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Coronavirus hospitalization numbers ‘fairly consistent’ at UPHS-Marquette

CEO Gar Atchison says the hospital has surge plans ready if needed.
Published: Oct. 29, 2020 at 5:12 PM EDT
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Coronavirus patient numbers have remained steady for the past two weeks at UP Health System-Marquette - on top of an already busy hospital.

On Oct. 16, UPHS-Marquette CEO Gar Atchison said the intensive care unit was “extremely busy" handling increasing coronavirus patients and a high volume of trauma cases. Atchison says coronavirus numbers have stabilized over the past week. The hospital started Thursday with 19 COVID-19 patients, with about half requiring intensive care. UPHS-Marquette has 24 ICU beds.

Below is a transcript of TV6′s Andrew LaCombe’s interview with Atchison.

AL: “What has this week has looked like in your ICU and Emergency Department for patients and staff? What, if anything, has changed from two weeks ago?”

GA: “The numbers are fairly consistent with what we saw a couple weeks ago, maybe a little bit higher as we’re seeing the cases and hospitalizations increase in the U.P, but we’ve kind of risen to a steady level that we’ve sort of stabilized at over the last week. That’s been working out fine. It’s important for the community to know they should be confident and proud of the people working at this facility and hospitals across the U.P. that are all working hard, treating COVID patients in their hospitals and working as a team for the U.P.”

AL: “When we spoke last, your ICU was seeing a high number of patients not related to COVID. With COVID cases in the U.P. remaining high, what impact can that have on your ICU patients who are there for other reasons?”

GA: "Currently unimpacted. We’re able to take care of the COVID patients and the patients that are here for other things. And I think one of the things is having the community know the importance of not delaying care, so waiting until a point when they actually need an ICU bed where intervention might have prevented that early on, and it’s also important to know that we have a surge plan. Every room on the 4th floor of this hospital is capable of functioning as an ICU with full suction and vent capabilities. So we have plans in place. The clinical teams are working hard on surge plans so we’re ready if we need to be.”

AL: “With flu season approaching, what precautions is UPHS taking and what should the rest of us consider right now?”

GA: “So now more than ever, flu is actually starting in the area, it’s really important for people to get control of their own health. Get a flu shot. We actually require everybody who works at the facility to have a flu shot. We do provide them to our employees and physicians and volunteers and everybody who works here, because we know we’re going to see patients that have both flu and COVID. So I think it’s going to be important if we can minimize the impact of the flu as much as possible.”

AL: “How has the increased need in the ICU changed schedules for other procedures at UPHS? Where do visitor restrictions stand?”

GA: “Visitor restrictions first - we are currently allowing for inpatient visitors except for patients that are positive with COVID. They are allowed to have one consistent visitor throughout the stay who must be asymptomatic at the time. For other procedures, we do look on a daily basis, have a meeting where we look at the PPE and the pharmacy supplies and the cases that are on the next day. We did make a decision a week or 10 days ago to maybe hold a couple of elected cases a day that look like they could require an ICU stay. So we sort of held back on those just to make sure that we have ICUs available for emergencies, be it COVID or anything else.”

AL: “How has the community stepped up again to back our frontline workers?”

GA: “It’s really important for everyone to really understand the people who are working here are doing a great job for the community, both at this hospital and every hospital in the U.P. that’s treating COVID patients, and really remember and appreciate our fire and law enforcement and EMS personnel. Every stop, every ambulance run they make they do have a potential for infection and to really appreciate what they’re all doing, putting themselves out there every single day.”

AL: “As people make plans and choices this Halloween weekend, what do you hope they consider?”

GA: “I think we just need to do this smartly and safely. I think it’s the same things that we’ve been: wear your mask; social distance; wash your hands; and try to stay in groups of your own household family and not get in large groups for trick-or-treating.”

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