Mercy Health Saint Mary’s and Cherry Health, in coordination with Kent County Health Department, are testing all guests who stay at the Mel Trotter Ministries in downtown Grand Rapids.
On Monday, April 20, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s and Cherry Health began by testing the men and women who are at highest risk for COVID-19, with the goal of having results by Tuesday, April 21. In addition to the 110+ guests who came to the testing centers, the Saint Mary’s staff planned to visit Mel Trotter on Tuesday to continue testing those who are not able to travel.
By getting all (Mel Trotter) guests tested for COVID-19, we can support safe housing and public health at Mel Trotter Ministries, which serves more than 400 guests per night at its facility in the Heartside neighborhood.
Mercy Health provided testing to guests at its Wege Parking Garage Test Center, and Cherry Health at its walk-up tent, each providing appropriate PPE to Mel Trotter onsite staff, along with healthy snacks and a safe waiting area for those being tested.
“This is a proactive strategy to reduce transmission in this at-risk community,” said Liberty Jacques, DNP, RN, ACNS-BC, CIC, Director of Infection Prevention & Control and Professional Practice & Development, at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s. “Offering this testing to one of our most vulnerable populations embodies Mercy Health’s commitment to be a compassionate and transforming healing presence within our community.”
“Partnering with Mercy Health and other community agencies to address the health needs of our most at-risk community members reduces disparities in healthcare access. We are pleased to partner and look forward to further narrowing the gap through these relationships,” said Kerrie Barney, Director of Nursing at Cherry Health.
Mel Trotter Ministries provided a list of guests needing testing, and then transported guests four at a time by van to the testing sites. The process was smooth, allowing a few people at a time to be tested and transported to and from the testing site.
As incentive to participate, Kent County Health Department supplied individuals who were tested with bus vouchers. McDonald’s also donated gift cards which Mercy Health Saint Mary’s staff distributed to all who were tested.
Guests will wait at Mel Trotter until they receive their results. Once results are back, housing will be organized to separate those who have tested positive from those who tested negative.
“Individuals experiencing homelessness are some of the most vulnerable yet underserved people in our community,” said Dennis Van Kampen, President/CEO of Mel Trotter Ministries. “There is no way we could continue to provide all of the support that is required during this crisis on our own. The testing that Mercy Health Saint Mary’s and other local healthcare organizations is providing will help flatten the curve both within our mission and within the West Michigan community at large. We could not be more grateful for their generous assistance during this time.”