M3 presents Embark project before Michigan Public Service Commission

Third-year OUWB student Maayan Yakir and her Embark research and scholarship program mentor Mary Smyth, M.D., recently presented their work on energy insecurity affecting young children in the state to the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC).

This presentation began as Yakir’s Embark project, which explored energy and water insecurity and its effect on the health and safety of children under three years of age. She selected this topic after learning about lack of home access to utilities for young children and what health care providers can do to assist their patients.

“I chose this project because I wanted to quantify the issue within the metro-Detroit and Detroit community to see if lack of utilities was affecting young children’s health in the home and to use our data to help change policies locally and/or on a state level to better assist our most vulnerable pediatric patients,” she said.

As a result of their compelling findings, the two were invited to join the Commission's Health, Safety and Walk-away Issues Subcommission in the Low-Income Workgroup. Now, in partnership with the MPSC and a host of other public, private and non-profit organizations in Michigan, Maayan and Dr. Smyth are working to ensure that vulnerable populations have access to both housing and utility assistance.

“Spreading awareness on this topic has been one of the most meaningful experiences I have had since beginning medical school,” Yakir said. “Working on this project motivates me to continue to dedicate my work to finding solutions: to ask difficult questions and to search for ways to improve our health care system through collaborations with other disciplines.”

Yakir looks forward to continuing work on her project in hopes of providing more young children with gas, electricity and water in homes. When she becomes a physician, she would like to apply the skills she has developed to engage with troublesome gaps in care and access to resources for patients.