Demand for hospital space could peak in May, says Spectrum CEO

Posted at 10:10 PM, Mar 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-31 05:21:02-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The rate of grown of COVID-19 cases in Michigan is as fast or faster than that of New York, the American epicenter of coronavirus cases, said Spectrum Health CEO Tina Freese Decker in a video posted Monday night.

Freese Decker released a video on Vimeo acknowledging the struggles that all Michigan residents are facing and promising to use every detail they can to fight COVID-19.

"We are living in an unprecedented time," Freese Decker said. "As we fight a deadly virus that is rapidly spreading, our economy, our connections and our lives are being constantly challenged in significant ways. Life as we know it has changed, and it will continue to change. At Spectrum Health, we are leaving no stone unturned to take care of our community as the spread of COVID-19 continues to accelerate."

Freese Decker stressed the importance of transparency in the video, saying that COVID-19 is far more dangerous than the flu. As part of an intricate chart, Freese Decker outlined that while someone carrying the flu can pass it along to 386 people in 2 months, someone diagnosed with COVID-19 can pass it along to 99,000 people. Additionally, the fatality rate for those with COVID-19 is 10 times higher than the flu.

"We hope for the best, but our job is to plan for the worst," Freese Decker said. "With the data available, the rate of growth of deaths in Michigan (due to COVID-19) is at least as fast as New York, if not faster. The model in our area shows that at it's current rate, we would exceed demand for hospital space and intensive care services in early May, and this would last in many weeks."

While Freese Decker stressed that a peak of cases in May would be too much for Michigan hospitals to handle, they have made every possible effort to increase the capacity of hospitals, have plans in place to expand ICU capacity and prepare to have as many health care workers as possible. Freese Decker called upon Michigan residents to help lower the curve with social distancing, and stressed the importance of following Governor Whitmer's 'Stay Home, Stay Safe' order.

"I know this is challenging for our families, our businesses and our organizations, but please stay home, unless it is absolutely essential to leave," Freese Decker said. "Keep a social distance of at least six feet, wash your hands as much as possible for 20 seconds (a wash). We can still change these numbers, but we have to do it together."