Well-known doctor “extremely ill” battling COVID-19

Colleague at Mercy Health reminding people to “mask up” as COVID cases rise
Posted at 6:22 PM, Oct 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-23 18:22:32-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Since the beginning of the pandemic back in mid-March, Dr. Channing Finkbeiner volunteered his time to care for COVID-19 patients even though he was a family doctor, said his colleague Dr. Andrew Jameson.

However, recently, he contracted the virus himself and is currently in ICU at Mercy Health where he works.

“What we want people to know is that for us, it is hitting home. He’s a doctor that’s actually been on the front lines of COVID,” said Dr. Jameson, Division Chief of Infectious Disease and Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control at Mercy. “He was going out of his way to put himself out there to take care of people. And, he didn’t get it at work.”

Dr. Jameson said Dr. Finkbeiner is “extremely ill” but it’s not just him. He said the numbers are going up dramatically. According to, there were over 1,562 cases reported on October 14, the highest it’s been since May when it topped 1500 then.

“Those numbers aren’t just reflected in an increase in testing, these are really sick people that are getting sicker,” said Dr. Jameson during a Zoom interview on Thursday. “Right now we’re at 15 to 20 percent of people testing positive that come to us with a symptom. That’s a huge number. We were down as low as 2 or 3 percent just a month ago.”

Dr. Jameson fears that it could get worse and have major ramifications on Mercy’s staff and capacity and other local hospitals as well. He said lead professionals at Mercy have stopped what they’re doing to take on other roles because of COVID.

He recommended people begin taking the virus seriously and start curbing its spread by first determining what’s a necessary risk to take vs. an unnecessary risk.

“If you have to be at work and you have to have your kid in childcare, that’s a necessary risk. There's only so much you can do,” he said. “You don’t have to have a party for homecoming. That’s an unnecessary risk. You don’t have to do things with friends inside your house without masks on. That’s an unnecessary risk.”

Dr. Jameson added that it’s helpful to practice social distancing and to “mask up.” He’s said science and studies show that it reduces the spread of the virus and helps keep people safe.

He also said it’s not a hoax and can be frustrating when people believe that it is.

“It’s kind of looking us in the eye and saying what you’ve been doing the last eight months is nothing. I can tell you that we’ve had nurses that go home at night that have taken care of people like Dr. Finkbeiner and they’re just devastated,” Dr. Jameson said. “It is hard when you hear people minimize this and don’t take it seriously because we’re going to take care of their grandma tomorrow.”