Henry Ford Health hospitals, at or near capacity, delay surgeries
Henry Ford Health System’s hospitals have had to delay or relocate non-urgent surgeries to manage the increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations, which its executives describe as a crisis.
All of the Detroit-based system’s hospitals are near or at capacity and the situation is dire, executives reported in a news conference Wednesday morning. The news follows a similar announcement last week from Michigan Medicine in Ann Arbor.
The number of people hospitalized in Henry Ford Health facilities has risen 34 percent in the past month, with much of the increase coming from unvaccinated patients who have contracted COVID-19.
“We have been keeping (postponements) to an absolute minimum, but it is incredibly stressful and more difficult to do and will be challenged even more as we go into the holiday period when our team members are going to need a break and need some time off …” Bob Riney, Henry Ford Health health care operations president and chief operating officer, said in a statement. “Hospital leadership throughout the system are evaluating capacity and staffing levels multiple times a day. And we’re making some difficult choices.”
One day last week, Henry Ford’s Allegiance hospital in Jackson had to delay all non-urgent sensitive procedures and surgeries, Riney said. Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit has had to do the same.
Right now, 80 percent of those hospitalized for COVID-19 are unvaccinated, according to a Henry Ford Health news release. Of those in the intensive care unit, 85 percent are unvaccinated.
Hospitals just aren’t made to operate at 100 percent capacity for this long, Riney said in the release.
“The unfortunate reality right now is that no matter which hospital you’re talking to, no matter which health system you’re talking to, the word that you’re going to hear about current conditions in the state of Michigan is crisis,” Riney said. “We are in crisis. There’s no way around it. There’s no way to sugarcoat it. On any given day, our emergency departments are either at capacity or close to it, and often times serving as inpatient units because we don’t have beds available in our standard inpatient units or ICUs.”
Concern is mounting as cases and hospitalizations across Michigan have been trending up. The number of people dying from COVID-19 in Michigan has hit 100 per day this month for the first time since December 2020.
The state has seen an average of 5,381 cases a day in the last three days for which reports are available, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
Detroit, where Henry Ford Health is based, has had its seven-day average for COVID-19 cases rise steadily over the last couple months to more than 300 cases a day, swelling in November and December to the highest it’s been since this year’s spring surge.
Across Michigan, hospitals are an average of 84 percent occupied, according to the state — a figure that shows strain on hospitals as serious COVID-19 cases rise.
Michigan Medicine last week announced it had canceled at least 40 surgeries while dealing with the COVID-19 hospitalization surge. The “overwhelming majority” weren’t vaccinated, David Miller, physician and president of the University of Michigan Health System, said at the time.
Detroit still has a low vaccination rate — nearly 44 percent of eligible residents have received at least one dose — compared with the state’s nearly 62 percent. Macomb County is at 60 percent, Wayne County at 68 percent and Oakland County at 72 percent.