Understanding health disparities and how to spot them.

What is a "health disparity"?
Good health starts in our daily lives. But, realistically, we can only work with the choices available to us. If we have limited options because of where we live, learn, work, or play, it can harm our ability to lead a healthy lifestyle. People with limited options face “health disparities” that can lead to a very different level of health or life expectancy than the average population.

How do you know if you are experiencing a health disparity?
Sometimes health disparities can be hard to see until you know what you are looking for. Below are some common signs that you might be experiencing a disparity.

Do any of these sound familiar to you?
· Difficulty getting to a doctor or a hospital regularly.
· Problems communicating or speaking English.
· Poor or inadequate treatment or service from doctors or medical staff.
· Inadequate access to grocery stores and healthy food.
· Inadequate access to safe drinking water.
· Unsafe places to play and get exercise.
· Unsafe housing conditions.
· Concerns about your workplace environment's effect on your health.
· Trouble getting to medical appointments or other important places.
· Problems covering the cost of prescription medication.
· Issues obtaining dental services.
· Understanding how and when to use your medical insurance coverage.
· Depression, trouble making good decisions, or feelings of social isolation.
· Trouble understanding your doctor’s directions.


Click through the tabs below to find local resources available to individuals and families.



Mercy Health Partners 
Mercy Hospital | 1500 E Sherman Blvd | 231.672.2000
Hackley Hospital | 1700 Clinton St | 231.726.3511
Mercy Health McClees Clinic | 1700 Clinton St | 231.728.5775
Prevention Practices | 231.728.5663
visit website

Hackley Community Care
Federally Qualified Health Center. Offers medical, dental, OB, behavioral health, pharmacy, and school wellness programs. Accepts Medicaid, Medicare, Sliding Fee Scale.
2700 Baker St | 231.737.1335
Dental | 231.737.8603
Pharmacy | 231.737.9510
1675 Leahy St, Ste 103 | 231.737.1335
visit website

Integrated Health Clinic - HealthWest

Muskegon Teen Health Center
80 Southern Ave | 231.733.6680


Muskegon Volunteer for Dental Care
visit website

Hackley Community Care
Accepts Medicaid, Medicare, Sliding Fee Scale.

Muskegon Family Care
Accepts Medicaid, Medicare, Sliding Fee Scale.
visit website



National Suicide Prevention Lifeline


Providing services for individuals with developmental disabilities, mental health issues, and substance use concerns.
376 E Apple Ave | 231.724.1111 | visit website

HealthWest Crisis Line

Mercy Life Counseling
125 E Southern Ave | 231.726.3582



The Bridge/Arbor Circle
Grand Rapids | 231.451.3001

West Michigan Teen Challenge
Booking | 231.798.7927

Women’s Services 
18+ only | 231.798.2702

Men’s Services 
18+ only | 231.798.7927


Community Care Pharmacy
visit website

Muskegon Family Care 
visit website

Benson Drug 
visit website

Health Project 
565 W Western Ave | 231.672.3201
visit website


Muskegon Area Transit (MATS)

231.724.6420 | visit website

Pioneer Resources
Pioneer Resources provides housing, transportation, employment, training, and recreation for people with disabilities and seniors in Muskegon County.
601 Terrace St Suite 100 | 231.773.5355

Port City Cab 
770 W. Sherman Blvd. | 231.739.7161
visit website

Shoreline Taxi
950 W. Norton | 231.830.8700

American Red Cross
Transportation for seniors to medical appointments only.
313 W. Webster Ave. | 231.726.3555
visit website



Dept. of Health & Human Services
2700 Baker St | 231.733.3700

Muskegon-Oceana Community Action Partnership.
1170 W Southern Ave | 231.725.9499 | visit website

TrueNorth Community Services
6308 S Warner Ave, PO Box 149, Fremont, MI 49412
emPower Program: 231.924.0641 or 1.855.300.8013 visit website

