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Beds are filling up in mid-Michigan hospitals

Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 10:48 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Imagine being admitted to the hospital and being treated in a recliner. That’s the reality for one local hospital completely out of beds as COVID-19 and other illnesses rise.

A nursing shortage combined with growing cases of illness have hospitals in mid-Michigan are struggling to treat their high number of patients.

Tiffani Dusang is Director of Emergency and Forensic Services for Sparrow Hospital.

“You’re trying to get people in but there’s nowhere to go, so you’re having to really think about your space constraints and where can you deliver this care safely and efficiently,” Dusang said.

She says they’ve completely run out of beds. In an act of desperation, to be able to treat those who need help, they brought reclining chairs into hallways of the emergency room.

“What we’re finding is that category that means you need to be seen fairly quickly is growing and is higher and higher,” she said. “So, we’re having to think outside of the box.”

Dr. Adnan Munkarah, Henry Ford’s Executive Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer, said, “We have seen an increased volume in a number of diseases and disease entities.”

Munkarah says not all illnesses they’re dealing with are COVID-19 related. Some are prolonged illnesses people didn’t get treated during the pandemic, along with respiratory issues.

“These are cardiac problems, general medicine problems such as hypertension and high blood pressure that’s not monitored, diabetes that’s way out of control, as well as pulmonary diseases,” Munkarah said.

Dusang says many medical professionals are leaving the industry because of high stress, leaving places like Sparrow understaffed and desperate for relief.

“Our more experienced nurses ... this is the third surge or so?” she said. “You add that on to numbers and acuity and they’re tired. I mean, they’re really tired. There’s tears, there’s exhaustion. There’s a feeling that you want to do the best you can as a nurse but sometimes you just can’t because of the situation that you’re in.”

Both hospitals are highly encouraging people to get their COVID and flu vaccines in order to help reduce their numbers. They are also encouraging people who need help not to be afraid to go to the hospital.

Sparrow says it has also seen a huge uptick in pediatric respiratory illness. So much so that they’ve had to pull many qualified nurses from treating adults to help treat those children.

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