COVID-19 Update: COVID-19 Vaccinations Start at Michigan Hospitals, Blue Cross Partners with Dedicated Senior to Open Primary Care Centers in Wayne County, and More

Here is a roundup of the latest news concerning the COVID-19 pandemic in addition to announcements from local, state, and federal governments, as well as international channels. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.
graph of Michigan coronavirus cases
Courtesy of Bridge

Here is a roundup of the latest news concerning the COVID-19 pandemic in addition to announcements from local, state, and federal governments, as well as international channels. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.

COVID-19 Vaccinations Start at Michigan Hospitals
Frontline health care workers at the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor and Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids on Monday were the first people in the state to receive the COVID-19 vaccine approved by the FDA and the CDC. Additional Michigan hospitals are expected to begin vaccinating health care staff later this week.

The first COVID-19 vaccine, produced by Kalamazoo-based Pfizer, marked a milestone in the quest to end the pandemic.

In the coming days and weeks, vaccine doses will arrive at additional Michigan hospitals and other medical centers across the state. The first Michigan citizens to be vaccinated will be priority hospital and health care workers, and staff and residents of long-term care facilities.

For more information about the COVID-19 vaccination in Michigan, visit here.

In Related News: Meijer locations in six states are gearing up for an extensive vaccine administration program.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently announced the U.S. government’s partnership with numerous pharmacies such as Meijer. Pharmacists, pharmacy interns, and pharmacy technicians routinely provide vaccinations in retail and grocery stores. Therefore, the federal government has recognized pharmacy vaccinators as crucial public health partners for increasing access and convenience of COVID-19 vaccines.

As it prepares for vaccines to eventually be distributed, Meijer is focusing on a variety of initiatives to help it provide COVID-19 vaccines to a large number of patients. This includes the development of specific technical solutions to help the retailer to manage both the volume of patients and the need for follow up to ensure patients receive a second dose in a timely manner when required.

Additionally, the company is looking at physical spaces and locations for large-scale clinics, similar to the seasonal flu shot clinics the retailer conducted this fall at large stadiums and outdoor locations. Meijer also has the potential to host COVID-19 clinics inside its stores, as many of its stores are more than 200,000 square feet.

Blue Cross Partners with Dedicated Senior to Open Primary Care Centers in Wayne County
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Dedicated Senior Medical Centers are partnering to open six primary care centers in Wayne County and the surrounding areas. The first four Dedicated centers will open during the summer of 2021.

One of the clinics has been confirmed for the East Warren/Cadieux area of Detroit, the same neighborhood that Blue Cross is investing $5 million in through 2022, a pledge that will help inclusive neighborhood development through Detroit’s Strategic Neighborhood Fund and Affordable Housing Leverage Fund. ChenMed expects to invest $20 to $25 million in the new health centers and hire approximately 200 Detroit employees by 2023.

While the locations of the other five clinics currently are being finalized, they are planned to be in areas where convenient access to primary care providers is limited, in Wayne County and the surrounding areas.

ChenMed, the parent company of Dedicated, is a leading primary care provider offering personalized and affordable services that improve health for seniors. Through this partnership, Dedicated will provide medical care services to Blue Cross members with Individual Medicare Advantage plans, with an emphasis on moderate-to-low income seniors who oftentimes lack access to high-quality primary care.

The ChenMed family of brands, including Dedicated, serve tens of thousands of Medicare-eligible seniors benefiting from Medicare Advantage insurance in 10 states. It provides personalized, coordinated care that detects and manages multiple and complex illnesses using a combination of frequent telehealth and in-person doctor appointments.

$10M in CARES Act Funds Available to Support Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19
Michigan-based small businesses that have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 virus may submit applications for grants of up to $15,000 through the Pure Michigan Small Business Relief Initiative beginning today.

The program will utilize $10 million in federal U.S. Housing and Urban Development CARES Act funding to provide economic assistance to small businesses across Michigan.

Grants will be awarded in the amount of up to $15,000 per eligible business on a “first-in” basis. Information on how to apply – including application questions and instructions and a video tutorial on the application process – as well as eligibility criteria and program guidelines are available here. Businesses planning to apply are encouraged to create their Connect Space account in advance of the application going live.

“We remain focused on getting critically needed relief into the hands of those businesses that need it most,” says Mark A. Burton, CEO of MEDC. “The Pure Michigan Small Business Relief Initiative builds on our commitment to getting funds to small businesses across Michigan and creating a strong foundation for the success of Michigan’s workers and economy.”

