OWOSSO (WJRT) (03/21/2020) The number of coronavirus cases in the United States is rising: there are now more than 21-thousand confirmed cases and at least 266 deaths. The scale of the virus now has facilities across the country pleading for supplies.
Though it hasn’t seen any positive tests just yet, Memorial Healthcare in Owosso has triaged more than 200 patients and, like so many other hospitals, is burning through the gear it depends on to protect its doctors and staff.
“For us as a community to come together and respond to this need is extremely urgent.”
A public plea from Memorial Healthcare to ensure the pandemic’s front lines don’t fall victim to it.
“That should get our attention.”
Owosso State Representative Benjamin Frederick tells ABC 12 it underscores a new reality.
“We need to be there for those who are there for us,” says Frederick. “Every test, every diagnostic contact with a patient, that’s consuming these PPE items… The hospitals are using any lever at their disposal to keep their personnel safe and to make sure they continue providing critical services.”
The White House Coronavirus Task Force announced Saturday it had placed a half billion dollar order of N95 masks as part of a coordinated response with FEMA and the Department of Health and Human Services. Yet, the timeline on availability of these and other critical supplies has become the subject of growing concern.
“The healthcare professionals that are on the front line are absolutely the safety net of the community,” argues Frederick. “If we don’t pull on this rope together, we are each equally going to be impacted more.”
Memorial Healthcare, itself in short supply, and taking to Facebook, pleading for enough masks to go around as well as respirators, face shields and isolation gear.
“If we get to the point where those numbers go beyond the capacity that the healthcare systems have for treatment,” begins Brian Long, President and CEO of Memorial Healthcare. “We are going to have an even greater challenge.”
Volunteers who can sew will be sent kits to create DIY protection. It comes a week after another major shift by the Owosso hospital: triaging potential cases in its former gymnasium to further conserve dwindling resources.
“We’re pulling out all of the stops,” says Long. “We’re not looking to use those immediately, but the other sources… Our normal supply chain or federal and state resources are just not coming.”
The hospital, now urging locals to give what they can in an effort to protect the protectors.
“In mid-Michigan, we’re tough people,” reflects Frederick. “We’re going to get through this, we’re going to do this together… I know that the community and everybody listening is going to step up once again to be there for them.”
If you have supplies you'd like to donate, you can do that at Memorial Healthcare's alternative care facility, which is in the auditorium. That's open 24/7 for anything you can give. You can also call Memorial Healthcare in Owosso at 989 723 5211.