SAGINAW, MI — Saginaw County Health Department leaders said a new partnership with Central Michigan University will expand and improve public health services in the community.

Officials said the health department’s five-year affiliation agreement with the university’s College of Medicine will target emerging health problems and chronic conditions in the region such as obesity, behavioral health, pediatric and maternal health, and issues relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As an academic health department, we gain greater capacity to investigate and find answers to some of Saginaw’s most pressing issues that impact public health,” said Christina Harrington, health officer at the Saginaw County Health Department.

Officials said the partnership will improve access to patient care, spur collaboration on research initiatives, and provide more resources and opportunities to seek external funding.

Harrington said the partnership could examine and address issues such as the county’s higher-than-average hospitalization rates for both asthma and infant mortality, as well as study cancer clusters across the county.

“On a day-to-day basis, it’s also a win-win,” Harrington said. “Health department clients will benefit from access to CMU medical experts while students gain an added clinical learning environment through the health department.”

The agreement represents the latest tie connecting the health department and university. Among previously-established ties: Dr. Delicia Pruitt serves both as the health department’s medical director as well as an associate professor of family medicine at CMU.

While the university’s campus is based in Mount Pleasant, CMU maintains a Saginaw hub for its College of Medicine in the downtown medical corridor. The CMU Health site sits about 400 feet from the health department’s headquarters on North Michigan near the Cooper Avenue intersection.

“This agreement bridges the gap between traditional medical care and public health, and expands on our educational offerings in Saginaw,” said Dr. George E. Kikano, CMU vice president for health affairs and dean of the CMU College of Medicine.

“Formalizing our working relationship with the Saginaw County Health Department firmly supports our mission of educating medical students to provide care to traditionally underserved communities, both rural and urban.”


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