The program is intended to meet the urgent need of Michigan businesses including restaurants and bars, lodging providers, live event venues, movie theaters, conference and meeting facilities, indoor recreation facilities, and gyms and fitness centers. The grants under the program will support those businesses facing drastic reductions in cash flow and the continued support of their workforce and may be used for working capital to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, or utility expenses.

EY Announces Detroit Cohort for Black and Latinx Entrepreneur Program
Ernst & Young has introduced the inaugural cohort of the Entrepreneurs Access Network, a business accelerator and executive-level educational program designed to elevate scalable Black- and Latinx-owned companies through access to mentors, resources, and networks.

The inaugural cohort includes entrepreneurs across the U.S., including those based in Detroit.

EAN offers a curated class-based learning program for emerging and established enterprises; an on-demand option with self-paced education is available to Black and Latinx entrepreneurs of all levels nationwide.

EAN’s 12-month curated program includes a company assessment, alignment with a dedicated EY relationship advisor, and a customized learning plan based on the needs and maturity of the company. Participants receive both tangible and intangible guidance, such as guidance in digital transformation, support in upskilling employees, and help developing boards and expanding professional networks.

For more information, visit here.

National Flavors Acquires Canada’s B&D Flavours to Boost North American Presence
Kalamazoo-based flavor producer National Flavors has acquired Bonnie & Don Flavours, a Canadian-based creator of flavors, extracts, and essential oils, and assigned it to the company’s Riverside Flavor Platform, expanding National Flavors’ North American presence. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

“We are excited to continue our growth both organically and through strategic M&A,” says Brian Briggs, CEO of Flavor Platform. “We are fortunate to have guidance and input from our Flavor and Specialty Ingredient Advisory Board. The advisory board of flavor industry experts provides value-added advice to support Riverside’s inorganic growth strategy. B&D Flavours follows the initial platform acquisition of National Flavors in February and GSB & Associates, which joined the platform in June.”

B&D Flavours will continue offering flavor research, creation, production, and distribution services out of a newly renovated facility in Mississauga, Ontario.

“B&D Flavours has strong cultural and value alignment with National Flavors,” says Don Poole, CEO of B&D. “Our team’s flavor expertise and knowledge of the Canadian market pair well with NF’s experience in the U.S.”

Partnership to Help Detroit Police Support Citizens with Mental Health Issues
Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network (DWIHN), is partnering with the Detroit Police Department and the City of Detroit Housing and Revitalization Department, to bring additional behavioral health support to police officers, 911 call takers, and homeless outreach workers when they encounter citizens experiencing mental health challenges.

The collaboration between the organizations through this Behavioral Health Pilot Program will improve police and community relationships along with addressing the mental health needs of the people in the city of Detroit. The pilot partnership goals include:

  • Pilot a 911 mental health crisis call diversion and response staff.
  • Increase police officer access to mental health supports.
  • Develop adequate places to house individuals in need of crisis services.
  • Evaluate and expand Crisis Intervention Team training of police officers and 911 staff.

“These efforts should reduce overall incarceration and hospitalization costs and provide better treatment options to the people we serve,” says Willie E. Brooks Jr., president and CEO of DWIHN. “Jail diversion and homeless outreach lead to connections to treatment. This pilot is more than just training, it is a culture and community shift that bridges the gap between the law enforcement and behavioral health sectors.”

The new partnership has three major components designed to support police officers and housing department employees in the areas they are most likely to encounter someone experiencing a mental health challenge: At the 911 Call Center, during a police response, and when working with an individual experiencing homelessness.

Rehmann to Host Free Webinar Offering Tips for Business Success in 2021
Rehmann, a financial services and business advisory firm in Troy, will host a webinar Dec. 16 from 1-2 p.m. to help businesses prepare for success in the new year.

The webinar will be led by a line-up of finance and business advisory experts from metro Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Grand Rapids, including John Pridnia, Lisa Pohl, Susan West, Steven Gibson and Tony Licavoli.

During the webinar, panelists will discuss Paycheck Protection Program loan deductibility and legislative updates; state conformity to PPP loan forgiveness and remote work; navigating human resources issues and concerns; and managing fiduciary risk while preparing employees for retirement.

Click here to register for the webinar. To view past webinars, visit here.

Michigan Health Endowment Fund Grants Support Older Adults
The Michigan Health Endowment Fund awarded more than $370,000 to a pair of Wayne State University programs aimed at improving the well-being of older adults in the area.

