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Spectrum Health’s chief executive said on Wednesday that the coronavirus is raging in western Michigan, announcing that its hospital’s service capacity is nearing completion because the number of hospitalizations for the virus has tripled in the past 20 days, affecting all age groups.

Tina Freese Decker, President and CEO of Spectrum Health, said: “Since the pandemic began, we have faced some of the most difficult and daunting challenges.” “COVID-19 is taking off in our state, and we are heading in the wrong direction. .”

She said that one in ten people hospitalized in the area died.

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Decker said: “In the past three weeks, we have started to see more deaths… which is very worrying.” “What we have seen in the hospital is that COVID-19 is affecting young people of all ages. People and all people.”

Spectrum operates 14 hospitals in southwestern and western Michigan with 31,000 employees. The company announced on Wednesday that it will cancel non-emergency inpatient medical procedures, transfer to virtual medical institutions where possible, and restrict visitors to its hospitals. It is also expanding the capacity of its intensive care unit and adding more beds.

Decker said: “Even with these actions, the reality is that Spectrum Health and our statewide hospitals will reach their capacity limit within a few days.” “So we must change the trajectory of community transmission. That’s why we need community support. Help and support. We need to flatten this curve as we did last spring.”

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Due to the shortage of coronavirus testing supplies, Spectrum Health has also restricted the people who can be tested for coronavirus, giving priority to those with symptoms.

“From now on, we will prioritize community screening for patients with symptoms, and we will not only check for exposed people,” said Dr. Darryl Elmouchi, President of Spectrum Health, Spectrum Health Western Michigan. system.

“The reason for this is first, we want to make sure that we test patients with symptoms. Second, we want to make sure that our test turnaround time is kept short. Therefore, these tests are actually feasible.”

Decker said Spectrum Health conducts about 4,000 coronavirus tests every day. Among them, the health system has seen 14% positive results last week. Two weeks ago, the average was 10%. Two months ago, the percentage of positive tests was less than 3%.

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Dekker said of the spread of the virus: “We really don’t want it to be higher than 4%-5%, because once we see it, we will see it start to grow exponentially.”

Decker said that on Wednesday, 289 patients were admitted to the hospital by the coronavirus, which has tripled in the past 20 days.

“It is 3.5 times higher than last spring. It is eight times higher than when the positive rate was below 3% in September two months ago.”

As the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Michigan and the country continues to rise, staffing is also an issue.

Decker said: “We know that our colleagues and other hospitals and medical institutions are experiencing the same index trend as us.” “This is very different from the last time, when we could spread across the state or the entire country for employees. Staffing and providing services to people. So this means that we have little opportunity to share clinical staff or transfer patients.”

She said some employees were asked to work overtime. Others are being transferred within the health system to help treat coronavirus patients.

Decker said: “I know that every organization is looking for people to help with this, especially if it continues to grow like we are seeing now.”

Elmouchi temporarily stated that the ratio of patients to nurses in Spectrum Health has not increased.

He said: “Our sincere goal is to maintain as much care as possible, especially in outpatients.” “…If we need to transfer doctors or nurses or other personnel from outpatient clinics to hospitals to take care of more patients, We may have to make this adjustment. But otherwise, our goal is… to be very careful so that we don’t cause harm in the future.”

Decker said that it is important for the community to take immediate action to reduce the spread of the virus and reduce hospitalization.

She said: “Pay attention to what you are doing.” “We ask you to always wear a mask, wash your hands, and maintain social distancing. There are also simple things. When we are outside, when the positive rate is 3% or lower, we Can’t do it, do it now.

“What we have to do is to flatten the curve. We want to spend this time, and we know that the positive rate will drop.”

Elmouchi said that given that the coronavirus vaccine is about to come out and knows that the state has been able to flatten the curve before, these changes do not necessarily have to be maintained forever.

He said: “Ultimately, we are not talking about months after months of not leaving home.” He said: “The goal is for everyone to do it for a few weeks, start to decline, and then hope we can all do more.

“This is very serious… We have been in contact with every hospital in the area, and everyone feels the same. Moreover, without the help of the public, we will reach a goal, “We will see more in the hospital Patients, more patients die. “

Please contact Kristen Jordan Shamus: kshamus@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @kristenshamus.

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