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Thursday, October 23, 2014

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Hope Network hosts welcome reception for director of Department of Community Health


Caroline MacGregor
November 14, 2012 | WGVU   Governor Snyder named James Haveman director of the Department of Community Health to replace Olga Dazzo, who stepped down in August to return to the private sector.

A resident of Grand Rapids, Haveman served as the department’s director from 1996 to 2003. In 2003 he was appointed by the White House as a Senior U.S. Coalition Authority Advisor to the Iraqi Ministry of Health.

Tuesday’s reception, hosted by Hope Network and Arbor Circle, was attended by about 100 people, including representatives of nonprofits, healthcare agencies, and members of state and local government, including Grand Rapids mayor, George Heartwell. 

Haveman says the department is working with a budget of about 15 million dollars comprised of federal, state and county dollars. A former member of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Board of Directors, Haveman says the department’s goal is to have a healthier and safer Michigan, as evidenced by an aggressive response to the recent meningitis outbreak and West Nile virus.

“We're also calling for more of an integration to health care between mental health and substance abuse and physical care rather than splitting people up so people get more of a holistic approach to health care. Doing so, along with the governor's agenda, we will become a state that's more attractive for industry to come here because our health care costs are down and we've got a healthier workforce, absenteeism is down, we want to move Michigan forward and health care is a key part of doing it.”

On the subject of Michigan’s struggle with obesity and diabetes, Haveman admits the state has a long way to go. He says it’s a matter of personal responsibility, and choices. Too many people, he says, are enamored by advertising and fast food, and smoking and lack of exercise are also culprits. Haveman says the department will also address a shortage of grocery stores in parts of the state making it difficult for people to have easy access to healthy food.

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