NewsLocal NewsGrand Rapids


Kent County hospitals at or near capacity amid flu, illness outbreak

Posted at 6:51 AM, Jan 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-09 07:17:25-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Michigan is among the hardest hit states for respiratory illnesses this season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Hospitals across the county are now setting restrictions for visitors to stop the spread.

Kent County Health Department says many area hospitals are either at or near capacity for respiratory illness, making it crucial to protect the health and welfare of their patients.

Brian Hartl, an Epidemiologist with the department believe vaccinations are key to thwarting the spread and keeping people healthy.

“The hospitals are either at or near capacity for their in-patient beds, so there’s not a lot of space to put people in the hospitals if they need hospitalization," Hartl said.

"The emergency departments are very full, there’s a lot of people showing up at the emergency department with respiratory illness and other illnesses as well. So they’re very busy. Our healthcare providers in Kent County are very, very busy right now.”

“We want people to prevent getting sick,” Hartl said. “We always talk about the vaccine as the primary prevention method. We don’t want people to think, ‘oh it’s too late, flu season is already upon us so we can’t get vaccinated.’ It’s never too late to get the vaccine.”

Three major health systems; Spectrum Health, Metro Health, and ‘University of Michigan Health are asking anyone who may be sick to not visit patients at any of their hospitals or outpatient facilities until further notice.

The department is also urging people not to visit emergency rooms unless you’re experiencing severe symptoms. Hartl says you can lower the risk of transmitting respiratory illness by washing your hands, covering your cough, and removing yourself from the public if you’re sick.

Ascension Michigan and Bronson Health Group also announced similar restrictions at all 14 of their hospitals this week.

The CDC says Flu symptoms can cause mild to severe illness, even death. Flu is different from a cold and usually starts suddenly. People who have flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

  • fever* or feeling feverish/chills
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • muscle or body aches
  • headaches
  • fatigue (tiredness)
  • some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

The Kent County Health Department has additional information pertaining to influenza.