As COVID cases continue to spike in West Michigan, more beds are being filled at various hospitals, including Mercy Health Saint Mary’s in downtown Grand Rapids. Some are near max capacity.
“Back in late September we had no hospitalized patients with COVID,” said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Matt Biersack with Mercy Health. “Here we are two months later and we have 78 patients as of this morning. So we’re really concerned about that.”
Dr. Biersack said within Kent County, they’re seeing “an incredible daily increase” in the number of new cases. However, Mercy Health is not filled to capacity.
“We do still have beds available,” he said during a Zoom interview Wednesday afternoon. “We’re able to take care of both COVID [patients] and patients that don’t have COVID at this time.”
So, he suggested patients with an appointment or experiencing a medical emergency to come to the hospital. He said one thing they’ve learned since the pandemic broke out back in March is that many patients weren’t going to the doctor’s office, thus not getting routine medical care or preventive care.
“That had some pretty serious consequences when you look at the big picture of healthcare,” Dr. Biersack said. “So we’re definitely encouraging people to still come, see us, see your primary care provider, continue to get that routine medical care because it’s still really important.”
He added that they’ve implemented several safety measures since the spring. Everyone is screened at the entrance, required to wear a mask, and the number of visitors in the hospital and on campus are limited.
“Our COVID units are located within our Lacks Cancer Center as well as in our Hauenstein Neuroscience Center and on specific floors with highly-trained nurses who have all the PPE that they need,” He said. “We made decisions based on the ventilation within the hospital system so that we can ensure that it’s safest for these patients as well as other patients and our staff.”
However, Dr. Biersack fears it could get worse if everyone doesn’t abide by the CDC and MDHHS guidelines for Thanksgiving. He said people’s behaviors during the next few days will determine what Christmas and New Years will look like.
Nevertheless, he reiterated the importance of going to the hospital if you're feeling sick.
“Don’t avoid seeking care because of concerns around COVID,” Dr. Biersack said. “We’ve done so much to keep our patients and our staff safe and we’ll keep you safe if you need care at mercy health.”