Nurse Kelsey Kusch-Vargo works in the mobile unit outside Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe.

Nurse Kelsey Kusch-Vargo works in the mobile unit outside Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe.

Photo provided by Beaumont Health

Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe dealing with recent surge in COVID-19 cases

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published April 20, 2021


GROSSE POINTE CITY — The recent surge in COVID-19 cases is straining the capacity of Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe, as well as the other hospitals in the Beaumont Health system.

As of April 15, Beaumont officials said the number of COVID-19 patients they were caring for had skyrocketed from 128 on Feb. 28 to more than 800. That number has risen by about 300 in the last two weeks alone.

Local officials are among those calling on residents to protect themselves and those around them from COVID-19. During an April 19 Grosse Pointe City Council meeting by Zoom, City Councilman Terence A. Thomas asked everyone to “mask up … so that we can get rid of the masks a lot sooner rather than a lot later.”

State officials reported that Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe, had 57 COVID-19 patients as of April 19, with five of those in the intensive care unit. The hospital was at 71% capacity as of April 19, whereas other Beaumont hospitals in the area were either full or nearly full — Beaumont Royal Oak was at 84% capacity, Beaumont Troy was at 95% capacity and Beaumont Dearborn was at 91% capacity.

“Our COVID-19 numbers are climbing higher and faster and it’s very troubling and alarming to see this,” Beaumont Health CEO John Fox said in a press release. “We are grateful for the knowledge attained from the first two surges. It has helped save many lives. We also now have effective vaccines. To flatten the curve again, we all need to work together now: wear masks, wash hands, avoid large gatherings, practice social distancing and get vaccinated. We cannot do this alone. We need everyone’s help immediately.”

New, more contagious COVID-19 variants are believed to be largely responsible for the recent surge in Michigan, and hospitals are seeing younger patients contract serious cases of COVID-19.

“The new COVID-19 variants are more contagious. The patients we are seeing are younger and some are sicker and in need of intense medical attention,” Chief Medical Officer of Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe, Dr. Nick Gilpin, Beaumont’s medical director of Infection Prevention and Epidemiology, said in a press release. “Some younger patients also seem to be waiting longer to get care, thinking they can beat the virus. By the time they come to the hospital, we’re seeing intense illness with pneumonia, blood clots and severe lung injury. This trend does not seem to be slowing down.”

Despite the increase, at press time, elective and nonemergency surgeries were still being performed at all Beaumont hospitals “on a case-by-case basis,” Gilpin said by email.

To allow for greater social distancing and safety when the emergency center gets busy, Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe, has set up a one-room modular center in the parking lot to triage patients after emergency room entrance personnel determine that the patient doesn’t have a life-threatening emergency, such as a stroke, heart attack or shortness of breath. A Beaumont spokesperson said by email that the unit has a computer and supplies for staff to use, and they’re able to conduct initial information gathering with the patient at the patient’s vehicle. The mobile unit has been used as needed during the COVID-19 case surge.

On April 16, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services extended its gatherings and mask epidemic order in response to the surge. In addition, as of April 26, masks will be required for children ages 2 to 4, which the MDHHS said has been recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“Michigan continues to implement smart health policies and mitigation measures to fight the spread of COVID-19,” MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel said in a press release. “This includes the requirement to wear a mask while in public and at gatherings, limits on indoor residential social gatherings larger than 15 people with no more than three households, and expanded testing requirements for youth sports. Additionally, the most important thing people can do right now is to get the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine to protect themselves and their families, and help us eliminate this virus once and for all.”

The epidemic order limits outdoor residential gatherings to no more than 50 people. For nonresidential gatherings, the limit is 25 people indoors and 300 people outdoors. The epidemic order is in effect from April 19 to May 24.

As of April 16, roughly 3.5 million Michiganders had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, state health officials reported.

Because these numbers are impacting hospitals’ ability to care for patients, hospital officials are urging local residents to take as many precautions as possible to reduce the spread of the virus.

“Nurses are exhausted. Many hospitals are close to 100% capacity. RNs around the state are being put in the impossible situation of having to decide which patient to attend to. Nurses are working up to 18 hours at a time, often without breaks,” Michigan Nurses Association President Jamie Brown said in a press release. “We are begging for everyone in the community to do their part. Stay home. Wear a mask. Get a vaccine when you are able. We are barely able to keep our heads above water. We are in crisis. We need our communities’ help.”

Visitor restrictions were reinstated at all Beaumont hospitals March 25.