Spectrum Health has reinstituted visitor restrictions at all of its 13 hospitals as COVID-19 cases continue to spike across the state.
The restrictions limit patients to one visitor in all inpatient rooms, emergency rooms, urgent care centers and walk-in clinics, surgery, radiology, labs, and labor and delivery areas. Adult COVID-19-patients are limited to one adult visitor throughout their hospital stay and the visitor — who must be the same person — must follow personal protective equipment guidelines.
Pediatric patients are allowed two adult visitors from the same people, or one visitor in double occupancy rooms.
“Spectrum Health is happy to welcome visitors who want to be with their loved ones,” Chad Tuttle, senior vice president of hospital and post-acute operations at Spectrum Health West Michigan, said in a statement. “Like hospitals across West Michigan, Spectrum Health is experiencing high demand for our services and our hospitals are very full. While our teams focus on care, visitors can help their loved ones feel more comfortable during their stay and keep everyone healthy and safe by following our updated visitor guidelines.”
Spectrum Health will make exceptions to the limits in cases involving special needs or end-of-life care.
COVID-19 hospitalizations have been steadily rising for several weeks at hospitals across Michigan.
As of Monday, 3,938 people were hospitalized statewide with COVID-19, with 848 of them in an intensive care unit, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. That’s up from 3,219 COVID-19 hospitalizations, with 698 people in ICUs, a week earlier.
The rise in COVID-19 cases, combined with increased patient loads involving people who delayed care for a medical condition, has pushed some hospitals to or near capacity and further strained the system.
“Across the state, resilient and dedicated healthcare workers in hospitals stand ready to care for emergency medical needs, but the reality is most hospitals throughout the state have more patients in their emergency departments than they do available rooms and staff to care for them,” the Michigan Health & Hospital Association said in a statement Monday. “This results in long wait times, patients being placed in hallways or conference rooms, and diverting patients away from a hospital because there is no physical room or medical staff available to accept more patients.”
A “vast majority” of COVID-19 patients in an ICU and on ventilators are unvaccinated, according to the association.
Southwest Michigan seeks help
Bronson Healthcare today elevated its surge status from yellow to orange, which means that the Kalamazoo-based health system’s hospitals are “consistently at capacity and resources are limited. Moving to level orange allows the health system to better allocate tight resources, including both staffing and supplies.”
“In addition, it allows Bronson to have a plan in place to limit less critical services, alter hours those services are provided or redirect staff as needed to address more critical needs,” Bronson said in a statement.
“We are currently seeing increasing admissions with unvaccinated, younger and normally healthy patients needing care for COVID-19 alongside older individuals with preexisting conditions who are experiencing breakthrough infection,” said Denise Neely, senior vice president and chief operations officer Bronson Methodist Hospital and chief nursing officer at Bronson Healthcare. “Combine that increase with individuals seeking care for non-COVID related health issues and we find ourselves with a healthcare system that is increasingly under pressure. Moreover, it’s not just Bronson. We’re seeing this strain on hospital capacity across our region, the state, and the nation.”
A coalition of hospitals and health systems in southwestern Michigan said today in an open letter that “individual and collective resources are being overwhelmed, and we need our communities’ help to get back on track.”
“As with many other industries in the region, state and across the country, we are experiencing staffing challenges and shortages. Our team members are exhausted and are doing their very best care for our communities,” states the letter from hospitals in the Region 5 service area that covers Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph and Van Buren counties. “We know that for the upcoming holidays all would like to be with family and friends. We are asking that you please interact with others in a safe way.”
The hospitals urged people to get vaccinated if they have not been already, to get their children vaccinated, follow COVID-19 safety protocols, and to wear face masks when indoors or outdoors if they are unable to socially distance from one another.
The state on Monday reported another 17,008 confirmed COVID-19 cases over three days, bringing the total since the pandemic began to more than 1.25 million.
Another 83 deaths from Saturday to Monday raised the pandemic’s death toll in Michigan to 25,315.