MCHD scheduling next wave of vaccines; local pandemic-related grants awarded

Restaurants supported, out-of-pocket costs to be waived

Community Foundation of Marquette County CEO Zosia Eppensteiner, center, and United Way of Marquette County Executive Director Andrew Rickauer, right, present a check from the COVID-19 Community Response Fund to Negaunee Senior Center Director Kristy Malmsten. (Photo courtesy of the Community Foundation of Marquette County)

MARQUETTE — The Marquette County Health Department announced that it will begin calling residents from a pre-registration list today to schedule about 650 vaccine appointments for Saturday.

Staff will contact registrants based on their places on the list. Adults 65 and older were eligible to pre-register for the vaccine. Individuals who have pre-registered should watch for a phone call from 906-475-9977 or similar number.

The MCHD, which will make two attempts to call, will leave a message on the first attempt so individuals can be prepared for the second call. The names of people who miss the calls will remain on the list for the next round of appointments.

Anyone scheduled for an appointment is asked not to arrive more than five minutes before the appointment time. Individuals needing to cancel their appointments should call 906-475-7847 with as much advance notice as possible.

People 65 and above who wish to be placed on the pre-registration list should visit www.mqthealth.org or call 906-475-7847. Phone lines will be staffed from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday until further notice. Online registrants will receive email confirmations, although the MCHD noted that some registratants have reported the confirmations going to junk mailboxes.

Community Foundation of Marquette County CEO Zosia Eppensteiner, far left, and United Way of Marquette County Executive Director Andrew Rickauer, far right, present a COVID-19 Community Response Fund check to Marquette Alger Resolution Services Executive Director Jennine Frazier, inside right, and case manager Susan Maynard, inside left. (Photo courtesy of the Community Foundation of Marquette County)

Individuals are not to register more than once.

The MCHD said vaccine allotments have remained inconsistent, but more information about future clinics will be released once it becomes available.

Foundation awards grants

The COVID-19 Community Response Fund, a collaboration of the Community Foundation of Marquette County and United Way of Marquette County, recently granted over $35,000 to 23 nonprofits in the county. These grants were given as phase two of the fund, supporting operational expenses for local nonprofits.

The COVID-19 Community Response Fund volunteer committee has met weekly or biweekly since March to establish the fund, review applications and quickly disperse grants as part of phase one. The fund distributed over $88,000 in grants during the first phase, supporting basic needs, such as food for children and seniors, as well as protective equipment for frontline workers and volunteers, among many other requests.

At bottom left, Room at the Inn volunteers Gabriel Gonzalez, left, RATI Executive Director Nick Emmendorfer and Ashleigh Esch wash the windows of local businesses along West Washington Street in Marquette for Spread Goodness Day in March 2019. Room at the Inn was one of the nonprofits that recently was granted funds from the COVID-19 Community Response Fund. (Journal file photo)

The committee met in January to review applications for the second phase of the funding, providing operational support for nonprofits. These organizations have been affected by decreases in funding typically provided by fundraising events and admission or program fees. The committee awarded $35,620 in phase two grants to help offset these losses.

In the last 10 months, the COVID-19 Community Response Fund has awarded over $124,000 in phase one and phase two grants to county nonprofits and charitable causes.

The phase two grant recipients are: 906 Community Church; Bay Cliff Health Camp; Big Brothers Big Sisters of Marquette and Alger Counties, Inc.; Cancer Care of Marquette County; Care Clinic; Forsyth Township Police; Girl Scouts; Hope Free Lutheran Church; Ishpeming Historical Society; Janzen House; and Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly.

Also, Marquette Alger Resolution Services; Marquette Regional History Center; MooseWood Nature Center; Negaunee Senior Center; NICE Community Schools; Room at the Inn; St. Anthony’s Catholic Parish; Superior Children’s Advocacy; Superior Housing Solutions; the Salvation Army in Marquette and Ishpeming; Trillium House; and the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum.

