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Mobile health program addresses needs of minority families across metro Detroit

April 2, 2021

By: Phillip Levy, M.D., Department of Family Medicine

Across the U.S., minority populations have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, at higher risk of getting sick and dying from COVID. This should come as no surprise as minorities are also disproportionately affected by other medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.  Access to health care is one of the factors that plays into health disparities in minority communities.

Wayne Health and the Wayne State University School of Medicine have long been dedicated to addressing health disparities in minority and other vulnerable populations in Detroit. That is why we quickly jumped in to provide access to rapid, drive-through COVID testing last March when Detroiters were hard hit by the pandemic.

In April 2020, through a partnership with Ford Motor Co., our drive-through testing program evolved into a ”drive-to” testing program that meets people where they are. We brought COVID testing into the community with a mobile health program that offers free COVID testing at easy-to-access community locations. Since then, more than 34,500 people have received COVID testing through Wayne Health Mobile Units at schools, churches and community centers in Detroit and across southeastern Michigan.

But COVID testing is not all that we offer. We saw this as an opportunity to further equalize health care access and meet other needs by expanding our services to include free blood pressure, cholesterol and HIV testing, as well as COVID-19 vaccines, when doses are available to us. Through partnerships with ACCESS and the Detroit Parent Network, we also offer on-site referrals to a variety of social services, such as community resources for health insurance, food, employment, utility assistance and more.

In the Dec. 3 Racial Disparities Task Force Interim Report, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services detailed its plan to build upon our mobile testing infrastructure because of its success in protecting communities of color from COVID-19. More recently, MDHHS announced plans to launch new mobile testing programs based upon our model in Flint, Ingham County and Muskegon.

Although it is gratifying to see our testing model being supported, expanded and adopted by others, what is most gratifying is its positive impact on those we serve.

April is National Minority Health Month. Through our mobile health program, we’ve improved the health and well-being of minority families at higher risk of COVID, heart disease and other medical conditions and addressed social determinants affecting health.

Meeting community needs is our mission; serving at-risk populations is our passion. Throughout 2021 and beyond, we will continue to expand and evolve our mobile health program to achieve our vision of sustainably improving the health of those who need it most.

Our Wayne Health Family Medicine physicians and providers are dedicated to providing excellent care to all their patients. To make an appointment with one of our Wayne Health expert Family Medicine physicians, visit our website or call 877-929-6342.

Mobile health program addresses needs of minority families across metro Detroit

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