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'Worst we've ever seen': Saint Mary's President calls COVID spike 4th surge

Mercy Health is at 101% capacity in Muskegon, and 99% in Grand Rapids.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Mercy health is out of beds for sick people. Monday Saint Mary's in Grand Rapids had 51 inpatients. On Tuesday that number jumped to 64. 

The hospital's president is calling the recent spike in cases the "4th wave" of COVID-19, and said it's worse than anything he's ever seen.

"There are times in this community when ambulances have had to bypass one hospital and go to another," said Matt Biersack, President and Chief Medical Officer of Mercy Health's Saint Mary's Hospital. "Emergency rooms are so crowded and there's so much burden."

FULL INTERVIEW: Matt Biersack, the President and Chief Medical Officer at Mercy Health St. Mary's 

He said elective procedures have been canceled for the next week or so to make room for sick patients. 

"About half the beds are offline because they’re full of hospital patients," Biersack said. 

The current positivity rate for the Saint Mary's campus is 22.1 percent. In Muskegon, it's 18.5 percent, and Biersack fears that number will continue to rise. He says it's not limited to Mercy, either. Tuesday, Spectrum health reported its highest ever 7-day positivity rate of 22.6 percent, and a representative said Spectrum Health is at 85% capacity system-wide. 

If the high positivity continues, there's concern it could be disastrous for West Michigan Hospitals. 

"Unfortunately what we’re not seeing is any leveling off of the curve," Biersack said. "All the three health systems [in Grand Rapids] are just seeing upward rise in terms of the positivity, and that's really, really concerning."

Biersack urged vaccination, hand washing, more testing, and mask-wearing as ways to combat the rising number of cases. He believes the number of tests being done isn't enough, and that positivity rates are actually underselling how dire of a situation this "4th wave" truly is.



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