Mid-Michigan health care providers prepare as virus cases overwhelm Detroit area hospitals

MID-MICHIGAN (WJRT) (03/26/2020) Hospitals in the Metro Detroit area are filling up quickly. Two Henry Ford facilities in Wayne County are already at capacity and others have closed their emergency rooms. While the demand isn't nearly that high yet in Mid-Michigan, hospitals are preparing.

Mid-Michigan healthcare providers prepare as virus cases overwhelm Detroit area hospitals

“We are under no illusion,” begins Brian Long, president and CEO of Memorial Healthcare. “Levels we’re seeing in other locations, that is going to tax and beyond tax our capabilities.”

It may look like business as usual on the exterior, yet, inside, the stark reality can only be described as uncharted territory.

“We know the spread will continue if we don’t take aggressive action,” says Long.

Memorial Healthcare in Owosso confirmed its second case of COVID-19 Thursday.

“It’s very concerning,” relates Long. “We’re watching closely what’s happening in Southeast Michigan in the Detroit area and of course, across the country.”

It comes as the state’s largest health systems strain under the viral surge. With Beaumont near capacity, the health system announced Thursday it would close its Wayne ER to free up critical space.

“It’s concerning with the numbers we could be facing,” says Long. “Is it going to be enough?”

Memorial Healthcare has taken strides to prevent that very situation: a repurposed triage facility, dozens of added beds and increased reliance on telemedicine, it hopes, will cut the strain on limited resources and reduce transmission.

“We’re taking every precaution to avoid unnecessary exposure,” Jamie Wark, a public information officer with McLaren Caro tells ABC 12.

An hour away in Caro, the parking lot of this sleepy 25 bed hospital has now become a virtual ghost town. McLaren recently moved to suspend nonessential appointments and procedures and deployed a trailer as a temporary screening area outside of its emergency room.

“We know the virus is moving north and we’re prepping to be in a very similar situation,” shares Wark.

Back in Owosso, the outcome, Brian says, is still within Michigan’s ability to influence if everyone follows the rules.

“Can we reduce that acquisition lead and bend that curve,” asks Long. “I believe we can. We’re going to have to get serious about this… We’re all in this together and each of us has to take this very seriously.”