David Miller, president of Michigan Medicine, announced Tuesday afternoon at a press conference that Michigan Medicine will be implementing a two-week pause on visitors to adult patients starting Wednesday.
The pause comes in response to the recent surge of the omicron variant of COVID-19 throughout the state, leading many hospitals, including Michigan Medicine, to be overwhelmed with positive COVID-19 patients, according to Miller. As of Tuesday, Michigan Medicine has 137 COVID-19 positive inpatients.
“We recognize the importance of visitors for our patients,” Miller said at the press conference. “But right now we believe that pausing visitors is the safest step for our patients, especially those who are in semi private rooms, as well as for our team members.”
The Michigan Medicine medical system has also faced a staffing shortage with 739 employees testing positive for COVID-19 since Jan. 1.
Epidemiologist and professor of internal medicine Laraine Washer said while Michigan Medicine is currently requiring employees to quarantine for 10 days after testing positive for COVID-19, staff shortages might make them have to modify that plan in the future.
“We may need to go, in the future, to a shorter isolation for healthcare workers for return to work,” Washer said. “We believe that this can be managed in a safe manner if we need to do so.”
According to Miller, there are just eight Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds and zero pediatric ICU beds currently available at Michigan Medicine. There are also 11 children under the age of 17 hospitalized with COVID-19, the highest number in the hospital’s history.
Outside of Michigan, hospitals across the country have also experienced overwhelming numbers of COVID-19 patients in recent weeks. More than 145,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations were reported in the U.S. Monday, surpassing the previous record since the beginning of the pandemic.
The majority of hospitalized patients continue to be unvaccinated, Miller said, and Michigan Medicine encourages everyone who is able to receive a vaccination to get vaccinated. Erika Newman, a pediatric surgeon at Michigan Medicine, reiterated vaccine safety for children who are eligible. The Pfizer vaccine is currently approved for use in children ages five and up. Teenagers ages 12 and older are eligible to receive the Pfizer booster shot.
“The vaccine is safe, it’s effective for your kids,” Newman said. “Please don’t hesitate to get them vaccinated.”
Daily Staff Reporter Matthew Shanbom can be reached at email@example.com.