MUNSON MEDICAL CENTER

Munson Medical Center in Traverse City, part of Munson Healthcare.

TRAVERSE CITY — The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Munson Healthcare hospitals more than doubled since Nov. 1, and set another record, according to numbers released by the hospital Tuesday morning.

Hospital officials reported 131 inpatient beds occupied by COVID patients in the network's six hospitals, 73 of them at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City. Numbers reported Monday by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services show there were 52 COVID patients in ICU beds at Munson's hospitals.

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That rise compelled Munson administrators to reinstate visitor restrictions — an announcement released Tuesday morning outlined new restrictions that limit visitors to one per patient, per day with a two-hour limit. The new policy includes a handful of exceptions, including for obstetric, pediatric and end-of-life patients.

“Our current COVID-19 patient numbers remain very high and our hospitals are seeing elevated numbers of other patients with acute needs,” said Munson Healthcare Chief Medical Officer Christine Nefcy. “We know that our patients want to be with their loved ones during their time of need, but we also need to do what is necessary to protect our healthcare team, patients, and visitors. We ask for our communities’ patience during this time.”

The increasing number of hospitalizations arrives as a fourth wave of the pandemic virus struck Michigan, driving the state's daily new infections to worst-in-the-nation status. That spike drove multiple school districts in the Grand Traverse region to cancel classes for the shortened Thanksgiving week as administrators faced growing numbers of infections, quarantines and worsening staff shortages.

Traverse City Area Public Schools officials issued seven COVID-19 school-related exposure notices Monday.

Data released by MDHHS on Monday showed 83 percent of all hospital beds in the state were filled, and 30 Michigan hospitals reported 90 percent or more of available beds were full. 

Upticks in both COVID-19 patients and others, atop staffing constraints, prompted Munson Healthcare on Nov. 9 to move to its pandemic response plan stage “red,” as previously reported. That meant further cuts to services and some clinic and lab hours to focus efforts on COVID-19 care.

Several other hospital systems made similar declarations since and many instituted more restrictive visitor policies, including Spectrum hospitals.

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