Spectrum nears capacity as COVID-19 cases spike

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., (WOOD) — Spectrum Health says its facilities are nearing capacity as a spike in cases causes a record number of COVID-19 patients.

As of Thursday, Spectrum reports 217 COVID-19 patients across all its facilities. They say that is more than double the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations they saw during a spike in May.

“I think it really is due to community spread. I think people are fatigued from all of the social distancing measures we’ve asked people to put in place. People have mask fatigue. People want to get together, socialize and that is all completely understandable but with that comes increased community transmission,” said Dr. Joshua Kooistra with Spectrum Health.

Kooistra says the hospital is seeing a positivity rate of 14%. Health officials say a percentage under 3%, which is what they saw throughout the summer months, suggests the virus is under control. He says as numbers continue to trend upward, health care staff could soon become overwhelmed.

“It is stressful on our staff. Our staff has risen to the occasion stupendously. I’m thankful every day for our physicians, our nurses, our front-liners that really are delivering excellent care,” he said. “However, as the number of COVID-19 patients increases, our ability to care for community and provide services like surgery, cancer screenings, radiology studies is going to be limited.”

Spectrum says they have a plan in place should the number of hospitalizations continue upward. As the Thanksgiving holiday and flu season approaches, hospital staff say an increase in cases is likely.

They say it will be important for people to continue with safety guidelines.

“Masks are effective in preventing transmission of COVID: washing your hands frequently when you are around people indoors try and maintain 6-foot social distance. These are all the things we’re asking our community to do so we don’t overwhelm our health care systems,” said Kooistra.

Mercy Health Muskegon said it is deferring elective surgical cases because of the local COVID-19 case surge, but is still performing medically necessary urgent or emergency surgeries.