By Tom Travis
Harris Family Health, Flint’s first direct primary care clinic, is opening in downtown Flint in January, 2023. It is a membership-based primary care clinic started by Flint native, Dr Aisha [pronounced eh-sha] Harris MD, aimed at offering members more time and access to their doctor so they can prioritize their health and get the care they deserve with no surprise bills. A Grand Opening will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Northbank Center, 432 N Saginaw St, Suite 401A, Flint, MI 48502.
Since graduating from medical school, completing a physician’s residency in Chicago, and working the last two years at Hamilton Community Health Clinic in Flint, Harris saw barriers to quality healthcare with many of her patients. Some of those barriers include: financial, high deductibles; patients finding it difficult to afford co-pays; difficulty getting to a doctor; difficulty scheduling appointments because so many doctors are over-booked; and patients who are uninsured.Click this link for the Harris Family Health website. Dr. Aisha Harris, MD Board Certified Family Medicine Physician Phone: (810) 214-0075 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Address: 432 N. Saginaw St. Suite 401A, Flint MI 48502
“The pandemic changed access in health care by people doing telephone or video calls to medical professionals more,” Harris said. “That closed some of the gap but it is still a challenge for many to get to a doctor.” She said she plans to utilize telephone and video calls for appointments.
Harris explained, “People let their health problems build up…I kept hearing these challenges that people were having and I felt that we [the medical community] … weren’t doing the community justice as far as the best care they could get.”
After years of experience in the traditional health system, Harris decided she wanted to provide an innovative and affordable way to access primary care and decrease the hassle and barriers to quality health care. Harris Family Health is an affordable membership based primary care service that does not involve health insurance and provides comprehensive care starting at The monthly membership fee is $30/month for children (ages 4-17), $60/month for adults under 40 years of age and $80/month for adults over age 40.
Harris will see patients in her seventh floor office in the Northbank Center Building on Saginaw Street just north of the Flint river. Harris is a Family Practice physician and can see patients from infancy to the elderly. Harris explains there will be discounted wholesale prices for labs and medications to save patients money. Harris adds that Direct Primary Care is an alternative to health coverage for the community, especially those with no insurance, high deductible health plans, or small businesses that want to provide health benefits to employees, according to a press release from Harris Family Health.
The Direct Primary Care model is about 20 years old, explained Harris. “As the health care system has changed and expanded into large health systems and less personalized. Direct Primary Care has grown nationally,” Harris added.
Harris said she hopes her clinic helps patients feel empowered to make the best decisions you want and make them more affordable. Direct Pay Care is new to Flint but it is a great opportunity to feel like they can improve their health outcomes, to feel like they have someone in their corner advocating for them and feel like they have strong doctor/patient relationship, according to Harris.
A 2011 UM-Flint graduate, Harris returned to Flint in 2020 after her training in Chicago at the University of Illinois and medical school in Washington, DC at Georgetown University. Harris is a board certified Family Medicine physician whose goal is to improve health access and outcomes in the Flint and Genesee County community. She wants to “be a resource for the community and provide people with an alternative to the frustrating health system.”
Health care is becoming less accessible for many residents of Flint and Genesee County, with 60 per cent of Genesee County residents reporting difficulty getting appointments. Additionally, the high cost of medical care is pricing people out with one in two people worrying about their deductible and one in four people not picking up medications because of cost.
Overall, medical debt is the leading cause of bankruptcy in the United States, and each year more and more people opt to avoid the health system and not address health problems because of concern for medical debt, poor health access, or lack of trust in the health system. Patients can enroll today by visiting harrisfamilyhealth.com and all are welcome to come to the Grand Opening in January, according to Harris.
“I always knew I wanted to come back to Michigan” – Dr. Aisha Harris
While working in the traditional health care system, Harris described an “ah-ha” moment: “While I was in Chicago and doing my residency I was observing. I always knew I wanted to come back to Michigan. When I began to practice medicine at Flint’s Hamilton Health Clinic I became more and more aware of the barriers my patients were facing. That’s when I began to think about going out on my own to practice medicine. I began to research Direct Primary Care last year and had learned about it a little bit in medical school but didn’t fully understand it, yet. The direct primary care idea is exciting to me.”Click this link for the Harris Family Health website. Dr. Aisha Harris, MD Board Certified Family Medicine Physician Phone: (810) 214-0075 Email: email@example.com Address: 432 N. Saginaw St. Suite 401A, Flint MI 48502
“I want to talk to people and understand what they’re going through”
Harris’ initially began as an chemical engineering student at UM-Flint but switched to pre- med in her junior year. She explained that her interest in science began at a young age. She participated in programs at Kettering during high school.
She said when she was 17 she had decided to major in Chemical Engineering in college. “When I was 17, the idea of four years of college then going to medical school, just wasn’t in my planned trajectory.” Harris admits she didn’t really know anyone else headed to medical school, so planning for it just wasn’t in her head.
“I spent the summer before my senior year of college in New Orleans and volunteered at an HIV/AIDS house,” she recalled. “From that experience I felt like I wanted to do more direct care with patients. I don’t want to be in the background somewhere making the equipment or making the drugs I want to talk to people and understand what they’re going through. I graduated in 2011 but changed my path in 2010.”Click this link for the Harris Family Health website. Dr. Aisha Harris, MD Board Certified Family Medicine Physician Phone: (810) 214-0075 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Address: 432 N. Saginaw St. Suite 401A, Flint MI 48502
Harris explained even though she’s not working in her original field of study, chemical engineering, she sees that she uses some of the skills she learned from it, like problem solving, figuring out how things work, logistics and being systematic. “In engineering you don’t have to memorize things — you have to figure it out, use your resources . for the studying of medicine it involves a lot of memorizing. But once I got beyond the memorizing part of studying medicine,” explained Harris.
“I’m very nervous. In medicine they don’t really train us to go out on our own,” Harris confessed. “Our health care systems are moving farther away from patient centered care and I want to get back to that.”
Banner photo by Tom Travis of Dr. Aisha Harris in her seventh floor Northbank medical office.
EVM Managing Editor Tom Travis can be reached at email@example.com.