A Letter to Region 5 Communities
Nov 23, 2021
**Sharing on behalf of Region 5 Healthcare Coalition**
For all Michigan Region 5 care providers, the health and well-being of our patients, their families, our communities, and our team members are our top priority. COVID-19 infections are on a steep rise in Region 5 and our health care systems are being stretched thin. Hospitals in our Region have begun to surge and more patients require hospitalization. Our individual and collective resources are being overwhelmed, and we need our communities’ help to get back on track.
Hospitals and EMS systems are seeing more patients than ever before. Region 5 as a whole has been operating at an extremely high capacity, and the increase in COVID-19 has put additional pressure on our systems. We are also seeing more patients with other serious health issues that cannot be further delayed or ignored.
How does that impact you?
- Wait times for emergency, urgent or primary care may be much longer than usual
- Ambulance transfers may have long delays
- Surgeries or procedures may be cancelled or postponed
- Visitor restrictions remain in effect
- Mask mandates in healthcare settings remain in effect
- You may have a prolonged stay in the emergency department waiting for a bed in the hospital
As with many other industries in the region, state and across the country, we are experiencing staffing challenges and shortages. Our team members are exhausted and are doing their very best care for our communities.
It is important to note that the strain on our system is due to the COVID-19 response, plus the many other demands our teams are facing to care for seriously ill patients. It remains true that the majority of patients in the ED and being admitted are unvaccinated for COVID-19. This is impacting our ability to care for those who are seriously injured in a car accident, suffer a heart attack, stroke, or experience another medical emergency or issue. There are cases of vaccinated individuals who have contracted COVID-19. These people are typically showing mild symptoms and those who do need hospitalization require a much shorter stay. Along with the current COVID-19 surge, we are concerned there will be a surge of influenza adding to the capacity issues. We strongly urge people to get the influenza vaccine as well.
Community members can help us alleviate some of these capacity and surge issues. Please utilize your primary care office for minor or non-emergent problems. Urgent care is also available for non-emergent needs. If you have an emergency, please call 911 or go to the emergency department as soon as possible. During the prior surge some people waited too long because they did not want to burden the emergency department. Unfortunately, some of those people came too late to treat their emergent condition such as stroke, heart attack or diabetic emergency. Please be patient with our staff in the hospital as everyone is doing all they can to care for a large number of patients.
We know that for the upcoming holidays all would like to be with family and friends. We are asking that you please interact with others in a safe way.
Everyone can pitch in to help. We’re pleading with our community members to do everything they can to avoid COVID-19 and lead a healthy lifestyle:
- Get a COVID-19 vaccination or booster
- Get children 5-18 a COVID-19 vaccination
- Wash your hands frequently
- Wear a mask when in indoor public spaces or outdoors when unable to socially distance
- Practice healthy behaviors such as socially distancing, getting good sleep, eating well and exercising.
We know that together we can get through this safely, but we need your help. Thank you for your support and patience as we navigate through these challenges.
Ginger M. Swiderski, MD Medical Director
Region 5 Medical Response Coalition
In cooperation with Region 5 Hospitals and EMS agencies
Region 5: Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph, & Van Buren Counties