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Shut-in, but not shut out: Mobile team in Howard County delivers COVID vaccines

Posted at 1:56 PM, Feb 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-17 07:29:14-05

WEST FRIENDSHIP, Md. — The smile on her face says it all.

18-year-old Cassidy is the first shut-in patient in Howard County to receive a house call by a Mobile Integrated Community Health or ‘MICH’ team delivering a COVID vaccination, which could save her life.

The teams of paramedics and nurses got their start with a grant from the Horizon Foundation five years ago, and their goal is to improve care for patients on the spot who previously would have required transport to emergency rooms.

“This week, our MICH program is going to be working in close coordination with some of the agencies I’ve already mentioned on reaching those individuals who are both developmentally disabled or who live in group or congregate living facilities,” said Fire & Rescue Medical Director Dr. Matthew Levy, “We know that both of those population often have trouble coming to us.”

At a time when hospitals run the risk of running out of beds, the MICH teams help keep them from straining their resources when they can least afford it, while providing care for those who are among those who need it the most.

“People are nervous,” said Howard County Fire & Rescue Services Chief Bill Anuszewski, ”These are trying times. Nobody really knows what’s going to come out of this so there is that fear factor of ‘Am I being forgotten?’”

For those interested in these special deliveries, you’re asked to go to the Howard County Health Department’s website and fill out a survey to make sure you qualify.

You can also call the department’s COVID line at 410-313-6284.

For those who have witnessed the vaccinations firsthand, like Dr. Levy, the impact of the service on the patient leaves an impact.

“Watching them feel like they can take a breath with a little bit of reassurance of relief has been an incredibly powerful thing to witness and see,” said Dr. Levy, “So, yes, I think it definitely has helped ease some of their concerns.”