‘Tear-streaked cheeks and bloodshot eyes’: Michigan doctor details COVID situation in ICUs

Dr. Shelley Schmidt urges Michiganders to get COVID vaccine

Dr. Shelley Schmidt, a pulmonary critical care specialist, speaks at a Dec. 21, 2021, COVID briefing. (WDIV)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – A Michigan intensive care unit physician painted a grim picture Tuesday when she described the COVID situation inside the state’s hospitals, specifically for unvaccinated patients.

“What I see every day is heartbreaking,” said Dr. Shelley Schmidt, a pulmonary critical care specialist. “I see school-aged children draped over the body of their parent with tear-streaked cheeks and bloodshot eyes, with their mother asking, ‘Why my husband?’ Their parents asking, ‘Why my son? What more could we have done?’”

Schmidt spoke during Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID briefing Tuesday morning in Grand Rapids. During the briefing, Whitmer and Elizabeth Hertel, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, pleaded with Michiganders to get vaccinated and boosted.

11 takeaways from Whitmer’s first COVID briefing since June: Mandates, omicron, ‘critical point’

When they called Schmidt to the podium, she provided a strong endorsement of the COVID vaccine.

“The mRNA vaccines are the safest, most effective vaccines that humans have ever created,” Schmidt said. “Based on over a decade of basic science research and billions of your tax dollars that brought it to fruition. It is a medical miracle of the modern age. We doctors are vaccinated. Our children are vaccinated.”

She said unvaccinated residents will eventually have to trust her when they come to the intensive care unit with a serious case of COVID, so they might as well trust her now.

“This is not a game,” Schmidt said. “This is not about ratings or readership or polls. This is about 800,000 American lives, and this is preventable.

“You will have to trust me when you or your relative comes to my intensive care unit and needs to be put on life support. Trust me now. Trust this vaccine. Mask, distance, but above all, vaccinate. Boost. We will only find our way through this if we do this together.”

This isn’t just for older Michiganders, either. The common denominator among her sickest patients is that they haven’t received the vaccine, she said.

“I wrote the first COVID-19 death certificate for Spectrum Health, and since the beginning of this pandemic, I have never taken care of a patient dying from the vaccine,” Schmidt said. “I have taken care of dozens and dozens who are dead from this virus -- nearly all unvaccinated. Healthy people in their 20s and 30s and 40s, making their last FaceTime call to their loved ones while they’re about to be put onto life support, knowing they have less than a 50/50 chance of survival.”

As the omicron variant spreads rapidly throughout the United States and families prepare to gather for Christmas, MDHHS is worried that COVID numbers will spike sharply heading into 2022.

“We’re in for another tough 4-6 weeks, is what all the experts are projecting,” Whitmer said.

You can watch Schmidt’s entire plea in the video below.

Dr. Shelley Schmidt, Pulmonary Disease - Spectrum Health, speaks at. COVID-19 briefing in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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.