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Feds to send staff to Michigan hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients as pandemic rages

Dave Boucher, Detroit Free Press on

Published in News & Features

Amid another pandemic surge in Michigan, federal officials granted a request from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to send staff to support beleaguered hospital workers.

The aid comes as Michigan remains a national pandemic hot spot: Approximately 1 in 5 hospitalized Michiganders has COVID-19, and the state continues to lead the nation in cases.

"In the last seven days, no other state or territory has reported a higher inpatient bed utilization than Michigan," reads a portion of a report issued this week by the state health department.

The federal plan involves sending two, 22-person military teams from the U.S. Department of Defense to hospitals in Dearborn and Grand Rapids. The teams include doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists. They are due to arrive Monday for a 30-day stint in the state.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs also opened up beds at its Detroit hospital for local COVID-19 patients, granting a request for help from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Michigan also will receive an additional 800 monoclonal antibody therapies, a successful method for treating people already infected with the coronavirus.

“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 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 federal medical teams are going to Beaumont Health in Dearborn and Spectrum Health Butterworth hospital in Grand Rapids. The Dearborn hospital reported a 94% bed occupancy rate, while Butterworth reported a 92% rate.

Leaders from both institutions thanked the state and federal governments for help during this crisis.

“The virus has exhausted our teams and resulted in unprecedented staffing challenges at Beaumont Health and health systems across the state," said Beaumont Health CEO John Fox.

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