Federal team to arrive at Spectrum Health to help with COVID surge, stressed staff

Spectrum Health
Posted at 7:54 AM, Nov 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-30 08:36:50-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Federal help is expected to start arriving in West Michigan as many hospitals are facing shortages with both staff and beds, and hospitalizations reach a new high in the state due to COVID.

The new state total of 4,185 hospitalization cases passes the previous record of 4,158.

RELATED: Doctors keeping an eye on omicron variant as hospitals still at max capacity

Tuesday was just the beginning of help headed our way.

As Spectrum Health hits an around 90% capacity, they said they're seeing the highest COVID numbers now since the beginning of the pandemic.

The hospital said staff is stressed and beds are full, but thankfully the U.S. Department of Defense is stepping in.

Spectrum Health recently hit red status, crediting that to the constraint of staffing resources and the fact they're running out of spaces to treat inpatients.

RELATED: Spectrum Health enters 'Red Zone' for first time since start of pandemic

The hospital said they currently have around 436 COVID inpatients with 106 of those people in the Intensive Care Unit.

"I would say that we’re in a really critical point in the pandemic right now. We’re experiencing our 4th surge," said the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Medical Executive Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian. "We have a lot of cases and a lot of cases in the hospital right now. Our hospitals are really starting to feel the strain and we have hospitals who are understaffed and really not able to keep up with this influx of patients."

With that though, the federal government has answered the hospital's calls, sending in an advanced team of six people who will arrive Tuesday in preparation.

The rest of the 22-person team will arrive on Thursday and hit the ground running. A crew is also going to metro Detroit.

The group includes physicians, nurses and respiratory therapists who will mainly assist inside the hospital in the ICU, and wherever else is necessary to reduce the stress of other employees.

“You know it's very, very busy. It’s stressful," Spectrum Health Adult Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Liam Sullivan. "Everybody’s working hard, working a lot and you know it's not a good time right now in the hospital because of all the COVID we’re taking care of, and it's not made life easy for us to say the least".

"This is the first time we will have had federal resources inside of our hospitals," said Spectrum Health West Michigan Senior VP of Hospital Operations. "Early on in the vaccination effort, when the vaccine first became available, we set up the West Michigan vaccine clinic at Devos Place, and we had a rather large contingent of federal military resources that came in to help us with that vaccination effort who were here for several weeks, and so that was the only other time I'm aware of that we've had federal resources with boots on ground to help us here in Grand Rapids".

Spectrum Health also added that around 90% of the people who are hospitalized are unvaccinated. As for those in the ICU, around 95% are unvaccinated.

Health officials said the best way to protect yourself and others is to get your shots.

RELATED: CDC strengthens COVID-19 booster recommendation due to omicron variant

In addition to the situations being seen in the hospital, Spectrum Health said they're also seeing a long wait to transfer patients needing higher levels of care to their other hospitals due to the constraints of EMS colleagues.

RELATED: Ambulances divert to other medical facilities as COVID pushes hospitals to max capacity