Lorie Turner is using her entrepreneurial experience and 30-year nursing career to get vulnerable Detroiters on the east side vaccinated for COVID-19.
The 57-year-old nurse practitioner opened a not-for-profit medical clinic called God's Path Community Services in September — a life decision made after her husband nearly died of COVID-19. She's using the site to serve unmet needs of nearby residents, like managing hypertension and diabetes or getting a coronavirus test.
A big part of Turner's self-financed mission is vaccinating Detroiters.The small clinic, with an intake room, office, lab and single exam room, is inside Lemay Church of Christ at 2500 Lemay St., just east of the Jefferson North Assembly Plant. Turner has five employees, including 22-year-old daughter Samantha Turner.
News of the vaccination event at God's Path spread rapidly on social media, and Lorie Turner estimated 500-600 people called or texted trying to get an appointment since they opened registration two weeks ago, from as far away as Lansing.
"The information spread like wildfire. Suddenly we were getting calls from all over the state," Samantha Turner said. "We unfortunately had to turn a lot of people away."
God's Path's pop-up vaccine drive is among the first such event put on by the health department. The city is talking with community organizations that can generate lists of vulnerable populations who may not be able to get to the main city vaccination site at the TCF Center garage downtown, Chief Public Health Officer Denise Fair said. Detroit is using employed epidemiologists to target neighborhoods hit hard by the coronavirus and with older populations.
"We have the TCF Center … but this is public health and public health works when we go out into the community," Fair said. "This is just one of the ways we're going to get shots in arms."
The city is also expanding its Senior Saturday vaccination events to four churches a weekend. It started last weekend at Fellowship Chapel and Second Ebenezer churches. Fair said whether or not God's Path gets another vaccination event like this one is "based upon demand."