Michigan hospital CMOs: Get vaccinated, get boosted and be careful where you seek care

Chief medical officers across Michigan hospitals are asking residents to take advantage of vaccines to help curb a surge in COVID-19 cases ahead of the holiday season. 

This comes as COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state approach the highest number since the start of the pandemic. There were 3,785 hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Michigan as of Nov. 21, including 784 in intensive care units, the Michigan Health & Hospital Association said Nov. 22, adding that most patients requiring ICU treatment were unvaccinated. Over the past two weeks, hospitalizations have risen 46 percent in Michigan, according to data from The New York Times. New Hampshire was the only other state in the last two weeks that saw a higher spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations, at 58 percent. 

As a result, CMOs in Michigan are asking residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19, get booster doses (the CDC greenlighted them for all adults Nov. 19) and be mindful of where they seek medical care to prevent additional strain on the state's healthcare system. 

"A primary care office, virtual visit or urgent care may be the best accommodation as hospital and emergency departments are seeing high demand. Despite this, for emergency conditions such as stroke symptoms, chest pain, difficulty breathing or significant injury, you should still seek emergency care," the Michigan Health & Hospital Association said.

"Know that emergency departments are doing all they can to provide safe and timely access."

On Nov. 9, Traverse City, Mich.-based Munson Healthcare moved to level red pandemic protocols — the highest of the system's five-stage plan — for the first time. The level indicates an "overwhelming number of local cases beyond capacity of the healthcare system." Care for COVID-19 is prioritized in this state, with some services, including nonemergency surgeries, scaled back. 

Health officials from Spectrum Health, based in Grand Rapids, Mich., told the Times they're seeing more patients than ever driven by both the COVID-19 surge and people seeking care for non-COVID-19 related care across the system's 14 hospitals. A total of 371 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized at Spectrum Health as of Nov. 20, the majority of whom were unvaccinated. The system has stretched its ICU capacity about 40 percent during the latest surge, the officials said. 

"We're all scared to death because this is now so hard to predict what will happen," Darryl Elmouchi, MD, president of Spectrum Health West Michigan, told the Times. "We're preparing for the worst." 


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