Grand Rapids to receive federal aid for recent surge of COVID-19 cases

Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in downtown Grand Rapids (Courtesy Photo / MLive)

By Joseph Poulos

Spectrum Health’s hospital systems have continued to grapple with a surge in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. The federal government announced on November 24th that the Department of Defense will be sending medical personnel to Grand Rapids to address the shortage of medical personnel as hospital capacity continues to run short.

The DOD plans to deploy 22 health care workers to Spectrum Health hospitals, the largest health network in western Michigan. This is part of a two-pronged offensive to fight the virus in Michigan as the state has approximately 4,000 hospitalized inpatients with COVID-19. Hospital officials have reported that most hospital patients are unvaccinated. In addition, 22 additional healthcare workers will be posted to Beaumont Hospital in Dearborn.

A registered nurse at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital, who chose not to be named, said, “Our numbers are higher than ever, so we can use all the help we can get.”

The assistance program includes nurses, doctors and respiratory therapists. Your stay in Michigan is temporary as they are expected to be removed 30 days from their original arrival date.

Spectrum Health employees are grateful for their support, especially with the holiday season approaching.

“… I cannot assume that our volume will decrease when we go on vacation,” said the nurse. “Help couldn’t come at a better time.”

On Wednesday, Spectrum opened its current inpatients. They have reported that 405 of their patients have COVID-19. Spectrum Health also reports that 94% of its 106 critical care patients (ICU) are unvaccinated.

This recent surge is remarkable given that the state of Michigan has never had to treat as many infected patients as it has since the pandemic began. That surge has proven to be the current boiling point in the state’s fight against the pandemic.

Healthcare workers have been facing the security of the hospital admission system due to the increase in COVID-19 cases and the shortage of medical staff. Yet the hospital is being overwhelmed with more new cases every day.

“Because the hospital is so full, we are forced to keep (mostly COVID-19) patients in the emergency room,” said the nurse. “(This) affects our staffing levels and results in longer waiting times …”

The spike continues as healthcare workers prepare for the coming month of hardship in their battle against COVID-19.

For more information on testing and vaccination sites, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services epidemic orders, and updates on the virus, please visit here here.

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