DETROIT (WXYZ) — Henry Ford Health System announced that its hospitalizations are trending downward.
On Wednesday, Chief Operating Officer Bob Riney said there are 499 COVID-19 patients in their hospitals. That's down from 551 on Monday.
In a news conference, Riney said positivity rates, based on results from their labs, also declined from 44% in early January to 33% Wednesday morning. However, hospital leaders say it's still too soon to celebrate.
One other challenge the system said it continues to face is retaining and recruiting nurses during the pandemic.
Eric Wallis, senior vice president and chief nursing officer, said there are about 1,000 registered nurse vacancies.
"Nurses have been leaving the health care workforce at record rates and that has led to increases in job vacancies across the country," he said.
That's data from the American Hospital Association.
"We're making a really great progress at an effort that we've talked about previously to recruit nurses in the Philippines, and we're hopeful that we'll have our very first group of nurses joining us as early as this summer," Wallis explained.
He said a partnership with Michigan State University is also helping fill the ranks, along with what he calls an encouraging number of students enrolling in nursing schools. Wallis also said Henry Ford Health System plans to look at “ways to enhance pay practices.”
Jeff Breslin is a registered nurse and on the board of directors for the Michigan Nurses Association.
“We don’t have a shortage of nurses. We have a shortage of nurses that are willing to work in the conditions that we have currently," Breslin said.
"We need to change those conditions. We need the hospitals to offer incentives to get people back to the bedside to take care of these patients," he added.
Breslin said there’s a high emotional toll and physical toll nurses have faced and are facing in this pandemic.
“You’re dealing with the sickest of the sick. You’re dealing with more patients per nurses than what you should have to deal with, and you just can’t take of these people the way that you know they should be taken care of," he explained.
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