Consumers Energy Assistance Line



Community enCompass 
HARA: Housing Assessment Resource Agency. Community enCompass is a Christian Community Development Organization for the core city neighborhoods of Muskegon.
19 Hartford Ave | 231.728.3117 | visit website

Bethany Christian Services
1848 E Sherman Blvd | 231.733.1618

Muskegon Housing Commission
1080 Terrace St | 231.722.2647

Muskegon Heights Housing Commission
615 E Hovey Ave | 231.733.2033

Homeless Shelters


Webster House Youth Services
Homeless and Runaway Youth program, ages 12-17.
1221 W Laketon Ave | 231.759.4429

Women’s Rescue Mission
1691 Peck St | 231.727.6010

Men’s Rescue Mission
400 W Laketon Ave | 231.727.6085

Family Promise of the Lakeshore
Hours: Mon-Fri 9:00am-5:00pm.
1275 Kenneth St | 231.747.8855

Domestic Violence Shelters


National Domestic Violence Hotline

Every Woman’s Place
1221 W Laketon Ave | 231.759.7909
24-hour Crisis Line | 231.722.3333

Center for Women in Transition
411 Butternut Drive, Holland | 616.392.2829
24-hour Crisis Line | 616.392.1970 or 1.800.848.5991

COVE - Ludington
906 E Ludington Ave, Ludington | 231.843.2541
24-hour Crisis Line | 1.800.950.5808



Goodwill Administration
271 E. Apple Ave | 231.722.7871
visit website

271 E Apple Ave | 231.739.9010
visit website

West Michigan Works!
316 Morris Ave | 231.724.6381
visit website

Staffing Inc.
1645 W Sherman Blvd | 231.755.0550
visit website


Health Project
565 W Western Ave | 231.672.3201

Senior Resources Medicare Medicaid Assistance Program
For seniors with questions about Medicare | visit website


Catholic Charities, Loaves & Fishes
Hours: Tues, Thurs, Fri 9:30am-1pm. 
Clients may visit once every four weeks.
1095 3rd St | 231.726.5341 | visit website

Salvation Army
Hours: Mon-Fri 12:30-3:45pm.
1221 Shonat St | 231.773.3284

MAP (Mission for Area People)
Supper house hours: Mon-Fri 4:00pm-5:20pm.
Call to make an appointment.
2500 Jefferson St | 231.733.1792

Love, Inc.
Hours: Mon-Thurs 8:30am-4:00pm, Friday 8:30am-12:00pm.
Call for services and to schedule an appointment with local food pantries. Services include baby pantry, clothing pantry, crib and layette ministries, food pantry, furniture ministry, household pantry, personal care pantry, project ramp for individuals requiring handicap ramp access.
2735 E Apple Ave | 231.777.3905

Muskegon County Cooperating Churches
1095 3rd St, Ste 10 | 231.727.6000


Lakeside Baptist Church
Donation hours: Mon, Tues, Thurs: 9am-1pm. Weds: 9am-4pm.
Shopping hours: Wed: 1:30pm-3:30pm. Last Saturday of the month: 10am-12pm.

St. Vincent de Paul
Call for hours.

Men’s Rescue Mission
Clothing vouchers: Wed 9:30am (Chapel attendance required).

Muskegon Rescue Mission Thrift Stores
Hours: Mon-Fri 9:30am-6pm. Saturdays 9:30am-5pm.
1819 Holton Rd | 231.719.0043
2019 E Apple Ave | 231.777.1808
2570 Henry St | 231.733.1493

Catholic Charities Baby Pantry
Hours: Tues, Thurs 9:30am-12:30pm.
Clients may visit once a month.
1095 3rd St | 231.726.5341

MAP (Mission for Area People)
Call for hours.
2500 Jefferson St | 231.733.1792

Legal advocacy

Every Woman’s Place, Legal Advocate
990 Terrace St, 4th floor | 231.724.6422
visit website

