The Molina Healthcare system started off when a doctor with a vision opened up a small clinic in Long Beach, California, and transformed his dream into a multi-state healthcare system organization. Dr. C. David Molina, an emergency room physician, noticed a trend in patients coming to the emergency room for care because they couldn’t afford regular healthcare check ups. The small clinic that served those in need grew to cover 10 states, providing healthcare plans for over 1.6 million low-income individuals. Molina Healthcare of Michigan now provides high quality services to 225,000 Michiganders, including those receiving government assistance.
Dr. James Forshee is the present Chief Medical Officer (CMO), working to provide timely, quality healthcare. Molina Healthcare’s and Dr. Forshee’s mission includes addressing health needs, advocating for those with financial concerns, and promoting healthy living all to help improve the community. I corresponded with Dr. Forshee about concerns for Detroiters and how we can improve the well-being of its members, as well as the role within the I2D2 campaign for health promotion.
Detroit Children’s Health Care Examiner: Obesity has become an increasingly growing problem for the area. What are your thoughts as to what the cause may be?
Dr. James Forshee: As a physician, I see many factors that contribute to obesity. Here is a short list: lack of exercise, lack of access to fresh fruits and vegetables, lack of true structured exercise in schools, increased time on the internet and social networking, video games, and just the daily pressure to do the quick, easy, fat-laden, high calorie, large size, fried, fast-food choices.
DCHCE: Do you think lack of exercise and improper nutrition is more due to the families culture, what is learned through the generations, or due to change in family dynamics (both parents working or single parent raising the family)?
Dr. Forshee: Both family environment and genetics impact obesity. I still believe parents and caregivers want to do what is right for the children. Social and cultural dynamics do play a role in the determining weight issues as well. Just the lack of a safe, clean available place to exercise is a barrier to a healthy lifestyle.
DCHCE: There is a lot of misinformation out about what are “health” foods, and what is healthy food. Information labels may be confusing if not read properly. For example, a lot of people only look at fat content without considering sodium intake. Is not knowing how to live a healthy lifestyle due to not knowing what is healthy or is it related to not knowing where to get information about healthy living?
Dr. Forshee: For all of us, healthy living is a function of activity levels, nutrition/health foods, environment, and spiritual and emotional well-being. IT IS VERY COMPLEX, but can be achieved by addressing one issue at a time and working together.
DCHE: The closing of recreation centers and minimal access to grocery stores is an issue in the city of Detroit. Do you think there is a way to change either problem in a city that seems to be on the decline?
Dr. Forshee: Changing availability of safe recreational centers and appropriately stocked grocery stores will only go so far. The major changes neededtake a real change in attitude starting with increased self respect. Believing you deserve to be healthy and making the choice to care for yourself is the first step. We all know we take care of the things we value, and this will result in steps towards a healthy lifestyle.
DCHE: In regards to the I2D2 Campaign, I think this program is a wonderful thing for kids and their parents/caregivers. Not only does it teach healthy living, but it is encouraging the family to do it as a unit. Tell me about your role within this campaign.
Dr. Forshee: We are partnering with I2D2 at FarwellAcademy and recognize the important and unique strategic role a school can play in a community. Each marking period, Molina Healthcare goes to the school and acknowledges, rewards, and celebrates students who are improving academically. We deliver a positive health message, and with I2D2, encourage and promote a healthy lifestyle for them and their families.
DCHE: What are the plans for the program if it is successful? Will we see more communities having the Fit and Fun Family Club Workshops?
Dr. Forshee: We have had great support from the school board and Principal Pearson, and I believe the success of the program could be contagious. We hope to expand our influence and inspire other local businesses to get involved and adopt a school. Then we can be part of changing and bettering our communities and say, “This is what we do!”
A special thanks to Dr. Forshee for the interview. I will be following Molina Healthcare, I2D2, and those involved with the promotion of health in the kids of Detroit. Please feel free to subscribe for notice of future articles.