Mary Free Bed adds beds to support W. MI hospitals


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital is adding temporary beds to help other hospitals dealing with an influx of COVID-19 cases.

Mary Free Bed added 14 new beds to its facility on Wealthy Street. Staff say more than half of those will be filled by the end of Thursday.

“This is just the first group,” said Kent Riddle, the CEO of Mary Free Bed. “We have to start somewhere, and we could get 14 in better spaces than the 80 (originally requested). We were going to have to put eight people in a room then curtains and now we don’t have more than two to three people in a room.”

At the beginning of the pandemic, Mary Free Bed says it put in a request for 80 additional beds. Thankfully, they were never needed but now heading into a new spike, the rehab facility is bringing in more than 30 beds.

The new beds will be filled with rehab patients who would normally have therapy at the hospital they were being cared for. But due to the spike in COVID-19 patients, those medical centers are reaching out to Mary Free Bed for housing help.

“This time, it was more than full,” Riddle said. “So, we have to develop more capacity because we are already at one $100%.”

Riddle says they are at a record number of patients currently, making Mary Free Bed the second largest rehab hospital in the county.

An undated courtesy photo from  Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital of a staffer helping a patient. 
An undated courtesy photo from  Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital of a staffer helping a patient. 

“At the end of the day, if we don’t take them then they are out on the street,” Riddle said.

Thankfully, federal and state approval for more beds was sped up because of the pandemic, allowing Mary Free Bed to help out.

“Our staff has really stepped up to this, taking on extra hours and doing it gladly,” Riddle said.

Mary Free Bed says it has room for more beds, but there isn’t enough staff. Its now recruiting health care workers.

Similar to other hospitals locally and nationwide, Riddle says staffing continues to be one the biggest issue during the pandemic.


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