MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s request for additional staffing for Mercy Health Muskegon has been granted by the federal government.

On Tuesday, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced that the federal government will be sending a 17-person medical team to support Mercy Health’s doctors and nurses as they treat COVID-19 and other patients.

“As the Omicron variant quickly becomes the dominant strain of COVID-19 across the United States, I am grateful to our federal partners for their continued support that is providing much-needed relief to Michigan’s hospitals and health care personnel,” Whitmer said.

The additional staffing team will start on Dec. 30 and include registered nurses, a doctor and other health care workers. The team is expected to provide support for the next 30 days, MDHHS said.

“For our staff and our community I think this is just a really nice early Christmas present for our team,” Gary Allore, president of Mercy Health Muskegon, said.

The team will provide relief for the hospital’s staff who have been stretched thin throughout the pandemic. 

“Especially the last five weeks, we’ve just had a constant full house and they’ve been working so hard,” Allore said. “This is just one more thing that will really please our team, especially around the holidays when hopefully we’ll be able to provide a little more time for our staff to be with family.”

Mercy Health Muskegon isn’t the only hospital that will have extra assistance this holiday season. Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids has recently received a 30 day extension for their 22-person support team.

In early December, the federal health care workers were sent to Spectrum Health to provide assistance. Julie Bulson, the director of business assurance with Spectrum Health, said they’ve had a big impact. 

“They have just absolutely have been phenomenal,” Bulson said. “They’ve really been able to help fill in some of our open shifts both from a physician perspective as well as from a nursing and respiratory therapy perspective. Even the emotional impact that they’ve been able to provide for our team members knowing that they have support.”

Ahead of the holidays, MDHHS is asking Michiganders to carefully consider where they seek health care.

“A primary care office, virtual visit or urgent care may be the best choice as hospital and emergency departments are experiencing high demand. However, for emergency conditions such as stroke symptoms, chest pain, difficulty breathing, significant injury or uncontrolled bleeding, Michiganders should still seek emergency care,” MDHHS said in a press release.

As of Dec. 20, 3,944 Michiganders are hospitalized for COVID-19.