DETROIT (FOX 2) - Wayne State University is expanding its mobile COVID-19 testing unit.
"This new model of taking care to the people and delivering it on their terms, is really a bright spot that's come of this," said Dr. Phillip Levy.
Outside Soloman's Temple Church on Detroit's east side, people drove up to healthcare workers covered in PPE on Friday. This is part of the first COVID-19 mobile testing program in the country, by Wayne State University and its physician group Wayne Health. they first noticed the need back in April.
"The population in Detroit - particularly the African-American population was suffering disproportionately from Covid both with caseload and mortality and we realized a lot of the population was under social circumstances that would make it challenging for them to easily get a test,:" said Levy, chief innovation officer, Wayne Health.
With a fleet of vans Wayne State brought the tests to the community. Now the mobile program visits churches- nursing homes and more mostly across metro Detroit.
Nearly 30,000 tests later - it caught the attention of Michigan's Department of Health and Human Services. now the program is expanding- and the mobile health units will get a big boost.
"The real nice thing with these vehicles they have dual sliding doors so when the awnings are down the side wraps are on there and the sliding doors are open," he said. "You get to create this whole contained environment to be heated and air-conditioned whatever it is and it creates a comfortable environment to continue to do the type of testing we've been doing."
Ford Motor Company developed the vehicles which will be paid for by the state and Oscar-winning film director Stephen Soderbergh. The new mobile health units will start to roll out on Saturday with Wayne State having a fleet of five by early 2021. Meanwhile, there is a lot more than Covid testing.
"We pivoted very quickly to add HIV screening, blood pressure measurement, we do blood bass lab work in the field, we draw blood through windows of cars," Levy said.
Now for many this program provides new hope in the fight against the coronavirus.
"It's doing all we can to help our community be healthy and well/ the system is not here to let you down the system to lift you up," Levy said.
There is a lot of technology inside the vehicles as well including refrigeration to keep vaccines cold should they be able to eventually administer them. there will also be three additional vehicles traveling across the state.