ALPENA – Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer toured the Thunder Bay Community Health Services clinic in Hillman on Thursday and met with its staff and board of directors to learn more about the health agency’s school health program.
During the meeting, Whitmer heard first-hand success stories from staff about how the program has helped children in northern Michigan who suffer from physical and mental health problems.
The administration and the board of directors of the health agency were called on Whitmer to continue to support its goals and initiatives so that more people can receive the necessary help.
Thunder Bay Community Health works with local schools to provide primary care and mental health services in 20 schools in six counties. The program helps maintain the health of K-12 students and also works to protect them from bullying and abuse.
Whitmer said the children have had a difficult time over the past few years due to the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic. She said she has offered record investments in public education, healthcare and school health services such as those offered by TBCHS because she understands the need to help families.
“The work that is being done in clinics like this across the state is crucial,” Whitmer said. “We often have this tendency to say that children are resilient and we are not lying when we say that, but the fact is that the last few years have affected everyone. Children who fought before COVID-19 had exacerbated problems. We want to partner and expand facilities like this to meet the needs of the community for all. ”
Whitmer said she hopes her proposals are something the Lansing state legislature supports. According to her, Whitmer said, children’s physical and mental health and education should be a high priority for all.
“The younger we get to people who need a little extra support, the better way we can make a difference,” she said. “These investments are very important and I hope that anyone who feels this way will contact their legislator.
Michelle Stima, executive director of TBCHS, said she appreciated that the governor had taken the time to visit and learn more about the services offered and future plans. She said continued support from the federal and state governments could help a growing number of children in need.
“Now, more than ever, we need to ensure that all children have access to the resources they need to be safe and successful,” Stima said in a press release. “Gov. Whitmer continued to be an advocate for meeting the needs of our schools and our communities, and we appreciate the support. “
Whitmer said it was crucial to ensure that all people received the necessary mental health treatment, because it could help reduce violent crime, especially shooting. She said investing in common sense and legislation that helps keep firearms from those who shouldn’t have them is a good place to start.
Whitmer said that in the days and weeks after the Oxford shooting, it was difficult for her, the Oxford community and the state as a whole to cope with the senseless loss of life.
Four people were killed in Oxford in November and seven others were injured when a suspect opened fire at Oxford High School.
“These tragedies happen in places of worship, in grocery stores, they happen in schools, they happen in hospitals, and we see growing violence with guns that is wreaking havoc on people’s lives,” Whitmer said. “We’ve had some difficult days in the last few years, and those after Oxford have been the hardest. I think that whether it is about safekeeping, past checks or red flag laws, I believe there are some places where we can find a common ground that will not affect the rights of the hunter and the gun owner. But we need to make sure we keep weapons out of the hands of people who are dangerous. “