Legal Aid of Western Michigan
450 Morris Ave, Ste 302 | 231.726.4887
visit website

abuse reporting & services

CPS/APS Centralized Intake

Child Abuse Council
1781 Peck St | 231.728.6410

Substance Abuse

AA, West Michigan District 6
4613 Henry St | 231.798.4242 | view website

Narcotics Anonymous Information & Help Line

Public Health - Muskegon County
Substance Abuse Prevention and Referral  Services

Substance Abuse Screening, Treatment, and Referral

pregnancy services

Pathway to a Healthy Pregnancy
565 W. Western Ave | 231.673.3201
visit website

Muskegon Pregnancy Services: Best Options
1775 Wells Ave | 231.726.2677

Planned Parenthood
209 E Apple Ave | 231.724.4415

Positive Options West MI
700 Washington Ave, Ste 130, Grand Haven | 616. 842.7510

Pregnancy Resource Center
415 Cherry St SE, Grand Rapids | 1.877.697.7247


Senior Resources of West MI at Tanglewood Park

560 Seminole Rd, Muskegon | visit website


Emergency Assistance

Red Cross
313 W Webster Ave | 231.726.3555

Muskegon Police Department Tip Line

Muskegon Police Department Main Desk

Muskegon County Sheriff/County Jail

Support groups

Call 2-1-1 for participating support group agencies and organizations.

other important numbers


RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)

The Salvation Army 
Services include emergency financial assistance; emergency shelter; senior citizen's, women’s, and men’s clubs; and other resources. Call for appointment. (As resources are available.)
1221 Shonat St, Muskegon | 231.773.3284
(Top Right of page: Find a Center) City/St/Zip
view website

Senior Resources of West MI
560 Seminole Rd, Muskegon | 231.739.5858

United Way
31 E Clay Ave | 231.722.3134


Do you have a family history of breast cancer, or are you a woman 40 years of age or older?
Click here for Breast Care Services.  Alternatively,  you may contact Teresa Jones with the Hackley Community Care Breast Health Program at 231.733.6614 or email jonest@hccc-health.org.
Women 40 years of age and older may qualify to receive a free mammogram and cervical cancer screen. Please call Women’s Health Network at 616.632.7283 or 1.888.515.1300 ext. 7283 to register.


Below are some answers to frequently asked questions.

How do I find a doctor?
Affinia Health Network Physician Referral Line | 231.672.4500
Spectrum Health Physician Referral | visit website

How can I get medical/dental insurance?
There are a number of places where you can connect with insurance enrollment services. Start here first. If you do not feel comfortable using the Health Insurance Marketplace on your own, click here for organizations that can help navigate options.

Who do I contact for legal advice?
Legal Aid of West Michigan | visit website

How do I get employment training?
West Michigan Works! has a number of educational training opportunities. | visit website

Who do I talk to about trouble in my neighborhood?
If it is an emergency, call 911. Otherwise, call the city, township, or village you live in. Numbers are listed in the County of Muskegon Directory | view here


Here's what you can do to reduce the risk of experiencing disparities. Click through the tabs below to learn about your rights and responsibilities when it comes to your health.

You have the right to:

· Always be treated with respect and dignity by people who are helping you.
· Be free from abuse.
· Be free from the misuse of your property.
· Choose the services and support required for your care and help develop that plan.
· Choose where you would like to receive your services and support.
· Have your cultural and religious choices respected and addressed.
· Participate with doctors and providers in making decisions about your health care.
· Have anyone you would like involved in the planning process.
· Refuse any services you are not comfortable with.
· Have ethical issues considered.
· Receive personal medical records.
· Receive care with respect and recognition of your dignity.
· Use interpreter services.
· Be assured of privacy and confidentiality.
· Be free from hunger, food insecurity, and malnutrition.
· Housing that gives you access to a safe, secure, livable, and affordable home with freedom from forced eviction.
· Safe places to play and enjoy the outdoors that are close to your home.
· Affordable and reliable transportation that allows you to access education, employment, health care, housing, and community life.

