December 21, 2020

Soderbergh donation, state support drives expansion of Wayne Health/WSU/Ford mobile COVID testing program; mobile vaccine distribution in the works

Wayne Health and Wayne State University are expanding their COVID-19 mobile testing program thanks to a donation of Ford Motor Company developed and up-fitted mobile health units from Oscar-winning film director Stephen Soderbergh and funding support from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

The program is being expanded to five vehicles – including two Ford mobile health units purchased by Soderbergh in appreciation for COVID testing services by Wayne Health that kept his crew and cast safe during the recent filming of his latest film “No Sudden Move” in Detroit.

The new vehicles are equipped to provide a number of valuable health care procedures, including cold temperature-regulated storage to distribute COVID-19 vaccines when they become available to the general public.

One of the new vehicles was placed into service at a testing event in the city of Warren on Dec. 18; another debuted at a testing event at the Oak Grove AME Church in Detroit on Dec. 19.

Wayne Health, Wayne State University and Ford rapidly developed and launched their free mobile testing program in April – the first of its kind in the nation – to bring much-needed COVID-19 testing to community-based locations across metropolitan Detroit.

The State of Michigan detailed its plan to expand upon the mobile testing infrastructure created by Wayne Health and WSU in its Dec. 3 Racial Disparities Task Force Interim Report detailing Michigan’s success in protecting communities of color from COVID-19.

Training videos are being developed for the launch of new mobile testing programs based upon the Wayne Health/WSU model in Flint, Ingham County and Muskegon.

“It is gratifying to see our testing model being supported, expanded and adopted by others to enhance health and safety for more people in communities across the state,” said Phillip Levy, M.D., M.P.H., who leads the Mobile COVID Testing Program for Wayne Health and WSU. “And it is exciting to see our mobile model pivoting to the delivery of the long-awaited COVID-19 vaccines.”

Dr. Levy is WSU’s assistant vice president for Translational Sciences and Clinical Research Innovation, a professor and associate chair for Research in the Department of Emergency Medicine, and Wayne Health’s chief innovation officer.

“Through close work with Dr. Levy and the WSU/Wayne Health team, we have developed and prototyped an upfitted Ford Transit designed initially for mobile COVID 19-testing, then iterated and improved upon for general public health care provisioning. We believe the purchase of these mobile health units reflects the quality of our collaboration, accuracy of the upfit design and the benefit to their staff and the communities where they are being deployed,” said Kristin Welch, manager, Strategy & Operations, Ford X.

Since the program’s launch, the Wayne Health/WSU/Ford mobile testing vehicles have visited more than 200 locations and tested nearly 30,000  people. Testing is free and does not require a prescription or symptoms of COVID-19. Testing has been provided at schools, churches, nursing homes and other municipal centers throughout southeast Michigan.

Along with COVID-19 testing, participants in the mobile testing events can receive flu shots, blood pressure screening, HIV testing and on-site referrals for public benefits like Medicaid and cash assistance, unemployment assistance, emergency food and shelter services. Such linkages are provided through partnerships with ACCESS and the Detroit Parent Network.

For more information on the mobile testing units, including the site schedule, visit


Phil Van Hulle, Wayne State University School of Medicine
Phone: 586-206-8130
Colette Stimmell
Phone: 248-880-8881

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