‘They were too full’: With hospitals at capacity, some forced to travel for care

Coronavirus

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — With many West Michigan hospitals at or near capacity, some are having to travel longer distances for medical care.

Lutricia Harmon needed open heart surgery and had to get the procedure in Muskegon instead of her hometown of Grand Rapids.

A photo of Lutricia Harmon. (courtesy)

Her daughter Ashley Durr says they knew it could be challenging to find a place that could perform the surgery with an available hospital bed.

“She needed the surgery like right away and there was nobody that was available,” Durr said.

Durr says her mother initially wanted to have the procedure in Grand Rapids at Spectrum Health, but the hospital system could not get her an appointment fast enough because of the high number of patients already occupying hospital beds.

“They were too full and Muskegon was the first place to open up,” Durr said.

The earliest appointment they could get was three days later at Mercy Health Muskegon, the next closest hospital that can perform the procedure.

“She needed that surgery that night,” Durr said. “Her heart was contracting and it was like very scary.”

State numbers from this week list Spectrum Blodgett at 100% capacity and Spectrum Butterworth at 92% capacity.

The hospital system, as of Wednesday, was treating 489 COVID-19 patients and the latest available numbers from Tuesday showed 87% were unvaccinated.

The family wants everyone to the know the pandemic is not over and is reminding people to take precautions to stay healthy.

“Definitely keep a mask with you everywhere you go,” Durr said.

The family is raising money to help with medical expenses. If you would like to make a donation, you can contribute through their GoFundMe page.

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