Local health systems at a turning point in part due to COVID

Health systems in Region 6 are at a turning point – our individual and collective resources are being overwhelmed and we need the help of our communities to get back on track.

For all healthcare providers in Michigan Region 6, the health and wellbeing of our patients, their families, our communities, and our team members are paramount.

Region 6 includes Clare, Ionia, Isabella, Kent, Lake, Mason, Mecosta, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Osceola, and Ottawa Counties.

The hospitals and emergency services in our region are of the highest standard – and have been for weeks. While the number of patients with COVID-19 has declined in other regions of the country, our numbers are increasing. We are also seeing more patients with other serious health problems that cannot be further delayed or ignored.

How does this affect you?

• Waiting times for emergency, emergency or primary care can be much longer than usual

• Ambulance transfers may be delayed

• Operations or interventions can be postponed to a later date

• Visitor restrictions remain in effect

• You may be staying in the emergency room for a long time and waiting for a hospital bed

Similar to other industries in the region, in the state and across the country, we too face human resource challenges. Our team members are exhausted and doing their best for our communities.

It’s important to note that the strain on our system comes from the COVID-19 response, as well as the many other demands our teams face while caring for critically ill patients. If more people were vaccinated it would help reduce the number of COVID-19 patients, as most COVID-19 patients remain unvaccinated in the emergency room and admitted. This affects our ability to care for people who have been seriously injured in a car accident, have a heart attack or stroke, or have another medical emergency or problem. We fear that along with the current surge in COVID-19, there will be a surge in influenza, compounding capacity problems. We urge people to get vaccinated against the flu as well.

If you have minor problems or problems that do not arise, please contact your family doctor. Urgent care is also offered for non-urgent emergencies. In an emergency, please call 911 or go to the emergency room as soon as possible. During the previous climb, some people waited too long because they didn’t want to burden the emergency room. Unfortunately, some of these people came too late to treat their emerging medical conditions such as stroke, heart attack, or diabetes emergencies. Please be patient with our hospital staff as each is doing their best to care for a large number of patients.

Everyone can help. We ask our community members to do everything possible to avoid COVID-19 and lead a healthy lifestyle:

• Get a COVID-19 vaccination or booster if you are eligible

• Have a COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 18 years

• Wash your hands frequently

• Wear a mask when you are indoors or outdoors when you are unable to distance yourself socially

• Practice healthy behaviors such as social distancing, good sleep, healthy eating, and exercise.

We know that we can get through this together safely, but we need your help. Thank you for your support and patience as we overcome these challenges.

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