Latest wave of COVID “hammers ER workers”
ANN ARBOR – There were hardly any COVID patients added to the Michigan Medicine emergency room earlier in the year. That changed, however, in late March when nine patients suddenly tested positive for COVID-19, six of whom required hospital stays.
The recent spring surge has hit metro Detroit’s hospital systems hard, and as cases and deaths continue to rise, health officials are sounding the alarm.
“It was a sudden departure from our whereabouts,” said Brad Uren, a physician with Michigan Medicine’s Emergency Medicine Division Brad Uren, in a press release. “Now we need to get this under control as it has the potential to overwhelm the health system.”
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Uren said while people stayed home last year as the state – and the world – scrambled to learn more about the novel virus and how it is spread, the lack of restrictions on collecting and eating contributed to the current numbers.
“People stayed at home, people isolated and masked, we were aloof,” Uren said in a press release. “Now we are not that busy anymore and there is another COVID spike on top of the regular volume we see in the emergency room due to normal activity. And the combination of the two escalates. “
Michigan currently has the highest seven-day case rate in the country and hospital beds are filling fast.
“We’re used to operating in challenging times,” Uren said in a press release. “But we’re working close to the edge of what many of us would consider normal right now.”
Another important factor: COVID patients at Michigan Medicine are getting younger all the time.
Uren said this was likely due to the prioritization of older adults to receive the first vaccines for COVID-19 and the fact that people between 20 and 50 are more likely to work outside the home and be more mobile.
According to Michigan Medicine, the emergency visit to COVID has also seen a 10-20% increase in the hospital’s pediatric population.
Read: Michigan COVID Metrics: Cases, Hospitalizations, Positivity Rate “Incredibly Concerning”
While it is rare for a child to be admitted because of symptoms of COVID, those with pre-existing medical conditions are.
“We’re seeing an increase in pediatric COVID, many in the young adolescent age group, possibly due to transmission from school-based sports,” Prashant Mahajan, director of pediatric emergencies at Michigan Medicine’s CS Mott Children’s Hospital, told a publication.
Both doctors suspect that rising cases in younger populations are due to the more contagious variant B.1.1.7, which is known to be active in Michigan.
A major concern with COVID cases in children is the development of a rare multisystem inflammatory syndrome called MIS-C.
“We haven’t seen many of these children, but that’s something to expect,” Mahajan said in a press release. “The other thing that is really unknown is what percentage of children will end up with long-term effects from the virus, which is now increasingly recognized in adults with COVID.”
Read: University of Michigan Doctor Answers Parents Questions About The Dangerous COVID Condition In Children
Despite a steady surge in vaccinations, this new surge shows the stress on hospital workers, Uren said.
“I see that on the faces of my colleagues every day,” he said in a press release. “We work as a team and I’m so proud that you have stayed with us for so long, but it puts a strain on people.”
Doctors at Michigan Medicine’s emergency room are urging people to receive the vaccine, limit interaction with them, and follow social distancing and masking.
“I am concerned that the hesitation of vaccines will slow us down and continue to cause us problems even after a time when vaccines may get us back to normal,” Uren said in a press release. “We are ready to deal with the virus. It’s not done with us yet. “
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