COVID-19 has exposed large health inequities both nationally and locally, resulting in devastating, even life-and-death consequences. In Michigan, where African Americans make up just 14% of the population, over 40% of the deaths from COVID-19 were African American.
“There are several reasons why racial minority populations are experiencing higher COVID-19 infection rates,” said Dr. Rhae-Ann Booker, Vice President of DEI, Metro Health – University of Michigan Health. “These include underlying health conditions, occupational environment and living situations.”
When it comes to seeking treatment, minority populations are often at a disadvantage with inadequate health insurance, a lack of transportation and language barriers.
Metro Health is working to combat these barriers by bringing free COVID-19 testing and resources into some of the most vulnerable communities in the Greater Grand Rapids area. Beginning the week of June 8, Metro Health mobile units will be rotating to two different sites each week for free walk-up testing and consultations.
Hispanic Center of West Michigan – Beginning the week of June 8
1204 Grandville Ave SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Tuesdays and Fridays from 8-11am
United Methodist Community House – Beginning the week of June 15
904 Sheldon Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49507
Tuesdays from 1-4pm
Those desiring testing do not need to be current patients of Metro Health. They do not need health insurance or identification for the free test. They will simply be asked for their name and contact information so results can be appropriately delivered. In addition to COVID-19 testing, Metro Health will have providers available to answer questions and distribute important resources in both English and Spanish.
“During a crisis like we are facing with coronavirus, it becomes convenient to abandon commitments to principals of diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Dr. Booker. “We will not allow this to happen.”
In addition to our mobile testing, Metro Health also offers free COVID-19 drive up testing at the Metro Health Community Clinic located at 781 36th Street SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506. This site sees an estimated 6,500 patients a year that are medically underserved and may not be comfortable seeking care in other locations. Even in the best of times, healthcare does not look the same for all people. It is not equitable. A pandemic shines a bright light on those inequities. Metro Health is taking an even greater responsibility and accountability so that no group of people is left behind.