Officials say Beaumont hospitals are nearing ventilator capacity as Michigan coronavirus (COVID-19) cases increase

Nearly 450 COVID-19 patients being cared for at Beaumont hospitals

DETROIT – Officials with Beaumont said its eight Michigan hospitals have “some ventilator capacity” but are nearing that capacity.

The hospitals are also nearing staffing and personal protective equipment capacity.

MORE: Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Michigan continue to rise, but what do these numbers mean?

“We have been actively transferring COVID-19 patients within our system to other Beaumont hospitals, as appropriate, if one hospital has more capacity than another. However, across our system, we are facing limitations and nearing capacity with our staffing, personal protective equipment and mechanical ventilators,” Beaumont Health Chief Operating Officer Carolyn Wilson said. “We are taking steps to increase our capacity, such as converting some of our operating rooms into intensive care units.”

During a conference call Monday night, state officials said no COVID-19 patient who has needed a ventilator has been removed from the ventilator -- they have either died or are still on it.

Beaumont is also working to increase testing.

Right now, it is prioritizing its testing for patients who are admitted to a Beaumont hospital or receiving treatment at a Beaumont emergency center.

Also, Beaumont is prioritizing testing for physicians, nurses and staff who directly care for COVID-19 patients.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the hospital system is caring for nearly 450 patients who have coronavirus (COVID-19), while test results are pending for 185 admitted patients.

The state has 1,791 confirmed cases and 24 people have died.

“Given the way our health care system and others have needed to convert to primarily COVID-19 screening diagnosis and treatment in the past few weeks, we will soon be looking at the need for coordinating the care of acute COVID-19 patients across the region and beyond," Beaumont CEO John Fox said. "This is why we have been discussing statewide coordination with other hospitals and MDHHS to care for COVID-19 patients. We also recognize some systems might not be caring for as many COVID-19 patients as others right now. All health systems in Michigan need to work together to help care for these patients. I am very pleased with the commitment all the hospital systems have expressed to work together to respond to the pandemic.”

To help slow the spread, it is crucial to treat every person you come in contact with as if they are infected with the virus. Failing to reduce the number of people infected at the same time will result in overwhelmed hospitals and those difficult choices about who gets the help they need.

It is important to note that while the number of cases is going up, it does not mean social distancing is not working. People who are testing positive now could have been exposed to the virus several weeks ago, and many people don’t show symptoms for several days.

It will take weeks to see the results of the stay-at-home order and other social distancing measures that have been put in place.

MORE: Here’s which Michigan counties have confirmed cases of coronavirus

How COVID-19 Spreads

Person-to-person spread

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Can someone spread the virus without being sick?

  • Spread is possible before people show symptoms. People who are not showing symptoms can still be carrying the virus and can still pass it on to other people.

Spread from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

How easily the virus spreads

How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, spreading continually without stopping.

Prevention & Treatment

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

MORE: Beaumont Health launches coronavirus hotline for patients with symptoms

People who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider immediately.

Question about coronavirus? Ask Dr. McGeorge here.

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