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Will more Michigan hospitals receive federal help? Many say they could use it

Hospital hallway
Posted at 6:26 AM, Dec 08, 2021

(WXYZ) — More help is on the way in Michigan’s fight against COVID-19.

On Thursday, the state of Michigan announced Covenant Healthcare in Saginaw would become the latest hospital to receive additional staff from the federal government. Twenty-two health care workers are expected to arrive on Dec. 12.

The hospital joins Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids and Beaumont Health in Dearborn as the only Michigan hospitals receiving extra workers.

“Hospitals across the state right now are in crisis mode with respect to COVID-19,” said Dr. Paul Bozyk, the section head for Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Beaumont Royal Oak.

The hospital is now dealing with its fourth surge in COVID-19.

“It's the highest active cases in the state of Michigan that we’ve ever had in the pandemic?” 7 Action News reporter Brett Kast asked.

“Yeah that’s correct," Bozyk replied. "It’s overwhelming to think that we have more cases than we’ve had in our prior surges.”

The challenge with this surge is that it comes amid influenza outbreaks, which is also adding stress to hospitals full with patients but lacking in staff.

“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.”

This week, about 22 health care workers from the U.S. Department of Defense began their first full week working at Beaumont in Dearborn, where they will be for at least 30 days to help handle the surge.

During a Friday press briefing, officials at Henry Ford Health System said they too may also need help very soon.

“If these numbers continue to go up 10%, 20% every couple weeks the way that we’re seeing it, we will be looking for alternative help quite quickly,” Henry Ford COO Bob Riney said.

Henry Ford says they continue to ramp up recruitment trying to bring on more employees as doctors fear the slope of this fourth surge is still going up.

“At the current time, there does not seem to be, based on infection rates, an opportunity for these case rates to decline,” Bozyk said.

Those additional workers will arrive in Saginaw on Sunday and will also stay for at least 30 days.