Mass vaccination sites -- like the TCF Center and Ford Field -- are being hailed as successes, but many people who cannot leave their homes are feeling left behind.
For nearly three decades, Marla Ruhana has been taking care of the elderly or those with disabilities. As a social worker in Metro Detroit, she said the pandemic has turned her world upside down.
“I actually think telehealth has been actually a way of connection to most people,” Ruhana said. “And they all report that as far more convenient than coming into a house.”
Often, Ruhana’s patients are completely or partially homebound, which means getting them vaccinated has been nearly impossible to navigate.
“I think that the way we treat our older adults is very unfortunate,” Ruhana said. “I feel we’re doing them a tremendous disservice, and that they have been completely disregarded and overlooked.”
It’s something the state has noticed too as it launches a new effort to get more mobile vaccine units to those who are most vulnerable.
“I feel like we could get backpacks on the backs of nurses to go into the homes when they’re doing their home care visits like Meals on Wheels,” Ruhana said. “Or have our police and fire help with mobile units to help these people out.”
What the state of Michigan has in mind is very similar. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services sent out a call Thursday for vaccination venders able to reach homebound patients and other high-risk, low-access communities. Its goal is to vaccinate 2,000-6,000 more patients.
The 11-day pause on the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine was a setback as it was the most efficient way to get many homebound patients fully vaccinates. As the timeline for those shots resuming in Michigan is uncertain, the mobile rollout is uncertain too.