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Flint-area doctor ‘nervous’ as hospitals fill with COVID-19 patients again

Dr. Bobby Mukkamala said area gyms may turn into hospitals in just a month if the Flint community does nothing about the recent uptick in cases and the trend continues.
Published: Nov. 10, 2020 at 5:24 PM EST
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - The continued upward trend of positive COVID-19 cases has a well-respected Flint-area doctor “nervous.”

Dr. Bobby Mukkamala said Genesee County hospitals are experiencing a third surge of coronavirus patients and are starting to consider whether they have enough bed capacity to meet the community’s needs.

Mukkamala, the president of the Michigan State Medical Society, said area gyms may turn into hospitals in just a month if the Flint community does nothing about the recent uptick in cases and the trend continues.

“Luckily, the mortality is not as high because, again, we’ve learned on how to manage these patients,” he said. “But I didn’t honestly think that we were going to be in a position where we were worried about hospital beds again.”

Mukkamala said hospitals are starting to run out of room. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported the following hospitalization statistics for Genesee County facilities:

  • All Ascension Michigan hospitals -- 277 COVID-19 patients, 53 in intensive care and 83.8% capacity.
  • Hurley Medical Center -- 31 COVID-19 patients, three in intensive care and 98.2% capacity.
  • All McLaren Michigan hospitals -- 260 COVID-19 patients, 66 in intensive care and 75.9% capacity.

“When it gets to the point that you’re really struggling to breathe, there’s a window of opportunity there that we don’t want to lose,” Mukkamala said. “And that’s why we’re diverting those patients into the hospital, and that’s why the hospitals are filling up.”

He said there’s no longer a concern about the number ventilators, but these new patients are in need of supplemental oxygen, steroids or an antiviral medication.

Mukkamala doesn’t believe another economic shutdown is necessary for now to slow the spread of coronavirus in Mid-Michigan.

“As long as we can take care of those people that will get sick, then people will continue to enjoy those freedoms,” he said. “But I really pray that we enjoy them responsibility.”

Mukkamala said the cold weather and people wanting to be inside is contributing to the uptick in coronavirus cases, but people who are tired of the pandemic and letting their guard down are causing new infections as well.

“I think that’s part of human nature is that until it really does strike home, people don’t change their mind,” Mukkamala said. “But I think conversations like this will slowly and hopefully it’s fast, as we need it to change people’s minds without having them having to suffer pain to get to that point.”

He has two friends in a hospital with COVID-19 and another just died, so he’s asking the public to mask up and practice social distancing for the community as a whole.

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