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Beaumont Health announces first COVID-19 death at hospital

Michigan’s COVID-19 deaths climb to 3

By: Jonathan Shead | C&G Newspapers | Published March 18, 2020 | Updated March 19, 2020 2:39pm

METRO DETROIT — As the total number of cases of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, continues to climb in Michigan, the state has now also had its first reported death from the virus. 

Beaumont Health officials reported March 18 that an approximately 50-year-old male patient with underlying medical conditions, a resident of Southgate who tested positive for COVID-19 and was under the health network’s care, passed away. The man died at a Beaumont Hospital in Wayne County, per a press release. 

On March 19, news of two additional deaths related to COVID-19 came from McLaren Hospital and Henry Ford Health System, bringing the statewide total to three. 

Henry Ford announced an 81-year-old woman passed away March 18 at its hospital in Detroit. McLaren Oakland Hospital, in Pontiac, reported the third confirmed COVID-19 death, of a woman in her 50s, in Michigan at their facility. Both patients had underlying medical conditions. 

“Our medical team went to extraordinary efforts to care for this patient, and we are deeply saddened by his passing and empathize with his family,” Beaumont Health Chief Nursing Officer Susan Grant said of the Beaumont patient to pass away in the release. “Our physicians, nurses, and medical staff are all working together to care for COVID-19 patients. During a time like this, we are united to battle this virus. 

“Further, we must continue to serve and care for the non-COVID-19 needs of all patients, whether they are giving birth, needing essential surgery or requiring lifesaving emergency procedures.” 

At a March 18 press conference, Beaumont Director of Infectious Disease and Epidemiology Dr. Nick Gilpin said Beaumont has “dozens” of confirmed COVID-19 cases across its eight hospitals. 

“It’s never good to have a patient die, but I think we also have to prepare ourselves that there will be more. Simply being realistic, I think we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg here,” Gilpin said. “There will be a significant number of critically ill patients. There will be a number of patients that die from COVID-19, but a vast majority of patients with COVID-19 will recover. We’re talking about a number that’s probably close to 80-90% of people who get infected will recover. That’s the message I want to hammer in.” 

As of March 18, 15 new positive COVID-19 cases were reported in Michigan — five in Detroit, two in Macomb County, seven in Oakland County, and one in Wayne County — bringing the statewide total to 80. 

Statewide data indicates that of the 80 confirmed cases 34 have been hospitalized, 31 have been told to go home and quarantine, and the status of 15 cases are still unknown. 

Beaumont Health processed approximately 500 COVID-19 tests March 17 and has sent 1,100 other tests to state and national labs for testing since March 12. Since curbside screening has begun at all eight Beaumont hospitals, medical staff have screened approximately 1,500 patients. The health network’s COVID-19 hotline, (800) 592-4784, has received approximately 500 calls daily. 

As of March 17, Beaumont Health began testing a limited number of COVID-19 tests at its own laboratory facilities. 

“We’re proud to have developed a mechanism to process tests within our health system. It typically takes months to do this, and we did it in several days. Our lab team’s expertise has allowed us to serve our patients better during this pandemic,” Beaumont Health’s Chief of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Dr. Barbara Ducatman said in a press release. “However, we must conserve our testing supplies. That’s why we’re only processing our own tests for certain patients who meet COVID-19 testing criteria and are admitted to our hospitals or are receiving treatment in one of our emergency centers.”

Among these and other efforts, such as visitor restrictions, cancellations of non-essential surgeries, and collaborating with other health care systems, Beaumont has put several prevention strategies in action to mitigate the potential spread of the virus. 

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and related deaths nationwide vary by source. As of March 19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s data shows a total of 10,442 confirmed cases across the United States, and 150 deaths. Johns Hopkins University’s data states the United States has 10,755 confirmed cases and 154 related deaths. 

Updated COVID-19 information can be found at michigan.gov/coronavirus or cdc.gov/coronavirus. Available COVID-19 hotlines in Michigan and the United States include Oakland County, (248) 858-1000; the state of Michigan, (888) 535-6136; and the CDC, (800) 232-4636.

Call Staff Writer Joanthan Shead at (586) 498-1093.