Mercy Muskegon latest to receive help from federal team of docs, nurses

The Air Force professional will supplement a staff struggling to contain COVID cases
Posted at 6:24 PM, Jan 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-04 15:42:18-05

MUSKEGON, Mich. — Mercy Health in Muskegon is the latest hospital receiving help from a federal team of doctors and nurses to supplement their own struggling staff.

A team of military health professionals with the U.S. Air Force started treating patients and working alongside Mercy staff Monday and will do so for the next 30 days. Other hospitals around the state have received the same help from different teams, including Spectrum, which just extended the stay of their federal team through January.

“Mercy Health Muskegon is truly grateful for the clinical support being provided by the skilled team of Air Force men and women deployed on our behalf,” says Mercy Health Muskegon Chief Medical Officer Justin Grill. “Each individual comes with a unique set of skills and experiences, and we have worked with the team leadership to most fully utilize each individual deployed to Muskegon.”

The 15-person team includes two physicians, seven medics, five nurses and a support administrator, Mercy Health tells us.

“Our patients won't actually see anything different,” says Grill. “So if you were a patient here, you would have no idea whether it was the department of defense team member or Mercy Health Muskegon team member. We've really tried hard to make sure that they are truly incorporated into our team.”

The team visiting Mercy in Muskegon is up from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio.

“I'm super honored to be here. It's been a pleasure to start integrating into this hospital with this team,” said Maj. Tonya Toshe-Howard with the U.S. Air Force. “Healthcare is healthcare. So whether I'm doing it here or in another location, it's really the same.”

Right now, Mercy in Muskegon is at 75% capacity with 56 COVID-19 patients – 23 of them in ICU beds. This past summer, that number was typically in the single-digits and while they aren’t at capacity now, they have been recently and hope this team will only be necessary for the 30-days they’re slated to be there.

“It is a very real possibility, if we were to see a spike as a result of this new variant, that we would once again be at or above 100% capacity,” Grill said. “If we don't see a spike in January, and things continue to improve over the course of the month. We may not need the team for longer than that initial 30-day deployment.”

The hospital encourages everyone to avoid large crowds, stay home if feeling unwell, wash hands often and continue wearing masks to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Visit the hospital's website for more information.

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