(The Center Square) – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced that the federal government has granted Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s request for additional staffing assistance at Michigan hospitals.
Under the agreement, the federal government will send two medical teams to local hospitals to relieve doctors and nurses and treat COVID-19 and other patients.
“I’m grateful that the federal government has granted our request to provide much-needed relief to the health care personnel who have remained on the frontlines of this pandemic,” Whitmer said in a statement. “Right now, our doctors and nurses are reporting the vast majority of their patients are unvaccinated or have not yet received a booster dose. We can all do our part to help reduce the strain on our hospital systems by getting vaccinated, making an appointment to get a booster dose, and continuing to take precautions to keep ourselves and loved ones safe.”
With 22 medical personnel each, the additional staffing teams will support staff at Beaumont Hospital, Dearborn, and Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids. The teams, including registered nurses, doctors, and respiratory therapists, will arrive next week and begin treating patients immediately for the next 30 days.
“Hospitals are at capacity across the state, particularly in Metro Detroit and West Michigan, and this is taking a tremendous toll on our health care workers,” MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel said in a statement. “We are working hard to give them support, but they also need every Michigander to do their part by getting vaccinated, wearing a mask in public indoor settings regardless of vaccination status, social distancing and staying home and getting tested if they have symptoms.”
The federal staffing teams come as Michigan hospitals strain due to a spike in COVID-19 patients, most of whom are unvaccinated. In the last 30 days of complete data (Oct. 7 – Nov. 5), 76,201 (73%) of 105,043 cases, 1,019 (72%) of 1,423 hospitalizations, and 473 (76%) of 622 deaths were among individuals not fully vaccinated.
This week, a group of Michigan’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of community hospitals asked Michiganders to get vaccinated and use precaution as the state nears a COVID-19 hospitalization record and cares for typical patients.
“We cannot wait any longer for Michigan to correct course; we need your help now to end this surge and ensure our hospitals can care for everyone who needs it,” the CMOs said in a statement.
MDHHS submitted a request for federal Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals to open beds for civilian transfers resulting in the John D. Dingell Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Detroit opening beds. The initial agreement is in place for 30 days and may be extended. MDHHS and the regional healthcare coalition will work with facilities in Southeast Michigan and the VA system to identify potential patients and coordinate transfers.
“We deeply appreciate receiving this much-needed support from Governor Whitmer, MDHHS and the federal government to help our courageous staff battle a fourth COVID surge,” Beaumont Health CEO John Fox said in a statement. “The virus has exhausted our teams and resulted in unprecedented staffing challenges at Beaumont Health and health systems across the state. This pandemic is not over by any means. We ask everyone to please get vaccinated. And, if you’re eligible, get a booster shot. Please follow the guidelines experts have repeatedly stressed: wear a mask, wash your hands regularly and practice social distancing."
Hospital data reported to MDHHS says over 20% of hospital inpatients statewide are COVID-19 positive. There are regional differences, with some facilities reporting that nearly 50% of inpatients are COVID-19 positive. As of Nov. 22, 3,963 Michiganders are hospitalized for COVID-19.
Michigan has also requested and received additional allocations of COVID-19 therapeutics that will allow for further treatment with monoclonal antibody therapy, which significantly reduces hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19.