Mercy Health Muskegon ‘nearly as strained as it can be’ amid COVID-19 surge

Coronavirus

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — Mercy Health Muskegon is asking for patience and additional personnel as it tries to keep up with a surge in COVID-19 patients that has pushed it to 105% capacity.

Dr. Justin Grill, Mercy Health Muskegon’s chief medical officer, said COVID-19 patients are consuming a significant portion of the hospital’s resources. It has 246 beds and 72 are filled with COVID-19 patients.

“So if those were gone, essentially, we would have no problems,” Grill said. “Our capacity is nearly as strained as what it can be.”

Mercy Health Muskegon says about 80% of people being admitted are unvaccinated.

Grill is asking for patience as staff members work additional hours and people experience longer wait times. The hospital is housing some patients in the emergency room because there are no rooms to move them into. Only the most essential surgeries are being conducted in an effort to free up resources.

“There were many things that were very much different about the surge that we had last year at this time versus the surge that we had this year at this time, which is a basically you need to handle it within the four walls of your hospital however you can handle it,” he said.

Last year, the hospital system had additional help, which included ambulance workers redeployed to the hospital and Michigan National Guard assistance.

Spectrum Health, which is dealing with a record number of COVID-19 patients, is now getting help from the federal government, with the Department of Defense sending a team this week.

“We have asked for help,” Grill said. “The same process that Spectrum went through to ask for help of the federal government we went through as well and I believe we were in the top four of the state of Michigan but the federal government was only able to deploy two teams.”

The other team is going to Beaumont Hospital in Dearborn.

The city of Muskegon is trying to help reduce the potential for additional cases by suspending most in-person service at City Hall at least through Wednesday. The police department will remain open to the public.

A note at Muskegon City Hall says it is closed. (Nov. 29, 2021)

City Manager Frank Peterson said the city was anticipating a surge in cases similar to what happened last year around the holidays.

“We decided that the smart thing for us to do was just to plan ahead close our offices for a few days and then regroup,” he said.

About half of city employees are working remotely to start the week.

“At the end of the day, missing a few days or a few weeks, if that helps save a couple lives, if that helps a couple people from getting sick then it’s worth a little bit of time away from the office,” Peterson said.

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