University of Michigan Health responds to recent COVID-19 surge

Extremely high occupancy from COVID-19 resurgence means some elective surgeries will be rescheduled, among other steps.

Author | Noah Fromson

In recent days, University of Michigan Health, part of Michigan Medicine, has seen a significant increase in COVID-19 activity, as cases and hospitalizations continue to rise rapidly across the state.

Like many other Michigan hospitals, U-M Health is experiencing high positivity rates and increasing patient demand – from both patients with and without COVID-19 – impacting capacity and resulting in extremely high occupancy in emergency departments and hospital inpatient units.

U-M Health currently has more than 75 cases of COVID-19 among adults and 20 adult patients in the ICU, and COVID cases have contributed to wait times in the adult emergency department.

“We’re at another COVID-19 turning point in Michigan, one that requires University of Michigan Health to again adjust our clinical activity to safely manage patients in the emergency department and our current inpatients,” said David Miller, M.D., president of University of Michigan Health and executive vice dean of affairs for the U-M Medical School.

“Our extraordinary teams are again initiating numerous efforts over the next few days to preserve capacity to care for the most serious patients, including those with COVID-19,” Miller explained. “Our guiding principle throughout the pandemic is to ensure that we continue to provide the safest care possible for our patients and our team members.”

These measures include:

  • Implementation of vaccine mandates for U-M Health team members, continued masking, social distancing and hand hygiene
  • Activating discharges and transfers from the emergency department to inpatient units more quickly
  • Rescheduling some adult surgical procedures and medical admissions to help manage care through the next few days, or longer. Patients whose scheduled procedures and admissions have been postponed will receive direct communication
  • Reducing transfers from other hospitals

“Hospital systems throughout the state feel the effects of rising COVID-19 cases, as pandemic-related care strains resources,” Miller said. “We know that we have effective tools, such as vaccines and mask-wearing, which could significantly reduce the impact of the virus.”

 Of 68 hospitalized COVID-19 patients on Nov. 18, 50 – or 73.5% – were unvaccinated. Only four of 23 patients in the ICU were vaccinated, and all 12 patients on ventilators were unvaccinated.

 Vaccines are a safe and effective tool for preventing severe illness and death from COVID-19. There is an additional opportunity to vaccinate children ages 5-11 after the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was recently authorized for this age group. Parents who have questions about vaccines are encouraged to talk to their doctors about making this decision.

 “This is an opportunity for the people of Michigan to take lifesaving measures and slow, or even end, this pandemic that has caused so much loss for individuals, families and communities,” Miller said.

 “This is also the best way to support exhausted health care workers who have time and again demonstrated their incredible dedication to taking care of patients during the pandemic. It is difficult to fully express our gratitude for our care teams and staff who continue to show unyielding resiliency, compassion and extraordinary teamwork during such a stressful time.

 “We also want to thank our patients for their understanding and patience as we work to ensure the safety of our community during this resurgence.”

Visitor Policy Update: Effective 7 a.m. Monday, Nov. 22, 2021, visitors to adult inpatients are limited to one visitor (age 16 or older) per day between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. To see all updates on visitor guidelines during COVID-19.

 For information on COVID-19 vaccines.

 For guidance on seeking care at the ER.

Media Contact Public Relations

Department of Communication at Michigan Medicine

[email protected]


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