WEST MICHIGAN — COVID-19 hospital cases are significantly down in West Michigan. Region 6 Medical Director Jerry Evans describes it as looking much better.
He says even though COVID hospitalizations are down, it doesn't mean ICU beds are empty.
"So a little bit of a reprieve. I feel like we can come up for air a little bit," Mercy Health Registered Nurse Amanda Rosselott said.
This ER nurse was sent to the ICU floor to aid the influx of COVID patients at the height of the pandemic.
"We had our heads almost underwater for a while. It was just the volume was you gave everything every shift, and you just walked away feeling like you couldn't stay ahead; you couldn't get on top; you couldn't get caught up," Rosselott told FOX 17.
West Michigan Region 6 oversees Mercy Health and 21 other hospitals in 13 counties, as Medical Director Evans coordinates between them.
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"When we're talking about COVID patients, the numbers are dramatically better," Evans told FOX 17.
Evans says our region had 144 people on ventilators in December. Now that number is at 23. ICU patients were at 186. Now we're at 31.
"I am able to sleep a little bit better. And I can spend my mornings enjoying time with my kids and helping them get ready for school without that heaviness feeling in my heart," Rosselott said.
This moment of calm is giving hospitals a moment to catch up.
"We're catching up on some major surgeries. So our cardiac ICUs or cardiothoracic surgeries or vascular surgeries, those patients have to go to the ICU for a day or two after their surgery. So again, our ICUs are full because of those reasons," Evans said.
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Evans explains that those surgeries are much quicker to move people out of the ICU than COVID patients.
"So, turnover is much better now as far as getting patients in and out of the ICU as opposed to COVID patients, which were staying for two to three weeks in the ICU at times," Evans said.
Evans is still cautious but says he's still hopeful.
"If another peak does happen, it'll be much less than what we had before," Evans said. "The good thing is we have a lot more medications now that we can throw at this plus the vaccines."
There were almost 4,700 COVID patients in the hospital in Michigan on Jan. 14. Evans says that was when the state was at its peak. We're now down to 892 patients total.
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