Feds send 2 medical teams to support Michigan hospitals during COVID surge

2 teams of 22 medical personnel members coming to Michigan

Hospital systems sound alarm about what they're able to handle as COVID cases rise

LANSING, Mich. – Federal officials have sent two medical teams to Michigan to help doctors and nurses as the state’s hospitals fill up with COVID and other patients.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer requested additional staffing help at Michigan hospitals, and the federal government has granted that request.

“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. “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.”

The additional staffing teams, with 22 medical personnel each, will support staff at Beaumont Hospital, Dearborn and Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, state officials said. The teams, which will include registered nurses, doctors and respiratory therapists, will arrive next week and begin treating patients immediately, providing support 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. “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 Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) also submitted a request for federal Veterans Affairs 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 might 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 Gov. Whitmer, MDHHS and the federal government to help our courageous staff battle a fourth COVID surge,” Beaumont Health CEO John Fox said. “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. We all must work together to end this pandemic. We need everyone’s help and support.”

“On behalf of our physicians, team members and patients we are grateful for the Department of Defense medical team and appreciate support from state and federal levels as we take every measure to care for our community,” said Tina Freese Decker, President & CEO, Spectrum Health. “Working together we can address this urgent public health crisis, relieve the strain on our teams and continue to provide high quality care.”

In the last 30 days of complete data (from Oct. 7 through Nov. 5), 76,201 (73%) of 105,043 cases, 1,019 (72%) of 1,423 hospitalizations and 473 (76%) of 622 deaths were among Michigan residents who were not fully vaccinated.

According to hospital data reported to MDHHS, over 20% of hospital inpatients statewide are COVID positive. There are regional differences with some facilities reporting that nearly 50% of inpatients are COVID positive.

As of Nov. 22, 3,963 Michiganders are hospitalized for COVID-19.

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About the Author:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.