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Growing partnership with BCMH bolsters mental health and wellness services in Baraga County

December 14, 2023 | By Emilie Jacques

Community organizations across Michigan's Copper Country are hard at work making connections to bring better services and opportunities for those struggling with mental health. This year Copper Shores Community Health Foundation was proud to work with one of those organizations, Baraga County Memorial Hospital (BCMH)

The year 2023 has been big for the partnership between Copper Shores and BCMH. Copper Shores has awarded a scholarship and multiple grants to BCMH this year, showing signs of a particularly positive impact in Baraga County.

“We’re proud to sponsor these efforts that BCMH is working to implement,” said Kevin Store, President/CEO of Copper Shores Community Health Foundation.  “We believe these types of programs will reduce the potential for harm, minimize arrests, and improve overall health-outcomes for individuals with behavioral health needs. I am grateful for the leadership of Rob Stowe [CEO of BCMH] and his staff and their focus on community health initiatives that they have demonstrated for the people of that community.”

Safe transportation through Senior Life Solutions

Senior Life Solutions Vehicle 1x1The Mental and Behavioral Health grant funded a vehicle for safe transportation to and from a program held at BCMH called Senior Life Solutions, a multifaceted approach including therapy, education and wellness-focused programming. Seniors are taught how to cope with the life changes that come with aging, such as loss, isolation or the inability to do activities they once enjoyed.

The program has helped bring light to some of the struggles faced by seniors in the area and allowed BCMH staff to make moves that support their overall wellbeing.

“One of our clients was living in a camper, and we all know that’s not conducive to the weather up here,” said Emily McIntyre, Senior Life Solutions Program Manager at BCMH. “Since starting we were able to get them in an independent living facility. They were getting tearful one day during a group session and on the way home that night our office patient coordinator overheard a conversation between group members and another senior had asked them why they were crying. They said they have never had anybody care about them so much.”

Staying at home with Avel eCare

Funding from Copper Shores’ Mental and Behavioral Health grant has also helped BCMH implement a new program among law enforcement in Baraga County. Every law enforcement agency that operates in Baraga County now works with Avel eCare, a program that connects police officers to mental health professionals, advice and de-escalation techniques that help people remain at home. 

Baraga County Sheriff Joe Brogan said this type of program is a win for everyone. When officers respond to crisis calls without a tool like Avel, they must determine whether or not an individual may harm themselves or others, and if they need to go to a hospital for safety. 

“You're asking your officers to make a decision that they are not qualified to make,” Sheriff Brogan said. “By having a professional give this advice or make a decision, officers are not forced to make a behavioral health decision without the proper training.“

As Sheriff Brogan explained, officers may be sitting in the ER for hours, and the calls for help don’t stop. In a rural area like the Copper Country, the next available officer who can respond to a call may be 45 miles away. 

James Bogan scholarship recipient

Another important fixture of Copper Shores partnership with BCMH is the scholarship program. Chief Financial Officer of BCMH and James Bogan Scholarship recipient Gail Jestila earned her master’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration on Healthcare Management in August of 2023.

“I don’t save lives, I’m not a clinician, doctor or nurse,” said Jestila. “But I get the opportunity to support and help the people that do.”

Jestila clearly and compassionately shares what she has learned while earning her master’s degree to help guide medical staff and patients through billing, finance, materials management and more.

These programs allow people to not only remain at home, but also gives them the tools and resources to live a healthful life in place. The programs that have been funded during 2023 in part by Copper Shores help break down access barriers for people living in Baraga County and bring them more comprehensive services. Copper Shores will continue to work with BCMH as they carry out, improve upon and implement new programming that supports the wellbeing of Baraga County residents.

Learn more about grant opportunities at Copper Shores by visiting, and more about scholarships at Visit for more information about Baraga County Memorial Hospital. 

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Emilie Jacques

Emilie Jacques

"I graduated from Michigan Tech with a B.S. in Psychology, a minor in Communication Studies, and a minor in Media Production. I love the outdoors and DnD." You can reach Emilie at