Hospital CEOs: COVID-19 once again a statewide emergency


In a health care call-to-arms, CEOs from Michigan’s largest hospital systems described the growing levels of COVID-19 across the state as “frightening” and are growing increasingly concerned neither the staff to care for patients nor beds to put them in will be available as COVID-19 numbers continue to rise.

Tina Freese Decker Courtesy Spectrum Health

Spectrum Health CEO and President Tina Freese Decker, Beaumont Health CEO John Fox, Henry Ford Health System CEO Wright Lassiter III, Munson Healthcare President and CEO Ed Ness, and Michigan Health & Hospital Association CEO Brian Peters gave the collective warning, “COVID-19 is moving faster than ever before and is affecting all demographics at a staggering rate; we need to take this virus more seriously than ever before.”

Also joining the coalition was Gar Atchison, CEO and market president at UP Health System – Marquette.

“We are incredibly grateful for the physicians, nurses and caregivers who are working tirelessly to care for the communities we serve,” Freese Decker said. “Unlike in the spring, the COVID-19 surge is now statewide, which means our ability to share staff and transfer patients is minimal. It is critical that we help our care teams stay healthy by reducing the community spread of COVID-19.”

Hospitalizations have multiplied sixfold — 400 to 2,559 — in the last six weeks and are on pace to double again in two weeks. Doubling time has gone from three weeks to two.

“We are facing a very grim reality this fall if Michigan residents don’t take this virus seriously; the number of admissions for COVID-19 patients at our hospitals has doubled over the past two weeks and these numbers aren’t sustainable,” Lassiter said. “We are no longer seeing a positivity curve, but a near vertical line of new patients and new cases. Field hospitals in Detroit and Novi were closed with only limited use this spring, but we may need them again this winter if we don’t slow the spread now.”

“We are testing thousands of people a week for the active virus, and the positive numbers are growing rapidly,” Fox said. “This is truly a serious situation. People are delaying care for cancer and other conditions because people are afraid to go to the hospital. The tentacles of COVID-19 are long, and we all have to work together to cut them off.”

Beginning in the summer, a group of business and health care leaders collaborated to provide information to the public, media and government on how COVID-19 has impacted the lives of Michigan residents, including through public service announcements, digital advertising and survey research.

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