Feds send team to help Spectrum Health with COVID-19 wave


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

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

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

“On behalf of our physicians, team members and patients, we are grateful to the Department of Defense medical team and appreciate state and federal level support in taking all steps to care for our community,” said Tina Freese Decker, president and CEO of Spectrum Health. in a statement released by MDHHS. “Working together, we can address this pressing public health crisis, relieve the pressure on our teams and continue to deliver high-quality care.”

On Wednesday, Spectrum said it was 406 of the admitted patients had COVID-19. The hospital system is now treating more people for the virus than at any other time in the pandemic, pushing it up to red status, its most severe pandemic response level, last week.

Statewide, nearly 4,000 hospitalized patients have COVID-19; most of them are not vaccinated. The state says 73% of all Michigan cases in the past month, 72% of hospitalizations and 76% of deaths were among those not fully vaccinated.

The state has also begun sending civilian patients to the John D. Dingell Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Detroit for 30 days to help meet the patient burden.

“I am grateful that the federal government has honored our request to provide much-needed assistance to health personnel who have remained on the front lines of this pandemic,” Governor Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement Wednesday. “Right now, our doctors and nurses report that the vast majority of their patients have not been vaccinated or have not yet received a booster dose. We can all do our part to ease the strain on our hospital systems by getting vaccinated, making an appointment for a booster dose, and continuing to take precautions to protect ourselves and loved ones.”

The state, local health departments and hospital systems are: urge people to get vaccinated to reduce their chances of hospitalization, as well as to wear masks in public, maintain social distancing and wash hands regularly.

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