I was on the Metro Health Village campus in southern Kent County, Michigan in April for a meeting of the Medical Mile Resources Group and was impressed by two things.

First, the size, scope and scale of Metro Health Village. It’s not just the hospital facility and the medical office buildings that were so arresting on this crispy, sunny, early spring morning, it was also the Hyatt Place Hotel, the fact that there were two places to get coffee, a Starbucks and a Biggby, which is a franchise chain based in Lansing, Michigan.

There are also two places to get your hair cut, there is a Family Fare supermarket, and a YMCA. That doesn’t seem impressive to you?

Well, you need to know that it was all build in a cornfield because the doctors at Metro decided to leave their landlocked campus in Grand Rapids and defied the West Michigan healthcare community by moving into a muddy cornfield.

They opted to build more than a hospital with medical office buildings on the grounds outside that facility. Metro Health built a community where there was no community.

Was it easy? No. They were not welcomed by everyone in that rural area with open arms.

They ran out of money.

But they kept pushing on. They didn’t give up. That shouldn’t be surprising to anyone.

Metro Health doctors had a multi-floor building as their first facility in East Grand Rapids but they were missing one critical piece of technology.

No elevator.

So they carried patients upstairs when they had to. Even when those patients were women in labor. It had to be done.

Their next better idea. A new building and an elevator.

Metro Health may not be on the Medical Mile but it is a part of the Medical Mile community. That’s why I included a chapter on it in my book, Last Chance Mile: The Reinvention of an American Community.

Here’s a link to an excerpt from Chapter 11, Independent and Proud, the story of Metro Health.

Wasn’t there a second thing that impressed me? You are right. I didn’t forget.

It came when I learned of the problems some people with diabetes have getting insulin. If they don’t have insurance for whatever reason, when they run out of supplies they have to beg for more.

The people at Metro, because it is part of the mission, provide free supplies if they can. However there are people in West Michigan, and I am sure around the nation, who are faced with the daily decision of paying for food or insulin. They are faced with the choice of a slow death or a quick death.

And to me, that just seems wrong.

Isn’t there a better idea?

Rod Kackley is a journalist and author who has written a five-part ebook essay series, Restore The Roar: Manufacturing Renaissance and Last Chance Mile: The Reinvention of an American Community, a book that tells the story of how the people of Grand Rapids are changing the way the world sees their community and the way they see the world.

For more information, please to go www.rodkackley.com

Rod Kackley
(C) 2013 Lyons Circle Publishing Inc.

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