Feds sending team to help Spectrum Health with COVID-19 surge


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — West Michigan’s largest hospital system is getting federal help to respond to a record number of COVID-19 patients.

The Department of Defense is sending 22 health care workers to Spectrum Health, plus another 22 to Beaumont Hospital in Dearborn. The teams will include nurses, doctors and respiratory therapists. They should be on the job next week and will be on hand for at least 30 days.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced the help Wednesday.

“On behalf of our physicians, team members and patients we are grateful for the Department of Defense medical team and appreciate support from state and federal levels as we take every measure to care for our community,” Spectrum Health President and CEO Tina Freese Decker said in a statement released by MDHHS. “Working together we can address this urgent public health crisis, relieve the strain on our teams and continue to provide high quality care.”

On Wednesday, Spectrum said it was 406 of its inpatients had COVID-19. The hospital system is now treating more people for the virus than at any other point in the pandemic, prompting it to rise to red status, its most serious pandemic response level, last week.

Across the state, nearly 4,000 hospital inpatients have COVID-19; most of them are unvaccinated. The state says that 73% of all cases across Michigan in about the last month, 72% of hospitalizations and 76% of deaths have been among those who are not fully vaccinated.

The state has also started sending civilian patients to the John D. Dingell Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Detroit for 30 days to help cope with the patient load.

“I’m grateful that the federal government has granted our request to provide much-needed relief to the health care personnel who have remained on the frontlines of this pandemic,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a Wednesday statement. “Right now, our doctors and nurses are reporting the vast majority of their patients are unvaccinated or have not yet received a booster dose. We can all do our part to help reduce the strain on our hospital systems by getting vaccinated, making an appointment to get a booster dose, and continuing to take precautions to keep ourselves and loved ones safe.”

The state, local health departments and hospital systems are calling on people to get vaccinated to reduce their chances of requiring hospitalization, as well as to wear masks in public and practice social distancing and frequent hand washing.

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