Rosanne DiZazzo-Miller, associate professor of occupational therapy in the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, received a two-year, $221,992 grant for her project, “Supporting African American Older Adults Who Care for Family Members with Dementia.”

Peter Lichtenberg, Distinguished University Service Professor of Psychology and director of the Institute of Gerontology, received an 18-month, $152,231 grant for his project, “Integrating Financial Vulnerability Tools into Geriatric Medical Settings.”

DiZazzo-Miller’s project will design and implement web-based, real-time support and training to African American caregivers, addressing this population’s historical lack of access to culturally relevant information. The goal is that this training will increase caregivers’ knowledge and confidence about providing safe and compassionate care.

Lichtenberg’s project aims to integrate financial vulnerability and capacity tools into geriatric medical care. The program will help protect older adults from financial exploitation through early detection in medical settings.

Both program grants were part of the Health Fund’s Healthy Aging initiative, which supports projects that improve access to care, allow Michigan residents to age in place, and help communities build a culture of emotional support for older adults.

Comerica Donates $100K to Capuchin Soup Kitchen
Comerica Bank has donated $100,000 donation to the Capuchin Soup Kitchen in Detroit.

The bank’s donation supported the soup kitchen’s Thanksgiving Food Drive and the Christmas Food Drive, which takes place Dec. 16-17, and the organization’s 2021 Support Our Capuchin Kitchen (SOCK) fundraiser; and financial education initiatives.

“We are proud to continue investing in Capuchin Soup Kitchen and its mission to serve individuals and families by meeting food security needs as well through social and emergency assistance,” says Mike Ritchie, Michigan market president for Comerica Bank.

“For over 90 years, the Capuchin Soup Kitchen has served a higher purpose through its outreach, vital to community wellness and sustainability. The inspirational efforts of the Capuchin Soup Kitchen during the pandemic exemplify its selfless commitment to others, and we look forward to assisting them in their mission.”

Forgotten Harvest’s Hope for the Holidays to Help Those in Need this Holiday Season
Oak Park nonprofit Forgotten Harvest, in partnership with the Kroger Co. of Michigan, will provide meals to the hungry in time for the holidays as part of its Hope for the Holidays meal volunteer repack event in Royal Oak on Dec. 17.

Hope for the Holidays will provide shelf-stable and fresh food items such as eggs, milk, cheese, frozen green beans, elbow noodles, stuffing and cake mix, along with a turkey breast and pork loin for the one-in-six people in metro Detroit with no access to fresh, healthy food options,

“We are so grateful to Kroger and our community partners for helping, especially during this critical time of need,” says Kirk Mayes, CEO of Forgotten Harvest. “This event will provide accessibility to healthy food options for families dealing with food insecurity.”

Individuals and groups, coordinated through Forgotten Harvest, will package meals on Dec. 17 at 3000 W. 14 Mile Rd. in Royal Oak from 9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. Distribution will begin Dec. 22.

For more information on Hope for the Holidays and other Forgotten Harvest initiatives visit here.

Skiing and Riding Returns to Crystal Mountain Friday
The slopes at Crystal Mountain in Thompsonville (southwest of Traverse City) are on track for opening on Friday Dec. 18.

Snowmaking conditions are favorable over the next few days with low temperatures, low humidity, and easterly winds expected to help Crystal’s snowmaking team prepare the hills.

Crystal Mountain will open for season passholders, Four Season Club members, and houseguests with lift passes on Friday. The general public who have purchased advance lift tickets will be able to ski and ride on Saturday, as conditions allow.

“The resort has 153 snowmaking machines and a team on-call 24 hours a day,” says John Melcher, COO of the resort. “They can blanket the entire resort in about a foot of snow in about 45 hours. So as manmade and natural snow builds from this past weekend and into this week, we’ll open terrain and lifts at a safe pace and an orderly manner.”

COVID-19 protocols will be in place at the resort, like all other ski areas across the country, with a mask policy in effect inside and outside when social distancing cannot be achieved. Those areas outside are in all lifts lines, ski racks, and food service areas.

“Keeping our resort safe, but also open, is a shared responsibility between our guests and our team,” Melcher says. “I am confident we are well positioned, thanks to everyone’s efforts, to be safe to ski safe to stay open.”

The resort has installed RFID lift gates, helping get skiers and riders on the slopes more efficiently. Lift passes are reusable cards and can be reloaded anytime – contactless and cashierless.