Metro Detroit Hospital Staffing Problem Causes Ripple Effect With Patient Beds

The hospital system leaders said on their website that the temporary removal of the over-100 hospital beds comes when they are critically in demand.

This shortage comes after the hospital system’s workforce was nearly 100 percent vaccinated at 98 percent as of Monday that took effect Sept. 10, according to https://www.henryford.com/.

Under the requirement, team members were considered compliant if they were fully vaccinated, had received their first of a two-dose vaccine or had received an approved medical or religious exemption by midnight on Friday. Those who were not in compliance are now suspended and have until Oct. 1 to comply. Team members can return to work during that time frame as soon as they receive their first dose.

“We are incredibly proud of the commitment our team has made to public health, the health and safety of our patients and their families, and to themselves and their communities,” said Bob Riney, president of Healthcare Operations and Chief Operating Officer, said during a briefing with reporters. “As you may remember when we announced the vaccine requirement in late June, we were at a 68% vaccination rate. Today’s update is a testament to how deeply our team cares about ending this pandemic.”

Any team member who chooses not to get vaccinated by Oct. 1 will voluntarily resign from the organization. He called the vaccine requirement a “potentially life-saving policy.”

Monday’s announcement came amid increasing COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations across the state of Michigan. Infections are up 22% and hospitalizations are up 15% in the past two weeks.

Henry Ford reported 129 hospitalizations across its five hospitals. The majority of those – 79% – are unvaccinated patients.

“What we are seeing consistently now is that this a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” said Adnan Munkarah, M.D., Executive Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer. “We cannot afford to have the numbers of COVID patients in our hospitals go any higher. We have gone throughthree major surges and we are seeing signs of (another) surge.”

With bed capacity at 95% and staffing levels diminished, Dr. Munkarah said that the 120 beds were temporarily closed (out of 2,000 available beds) across the health system. He emphasized, though, that the level of care is not impacted.

“Our patients continue to receive the highest and safest level of appropriate care from our care teams,” Dr. Munkarah said, adding that bed capacity is being flexed to allow for a full spectrum of services to be maintained at all Henry Ford hospitals. He urged people not to delay any emergent or critical medical situation.

“We have seen in the past year and a half that delaying care has resulted in bad outcomes that could have been prevented related to cardiac disease, stroke, cancer as well as other conditions,” he said.

Dr. Munkarah said vaccination and masking remain the two most important preventive measures people can take to turn the corner on the pandemic. He pointed to a recent CDC analysis that found vaccinated people are 10 times less likely to be hospitalized for COVID.

“This is why all along we have supported every effort to increase vaccination rate that has been advanced by many industries and by the federal government,” he said in a press release. “It aligns with our belief that vaccination is our way out of this pandemic. It drives down infections, it prevents people from getting too sick and dying of COVID.”

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