You have a responsibility to:
· Participate in a conversation of medically necessary treatments for your condition(s), regardless of cost or benefit coverage.
· Tell your provider when you are concerned you are not being treated fairly.
· Ask questions or let your provider know if there is anything that you do not understand.
· Be respectful to the people who are trying to help you.
· Not verbally or physically abuse the people trying to help you.
· Not use profane or offensive language toward the people who are trying to help you.
· Make sure no illegal or illicit activities occur while you seek service.

Sometimes, you just can’t easily change a bad experience. However, there are a number of things you can do to protect yourself from situations that may harm your health.

1) Make a list of things to discuss with your doctor
Questions to ask during your appointment:
· What is my diagnosis?
· What are my treatment options?
· What are the benefits of each option?
· What are the side effects?
· Will I need a test?
· What is the test for?
· What will the results tell me?
· What will the medicine you are prescribing do?
· How do I take it?
· Are there any side effects?
· Why do I need surgery?
· Are there other ways to treat my condition?
· How often do you perform this surgery?
· Do I need to change my daily routine?
· What questions haven’t I asked that I should have?

2) Get civically involved with the coalition
The Muskegon Health Disparities Coalition meets the first Tuesday of each month from 12:00 - 1:30 p.m. at the MATS Louis A. McMurray Conf. Center, 2624 Sixth Street, Muskegon Heights, MI 49444. Please call 231.672.3201 for more information.


Below is a true story of someone who was able to receive the care they needed thanks to the Health Project and the Muskegon Health Disparities Coalition.

B called the Health Project with severe eye pain. He was having trouble with his prosthetic eye of over 35 years. Only one company in West Michigan could perform the service he needed, and he had no insurance. B could neither afford nor obtain the help he needed. The Health Project connected B with the Lion’s Club Vision Services program, which got him the cleaning and polishing services required for his eye prosthesis. B also received help obtaining his diabetic medications and financial assistance for his medical debt. He was so overjoyed and appreciative that returned to the office to thank the staff. “I didn’t think I would be able to get any help,” he said.


How do I know if we are not treating clientele and staff fairly in our workplace?

Questions to consider:
· Is your organization culturally competent?
· What type of training do you offer to address cultural issues?
· Does your staff reflect the community, culture, and population you serve?
· Is your service delivery technique appropriate for your clientele?
· Do you allow customers access to internet at your location?
· Do you provide language services and/or deaf/hard of hearing services?
· Is your facility ADA compliant?
· Are your signs, pamphlets, forms, and documents at an appropriate reading level and in multiple languages?


Your place of business can become more accepting to a wider variety of clientele. There are numerous resources and programs to help professionals and organizations identify, reduce, or confront health disparities for their communities and those in their care.

How culturally competent is your organization?
Click here to assess your readiness.

The BOCA-CLAS Standards are part of a statewide initiative to increase awareness and adoption of a set of 15 guidelines designed by the Office of Minority Health to help organizations integrate cultural competence into their operations. Click here to learn more and see if your organization meets these standards.

Michigan Behavior Risk Factor Survey
Compiled information from an annual, state level behavioral risk survey of Michigan adults.
Read Here   

Health Equity Website
Michigan Department of Community Health, Health Disparities Reduction, and Minority Health Section.
Read Here

Michigan Health Equity Roadmap

Read Here

Michigan 2010 Health Equity Report
Read Here

US Department of Health and Human Services

Office of Minority Health.
Read Here

US Department of Health and Human Services

Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic
Health Disparity.
Read Here

US Department of Health and Human Services
CDC Health Disparities and Inequalities Report
Read Here

US Department of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Healthy People 2020.
Read Here

US Department of Health and Human Services
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, National Healthcare Disparities Report, 2009: 7th annual report measuring trends in effectiveness of care, patient safety, timeliness of care, patient centeredness, and efficiency of care. 
Read Here

