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West Michigan hospitals are 'overwhelmed' and 'at a tipping point'

The uptick in COVID cases and other illnesses has resulted in longer wait times, delays and visitor restrictions.

WEST MICHIGAN — Health care systems within Michigan's Region 6 are overwhelmed and at a tipping point due to COVID-19 and other illnesses. Health officials in the region say they need the community’s help.

The Region 6 Healthcare Coalition sent out a letter to the community Wednesday, in which the organization said its hospitals and EMS systems are operating at extremely high capacity. The letter comes as recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows Michigan leading the nation in both the spread of COVID-19 and the number of new cases.

Nationwide, the country's 7-day case rate per 100,000 people stands at around 176 cases, and the 7-day positivity rate is nearly 7%. However, Michigan is reporting 503 new cases per 100,000, and a 7-day positivity rate between 10 to 14.9%, according to the CDC.

Region 6 includes Clare, Ionia, Isabella, Kent, Lake, Mason, Mecosta, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Osceola and Ottawa Counties. According to the Region 6 Healthcare Coalition, hospitals in these counties are seeing not only a rise in COVID-19 cases but also a rise in “patients with other serious health issues that cannot be further delayed or ignored.”

RELATED: CDC data shows Michigan leads nation in spread of virus, number of new COVID cases

According to the coalition, these factors have the following effects:

  • Wait times for emergency, urgent or primary care may be much longer than usual
  • Ambulance transfers may be delayed
  • Surgeries or procedures may be deferred to a later date
  • Visitor restrictions remain in effect
  • You may have a prolonged stay in the emergency department waiting for a bed in the hospital

In its letter to community members, the coalition said, “If more people were vaccinated, that would help reduce the number of COVID-19 patients, as most of the COVID-19 patients in the ED and admitted remain unvaccinated. This is impacting our ability to care for those who are seriously injured in a car accident, suffer a heart attack, stroke, or experience another medical emergency or issue.”

Along with an increase in illness, the letter noted that its facilities are experiencing staffing challenges. “Our team members are exhausted and are doing their very best care for our communities,” the coalition said.

Region 6 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 17, 2021 For additional information contact: R6Media@wmrmc.org A Letter to...

Posted by Region 6 Healthcare Coalition on Wednesday, November 17, 2021

To help resolve these issues, the group is asking community members to do the following:

  • Get a COVID-19 vaccination or booster if you are eligible
  • Get children 5-18 a Covid-19 vaccination
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Wear a mask when in indoor public spaces or outdoors when unable to socially distance
  • Practice healthy behaviors such as socially distancing, getting good sleep, eating well and exercising.

“We know that together we can get through this safely, but we need your help,” the coalition said. “Thank you for your support and patience as we navigate through these challenges.”

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