NMU named as site for U.P. health center

MARQUETTE – Northern Michigan University has been chosen as the site for the Michigan Area Health Education Center’s Upper Peninsula Regional Center.

Established by Wayne State University in 2010, Michigan AHEC seeks to enhance access to quality health care, particularly primary and preventative care, by improving the supply and distribution of health care professionals through community and educational partnerships. Through a statewide network of regional centers, Michigan AHEC prepares underrepresented and disadvantaged youths for health care careers, promotes clinical training opportunities for students in shortage areas and provides continuing education programs for health professionals.

The UPRC will be responsible for implementing these Michigan AHEC goals in all 15 counties in the U.P.

“Michigan AHEC is excited about extending our reach and resources to the Upper Peninsula,” said Dr. Ramona Benkert, associate dean for clinical and academic affairs of the WSU College of Nursing and co-principal investigator of the Michigan AHEC program, in a press release. “The Upper Peninsula has a severe shortage of primary care and other health professionals. We are pleased Northern Michigan University has joined the Michigan AHEC team and look forward to working with the university and the community to identify and address northern Michigan’s health care workforce needs.”

As host partner for the U.P. center, NMU offers medical pre-professional programs as well as certificate, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in nursing, clinical lab sciences and allied health. Students also have the opportunity to participate in the Early Assurance Program, an initiative that targets students from underserved rural or urban areas, first-generation college students, graduates from low-income high schools, students who are Pell grant-eligible or those who are interested in practicing medicine in a high-need specialty in areas where there are health care shortages.

“We are very happy to have Northern Michigan University serve as our host partner in the state’s AHEC network,” said Dr. Valerie M. Parisi, dean of the WSU School of Medicine and co-principal investigator of the Michigan AHEC program. “The northern regions of our great state also are underserved areas in terms of access to health care. Having NMU join us in this effort will be crucial to further addressing this issue.”

The U.P. center is the fourth of Michigan AHEC’s five regional centers. The Southeast Regional Center, established in 2011, is located in Detroit and hosted by the Greater Detroit Area Health Council. Opened in 2012, the Mid-Central Regional Center is hosted by Central Michigan University. The Western Regional Center, launched in 2013 and located in Grand Rapids, is hosted by Western Michigan University. The Northern Lower Regional Center is expected to open in 2015.

Dr. Mary Jane Tremethick, assistant dean and director of the NMU School of Health and Human Performance, was appointed interim executive director of the U.P. center. In this role, Tremethick will plan, organize, direct and evaluate all aspects of the center, including financial administration, program planning and development, personnel management, fundraising, and public relations and marketing.

Cindy Noble was named program manager for the U.P. center. She will manage programs, coordinate data collection, and develop public relations, marketing and community engagement strategies. Noble previously served as parks and recreation coordinator for the city of Marquette.