Spectrum Health treating more patients than ever before

Grand Rapids

*Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story included an incorrect inpatient census. Spectrum has provided News 8 with the correct figure, which this story now reflects.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Officials with Spectrum Health are sounding the alarm as the Grand Rapids-based hospital system is currently treating more inpatients than ever before, including a record number of children with COVID-19.

“In Grand Rapids, our hospitals reached an all-time high census today” of 1,100 patients, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Joshua Kooistra said Wednesday. “That’s across Butterworth (Hospital), Blodgett (Hospital) and Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.”

He said Spectrum’s regional hospitals are at equal capacity.

While the hospital is seeing more patients with all types of ailments, COVID-19 remains a large contributing factor. Since August, the number of patients hospitalized with the virus has continued to climb. The slow and steady surge has hospital staff stretched thin.

“Just every day coming in and seeing the situation get worse and worse,” Kooistra said. “In past surges, there was a rapid uptick, but there was also a pretty rapid decline and we always felt we were getting on the other side of it. This time, it just feels different.”

According to Spectrum Health, 85% of the 272 COVID-19 patients hospitalized are not vaccinated. When it comes to the number of COVID patients in the ICU, 94% of are not vaccinated.

“These are healthy patients that for one reason or another chose not to get the vaccine and now are seeing significant effects, being hospitalized in our ICU on ventilators and dying from COVID-19,” Kooistra said. “It’s just tragic for our teams to watch this happen when so much of this is preventable.”

“We are seeing that younger population that we didn’t see in the prior surges that are largely unvaccinated that are dying in our hospital,” he added.

At Helen Devos Children’s Hospital, a record number of kids are hospitalized with COVID-19.

“Right now we have 15 children hospitalized at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital with COVID,” Kooistra said. “So its seems to be creeping into the younger generation.”

Due to the high volume of patients and limited staff, Spectrum Health officials are asking for patience as they’re currently experiencing longer wait times. They’re also having to delay more elective surgeries as a result of limited space.

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