Access News


Michigan Access Coalitions in the News

Michigan Communities Joined in Action report to National CJA



2011 “Hero for the Uninsured” Awards:

Celebrating the Contributions of People and Programs Supporting Access to Care for Uninsured U.P. Residents

2011 Hero Awardees

UPHAC Executive director Benji Wood (far right) with 2011 Hero honorees (left to right): Dr. Donald Fahrbach, Nancy Imm, Alice Halsey, Denise Draves for Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital, Dr. John Garrett for Garrett Eye & Laser Center, Chris St. Louis for Dr. Dan Mitchell and Laurence Ziomkowski.

To see more photos from the evening, click here.

For more information on this year's Hero Award Dinner & honorees, click here.

See Past Awardees from around the U.P.

star graphic

UP Health Access Coalition to Honor 6 ‘Hero for the Uninsured’ Awardees
4th Annual Recognition Dinner in Marquette May 19

Six exemplary health service providers and volunteers from across Upper Michigan will be honored May 19 for their contributions in assisting uninsured Upper Peninsula residents to gain access to care. They will receive 2011 “Hero for the Uninsured” Awards at the 4th annual recognition dinner in Marquette, sponsored by the Upper Peninsula Health Access Coalition in cooperation with local access coalitions and hospitals from across the U.P.

“UPHAC will again recognize special people and organizations in 2011 for extending exceptional assistance to uninsured residents of their communities,” said Bill Reid, UPHAC board president. “For the first time, we’ll be honoring the memory of one of our own with a special ‘Hero’ recognition named for the late Richard E. Imm, MD, a long-time advocate for uninsured residents of the Upper Peninsula and a founding member of UPHAC.

“The recipients of the Dr. Richard Imm Memorial ‘Hero’ Award and five other ‘Hero for the Uninsured’ Awards represent hundreds of others who partner with local access coalitions of the U.P. to selflessly respond to needs of families, friends and neighbors without health care coverage.”

This year’s “Hero for the Uninsured” Awardees are:

*           Laurence J.P. Ziomkowski II of Marquette, who will receive the first Imm Memorial “Hero” Award for his dedicated service and commitment to the work of Medical Care Access Coalition (MCAC) of Marquette, the regional board of UPHAC and the cause of increasing access to health care – especially mental health services – to uninsured U.P. residents, regardless of their ability to pay.

*           Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital of Laurium as a “Most Valuable Partner” in serving the medical care needs of uninsured residents of the Keweenaw Peninsula in cooperation with the Western U.P. Healthcare Access Coalition (WUPHAC).

*           Donald Fahrbach, MD, of Munising, recognized as a “Personal Touch” Hero for his long-standing commitment to providing care to patients in his community regardless of their ability to pay and his support as a care provider for patients of MCAC - Alger County.

*           The Garrett Eye & Laser Center of Escanaba and Iron Mountain, honored as an “Innovation Hero” for donating approximately $135,000 in cataract surgeries and related care annually to U.P. residents without resources or coverage for these vision care procedures.

*           Alice Halsey of Pickford, who turned her professional role as a health care educator at Lake Superior State University into personal volunteer leadership and advocacy for uninsured residents of her community to access health care services.  A founding board member of Community Health Access Coalition (CHAC), she is being recognized as an “Above & Beyond” Hero awardee.

*           Daniel M. Mitchell, MD, of Iron Mountain, honored as a “Most Valuable Partner” for his role as a compassionate and committed health care provider, donating some $20,000 in services for uninsured enrollees of the Dickinson-Iron Medical Care Access Coalition (DIMCAC) program since its inception in 2004.

A total of 13 individuals, community programs and health care organizations nominated for 2011 “Hero for the Uninsured” Awards will be acknowledged during the May 19 recognition dinner at UpFront & Company. The event begins with a 5 p.m. reception, followed by dinner at 5:30 p.m.  The evening’s speaker will be Thomas F. Noren, MD, chief medical officer of Marquette General Health System.

Reservations will be accepted through May 12. Tickets are $30 per person; reservation information is available on the UPHAC web site, For information, contact UPHAC at 906.233.0210 or e-mail .

Become a “Community Builder” sponsor for this year’s “Hero for the Uninsured” Awards Dinner and join in recognizing 2011 “Hero” awardees with UPHAC, health care providers and five local access coalitions of the U.P.  Sponsorship information is available on the dinner invitation and registration form on the web site.

Local access coalitions serve uninsured residents all 15 U.P. counties through their work with local health care providers, pharmacies and prescription services, doctors, hospitals and clinics, and individual volunteers who donate health care services.

