Metro Detroit hospitals strained amid COVID surge: 'All of it is taking a toll'

Posted at 9:29 PM, Dec 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-29 22:40:22-05

(WXYZ) — Metro Detroit hospitals are worried they won't be able to deliver quality care as COVID cases continue to skyrocket.

If you have a medical emergency, do not delay care. Doctors and nurses say they are working hard to make sure everyone gets the help they need.

Michigan's daily case rate broke records today and health officials expect the new year will bring a tidal wave of new infections.

The state is still actively battling the delta variant while experts are learning more about omicron.

Emergency room doctors throughout the Beaumont Health System are having to navigate a very tricky system with patients where some are checked in but left to wait for hours while others with more urgent medical issues are seen right away.

It's called triaging, but during a COVID-19 surge of this magnitude, it's more prone to error.

"It is most likely not sustainable," Dr. Gjon Dushaj, an emergency medicine physician at Beaumont Troy.

Dushaj says working in emergency medicine is one of the most stressful jobs in healthcare.

He said when the pandemic was thrown into the mix people left the field in droves, but the patient intakes haven't let up.

"All of it is taking a toll and then when the workforce is stretched thinner, it takes other people working harder with less," said Dushaj. "So you are trying to do more with less, and that in and of itself makes your job more stressful."

Dushaj says more people are seeking non-COVID related care, but trying to balance that with patients who are infected is tricky.

Facebook user Sherri Warner says her mother waited in the Beaumont ER for six hours and during a 4-day hospital stay never actually got her own room.

She noted that she wasn't complaining and understands the staff was stretched thin.

"You have to realize there may be a wait and there's a reason for it and we do things the way we do for a reason," said Dushaj.

"You may not understand, but just be patient with everyone," he added.

Health experts at Henry Ford hospital say it's likely things will get worse in January, especially with the omicron variant on the rise.

In just the past week, their COVID test positivity rate jumped 15 percent.

"If we cannot control the spread of COVID-19 infections in our communities," said Dr. John Deledda, Chair of Emergency at the Henry Ford Hospital System, "our communities' access to safe and quality health care is at risk."

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.

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