'Crisis mode.' Hospitals across Michigan dealing 4th COVID-19 surge

Posted at 5:57 AM, Dec 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-08 05:57:05-05

(WXYZ) — Michigan is continuing to grapple with the fourth and most-trying wave of COVID-19.

The state is setting a record this week with more than 4,600 patients hospitalized. Michigan also has the highest new case rate based on population, double the national average.

Three Michigan hospitals are now getting federal help to deal with the influx of patients, but that number could grow.

"It's overwhelming to think that we have more cases than we've had in prior surges," Dr. Paul Bozyk, a pulmonary critical care doctor at Beaumont Royal Oak, said.

There are about 22 Department of Defense personnel at Beaumont in Dearborn. They arrived this week to help balance the massive load of patients – about 600 with COVID-19, with about 80% of those patients unvaccinated, according to the hospital.

Covenant Healthcare in Saginaw is the latest hospital to get additional help from the DOD.

"Hospitals across the state right now are in crisis mode with respect to COVID-19," Bozyk added.

That hospital joins Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids and Beaumont Dearborn where a DOD team of more than 20 started its work this week.

The extra help comes not only amid a COVID-19 surge, but also a wave of nurse retirements and rising flu cases.

"It doesn't matter if we have a 1,000-bed hospital if we only have 100 nurses," Bozyk said. "What we need right now is folks who can roll up their sleeves and help us on the front line.

The DOD team consists of people with different specialties, including doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists. They'll be at Beaumont Dearborn for 30 days.

Henry Ford Health System in Detroit is bracing for what happens next and could also need additional staffing help.

"If these numbers continue to go up 10%, 20% every couple of weeks the way we're seeing it, we will be looking at alternative help quite quickly," Henry Ford Health System COO Bob Riney said.

The Army medics helping right now from the DOD could extend their time here if the hospital needs and if resources allow.

As of Monday, Michigan was 26th among the 50 states when it comes to vaccinations, with just 55% of our state fully vaccinated. That's below the national average of 60%.

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