For information about their programs for uninsured adults, contact the local access coalition in your area:

    • Community Health Access Coalition: serving the eastern three counties, in Chippewa – 906.635.7483; in Mackinac – 906.643.7253; in Luce – 906.293.8355.
    • Dickinson-Iron Medical Care Access Coalition: in Dickinson County – 906.774.3980; in Iron County – 906.265.4044.
    • Medical Access Coalition of Delta and Menominee Counties: in Delta County -- 906.789.1627, and in Menominee County – 906.863.4051.
    • Medical Care Access Coalition: in Marquette County -- 906.226.4400; in Alger County – 906.387.4110 ext. 124; and in Schoolcraft County – 906.341.1312.
    • Western Upper Peninsula Healthcare Access Coalition: serving the five western counties of the region from Hancock – 906.482.7122.



    UPHAC Newsletter, Spring 2011


    valentines for military heroes logo

    Right on Cue:

     ‘Valentines for Military Heroes’Arrive at their Destinations
    in time for Valentine’s Day

    ESCANABA – Volunteers from VISTA and the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) of Delta County packed thousands of Valentine cards and messages of support to deployed military personnel in January and sent them on their way to U.S. military outposts in Afghanistan and Iraq Jan. 28. 

    Last week, just in time for the Valentine’s Day observance, they arrived “in country” to the delight of servicemen like Specialist Cory Simpson, 24, of Lansing who is serving in Al Kut, Iraq, with the U.S. Army.

    “Just got about 500 Valentine’s Day cards from random people in Escanaba, MI,” he wrote on his Facebook page last Wednesday. “Warms my heart.”

    The cards – part of about 5,000 created by schools, youth groups, service organizations, senior citizens and the general public from around the central and eastern U.P. – were sent to soldiers identified by family members and friends as being willing to share them with their units to mark Valentine’s Day.                         

    Cory’s cousin, Penny Fletcher of Escanaba, had seen the story about the “Valentines for Military Heroes” project in the Daily Press and called in Cory’s APO address so he could accept the Valentines for his unit.  She said his mother, Valerie, called to let her know the package had put smiles on the faces of those in Cory’s unit. 

    Fletcher said she writes him regularly since he was deployed in fall, 2010; he is expected to return to mid-Michigan in September.  Next week, on Feb. 25, he’ll observe his 25th birthday, away from family.

    “I just want to say thank you for all of the wonderful cards,” Spc. Simpson wrote on the “Valentines” Facebook discussion page last week. To project organizers and everyone who submitted cards and messages, he reported “I took time to read every single one of them.  It means a whole lot knowing that you all support our efforts.  Hope all is well stateside!”

    “Valentines for Military Heroes” project organizer Nicole Gearhart, a VISTA member with U.P. Health Access Coalition in Escanaba, said she had received notice that Valentine packages had also arrived at Baghram Airbase in Afghanistan last week.

    “It’s great to hear from these guys about how much they enjoyed getting the packages, and how they’re sharing them with their units. We’d hoped that this project would brighten their days a little, and we’ve clearly succeeded in doing that,” Gearhart said, adding that this success wouldn’t have been possible without overwhelming community support.

    “We were very excited with the way people throughout the U.P. embraced this project – we never expected it to get as big as it did,” said Gearhart. “We just want to thank everyone who supported this project for their generosity, and to let them know that they really did make a difference for these troops.”

    Volunteers from the Retired and Senior Volunteer Programs of Delta, Dickinson and Menominee counties and VISTA members at U.P. Health Access Coalition, Medical Access Coalition of Delta and Menominee Counties and Dickinson-Iron Medical Care Access Coalition coordinated the “Valentines for Military Heroes” project as part of the Martin Luther King Jr. “Day of Service” observance. 

    The Valentines for Military Heroes Facebook page can be found at A link to the project’s website can be found at Anyone with responses from military personnel about the project may contact Nicole Gearhart at 906.233.0210.   

    “Valentines for Military Heroes” is a special “Day of Service” project in the U.P. to support military personnel, with emphasis on encouraging community service by volunteers of all ages.  “Day of Service” occurs annually in January in conjunction with Martin Luther King Jr. Day when many state and federal offices are closed. For more information, visit the Martin Luther King Day of Service web site at


    To learn about our 2011 Martin Luther King Day of Service Project, "Valentines for Military Heroes", visit the project website by clicking on the icon below!

    Valentines for Military Heroes logo









    View Archived News