Michigan Health Watch

In-depth reporting on the intersection between public policy and important health topics ‒ such as insurance coverage, hospital admissions, opioid abuse, access to care, medical research and the business of health care ‒ that impact nearly every Michigan resident. 


Michigan doctors not trained to treat opioid abuse ‒ and don't want to be

July 12, 2019 | Ted Roelofs

A statewide survey found most primary care physicians don’t want training to administer the “gold standard” treatment of opioid abuse, even as overdose deaths tripled in Michigan.

A woman, a tick, and the fight in Michigan over Lyme disease

July 1, 2019 | Magdalena Mihaylova, Robin Erb

Exhaustion, depression and pain are made worse when doctors don’t listen, patients say. Lansing bills aim to help, but the campaign faces skepticism from the medical establishment and one surprising group.

Lyme disease is spreading across Michigan. But why?

July 1, 2019 | Jim Malewitz

Officials are increasingly finding disease-carrying ticks in new places across the state. Experts aren’t exactly sure why, but they have some ideas.

State ends ties to West Michigan mental-health agency for poor and disabled

July 1, 2019 | Ted Roelofs

Michigan is ending its contract with Lakeshore Regional Entity, which coordinates behavioral health care for 30,000 Medicaid patients, citing “fiscal mismanagement” and debt. Agency blames a widespread lack of funding.

Delays, confusion as Michigan preps for new Medicaid work rules

June 27, 2019 | Robin Erb, Lindsay VanHulle

Thousands of Michiganders could lose health coverage after Jan. 1 if they can’t prove work efforts. State says it will have a call center open on Day 1, but advocates worry some people will be left behind.

Oversight board flags ‘deterioration of care’ at Detroit Medical Center

June 17, 2019 | Robin Erb

Nearly 10 years after Detroit hospital system is sold to for-profit company, a volunteer group of overseers is raising concerns about its patient care and transparency.

How toxic is PFAS? Exposed residents slow to aid research in Michigan

June 14, 2019 | Robin Erb

In Kent County, the state hopes blood tests of PFAS contaminated households could inform health decisions. But only half of eligible residents seem willing, casting into doubt Michigan’s role in a larger, federal study.

Amid PFAS nightmare, unlikely activists are born in Michigan

June 14, 2019 | Robin Erb

Once strangers who sought privacy and quiet, PFAS has forced unexpected alliances in northern Kent County. This week, one group took their stories to Boston, fueled by a love of community.

Suicide, depression on rise in rural Michigan, but psychiatrists are scarce

June 12, 2019 | Ted Roelofs

Doctors in the Upper Peninsula and other rural regions report long waits for psychiatric care; child specialists are even harder to find. Can student loan forgiveness for medical residents and telemedicine reduce the gap?

More than a dozen hospitals in rural Michigan at ‘high risk’ of closing

June 12, 2019 | Ted Roelofs

A devastating trend shows few signs of slowing, which means longer waits for an ambulance, distant maternity care and a brutal cycle that may lead more residents (and medical workers) to abandon rural communities.

In Alabama, one rural town reached for its wallet to keep its hospital open

June 12, 2019 | Ted Roelofs

Residents who depended on the hospital in tiny Haleyville agreed to pay hikes in sales and property taxes. Their sacrifice in tax-averse Alabama may portend what it will take to keep other rural medical facilities in business.

See if your child is eligible for free Michigan dental care from Medicaid

June 4, 2019 | Robin Erb

Many of Michigan’s poor children and adults have gone years without dental care, losing teeth and risking serious health problems. Here is how to find free help for your child's oral health.

Michigan offers free dental care to poor kids; more than 400,000 don’t use it

June 4, 2019 | Robin Erb

Nearly half the state’s poor young people don’t take advantage of the Medicaid program, compromising their health. Explanations are complicated. But the problem is fixable.

Michigan lawmaker: Require dental screenings for school children

June 4, 2019 | Robin Erb

A West Michigan representative said he originally dismissed the need for such a law. Then he noticed his own daughter’s teeth.

Unvaccinated student rates rise for third straight year in Michigan schools

May 31, 2019 | Magdalena Mihaylova

The unvaccinated rate is still lower than in 2014, but the increase comes as Michigan battles a measles outbreak. A bill that would require schools with higher rates to post warning signs faces obstacles in the House.

High blood pressure is rampant in Michigan. Better data may lead to a cure.

May 29, 2019 | Robin Erb

An ambitious effort from Wayne State University correlates blood pressure and demographic data. The findings are surprising, and could hold a key to reducing preventable deaths in Michigan.

Dan Gilbert health crisis spotlights strokes, one of Michigan’s top killers

May 29, 2019 | Robin Erb

Detroit developer Dan Gilbert is hospitalized with a stroke. What you should know about the ailment

Award-winning medical reporter joins Bridge to lead Michigan Health Watch

May 29, 2019 | Bridge Staff

Robin Erb has spent three decades in journalism, building a reputation for empathetic reporting. She leads expanded coverage of healthcare as traditional newsrooms shrink staffs.

Michigan emergency rooms are jammed. Identifying mental illness can help.

May 23, 2019 | Ted Roelofs

Chronic users of hospital ERs often have mental health or substance abuse issues. Programs in five regions of the state help patients find treatment for underlying problems while easing the burden on emergency rooms.  

Panic attacks and anxiety landed her in Ann Arbor ERs. Today, she serves others.

May 23, 2019 | Ted Roelofs

Panic attacks led Lynne Ponder into alcoholism and homelessness. But a pilot program targeted at chronic ER visitors helped her find therapy, a place to live and a sense of purpose.