Around the same time, just a year ago, northern Michigan was facing an alarming increase in COVID-19 cases as the winter break approached. In response, we have collectively taken responsible and proven measures that have reduced the spread of COVID-19, saved lives, and protected our healthcare system.
Since November 1, Munson Healthcare has seen a record number of COVID-19-related hospitalizations increase week after week. More than 20% of the COVID-19-related deaths we’ve seen in our hospitals occurred in the past month alone. The vast majority of ICU and ventilator patients in our area are not vaccinated. In addition to the high number of COVID-19 patients requiring emergency care and hospitalization, we are seeing an equally high number of patients with other serious conditions.
The combination is straining and threatening to overwhelm emergency departments and hospitals in northern Michigan. We need you to join us now to help end this wave and ensure that our hospitals can care for all who need them.
Every day, resilient and dedicated healthcare workers in our hospitals are ready to respond to emergency medical needs, but the reality is that we are approaching the point where the number of patients in our emergency rooms and hospitals exceeds the number of patients in our emergency rooms and hospitals. number of beds available and staff to take care of them. . If this trend continues and especially if it accelerates, we run the risk of having to place patients in hallways or conference rooms and divert others from hospitals due to a lack of physical space. or medical staff available to accept more patients.
On November 9, Munson Healthcare announced it was transitioning to pandemic red, the highest level of that facility’s emergency preparedness plan. We are extremely concerned as this current outbreak has lasted longer and has significantly outpaced previous outbreaks with the potential for continued increase in the weeks to come as we enter the annual flu season. At the same time, we predict that the need for care for heart disease, cancer and other illnesses will continue at some of the highest rates we have seen in recent history.
Reducing the impact of this wave and eventually ending this pandemic is a community-wide effort and we urge our communities to remember:
- Hospitals are operating at emergency care levels, which means wait times are longer and staff shortages are now the norm, not the exception – here and across the state.
- This is a result of our response to the ongoing pandemic, the severe illness of non-COVID-19 patients, the increased length of stay of all patients, and the resulting high number of patients in Michigan hospitals. .
- Just as hospitals and the staff working inside are working and working at full capacity, our Emergency Medical Services (EMS) are also stressed and overworked. There may be times when the system capacity is not sufficient to support the typical transport response and speed, especially for out-of-area transfers.
- If the pressure on hospitals and EMS increases further, we all risk facing increasing delays and challenges in accessing care for all those in need of emergency services and hospital care.
Understanding these circumstances, we ask everyone to do their part to reduce the pressure on the healthcare system and the heroes who serve our patients on a daily basis:
- If you have not already been vaccinated, get vaccinated immediately or complete your series of vaccines. Find a vaccination location in vaccine.gov Where munsonhealthcare.org. Evidence shows that vaccines are effective in keeping people out of the hospital and off ventilators. Vaccines are free and available for ages 5 and over in many pharmacies, doctors’ offices and health services in our region.
- If you are vaccinated, get a booster dose of the vaccine, which is now approved for everyone 18 years of age and over.
- If you have been exposed or have symptoms of an upper respiratory infection (cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, fever, or loss of taste / smell), get tested.
- If your test is positive and admissible, consider taking monoclonal antibody therapy. Evidence shows that patients who receive monoclonal antibody treatment early have significantly lower hospitalization and complication rates from COVID-19.
- If you have any questions about vaccines, please contact your physician or call the Munson Healthcare Ask-A-Nurse Hotline at 231-935-0951.
- Think carefully about where you seek health care. A primary care office, virtual tour, or emergency care may be the best accommodation, as hospitals and emergency departments are in high demand. Despite this, for emergency situations such as stroke symptoms, chest pain, difficulty breathing, or significant injury, you should still seek emergency care. Be aware that emergency services do everything possible to provide safe and timely access.
- Practice physical distancing at indoor events and gatherings, including the use of face masks and other protection.
- If you are aware of potential exposure to COVID-19, get tested and limit your interactions with others until you test negative and / or have passed the recommended quarantine period.
Our healthcare team has worked tirelessly over the past 20 months to serve every community in Northern Michigan. Now more than ever, we ask you to show them patience and thoughtfulness during this stressful time and, most importantly, to support them by getting vaccinated and being safe this holiday season.
Dr Christine Nefcy is Chief Medical Officer of Munson Healthcare.