GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A month ago Mercy Health in Muskegon was tending to 20 patients who were battling the coronavirus, said chief medical officer Dr. Justin Grill. Today, there's 150 patients battling the virus in their main hospital, and it's hurting his staff.
“The situation truly is significant,” Dr. Grill said during a Zoom interview on Tuesday. “We have outstanding colleagues, from physicians to nurses to our custodial staff, everybody in between, they’re doing a tremendous job taking care of our patients but the strain on them is significant.”
So, they’re reopening the old Hackley hospital that was closed in October due to a consolidation plan. He said it’s a temporary yet helpful fix.
“So, in a normal situation we wouldn’t have any issues whatsoever with taking care of the physicians at Muskegon County at the Mercy campus,” Dr. Grill said. “But, having consolidated and having Hackley hospital available does give us a unique opportunity to reactivate it for a short period of time to get through what is a once-in-a-100-year pandemic.”
Dr. Grill said it’ll open on Thursday with 10 beds. Then next week they’ll add an additional 20 beds. The units will be for less severe COVID patients.
“So, you could think of people who maybe have mostly recovered from COVID but they might need three or four days of supplemental oxygen before they’re ready to go home,” Dr. Grill said. “We can transport those patients over to the Hackley campus where they can receive that part of their care and then be discharged for home there.”
He added that the Hackley campus will remain an urgent care facility. They’re not opening the ER. All emergencies will be handled at the main location.
However, Dr. Grill is hoping people will abide by the new three-week restrictions put in place by the health department. He said his staff is prepping other floors at Hackley to become COVID units if needed but\ if everyone wears a mask and avoids large gatherings, then they'll flatten the curve.
“I recognize that what we’re asking, both the state is asking and what we are asking as a health department, is a tall ask for our community,” Dr. Grill said. “We’re coming into the holiday season, it’s a great time to get together with family and friends but we’re asking please do it responsibly according to the guidance put out by the MDHHS and our Governor.”