On February 3, 2021, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced it will expand mobile COVID-19 testing and other public health services in partnership with Wayne State University (WSU) and Wayne Health (WH). The partnership between MDHHS, WSU, and WH began in September 2020 and is an extension of a pilot program between WSU, WH, Ford Motor Company, and The Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS). According to MDHHS, the mobile health units will provide critical health services, COVID-19 testing to high-risk communities, and reduce barriers to healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pilot program, which began in April 2020, was an extension of drive-through COVID-19 testing sites in Detroit and Dearborn, with financial support from WSU. Ford Motor Company provides vehicles, drivers, tents, sanitation, power, and Wi-Fi for mobile testing. Each mobile unit will be equipped for COVID-19 testing with medical staff and tools provided by WSU and ACCESS.
The new program will allow three mobile units to travel between sites and provide COVID-19 testing and other healthcare services to communities at the highest risk. MDHHS, WSU, and WH have expanded the pilot program to offer flu vaccinations, cardiometabolic risk factor screenings, and social determinant assessments, in addition to the already offered services such as blood pressure screening, HIV testing, and on-site referrals for public benefits including Medicaid, unemployment assistance, as well as food and shelter programs. The mobile unit program has also partnered with Detroit Parent Network (DPN) to supply community navigation services to patients who utilize the mobile health units. DPN family health advocates ensure patients are connected to the proper resource providers, such as utility assistance, child enrichment, food assistance, referrals to primary care physicians, and ensure the mobile health unit patients are available to follow-up. The services are available to all individuals who walk or drive to the mobile units, and no appointments or prescriptions are required.
The program currently services Southeast Michigan, but will be expanded to include Flint, Lansing, Grand Rapids, and Muskegon in the coming months. The newest mobile unit vehicles are also equipped with cold temperature regulated storage, with the goal to distribute COVID-19 vaccines once they are available to the general public. Since September 2020, the mobile health units have serviced more than 91 locations and tested over 7,000 people for COVID-19.
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