Lume supporting restaurants

Betsy Rutz, Marquette Regional History Center educator, shows a piece of art to 11-year-old Beau Deiter of Marquette, at left, and his brother, Lucas, 9, during an event held by the history center over the summer. The MRHC was one of 23 local nonprofits awarded a grant through the COVID-19 Community Response Fund, a collaboration of the Community Foundation of Marquette County and United Way of Marquette County. (Journal file photo)

Lume Cannabis Company on Monday announced a partnership with four restaurants in Marquette and Sault Ste. Marie to support local eateries that have been closed for indoor dining because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Participating restaurants are including a 10% off coupon for Lume products with every carry-out order this month.

“The last 11 months have been incredibly trying for restaurant owners and their employees throughout the Upper Peninsula, and we wanted to do a little something to encourage people to place carry-out orders this month,” said Doug Hellyar, president and COO of Lume, in a news release.

The following Upper Peninsula restaurants are participating: DIGS Spirits & Streetfood, 154 W. Washington St., Marquette; Guido’s Premium Pizza, 2673 Ashmun St., Sault Ste. Marie; Fuji Japanese Steak House and Sushi, 3390 I-75 Business Spur A, Sault Ste. Marie; and the Wicked Sister, 716 Ashmun St., Sault Ste. Marie.

“At Lume, we pride ourselves on giving back to the communities we call home, and this is just another way to support other local businesses during these challenging times,” Hellyar said. “While indoor dining has reopened across the state, capacity is limited and carry-out orders remain essential in sustaining our local restaurants.”

Restaurants interested in partnering with Lume should reach out to its local stores, which include a location in Negaunee, to sign up. Locations can be found at www.lume.com.

Out-of-pocket costs waived

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services on Monday announced that Michigan has secured agreements from nearly all of the state’s hea

th insurers to extend their commitments to waive all out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 testing, vaccinations and treatments.

These agreements cover more than 92% of the commercial health insurance market in Michigan, according to the governor’s office.

“As we continue working to combat this global pandemic and save lives, the very last thing that Michiganders should have to worry about is whether their health insurance will cover the costs of their care,” Whitmer said in a statement. “I’m pleased that these agreements with health insurers will be extended to ensure Michigan residents everywhere can equitably access COVID-19 testing, treatment and vaccinations as we work together to end this pandemic.”

As an extension of previous agreements, consumers with various individual and group health plans will not be charged cost-sharing, including copays, deductibles and coinsurance, for medically appropriate COVID-19-related medical treatment, such as primary care visits, diagnostic testing, emergency room visits, ambulance services, and approved medications and vaccines.

“Eliminating financial barriers to getting care helps Michiganders focus on prevention and getting well, not on how they are going to pay medical bills,” DIFS Director Anita Fox said in a statement. “Protecting Michiganders’ health and financial wellness during this pandemic continues to be our top priority, and I am grateful that so many of Michigan’s health insurers have agreed to continue to do their part.”

The insurers who have agreed to waive cost-sharing are: Aetna, expiring Feb. 28; Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Blue Care Network, expiring March 31; HAP, Alliance Health, expiring March 31; McLaren Health Plan, expiring March 31; Meridian Health Plan, expiring April 21; Molina Healthcare Michigan, expiring March 31; Oscar, expiring March 31; Physicians Health Plan, expiring June 30; and Priority Health, Priority Health Insurance Co., expiring March 31.

Federal law requires health insurers to provide no-cost coverage for COVID-19 testing and vaccinations, though not necessarily for COVID-19 treatment, during the federal public health emergency that is currently set to expire on April 21. Consumers with Medicaid or Medicare may also receive a no-cost COVID-19 test, vaccination and related services provided by a health care provider.

Consumers with coverage from an insurer not named in the state agreement, such as Humana, Paramount or United, should contact their insurance companies to find out about their coverage before incurring costs.

DIFS can help consumers with health insurance questions and complaints and can provide information about the upcoming Health Insurance Marketplace special enrollment period that will be open from Monday through May 15. Contact DIFS from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 877-999-6442 or Michigan.gov/HealthInsurance.

Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.


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