Tag Archives: challenge detroit

Can bicycles help revitalize Detroit?

by Tom Schuelke, Challenge Detroit fellow

Challenge Detroit ModeShift3Hello Beaumont Readers and Happy New Year! I hope that you had a refreshing holiday season and have a jumpstart on your New Year’s Resolution (for my take on Detroit’s New Year’s Resolution click here). As we strive to hit temperatures above zero outside it may seem like a strange time to talk about bicycling in Detroit. However, that is the challenge that the Challenge Detroit fellows took on and finished up in mid-December.

Why Bicycles Are Important to Detroit

Growth of the bicycling community in the city can help play a significant role in the revitalization of Detroit because bicycling can contribute solutions to some of the city’s greatest challenges. For example, I mentioned in my last post that Detroit has some troubling statistics surrounding the health of its population. Bicycling can help make our residents healthier. Studies have shown that riding a bicycle just 3 hours/week reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke by 50%. Additionally, adolescents who bicycle are 48% less likely to be overweight as adults. (Stats courtesy of People For Bikes.) Beaumont has also taken a leading role in bicycle advocacy in the metro Detroit area for these reasons. Check out their Oakland County bike map here.

Challenge Detroit ModeShift4Population decline is another well-known problem of the city. Since the height of its prosperity in 1950 when the population was over 1.8 million people, Detroit has consistently been shedding its population to where it now has only 700,000 people. In fact, the new mayor Mike Duggan has already stated that his entire tenure should be graded on if the population rises once again. Bicycling can again help here. 47% of Americans say that they want more bike paths, lanes and trails in their community. Continued growth in Detroit’s bicycling infrastructure could help the city stabilize its population; maybe even help to grow it.

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The Role of Health Care in the Revitalization of Detroit

(photo via NPR.org)

(photo via NPR.org)

by Tom Schuelke, Challenge Detroit fellow

Hello Beaumont readers! Since this is my first actual post on the blog, I’d like to start by expressing my appreciation to Beaumont and all of the readers for allowing me to share my Challenge Detroit experience with you. Over the course of the next year, I hope to connect all of you to what I am learning about Detroit, what the program is accomplishing in Detroit and whatever else you would like to know about. The topics will range from light-hearted to heavy and I hope we can learn from each other with open, respectful dialogue. So, without further ado…

The Role of Health Care in the Revitalization of Detroit

For my first post, I was asked to write about my thoughts on the role of health care in the revitalization of Detroit. Having no idea where to start with such a grand question, I turned to a MBA’s best friend – statistics. I specifically was interested in the current state of health of the residents of Detroit. As you may have guessed, the results of my search didn’t look very good. According to statistics pulled from the Michigan Department of Community Health, if you live in the city of Detroit you are almost twice as likely to be hospitalized for a preventable condition as compared to the state as a whole; almost four times more likely in the case of asthma. Information from the “Healthy Michigan 2010” report reveals that 28% of the population living in Detroit has a disability, compared with 19% in the state as a whole.  Clearly the statistics paint a bleak picture for health in the city.

The Problem with Bad Health

What does this have to do with the revitalization of the city you ask? Other than the argument of health being a good thing in general, there is a well-documented (try here, here, or more generally, here) correlation between health and economic development. Indeed, this relationship holds true for Detroit. We just discussed how Detroit is rather health-poor. Economic indicators for the city follow suit. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that unemployment within the city is sitting at 18.8% – over double the statewide rate of 8.8%. Additionally, the US Census Bureau reports that the median household income of Detroit is $27,862, compared with $48,669 statewide.

As any statistician will tell you however, correlation does not imply causality. Even though health and economic development seem to go together, it is very hard to tell which comes first. In the case of Detroit, I decided to look up the availability of doctors with the thought that Detroiters were unhealthy due to a lack of access to health care. As it turns out, Detroit has a similar number of doctors per person (8.4 per 1000 people) and primary care physicians per person (1.85 per 1000 people) as Chicago (8.3 per 1000 people and 1.91 per 1000 people respectively). Additionally, there are 30 free/sliding scale clinics within five miles of the heart of the city. From this, it is reasonable to conclude that access to health care is not really the issue. It seems that economic stability is holding back health for the population of Detroit.

From the Motor City to the Medical City

If economic stability is what Detroit needs, why can’t that come from the health care industry? The medical industry is already the largest employer in the city according to The Detroit Economic Growth Corporation. The DMC, Henry Ford and Blue Cross Blue Shield employ over 26,000 people within the city. In fact, a study performed by the Milken Institute revealed that Detroit had the 7th largest health care economy in the nation.

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Beaumont’s Challenge Detroit fellow ready to make a difference

Tom Schuelke is excited to be here.

Tom Schuelke

Tom worked at GM for five years and led the team that created the front shutter grill on the Chevy Cruz that helps with  gas mileage.

He’s the new Challenge Detroit fellow for Beaumont this year and he’s working with the Beaumont Medical Group. “I’m already on a few big projects,” he says. “I feel like I’ll immediately be able to make a difference here and that’s excellent. ”Challenge Detroit is an initiative aimed at boosting the reputation and vitality of Detroit through “challenges” by young professionals.

Beaumont’s part is to host a fellow who will live, work, play, give and lead in Detroit for one year. My professor forwarded me the information about Challenge Detroit,” he says. “I jumped on the opportunity. It sounded like a great chance for me to use my newly developed skills in business to help.”

During the year he’s with Beaumont, Tom will help with a government-mandated upgrade for medical billing codes by coordinating the upgrades with Information Technology and the professional training sessions. In addition, he’ll be working on the Physician 360 Project, which synchronizes and stores information on Beaumont doctors.

Originally from Rockford, Mich., he has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan. He worked at General Motors for five years and led the team that created the front shutter grill on the Chevy Cruz that helps with gas mileage and went into nearly 3 million cars worldwide.

“But after five years at GM, I found myself missing something,” he says. “I wanted to be able to help people – I really wanted to use my time and talents to make a difference in people’s lives. So I went back to school to the U of M Ross School of Business, which is one of the few business schools in the nation to off er a curriculum on social enterprise and non-profit management. I have my MBA with a focus on finance and social enterprise.”

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8 questions with our Challenge Detroit participant

Ali Beydoun is a recent graduate of the University of Michigan and current Challenge Detroit participant. While at the University of Michigan, Ali earned his Bachelor of Science degree with Distinction in Brain, Behavior and Cognitive Science. Ali is from Dearborn.

What made you want to get involved with Challenge Detroit?

While at U of M, I began to understand the importance of doing the most good in every possible situation.  This motive is what compelled me to apply to the Challenge Detroit program.  My whole life, I wanted to be a doctor.  This is still the case, but before I attend medical school I want to have hands-on experience and give back to the community that raised me. After deciding to take a gap year before applying to and matriculating in medical school, Challenge Detroit posed the perfect year long initiative to satiate my philanthropic appetite, as well as give me exposure to the Paris of the West through a unique and comprehensive lens.

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