In an effort to reach more Michiganders in need of COVID-19 testing and other public health services, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is partnering with Wayne State University (WSU) and Wayne Health (WH) to provide mobile COVID-19 testing. MDHHS is also seeking to expand this program to four other communities in the coming months.
This new program allows three mobile units to move between sites and serve communities at the highest risk. Locations are chosen in part to help address racial and ethnic disparities that had existed prior to the pandemic and were exacerbated by the virus – a focus of the Racial Disparities Task Force.
“The mobile testing and vaccination partnership with Wayne State University and Wayne Health is just another example of how Michigan is leading the way to bring these critical services to the people,” Lt. Governor Gilchrist said. “We will continue to work diligently to expand access to testing and vaccinations by removing the barriers that limit people from getting the resources they need during this pandemic.”
The partnership between MDHHS and WSU/WH began in September 2020 and is built upon a pilot program conducted by WSU, WH, the Ford Motor Company and ACCESS. MDHHS, WSU and WH have expanded upon this model and are offering flu vaccinations, cardiometabolic risk factor screenings and social determinant assessments with linkages to social services and medical care in addition to COVID-19 testing. Future services could include COVID-19 vaccination.
“Reaching out and taking resources to where Michiganders live makes it easier to access these services and increases the chances of them getting a COVID test or being vaccinated against the flu or having a health screening,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “This partnership is helping address health disparities in communities as well as providing access to resources including emergency food and shelter, unemployment assistance and referrals to other assistance programs.”
Wayne Health’s Mobile Health Unit offers an array of health care screenings, including COVID testing, flu shots, blood pressure screening, HIV testing and on-site referrals for public benefit programs such as Medicaid and unemployment assistance and emergency food and shelter services addressing social determinants. Services are available to persons driving or walking to the site and do not require appointments or prescriptions. MDHHS is working to expand mobile testing in Flint, Lansing, Grand Rapids and Muskegon.
“Partnering with the state will expand our efforts to bring these vital services to more Michigan residents who need them,” said Phillip Levy, M.D., M.P.H., who leads the Mobile COVID Testing Program for Wayne Health and is WSU’s assistant vice president for Translational Sciences and Clinical Research Innovation. “This work is a key element of who we are as a university and as a practice group. Meeting people and providing services where they live is critical not only to containing the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential to improving health in general.”
Since September 2020, the Mobile Health Units have visited more than 91 community locations and tested more than 7,000 people for COVID-19. In addition, 1,589 individuals have requested services with the most common requests being for food resources (424 individuals) followed by assistance with unemployment (283 individuals). Additional service requests include coordination of non-emergency medical transportation and assistance with applications for State Emergency relief, Medicaid/ Medicare and cash/food assistance.
By partnering with Detroit Parent Network (DPN), community navigation services were also provided to patients of the Wayne Health Mobile Units. Approximately 30% of mobile unit encounters request help with things like food, utility assistance, educational enrichment for their children and linkages to a primary care physician. DPN’s Family Health Advocates make sure mobile unit patients are connected to the right resource providers and the right services to fit their needs and that they are not lost to follow-up.
Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus. To learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit Michigan.gov/COVIDVaccine.