MID-MICHIGAN, Mich. (WJRT) - Mid-Michigan hospitals are still struggling to keep up with climbing COVID-19 numbers.
Hospitals in Bay, Midland and Saginaw counties are coming up with contingency plans in case all hospitals in the area have to start diverting patients.
"In Midland, Saginaw and here. There have been times when all four hospitals have had to go on diversion at the same time," said Norman Chapin, McLaren Bay Region chief medical officer. "So, we have been working with EMS providers to develop protocols as to how they will handle situations if all four hospitals are at a critical point."
Normally, if one local hospital is on diversion, the other hospitals would take those patients.
But there is the possibility of all four Great Lakes Bay Region hospitals being at the critical point of choosing to divert patients. That's where a new plan comes into play.
"If there's a 911 call in Bay County and all four hospitals are on diversion in Saginaw, Midland and Bay counties, then EMS crews will be taken to the closest facility," said Chapin. "In that case Bay County. If it's a Midland patient or the EMS is in that area, then they would continue to accept those EMS patients."
While that is the solution for now, Chapin said the next few weeks could be tough on Great Lakes Bay Region hospitals as the Omicron variant surges.
"If Omicron becomes much more prevalent here. Even though for an individual patient Omicron does seem to cause a lower chance of hospitalization, a lower chance of serious illness or death. If you have twice as many people who have Omicron, we're still anticipating a higher number of hospitalizations overall over the next month or two," said Chapin.
He said it's important to understand what constitutes a trip to the emergency department versus an urgent care in partnership with being vaccinated and boosted.
Unless it's a life-threatening condition, patients should try to avoid an emergency department.