Health system advocates for coordinated statewide effort to care for COVID-19 patients
Across its eight hospitals, Beaumont Health is now caring for nearly 450 confirmed COVID-19 patients admitted to its hospitals. 185 patients admitted to its hospitals have COVID-19 test results pending, as of 4:30 p.m., March 24. The number of patients coming to Beaumont for COVID-19 care continues to grow each day, consistent with other hospital systems in Michigan. Beaumont has some ventilator capacity right now, but that could change as more people become infected.
“We have been actively transferring COVID-19 patients within our system to other Beaumont hospitals, as appropriate, if one hospital has more capacity than another. However, across our system, we are facing limitations and nearing capacity with our staffing, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and mechanical ventilators,” Beaumont Health Chief Operating Officer Carolyn Wilson said. “We are taking steps to increase our capacity, such as converting some of our operating rooms into intensive care units.”
Beaumont Health CEO John Fox added, “Given the way our health care system and others have needed to convert to primarily COVID-19 screening diagnosis and treatment in the past few weeks, we will soon be looking at the need for coordinating the care of acute COVID-19 patients across the region and beyond. This is why we have been discussing statewide coordination with other hospitals and MDHHS to care for COVID-19 patients. We also recognize some systems might not be caring for as many COVID-19 patients as others right now. All health systems in Michigan need to work together to help care for these patients. I am very pleased with the commitment all the hospital systems have expressed to work together to respond to the pandemic.”
Fox also said he, “supports the difficult, but key decisions Governor Whitmer has made recently to better contain the pandemic and enable the health care industry to respond.”
Fox again noted, at the same time, “Beaumont must continue to care for numerous patients who need medical care unrelated to COVID-19. People are still giving birth, having heart attacks and getting injured in auto accidents.”
COVID-19 Testing, Beaumont Health
There is a limited number of COVID-19 testing materials and processing equipment available. Right now, Beaumont labs can internally process approximately 400 tests a day. However, few health systems have the capacity or ability to do COVID-19 in-house testing. Many third-party labs are backlogged. Beaumont is working to increase its internal capacity to process even more COVID-19 tests.
Beaumont is prioritizing its own testing for patients who are admitted to a Beaumont hospital or receiving treatment at a Beaumont emergency center. In addition, Beaumont is prioritizing testing for physicians, nurses and staff involved with direct patient care of COVID-19 patients so our medical staff can return to work as quickly as possible to care for more patients.
“It should be noted, testing is not needed for everyone. Most people who contract COVID-19 do not need to be hospitalized. A positive test will not necessarily change the course of treatment for patients who have a mild case of COVID-19 that does not require hospitalization,” Beaumont Health’s medical director of Infection Prevention and Epidemiology Dr. Nick Gilpin said.
Beaumont’s Planning and Action Steps
Beaumont has conducted regular disaster planning and drills for emergencies on a routine basis since its inception in 2014. That said, COVID-19 is an unprecedented worldwide pandemic. The health system has been preparing for several months and leading the charge to coordinate with other health systems in Michigan.
- Beaumont was one of the first health systems the state to launch emergency center Curbside Screening at eight sites. As of March 24, more than 8,000 people have been screened at the curbside.
- Beaumont launched a Coronavirus hotline, 800-592-4784, staffed by Beaumont nurses and employees to help patients evaluate their symptoms and determine whether they need to seek medical attention. Since its launch on March 12, Beaumont’s team has answered 36,000 calls.
- Beaumont launched an online risk assessment tool to help patients better understand whether they need to seek medical attention for their COVID-19 symptoms. Since its launch on March 18, more than 60,000 people have taken the assessment.
“We are in uncharted territory but are confident our team is taking all appropriate steps to secure the equipment, supplies, beds and staff to care for our patients. We take our role as the largest health system in Michigan seriously,” Fox said. “We are very proud of our entire team for their amazing efforts to help stop this virus from spreading and to treat patients who become ill. We are also proud that our team continues to serve many other patients who are coming to us for care unrelated to COVID-19.”
Protecting Beaumont Employees, Physicians, Nurses and Staff
Starting today, March 24, employees and physicians at all Beaumont Hospitals and the Beaumont Service Center are being assessed prior to the start of their shift for COVID-19 symptoms. Some sites were doing this already, but now every hospital has adopted the same process.
In addition, Beaumont is taking numerous steps to protect its staff as they continue to provide care for COVID-19 patients.
“In these unprecedented times, we are facing changing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and fluctuations in supplies. Given these challenging circumstances, we are providing the best protection and guidance to our health care workers as possible. Personal protective equipment availability is based on patient interaction and anticipated risk. We are currently using the CDC guidelines and the help of our corporate leadership to determine the appropriate PPE for all staff. At all eight hospitals, our staff have access to the appropriate PPE,” Susan Grant, Beaumont Health Chief Nursing Officer, said.