Featured photo: MeShae Gordon, The Pistons Mascot Hooper and Dr. Latressa Gordon
Written by Tanya Terry
Michigan United works for an equitable and sustainable world that reflects the organization’s values of economic and racial justice, according to miunited.org. The organization’s website says Michigan United is a coalition of labor, business, social service and civil rights members across Michigan fighting for the rights of homeowners, renters, immigrant families and students.
Dr. Latressa Gordon is a nurse coordinator for Michigan United.
Gordon lost her first cousin because of COVID-19 in January 2021 before the vaccine was available.
“Being in the military and the hospital, just like anybody else, I wanted to use my gifts and talents because this just came like out of nowhere-this pandemic,” she said. ”It’s all hands on deck against COVID-19.”
It was important for Michigan United to partner with many faith leaders, local churches and local organizations to make vaccines more accessible in the community, to improve health literacy, to promote health equity and to create a safe space for questions regarding the vaccine, according to Gordon.
Michigan United provides information about what COVID-19 is, how it spreads, signs and symptoms, what COVID-19 vaccines are made out of, the development of vaccines, as well as post-COVID conditions.
“We provide the community with up-to-date literature from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the health department and the World Health Organization regarding vaccine safety and efficacy,” Gordon stated. “Also, National Healthy Start Association has the information about Vaccines, Myths and Implications for Pregnancy and Breastfeeding. With COVID, the information-‘cause it’s new-is constantly being updated-just like we’re doing right now to try to go to an endemic, with changing the mask mandate and a lot of the hospitals starting to allow visitors.”
According to the CDC, an outbreak is called an epidemic when there is a sudden increase in cases. As COVID-19 began spreading in Wuhan, China, it became an epidemic. Because the disease then spread across several countries and affected a large number of people, it was classified as a pandemic.
Solvhealth.com further explains if COVID were to become an endemic, it would mean COVID is spreading at a controlled speed and has reached and equilibrium. The term endemic is used widely in popular culture.
According to Gordon, churches and organizations often contact Michigan United in order to form a partnership. Michigan United has a Health Navigator Program. Among other functions, Michigan United health navigators identify physical, emotional and cultural needs to help community members access appropriate resources.
Michigan United also contacts churches and organizations to let them know about the services Michigan United provides.
“We do home visits; we’ve done block parties, churches, jobs, group homes and senior centers. Hasselbring (Senior Center) is a place that we frequently provide vaccinations at…We also set up informational tables just for questions and answers about COVID vaccines.”
Gordon said Michigan United never looks at the number of people vaccinated at vaccine clinics and they don’t force the vaccine on anyone, although they do tell people the benefits of being vaccinated. These benefits can include decreasing the risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19, decreasing the risk of being hospitalized, decreasing the risk of needing to be placed on a ventilator and ultimately decreasing the risk of dying.
“If we get one person vaccinated, that’s an achievement. If we don’t get any, we just want people to know they have access to the vaccine and we’re there to provide information”
The Healthy Flint Research Coordinating Center looked at the data for the zip codes to see what areas were hard hit by COVID-19. Gordon pointed out that when the vaccine first came out, the Black and Brown communities were lagging behind in getting vaccinations, though some of these communities were hit the hardest. Michigan United has been providing vaccines across Genesee County, including in Flint, Clio, Davison, Fenton and Grand Blanc. They’ve also provided vaccinations at several McDonald’s restaurants. In addition, they recently received funding through the Community Foundation of Greater Flint to hire more nurses after the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) partnered with entities at all levels to improve vaccine confidence and uptake among certain racial and ethnic groups and in doing so awarded Michigan State University funding to launch a national network of academic, philanthropic, public health, community-based organizations and media partners to implement strategies to improve adult vaccine equity. .
“The health department partnered with Michigan United to go out and bridge the gap in the community because most of the nurses on the team have connections in the community, the public health navigators are leaders in the community and we connect because we’re from the community.”
Michigan United has partnered with MTA to provide transportation for COVID-19 testing and vaccine clinics.
To find out more about transportation to get to an upcoming vaccine clinic Michigan United is involved with, find a vaccine clinic Michigan United is involved with near you, or to find out about Michigan United coming to your home, church or organization email Dr. Latressa Gordon at email@example.com, or call 810-969-0619
To join the Healthy Flint Research Coordinating Center’s noon HRFCC Flint Community COVID-19 Webinar Series April 1 webinar click here: https://www.hfrcc.org/the-2020-hfrcc-research-symposium-and-community-webinars/. The webinar will focus on COVID-19 testing, statistics about COVID-19 and the vaccine, the latest CDC information and other important community resources.