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Feds sends Michigan more medical staff to help Saginaw hospital during COVID wave

By: - December 2, 2021 2:12 pm

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The federal government granted Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s request Thursday for additional staffing assistance at a third Michigan hospital, Covenant HealthCare in Saginaw. 

Under the agreement, the federal government will send a 22-person medical team to support Covenant’s medical team as they treat COVID-19 and other patients.

Last week, the federal government approved a request to send two medical teams to support staff at Beaumont Hospital, Dearborn, and Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids.

“I’m grateful to our federal partners for delivering much-needed relief to Michigan’s hospitals and healthcare personnel who have been on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic for over 18 months,” Whitmer said in a statement. “We know that the vast majority of their patients are unvaccinated or have not yet received a booster dose.”

The federal staffing teams come as Michigan hospitals strain due to a spike in COVID-19 patients, the vast majority of whom are unvaccinated. In the last 30 days, 71% of cases, 72% of hospitalized cases and 76% of deaths were among individuals who were not fully vaccinated.

According to Michigan Health & Hospital Association data, more than three out of four COVID patients are unvaccinated, 87% of COVID intensive care unit (ICU) patients are unvaccinated and 88% of COVID ventilator patients are unvaccinated.

As of Wednesday, 4,291 Michiganders are hospitalized for COVID-19. A total of 1,318,123 Michiganders have tested positive for COVID-19 and 24,090 have died from the virus.

The additional staffing team will include registered nurses, doctors and respiratory therapists. The team will begin treating patients Dec. 12 and provide support for the next 30 days. 

“We are incredibly grateful that the Department of Defense has stepped up to offer their support to our employees and community as we continue our battle against COVID-19.  The Covenant Team has been on the front lines of the pandemic since March of 2020,” said Kevin Birchmeier, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Covenant HealthCare. “As the largest acute care hospital in a 20-county region, patients and other hospitals rely on us for care.”

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Allison R. Donahue
Allison R. Donahue

Allison R. Donahue is a former Michigan Advance reporter who covered education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8.