Wayne Mayor demands answers in wake of COVID-19 hospital shutdown, layoffs

Posted at 6:52 PM, Apr 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-18 11:03:38-04

WAYNE, Mich. (WXYZ) — "It’s a travesty.” Wayne Mayor calls for criminal investigation into closure of Beaumont Wayne.

The Mayor of Wayne is calling for a criminal investigation into why Beaumont Health paused operations at its hospital in the City of Wayne during a pandemic.

“This is a travesty, and I cannot believe this is happening in America right now,” said Mayor John Rhaesa.

Rhaesa says he’s always been a proud supporter of Beaumont Wayne, he’s even a member of their community advisory board. But now Rhaesa wants to know why Beaumont Health has paused operations at the Wayne hospital, and why they transferred patients on ventilators to other facilities.

“It makes no sense to take a hospital away. In my opinion that’s criminal and should be investigated in the future, because this is not right,” Rhaesa told 7 Investigator Heather Catallo.

Rhaesa says he’s now contacting the Attorney General and the Governor.

Beaumont has said they will use the now-empty Wayne location as a covid19-only hospital again if there’s another surge. A spokesman says the remaining patients were transferred safely earlier this week and they are re-deploying some staff to other locations. But other healthcare workers from Beaumont Wayne say they received lay off notices.

“How do you do this to your heroes? They’re putting their life on the line for us. Yet, they’re just thrown out like garbage. This is wrong! This absolutely just blows my mind that this could happen in a pandemic when we’re in such a crisis,” said Rhaesa.

Relatives who’s loved ones were being treated at Wayne tell 7 Action News that in those final hours of life, family members were getting calls from the hospital saying they were going to send them to other facilities. Those relatives say the patient’s doctors did not agree with the decision to move the patients.

“I am so sorry that happened to you. No one deserves that, no one deserves to have to go through what you’ve gone through. And you are owed an apology from Beaumont, and on behalf of myself and my citizens, we’re ashamed that this has happened to you. This should not happen in my city,” said Rhaesa.

The 7 Investigators have learned a total of 39 Beaumont patients from across their system have now been transferred to the Veterans Affairs hospitals in Detroit and Ann Arbor, even though they are not military patients. Four of them came from the Wayne campus.

VA officials proudly told 7 Action News this is a historic move, and they’re happy to help, but they believed all of the patients were coming from hospitals at capacity – not a hospital about to close it’s doors.
A Beaumont spokesman says “Beaumont is committed to reopening Beaumont Wayne and making sure the services there both meet the community’s needs and fit within our system’s overall strategic plan.”

Mayor Rhaesa says that’s not good enough during a pandemic.

“My community rallied around the hospital. My businesses have rallied around the hospital. I mean, they’ve been sending stuff – anything and everything they can do to help and support them. How can you do this? How? It’s just wrong,” said Rhaesa.

Mayor Rhaesa says his EMS crews are already short staffed. Now without this hospital for covid19 patients or any other kind of medical care, he says there will be a much longer response time.

Beaumont Hospital Director of Communications Mark Geary issued this statement about Beaumont Wayne:

Beaumont Hospital, Wayne is important to Beaumont Health and is not permanently closing. Rumors to that effect are false. Yesterday, the few remaining patients at Wayne were safely discharged home or transferred to other hospitals. The hospital is now temporarily paused and not serving any patients. Most staff is being redeployed to other Beaumont sites where they can provide care for more patients. Others will be temporarily laid off and could potentially participate in enhanced state/federal unemployment programs.

As the surge was expected to occur just a couple of weeks ago, Beaumont received approval from the state to designate Wayne as a COVID-19 only hospital. Fortunately, the surge was more moderated, likely due to aggressive social distancing, the stay at home order and other factors mitigating the spread of the disease.

However, we are still operating under several executive orders that severely restrict the extent and type of care we can provide to our community. Until these executive orders are lifted and the disaster declaration has ended, we are not changing the COVID-19 only status of the Wayne hospital. This is in preparation for a second surge that could occur after the stay at home restrictions end. The pandemic remains very unpredictable. Beaumont Health is committed to responding to potential ongoing COVID-19 surges by relying upon our Wayne hospital and other resources.

As the last two weeks have shown, predictive models are estimates and lack the specificity to make accurate decisions, even a month in advance. Non-COVID-19 patient volume has reduced across the system, but the COVID-19 patient volume remains high. Beaumont is committed to reopening Beaumont, Wayne and making sure the services provided there both meet the community’s needs and fit within our system’s overall strategic plan. However, we will only do that when it is safe to do so and when we have more clarity about the pandemic.

Ruthanne Sudderth, Senior Vice President, Public Affairs & Communications for the Michigan Health & Hospital Association sent us this statement about the VA:

The U.S. Department of Veterans recently announced a “Fourth Mission,” which is to provide medical care for civilians affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in high-outbreak zones around the country. This includes southeast Michigan. As a result, the VA facilities in Detroit and Ann Arbor reached out to hospitals in southeast Michigan offering to care for some COVID-19 patients if hospitals lacked capacity to care for them in their own facilities. This lack of capacity includes not having enough staff, or shortages of beds or supplies. To date, multiple health systems in this region have been able to partner with the VA and have had patients transferred to their facilities in Detroit and Ann Arbor. We commend and thank our VA partners in Michigan and their staff on the front lines for their assistance.

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