US Department of Health and Human Services
National Partnership for Action to End Health Disparities: A comprehensive national stakeholder strategy for ending health disparities.
Read Here

Annie E. Casey Foundation
Kids Count: National and state by state
data on child well-being in the United States.
Read Here

Health Research and Educational Trust and American Hospital Association
A toolkit for collecting race, ethnicity, and primary language information from patients.
Read Here
Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Epidemiology Center
Data, resources, and programs to support Tribal communities in their efforts to improve health.
Read Here
Equity of Care
Training resources for promoting cultural competency, data collection, and use and diversity in leadership.
Read Here
Diversity Rx
Resources for improving the accessibility and quality of healthcare for minority, immigrant, and indigenous communities. Promoting culturally and linguistically appropriate care.
Read Here

National Alliance on Mental Illness
What Families Want from Primary Care: Information from the NAMI national survey report of families’ experiences in primary care.
Read Here
American College of Health Care Executives
Promoting cultural competency, data collection and use and diversity in leadership.
Read Here
Film: Natural Causes
Will Patten et al.; James Beckett, Director.
Health disparities in America.
View Here
Grand Rapids African American Health Institute
Advocacy and research to promote healthcare parity in the Grand Rapids African American community.
Read Here

Non-Emergency Transportation List  
For public use | Download Here

Transportation List
For provider offices only | Download Here

Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance 
Summit on Race and Inclusion 
June 11, 2019 at Hope College in Holland, MI | visit website

Diversity and Inclusion Workshop
Exploring Cultural Competency for Personal, Organizational and Community Change
Tuesday, June 13, 2017 from 8am-4:30pm at the Muskegon Innovation Hub (former MAREC) at GVSU, 200 Viridian Drive, Muskegon, MI. This is a FREE 1-day workshop with Pace4Change, sponsored by the Muskegon Health Disparity Coalition. Please contact Catalina at 231.672.3365 for details and registration.

Free Movie Screening
Is Inequality Making Us Sick?
FREE movie screening of the documentary "Unnatural Causes: Episode 1: In Sickness and In Wealth" on Thursday, August 1, 2019 from 6-8 p.m. at the Harbor Cinema, Muskegon. The film is a 56-minute episode and will be followed by a 1 hour facilitated discussion. | visit website

Unconscious Bias Sessions
They Are Part Of Our Everyday Lives - What Can We Do About Them?
Bias can be about race, gender, class, education, disability,etc...everyone has biases. "The world is not just. People are not born with equal opportunity." Everyone of us has the potential to create change. We have a role to play and we need to be a partof the solution.
Session 1: August 8th, 2019. Christ Temple Apostolic Church, 412 E. Sherman Blvd. Muskegon Heights. Register Here
Session 2: September 12th, 2019. Mt. Zion Church of God in Christ, 188 W. Muskegon Ave. Muskegon. Register Here

CALL "2-1-1"

Dialing 2-1-1 provides individuals and families in need with a shortcut through what may be a bewildering maze of health and human service agency phone numbers. By simply dialing 2-1-1, those in need of assistance are referred, and sometimes connected, to appropriate agencies and community organizations.

Visit www.call-211.org for more information.


Who is the Muskegon Health Disparities Coalition?

The Muskegon Health Disparities Coalition is a central information center to help with referrals for people encountering health disparities. We are a coalition of organizations that have come together with the goal of making sure all people in Muskegon County live the longest, healthiest lives possible, with quality medical outcomes. We want individuals and advocates to call us for help so we can direct them to the resources and options they need in order to live healthier lives.

The Muskegon HDC is also about raising awareness on the topics of cultural diversity. We encourage all businesses and organizations to be intentional in recruiting and hiring, to ensure your staff reflects the community, culture and population you serve. Is your service delivery technique appropriate for your clientele, etc.?


Contact us with questions or for more information.
565 W. Western Avenue Muskegon, MI 49440
phone: 231.672.3201 | fax: 231.672.8407 | toll free: 1.800.555.8548

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