We wouldn’t want to have to sort sick people into those who are treated, and those who go without.
Our hospitals also want to avoid this, but to do so, they need our help.
Hospital leaders gathered to warn us Thursday of Michigan’s alarming COVID-19 hospitalization trends.
Currently 3,000 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, which is a six-fold increase from six weeks ago.
Infection and hospitalizations are quickening — and unlike this spring, when hotspots were spread out — the entire state is rising together.
Northern Michigan patients could get caught between a rock and a hard place, said Munson Healthcare President and CEO Ed Ness in an online meeting with leaders of the state’s biggest hospital systems.
“Seeing that this is a statewide issue, we are very concerned over the trajectory of COVID-19 and how this will impact our ability to transfer patients if needed. It really feels like we are being squeezed between the growing numbers in the Upper Peninsula and what’s happening in the lower part of the state, leaving us very few options,” Ness said.
Of primary concern is medical staffing shortages. The all-together rise in hospitalizations is stressing medical staff, which can no longer help in hotspots or stand up field hospitals.
Michigan’s 26,000 critical care beds won’t be of much use without the people to staff them, the leaders said.
We are seeing the same trends in other spheres like in our schools and businesses. Upheaval isn’t coming from government restrictions, but from the impact of sick and quarantining people on the workings of our community. It’s not the kids, but their bus drivers, school teachers, coaches. It’s not the classroom, but the small social gatherings of friends and family outside them. Even the hospitals have a better infection rate than the community, because of precautions taken.
Precautions that don’t always happen in among people “we know well” in small social settings, even as we wear our masks and social distance in public. It’s in these gatherings of less than six where the virus is shedding — much of it, more than 40 percent — through asymptomatic carriers.
We need to help our hospitals function properly. This means ideally allowing them to care for all patients, not just those with COVID-19.
Right now we must decide to take definitive personal responsibility over our actions at all times, especially in terms of socializing and in any group setting, including work.
Wear masks, wash hands frequently, and give people their six feet of space. Before choosing to attend gatherings of any size, calculate value of the risk/reward of attending. Unfortunately, this is our new reality for now.
When hospitals have to make harrowing decisions over who gets to treatment, and who doesn’t, everyone loses.