DETROIT. - On a snowy Saturday, people drove and walked up to the parking lot at Oak Grove Ame Church on Detroit's west side for free coronavirus testing. For Pastor Cindy Rudolph, this hits close to home - because she's seen the devastation COVID-19 can cause firsthand.
"We have had loss, but we thank God that most of our members who have had COVID, came through healed," Rudolph said.
Rudolph wanted to help, so she partnered with Wayne State University and its physician group, Wayne Health, to bring their mobile COVID testing program to her community.
"To be in the community is critical," said Chief Innovation Officer with Wayne Health, Dr. Phillip Levy. "People may not have transportation; they may not have the ability to get to a location where testing is being done. In addition, they may not be able to get into a doctor's office."
Since April, Wayne State Healthcare workers have traveled to churches, nursing homes and more. Most of the facilities have been in Metro Detroit. They originally used vans that were borrowed from Ford Motor Company, but now their vehicles are getting a major upgrade - becoming full-fledged mobile health units developed by Ford.
"These vehicles are updated with all the equipment we need to run a testing operation and more," Dr. Levy said. "So, we are here doing COVID testing and nasal swabs. We have the refrigeration capacity to put the swabs that are ready for storage and shipment."
Since the program started, healthcare workers have done nearly 30,000 tests along with additional screenings. Their efforts caught the attention of Michigan's Department of Health and Human Services. Now, the program is expanding. Come Jan. Wayne State will have a fleet of five of these new mobile health units paid for by the state and Oscar Willing Film Director, Steven Soderbergh.
"We need to still do COVID testing and people need to get tested," Dr. Levy said. "So anything we can do to facilitate that and keep our neighbors safe, it what we are here for."
So while the battle against COVID-19 is far from over, some people say they're making much needed progress together.
"Our community as a whole has been hit really hard and it's been difficult, but we are grateful for opportunities like this to make a difference," Rudolph said.
There will also eventually be three additional mobile health units that will travel across the state.