U.P. hospitals short staffed and at max capacity

Local health care leaders say it’s not all COVID-related.
Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 4:58 PM EDT
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UPPER PENINSULA, Mich. (WLUC) - Hospitals across the U.P. are facing max capacities and limited workers.

Hospitals are currently on the fourth wave of higher hospitalizations, including Aspirus Keweenaw that has three COVID patients – all unvaccinated. But local health care leaders say it’s not all COVID-related.

“We’re overwhelmed with all types of patients because patients put off their care during Covid and didn’t want to come in are now seriously ill,” said Bob Crumb, CEO of Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital.

It’s a problem that extends beyond the U.P. Hospitals that would normally accept transfers from the U.P. are also full, meaning the hospitals must prioritize patients.

“Prioritizing I think in this case means we’re taking care of sick patients then we normally would because there isn’t any place for them to go,” said Matt Krause, CAO of Aspirus Keweenaw.

“We’ve actually now stopped many of our elective surgeries procedures and increased our bed capacity by opening hour and book our ,” said Dave Lord, president of OSF St. Francis Hospital.

Aspirus Keweenaw says it recently had to transfer a patient all the way to Chicago. The hospital usually transfers patients to Marquette or Wausau, Wisconsin.

“To have to get people as far away is Chicago I think that’s the U.P. know what kind of critical state we’re in right now,” said Krause.

The hospitals also say that health care workers are exhausted and it’s difficult to hire people right now. This means even if a hospital has the capacity to add extra beds, that might not be an option.

“They have more beds, but they don’t have nursing staff or support staff to take care of those beds,” said Crumb.

EMS is also struggling with staffing. Mercy EMS recently hired new people but Aspirus Keweenaw has 20 paramedic positions posted.

“We expect every time you pick up the phone, that someone’s going to come when we need them and we’re at a point where that may not be true,” said Krause.

So right now, hospitals are encouraging health care workers to stay strong and hopeful.

“They are heroes. They really are heroes,” said Krause.

Leaders are unsure how long this will last. OSF St. Francis Hospital encourages the community to their part to stay healthy so health care workers can focus on patients that need the most care.

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