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ICU beds full as COVID-19 patients await transfer to UPHS - Marquette

Published: Dec. 9, 2021 at 3:47 PM EST
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Upper Michigan’s largest intensive care unit remains full as Michigan’s COVID-19 hospitalizations have reached a new high.

The latest state health department data shows 79 adults are in U.P. hospitals right now with COVID-19. Twenty-two of them are in intensive care, and eight are on a ventilator.

UP Health System - Marquette CEO Gar Atchison says “this is clearly the wave of the unvaccinated.” He says 100% of COVID-19 patients in Marquette’s ICU right now are unvaccinated, and those unvaccinated patients have kept the ICU full for months.

“Get one out, get one in, constantly,” he said.

Beds are opening up because COVID-19 patients are dying.

“We’re having COVID deaths on a daily basis,” said Atchison.

Dr. David Shabazi of UPHS Family Medicine has seen it firsthand.

“I’ve had three of my own patients who I saw here, tried to convince them to get immunized, and they’re dead now,” Shahbazi said. “And I’m fully convinced that had they been immunized, they would still be here.”

There aren’t enough beds for the sickest COVID-19 patients.

“Especially over the last several days, we’re seeing a huge increase in the number of ICU-level COVID patients trying to get transferred into the facility,” said Atchison. “We’re really focused on trying to get patients from the Upper Peninsula. We can get through this, but the first step is, we just have to get vaccinated.”

Nearly 59% of Michigan residents ages 5 and older are fully vaccinated. About a third of the fully vaccinated ages 18 and up have gotten a booster shot.

“The reason we should get the booster is to prevent mild covid in ourselves but to also slow down the spread of it in our community,” said Dr. Shahbazi.

UP Health System faces the same staffing challenges as hospitals nationwide, but there are advances in treatment for COVID-19.

“We do run a monoclonal antibody treatment clinic here for patients that aren’t sick enough to be admitted, and it seems to be highly effective at treating the symptoms and keeping them from progressing to needing to be admitted to the hospital,” said Atchison.

He points to data that shows COVID-19 vaccines continue to be our best defense against severe illness and death caused by the virus. If you are not vaccinated, you are urged to talk to a medical doctor about your concerns.

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