DETROIT – The American Public Health Association (APHA) recently selected the Michigan Developmental Disabilities Institute (MI-DDI) at Wayne State University and the Michigan Vaccination Partners project to be featured in the APHA 2023 Thought Leadership Film Series. The series profiles cutting-edge efforts to address public health issues being led by researchers, advocates and organizations across the country. The film premiered during the 2023 APHA Annual Meeting, which was held Nov. 12-15 in Atlanta.
APHA’s Annual Meeting is America’s preeminent public health conference, drawing more than 10,000 attendees each year. The Thought Leadership Series is part of APHA TV, which is produced and shown widely during the Annual Meeting.
“We are honored to be recognized by APHA for our critical work addressing health disparities” notes Sharon Milberger, director of MI-DDI. “People with disabilities were six times more likely to die from COVID-19. The pandemic put the spotlight on other health disparities experienced by people with disabilities, such as higher rates of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and depression. These inequities existed long before COVID-19 and will persist long after the pandemic if we don’t act now.”
The Michigan Vaccination Partners is a collaboration between MI-DDI, the Autism Alliance of Michigan and Disability Rights Michigan. The program began in 2021 and is funded by a COVID-19 Supplement IV grant through the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The Michigan Vaccination Partners’ vision is healthy communities for all.
To achieve this vision, a set of criteria have been developed for health care organizations to become a Most Valuable Provider, or MVP-certified. Criteria include completion of disability awareness training, ADA-compliance, completion of a phone consultation to discuss sensory friendly strategies and the collection of disability status.
“This last criteria should not be overlooked", states Milberger. “Data collection is a fundamental pillar of public health. We can’t show how we are moving the needle on disparities without good baseline data on disability status.”
The APHA film focuses on the positive impact that MVP has in offering vaccination and health clinic experiences that are accessible and welcoming to all people across Michigan, including those with disabilities. Two MVP champions — Wayne Health Mobile Unit and the Detroit Health Department — are featured in the film.
”Our goal is to get as many health care providers as possible in Michigan certified,” states Milberger. “We are committed to continuing and expanding this important work after our grant funding ends and hope to serve as a national model for addressing health disparities experienced by people with disabilities.”
Learn more about the APHA Thought Leadership Series at apha.org/Events-and-Meetings/Annual/Media/APHA-TV. Visit ddi.wayne.edu/mvp to learn more about the MVP Project and its statewide efforts.