Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital nurse Catherine Zahina is one of the hospital staff members responsible for helping to care for COVID-19 patients.

Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital nurse Catherine Zahina is one of the hospital staff members responsible for helping to care for COVID-19 patients.

Photo provided by Amy Strauss


Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital sees decrease in number of COVID-19 patients

By: Mark Vest | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published August 6, 2020

 Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital nurse Gail Vanstanton has helped to care for COVID-19 patients. The hospital has had a decrease in COVID cases.

Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital nurse Gail Vanstanton has helped to care for COVID-19 patients. The hospital has had a decrease in COVID cases.

Photo provided by Amy Strauss

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WEST BLOOMFIELD — Despite an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases reported in Michigan, the news has been better at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital.

“I think we’ve been very fortunate,” said hospital President Eric Wallis. “Even as you’re seeing cases rise around other parts of the state, I would generally say our folks here in the township and the area are doing a great job of trying to minimize the spread. While we have continued to see single-digit numbers of COVID cases within the hospital, we haven’t seen a spike of folks being hospitalized.”

Dr. Tricia Stein concurred that COVID-19 numbers have been going down at the hospital.

“Within the entire Henry Ford Health System, we have less (than) 50 patients currently admitted that are COVID positive, and at West Bloomfield, we have less than 10,” Stein recently said.

Stein shared some more encouraging news.

“People are surviving,” she said. “West Bloomfield has had no deaths for the month of July, at least COVID related.”

Wallis offered an explanation as to why the number of COVID-19 cases has increased elsewhere.

“I think the unfortunate truth is that we have folks that just haven’t fully understood or followed through with the need to wear masks in public,” he said. “The great news is, we know, science has shown us, that if you’re wearing a mask, it reduces the transmission of the disease, somewhere between 70% and 85%. If two people are together, both wearing (masks), the chance of transmission is less than 1%.”

Despite how bleak things can seem when it comes to COVID-19, there is some positive news.

“When you look at the statistics nationally, the vast majority of folks do have a positive outcome,” Wallis said. “I think what is worrisome is it’s hard to predict who will and who won’t. Here at the hospital, throughout this pandemic, we’ve seen people in their 20s and 30s pass away. We’ve seen people in their 90s and 100s actually get better. And so, I think that while we know that the vast majority of people do eventually get better, even some of those folks (who) survive are spending 30, 60, 90 days in the hospital, many of them with very long ICU stays; many of them very long-term on ventilators.”

The symptoms that accompany COVID-19 can vary, but a few to look out for are a fever, difficulty breathing and a loss of taste and smell.

Wallis identified some members of society who may have a greater risk of getting it.

“When we talk about the risk factors that the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) lays out, people that have underlying lung disease, people that are obese,” he said. “African-Americans have had a greater impact to them. Those folks who have underlying health conditions certainly are at greater risk, but I would really stress that it’s not that predictable. There are some folks who have been very, very healthy who have been very, very sick.”

One group with COVID-related concerns are parents who have been preparing to send their children back to school.

Stein shared some tips.

“The big things are still (going to) be social distancing, if and when they can,” she said. “For kids 2 years and older, it is recommended they wear a mask as long as they have no other medical issues that would prevent them from wearing one. … Make hand hygiene fun for the kids; frequent hand-washing, soap and water, a good 20 seconds, especially for the younger kids — have (them) sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice.”

Some have compared COVID to the flu, but Wallis touched on some of the differences.

“The big difference is that COVID is much more easily transmitted, as much as 10 times more easily transmitted from one person to another,” he said. “Statistics show in a normal flu season that spans a year, somewhere between 30,000 and 50,000 people die from the flu. We’ve seen 130,000 people in this country die in about four months. And so, it’s a higher fatality, much easier to pass. That’s really the worry and the difference between COVID-19 and the flu.”

Wallis expressed optimism that the vaccine so many have longed for will eventually be available.

“I have no doubt that we’ll get to a place where we have a vaccine,” he said. “What we don’t yet know is how long will that vaccine work. ... Unfortunately, I think we’re (going to) be in a phase of learning about this virus for a couple of years, at least. … We’ve learned a tremendous amount over the last six months on how to care for these patients.”

Despite the decrease in COVID-19 cases at HFWB, Stein wants people to exercise caution.

“It’s good to see less cases, but we’re cautiously optimistic,” she said. “We don’t want people to let their guard down. We still need people to be very vigilant (from a) public health mitigation standpoint.”

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