Street Talk: Pilots are grounded


A pilot to improve the integration of Medicaid physical health and behavioral health services that two West Michigan organizations were set to take part in has been canceled.

The state said the Section 298 pilot has come to an end “following the governor’s veto and the pilot participants’ inability to reach an agreement on a path forward.”

As part of the initiative, the Michigan Legislature directed MDHHS to implement up to three pilots to test the financial integration of Medicaid-funded physical health and specialty behavioral health services.

Muskegon County Community Mental Health (HealthWest) and West Michigan Community Mental Health were set to conduct a joint pilot.

The pilots were announced in March 2018 and were to be implemented by Oct. 1, 2019. Implementation was delayed to Oct. 1, 2020, to allow more time to complete design of a financial integration model.

However, the state said the parties ultimately could not agree on two fundamental issues: the automatic statewide scaling of the model and startup costs.

“These pilots were supposed to be built on agreement among all participants,” said Robert Gordon, MDHHS director. “After years of work to reach consensus, it has become clear that agreement will not be reached. We remain committed to making our behavioral health system work better for all Michiganders, and it is time to look for new ways to achieve this goal.”

Despite the cancellation, Gordon said much has been learned from the Section 298 pilot design development process that will inform future redesign efforts.

“In the coming weeks, I will be sharing the department’s vision for a stronger behavioral health system,” he said. “Designing a system that works for all Michiganders will take careful planning and extensive collaboration with legislators, families and individuals served by the system and stakeholders.”

Dominick Pallone, executive director of the Michigan Association of Health Plans, said the organization is disappointed with the decision to cancel but remains committed to finding a resolution on identified barriers with community mental health providers.

“The extensive work done already was instrumental in discovering key elements that must occur to find a sustainable model,” Pallone said. “We expect this issue will be revisited, as advocates and taxpayers alike continue to demand improvements to the existing Medicaid behavioral health system which has chronically run financial deficits and failed to meet patient needs.”

Table contents

Volunteers from across West Michigan attempted to set a world record Oct. 19 at Grand Valley State University by assembling a periodic table that stretched 108 yards in width.

Done in recognition of the 150th anniversary of the periodic table, the attempt involved more than 100 businesses, high schools, colleges and organizations throughout Michigan, the country and as far away as India.

Volunteers created blocks representing elements to be included in the massive table.

The next step is to submit measurements to Guinness World Records for recognition as the world's largest periodic table. Organizer Michelle DeWitt said she expects a decision in a few months.

Each of the 118 blocks consisted of six fastened tablecloths containing the atomic number, element name, element symbol and atomic weight of each element in the periodic table. The blocks, measuring 18 by 13½ feet, filled most of the field at Kelly Family Sports Center on the GVSU main campus in Allendale.

For the previous few months, DeWitt had been coordinating the creation of the blocks, which were all handmade and contained individual creative touches. The creators of the block for sodium (Na, No. 11) included a saltshaker. The designers of the block for platinum (Pt, No. 78) wrapped wire around the name.

The United Nations declared 2019 as the international year of the periodic table; its educational, scientific and cultural organization included GVSU’s plan on a world map showing events to coincide with that designation.

Super search

The Grand Rapids Public Schools Board of Education has finalized the timeline for the second search for a full-time superintendent.

Ron Gorman has been serving as the district’s interim superintendent since July 1 after Teresa Weatherall Neal announced her retirement. An initial search earlier this year did not result in a satisfactory full-time candidate.

The job will be posted on Nov. 13, and applicants will have until Jan. 5, 2020, to submit their applications, cover letters, résumés and references.

On Jan. 23, the board will be presented with the 10-12 top candidates, which it will narrow down to four to six semi-finalists.

Interviews will begin at 8:30 a.m. Feb. 8, and the board will decide the finalists at a work session Feb. 10.

On Feb. 17, candidates will be in the district all day for community and staff meetings. Final interviews will begin at 6 p.m. that day.


A Michigan-based credit union is stepping up its game.

Members of East Lansing-based MSU Federal Credit Union (MSUFCU) — which has a West Michigan presence — now can send funds to each other instantly for free through a new transfer service, Member2Member (M2M).

The service is free, and the credit union said it is “easy to use,” as well as instantaneous and secure.

“The implementation of M2M has been highly anticipated by our membership and offers a free and convenient way to send funds to friends and family within the credit union’s digital landscape,” said Deidre Davis, chief marketing officer for MSUFCU. “With the addition of optional digital greeting cards, members can send congratulatory notes to recipients, wish them a happy birthday or send one of several other greetings with a simple click.”

M2M was rolled out to MSUFCU membership on Sept. 12. Within the first month, more than 9,000 members enrolled and performed 21,856 transactions.

MSUFCU members are identified within the M2M transfer system by their phone numbers and/or email addresses. In the mobile app, the user’s contact list is uploaded upon his or her acknowledgment and approval. This makes it easy and fast to then select the member to send money to.

Police pal

A West Michigan tech group spent last weekend showing off new video recording technology for police officers.

PRO-VISION Video Systems, a Byron Center-based developer of mobile video technology for law enforcement, showcased its latest product innovations at the 2019 International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Conference.

The expo was held at the McCormick Place West expo hall in Chicago.

“This is a great opportunity to show people why we’re the leader in innovation in technology for law enforcement,” said Joe Francis, law enforcement division sales manager at PRO-VISION. “Our sole focus is providing law enforcement professionals with the best tools to do their job. This new docking station is just one example of our commitment to that mission.”

PRO-VISION demoed its full lineup of mobile video technology for law enforcement, including the new single-camera docking station for its BODYCAM BC-300 body-worn camera.

The new single-camera docking station features specially designed pogo pin connectors that are more durable — expected to last for 1 million connection cycles — and allow for faster video upload from the camera.

Users also can connect the docking station to the mobile data computers in their vehicles to upload videos directly to PRO-VISION’s SecuraMax cloud-based evidence management platform while on the scene.

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