New collaboration brings over 20,000 onsite COVID-19 tests to Detroit’s residents

A partnership among Altimetrik, a Southfield-based fast-growing global business transformation company, the 501(c)(3) Vattikutti Foundation, Henry Ford Health System and the City of Detroit has provided more than 20,000 onsite COVID-19 tests to residents in 163 of Detroit's senior and congregate living facilities, as well as the city's first responders and essential workers.

The effort was made possible by a $400,000 donation from Altimetrik and the Vattikuti Foundation in April 2020.

"I am deeply appreciative to Altimetrik, the Vattikuti Foundation and Henry Ford Health System for making it possible for us to test residents at all of our senior buildings in the comfort of their own homes," said Mayor Mike Duggan.

"Thanks to their critical support, Detroit has been a national leader in protecting its most vulnerable citizens from the spread of COVID-19."

The partnership has been a critical part of addressing the COVID-19 pandemic in Michigan, specifically in the Detroit area, which has been one of the hardest hit in the state.

As this pandemic has evolved, we have continued working alongside our partners to meet the vital healthcare needs of the communities we serve."

Bob Riney, President, Healthcare Operations and Chief Operating Officer, Henry Ford Health System

"Onsite testing, education, outreach and prevention efforts have been essential to preventing further spread of the coronavirus throughout our communities, particularly in congregate facilities, such as nursing homes.

We remain deeply committed to providing the critical infrastructure necessary to help stop the spread of COVID-19."

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, as of July 19, the State of Michigan has had approximately 7,524 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among residents of long-term care (LTC) facilities, such as nursing homes and senior apartments.

Of those cases, there have been approximately 1,973 deaths due to the virus. The deaths among LTC facility residents represents approximately 31% of Michigan's total number of 6,373 deaths due to COVID-19.

"Long term care and congregate living facilities are home to some of the most vulnerable populations with regard to COVID-19. The philanthropic support of Altimetrik and the Vattikuti Foundation was essential to quickly mobilizing teams to facilitate critical testing and providing adequate personal protective equipment.

Ongoing testing was leveraged to provide control recommendations and to help stop the spread," said John Zervos, executive director of the Global Health Initiative (GHI) at Henry Ford, a unique collaboration of regional healthcare and academic institutions that seek to address some of the most pressing healthcare issues facing underserved populations in Michigan and internationally.

This partnership also helped to establish relationships with affordable housing facilities for seniors in Detroit, which will continue to be critical in addressing the spread of COVID-19.

Staying ahead of outbreaks in congregate settings, specifically senior apartments, is an important part of preventing massive outbreaks within these facilities, Zervos added.

One facility greatly impacted by the partnership was Pablo Davis Elder Living Center, an affordable apartment community for individuals 55 years old and older in Detroit's Southwest side.

According to Phyllis Edwards, LMSW, executive director of Bridging Communities, Inc., which owns the Pablo Davis Elder Living Center, the testing was a critical part of controlling the spread of the virus in the facility.

"It was essential to have all the residents and management team tested to acquire health services swiftly by identifying those who had COVID-19," said Edwards.

"The results allowed for isolating known cases, thereby preventing them from coming into contact with others. The tests and results slowed the rate of transmission. Hopefully, this method of effective onsite testing programs will allow the healthcare experts additional data to better understand how prevalent the disease is and how it is evolving."

While COVID-19 testing at senior and congregate living facilities has been a major focus of this partnership, rapid testing for first responders and other essential city employees was also a crucial element.

Detroit was the first city in the country to secure the Abbott ID-Now instruments and testing kits, which produce results in 15 minutes. In total, more than 10,000 on-site rapid tests were performed on first responders and essential city workers at a clinic set up inside the Detroit Health Department headquarters.

"Protecting our most vulnerable populations, first responders and essential city employees is not only the right thing to do, but also key to mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on all Detroiters and health institutions," said Raj Vattikuti, CEO of Altimetrik and the Vattikuti Foundation.

"The processes and procedures developed and fine-tuned through this partnership will allow our communities to be better prepared should a future wave or surge occur."

The data obtained throughout the partnership shows the rapid testing and outreach program has had a significant impact on reducing morbidity and mortality at nursing homes and other congregate settings and correlates with an overall drop in cases city-wide.

"It is amazing to see the impact of our incredible donors like Altimetrik and the Vattikuti Foundation," said Mary Jane Vogt, senior vice president and chief development officer at Henry Ford Health System.

"Their generous gift will continue to help protect the most vulnerable members of our communities as we work together to stop the spread of COVID-19."


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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