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Federal government sending medical teams to support Grand Rapids, Detroit hospitals struggling with COVID

Spectrum Health, Beaumont Hospital and Dearborn are all receiving staffing assistance to relieve doctors and nurses treating COVID-19 and other patients.

LANSING, Mich. — The federal government is sending in medical teams to help hospitals in Metro Detroit and West Michigan struggling with COVID patients.

This comes at the request of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). 

Under the agreement, two medical teams will go into hospitals at Beaumont Hospital, Dearborn and Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids. 

“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,” said Tina Freese Decker, President & CEO, Spectrum Health. 

“Working together we can address this urgent public health crisis, relieve the strain on our teams and continue to provide high quality care.”

The teams are made up of 22 strong, and include registered nurses, doctors and respiratory therapists. They will arrive next week and begin treating patients immediately, providing support for the next 30 days.

"It won't be a moment too soon, we desperately need assistance," Laura Appel of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association, which advanced the request to the governor's office on behalf of the health systems it represents said Wednesday. 

"To have the shortages we have, and to also have the number of patients we now have is it makes it incredibly dire."

“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,” said Gov. Whitmer. 

“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.”

In addition, MDHHS submitted a request for federal Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals to open beds for civilian transfers. The John D. Dingell Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Detroit agreed to open some beds. 

The initial agreement is in place for 30 days and may be extended. MDHHS and the regional healthcare coalition will work with facilities in Southeast Michigan and the VA system to identify potential patients and coordinate transfers.

The federal staffing teams come as Michigan hospitals are filling up and staff are strained with a spike of COVID-19 patients. 

According to hospital data reported to MDHHS, over 20% of hospital inpatients statewide are COVID positive. There are regional differences with some facilities reporting that nearly 50% of inpatients are COVID positive. As of Nov. 22, 3,963 Michiganders are hospitalized for COVID-19. 

Michigan has also requested and received additional allocations of important COVID-19 therapeutics. To help treat COVID-19 patents, 800 additional courses of RegenCoV were allocated to Michigan based on a special request to the federal allocation team. This will allow for additional treatment with monoclonal antibody therapy which is proven to significantly reduce hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19.

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