Hospital admissions due to COVID-19 rose 20% in Michigan last week to 2,621, alarming hospital leaders who say the state is now stuck in its fourth wave of coronavirus.
While many other parts of the country are seeing a decline in cases and hospitalizations, those pandemic indicators are rising in Michigan.
“Metro Detroit is becoming a hotspot again,” said Dr. Nick Gilpin, Beaumont Health’s director of infection prevention and epidemiology at a news conference Thursday.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the 7-day coronavirus case rate now ranks ninth nationally, at 344.5 per 100,000 cases. The percentage of positive tests has surpassed 14% statewide.
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“I’m very concerned about the trajectory of this new wave,” Gilpin said.
There were 397 hospitalized COVID-19 patients at Beaumont’s eight hospitals on Thursday, Gilpin said. That’s still lower than the April and November 2020 peaks, but it’s rising fast.
“This is our early warning system,” he said. “We’re seeing the population increase. And I think with more cold weather on the way, with people starting to make plans for the holidays to get together, I think it’s an important time to let everyone know that we should stay vigilant.
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“We have to make sure we wear those masks. We have to make sure we take those precautions. We have to get vaccinated. Those are the things that fundamentally make the situation.”
The majority of patients hospitalized with the virus in Beaumont have not been vaccinated, Gilpin said. Most people who develop breakthrough infections from vaccines do not require hospitalization. Those who do, Gilpin said, are people who are older and have underlying health conditions that make them especially vulnerable to the virus.
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Other hospital systems in Michigan are also feeling the stress.
Traverse City-based Munson Healthcare announced Tuesday that it has now exceeded the capacity of its nine hospitals in northern Michigan for the first time in its 106-year history and is operating on “Pandemic Response Level Red.”
That means doctors’ offices, labs, outpatient clinics and hospitals will remain open, but non-emergency surgeries and other procedures may have to be postponed, especially if they require a night in the hospital, Munson spokesperson Dianne Michalek said. A temporary break has also been introduced for the services for sleep disorders.
“The number of patients we are currently seeing in our hospitals is close to the number we experienced during the worst pandemic of last spring,” Christine Nefcy, Munson’s chief of medical staff, said in a statement.
“Now more than ever, we need our communities to work with us by getting vaccinated, wearing a mask in public, practicing good hand hygiene and avoiding large gatherings whenever possible.”
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In recent weeks, Henry Ford typically had about 150 coronavirus patients filling hospital beds. By Monday, the COVID-19 count had risen to 250 patients.
“The number of cases, the number of new infections per 100,000 people, is rising statewide, especially in southeastern Michigan,” said Dr. Dennis Cunningham, medical director of infection prevention for the Detroit-based Henry Ford Health System. . “So I do expect the numbers to deteriorate for a while.”
At least eight other hospitals were listed by a state health service database on Wednesday as having 100% capacity:
- Beaumont Hospital Wayne
- Bronson South Haven
- Detroit Receiving Hospital
- St. Joseph Mercy Livingston Hospital
- Spectrum Health Reed City Hospital
- Sparrow Eaton Hospital
- Regional Hospital ProMedica Coldwater
- ProMedica CV Hickman Hospital
Nearly two dozen others also operate at 90%-99% capacity, and include:
- Ascension St. John Hospital
- Ascension St. Mary’s Hospital
- Beaumont Hospital – Troy
- Beaumont Hospital Trenton
- Healthcare Agreement
- Henry Ford Macomb Hospital
- Hurley Medical Center
- McLaren – Macomb
- McLaren Flint
- McLaren Greater Lansing
- McLaren Port Huron Hospital
- OSF St. Francis Hospital
- Munson Healthcare Grayling Hospital
- Regional Hospital Promedica Monroe
- Community Hospital Sheridan
- Sparrow Hospital
- Spectrum Health – Blodgett Hospital
- Spectrum Health – Butterworth Hospital
- Spectrum Health – Pennock Hospital
- St Joseph Mercy Chelsea
- St. Joseph Mercy Hospital
- University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers
Gilpin said the Beaumont System is still open and available to treat both COVID and non-COVID patients, but the pressure on staff is very real.
“We’re all really tired of this, and taking care of sick COVID patients is incredibly labour-intensive,” he said, “But we mask and we get dressed and we do our job.
“I don’t think you’ll find a healthcare system in the state of Michigan and certainly not in the metro Detroit that doesn’t have to deal with workforce challenges. We’re doing our best. We’re very agile. … But it’s hard and most importantly as we look ahead to the prospect of a fourth wave that could last three or four months or take us through the winter.
“This is going to be a tough one. … This one … is going to be a bit more of a marathon than a sprint.”
Contact Kristen Shamus: [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @kristenshamus.
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