside law firm hired to oversee the union's response to the investigation, and payments tied to the federal monitor charged with overseeing the union. “It’s hard to say what the full costs of this are, but it’s more than just the dollar cost," said Marick Masters, a professor at Wayne State University's Mike Ilitch School of Business. “You have to ask yourself: how much of an improvement are we actually making in the operation of the union?” 
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Program aimed at spurring immigrant-founded startups launches at Wayne State

Wayne State University has officially launched a national effort aimed at bringing more immigrant startup founders to Southeast Michigan. The Detroit-based university said it has partnered with Global Detroit, part of the Massachusetts-based Global Entrepreneur-in-Residence (Global EIR) initiative, aimed at placing foreign-born startup founders at local universities to teach and mentor. The founders, in turn, become eligible for an H-1B visa, enabling them to launch and grow their companies in metro Detroit. As part of the launch at Wayne State, German immigrant and tech startup founder Simon Forster has been named as the first Global Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the university. “We’re excited to pair Wayne State’s leadership in advancing new technologies with Global EIR’s innovative approach to bringing and keeping international talent in Michigan,” said Lindsay Klee, Wayne State’s senior director of technology commercialization. “We’re equally excited to provide our students and faculty the opportunity to interact and learn from these global entrepreneurs.”  
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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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Survived the pandemic? Thank a scientist

By Herbert Smitherman, Jr. Dr. Herbert Smitherman, Jr., professor at the Wayne State University School of Medicine and president and CEO of Health Centers Detroit Foundation, wrote an opinion piece celebrating the science that allowed us to fight back against a pandemic. “…we are the only generation in human history that has been able to fight back against a pandemic with science through the development of a vaccine, to end that same pandemic in real time. Please do not underestimate what we have accomplished as a human society and the impact of the 2020 COVID vaccine or the science behind it. The literal enormity of isolating the genetic code of COVID-19, developing a vaccine based on historic science, mass producing that vaccine, the logistics of distributing that vaccine across the globe, establishing sites and staff to administer the vaccine, agreeing to public policies and educating the public regarding COVID and the vaccine, getting shots in arms, developing a mechanism to test for the virus and the development of IV and oral treatments for COVID, has been a feat like no other in human history.”
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Wayne State Law students launch ‘Lawyers Look Like Me’ campaign

Students from diverse backgrounds at Wayne State University Law School have launched the “Lawyers Look Like Me” campaign, an initiative that sends a powerful message: Lawyers can look like us, too. The campaign aims to challenge stereotypes about what lawyers “look” like, celebrate historically underrepresented law students, and highlight the importance of diversifying the legal profession. The students driving this campaign represent numerous multicultural and ally organizations. “Lawyers and judges carry people’s livelihoods and liberties in their hands. It’s so important for the profession to welcome practitioners that come from all walks of life,” said Aleanna Siacon, a third-year law student and the creator of the campaign. “There’s much work to be done to address and remove the barriers that make law school inaccessible to many. But this campaign recognizes the power of representation.” 
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Michigan primary care doctors push for more state investment to address worsening shortage

By Danielle Salisbury People who regularly see primary care physicians tend to live long and healthier lives – if they can locate and secure doctors near home, Michigan doctors said. Despite the necessity of such practitioners, who handle patients from birth to death, there are too few of them and trends suggest there will be even fewer as current practitioners age and medical students with six-figure loan debts choose more lucrative specialties. Of Michigan’s 83 counties, 75 are at least partially designated as having shortages in primary care doctors. To address the situation, the state academy is calling on state leaders to invest an additional $31.4 million in existing programs, MIDOCS and the Michigan State Loan Repayment Program. MIDOCS, funded by the state, increases the number of medical residency training slots in primary care and other high-need specialties. Those accepted must commit to two years of practice in a rural or urban underserved area after they complete their residences. In exchange, they may receive up to $75,000 for repayment of eligible educational loans. The program partners with the medical schools at four state universities, including Wayne State.
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Match Day at Wayne State University: Med students find out where they’ll spend their residencies

Around 300 medical students from Wayne State University’s School of Medicine gathered at Motor City Casino on March 18 for Match Day, the nationwide event where medical students find out where they’ll spend their residencies. The event was the first in-person Match Day celebration since 2019. The match rate for School of Medicine students who participated in this year’s match was 97.4%. “I really care about service now that I’ve been in Detroit, so I’m so excited to bring it to the Bronx,” said Emily Nghiem, who matched at her first choice for a general surgery residency at Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital in New York.