State: Out-of-hospital deaths up since pandemic


LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — State officials are concerned about a big increase in out-of-hospital deaths since the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, data from the state EMS agencies from March 15 to May 23 compared to the same period in 2019 shows:

  • Out-of-hospital cardiac arrests increased by 43.3%.
  • Out-of-hospital deaths recorded by EMS rose by 62%.
  • Statewide EMS transports dipped by 17%.
  • Transports of heart attack patients dropped nearly 10%.
  • Transports of stroke patients decreased by about 12%.

Some counties in West Michigan bucked the state trend.

The numbers in Kent and Kalamazoo counties didn’t change much. In fact, the number of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests was actually down this year.

Out-of-hospital deaths were up 13% in Kent County and 17% in Kalamazoo County.

But things look much different on the lakeshore.

Cardiac arrests went up 36% in both Ottawa and Muskegon counties. Out-of-hospital deaths are up 45% in Muskegon County and 61% in Ottawa County.

Health officials are urging people to not avoid medical care.

“Medical emergencies have not gone away during the pandemic and Michigan EMS providers are standing by to help Michiganders safely get the lifesaving help they need,” said Jack Fisher, Michigan Association of Ambulance Services president and executive director of Medic 1 Ambulance in Berrien County in a state news release. “Every minute counts in a medical emergency and we hope this alarming trend of people avoiding care and dying needlessly doesn’t continue.”

State officials say EMS providers have additional protective gear and disinfecting protocols to safely care for patients.

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