University of Michigan Health: More than 500 staff members currently out with COVID

University of Michigan Hospital (Meredith Bruckner)

ANN ARBOR – Officials at University of Michigan Health continue to plead with members of the public to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and avoid the emergency department as its hospitals grapple with the latest surge driven by the omicron variant.

The health system shared on Thursday that more than 500 members of its staff are currently COVID positive and more than 200 surgeries have been postponed since December due to staffing and bed shortages.

President of University of Michigan Health, David Miller, said it has been “heartbreaking” to have to make decisions to postpone surgeries since patients and their families rearrange their lives to receive necessary care.

He said that now, more than ever, it is important to double down on COVID mitigation measures like getting vaccinated or boosted, practicing social distancing “to the greatest extent possible” and to wear face masks indoors.

He also urged those seeking COVID testing to avoid U-M’s Emergency Department.

“Our EDs are busy taking care of many patients,” Miller said in a statement. “If you need COVID testing, consider alternatives to the emergency department so we can keep them available for treating patients with life and limb threatening conditions.”

Read: ‘We need the public’s help.’ Michigan Medicine urges vaccination amid hospital’s worst COVID-19 surge yet

Emergency physician at Michigan Medicine, Brad Uren, said people should consider alternative options to the emergency department right now.

“When you’re trying to decide where you need to go for care, one of the first questions you can ask yourself is: ‘Do I believe that my life, my limbs or my organs, are in jeopardy?’” Uren said in a release. “Those are the things that should bring someone to an emergency department because EDs are set up with all the capability, the consultants, the testing, to look for those life-threatening acute problems.

“If the answer to that question is: ‘No, I don’t believe that my life is at risk,’ then there’s a number of other options for you to consider.”

Uren recommends going to urgent cares or calling your doctor or insurance company when experiencing a non-life-threatening medical issue.