Dr. Derrick Williamson, MSUCOM: New Providers and Educators in the Neighborhood

The Eastside of Detroit is underserved in many areas, including medical care.  To help meet that need, the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine (MSUCOM) is operating the former Vanguard Family Healthcare clinic on Mack Avenue as the Popoff Clinic.  The clinic was bustling from the day it opened early in January, according to Derrick Williamson, D.O., medical director.

Dr. Williamson, who is also program director for the Family Medicine residency at Authority Health, views this practice as an ideal training site for resident physicians, and will allow him to provide care to more people.

Dr. Williamson and Dr. Bortnem see a patient a the new Popoff Clinic, operated by Michigan State University College of Medicine.

“We provide more than just health care at this clinic,” he says. “We plan to bring back the feeling of the family physician who knows the neighborhood.” Dr. Williamson is working with State Rep. Alberta Tinsley-Talabi to create a community engagement strategy that expands awareness throughout the Eastside. “It is important that this area have an active medical practice and help meet the many needs of our patients, including resolving some of the social determinants affecting their conditions.”

He also sees the clinic as contributing to changing the perception of Detroit, and specifically the Eastside. Dr. Williamson, a Detroit native, says, “I’m striving to change the perception of the city. I want to introduce a new perception through community-based family medicine. This clinic will become a familiar place that people can come for quality medic al care in a neighborly atmosphere.”

Dr. Williamson and Dr. Bortnem tend to a patient at the new Popoff Clinic located on Mack Avenue. It operates in the former Vanguard Family Healthcare Clinic.

Dr. Williamson says medical residents will learn a great deal as they support him in providing medical care for the clinic’s patients. “Our residents will learn a lot at this training site. They will have the opportunity to treat patients of all ages, genders, and medical histories. They will be able to increase their diagnostic, communicative, and compassion for a population that has been without a physician in this facility for over a year.”

The clinic was a gift to MSUCOM from the family of Michael Popoff, D.O., a longtime family physician serving the community, who died in 2015. William Strampel, D.O., MSUCOM dean, said there are many possibilities for the clinic. “The future could be unlimited. Michigan State could have a big primary care presence in that area and I think ultimately we are going to look at prenatal issues. We may end up looking at a nurse practitioner or an obstetrics and gynecology residency.”

MSUCOM has a close working relationship with Authority Health, serving as its academic partner in the Authority Health Graduate Medical Education teaching health center program. There are currently 73 primary care residents training in over 50 community health centers and offices like the Popoff Clinic in hopes that some will establish their practices in the community.

Dr. Derrick Williamson, medical director of the Popoff Clinic, works with Dr. Jason Bortnem, a resident from Authority Health.

As one of Authority Health’s faculty physicians, Dr. Williamson concludes that there is added value to the presence of MSUCOM on Detroit’s Eastside. “Many years ago, my son expressed to me the responsibility that I have as a physician to share my knowledge with those who are following in the footsteps of the Osteopathic profession. It is fulfilling to see the growth of the students and the residents.”