Riney said the Henry Ford system is converting space at several hospitals, surgery and medical centers to step-down units for noninfected patients to keep very sick patients in place.
Many hospitals in Southeast Michigan, including eight-hospital Beaumont Health, have said they are nearly at bed capacity the past several days due to the surge in COVID-19 positive patients as the virus spreads through the community.
Riney said two floors at Fairlane Medical Center in Dearborn have been converted into a 15-bed unit for patients without COVID-19. He said the unit will act as overflow for Henry Ford hospitals and the emergency department at Fairlane.
“Henry Ford Hospital is caring for the majority of (the system’s) COVID-19 patients,” said Riney, adding that staff from other closed surgery centers and hospitals with lower volume have been transferred to support health care workers in Detroit.
At Henry Ford Macomb Hospital in Clinton Township, Riney said, eight operating rooms have been converted to a 16-bed COVID-19 unit. Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital has converted its surgical unit and doubled its ICU capacity to 32 from 18 beds.
“All time-sensitive surgeries have been postponed,” said Riney, adding that some advanced procedures such as neurosurgery have been relocated to the West Bloomfield hospital.
Overall, Henry Ford has 591 hospitalized patients in some form of isolation, either testing positive, awaiting test results or showing COVID-19 symptoms and under observation.
“We believe we are in the early phase and will see a significant increase in numbers,” Riney said.
Chu said Michigan is still on the “front end” of the coronavirus pandemic. She predicted it would remain strong past Easter, April 12, when President Donald Trump said he hoped America would get back to normal.
At Beaumont, Fox said additional personal protective equipment has arrived.
“We have gotten N95 masks and other personal protective equipment from the national stockpile but it’s also versions of the equipment employees have never seen before … so it’s an orientation issue,” he said.
Another orientation issue is the extent to which Beaumont is converting its operation from elective procedures to COVID-19 uses. So far, Beaumont has eliminated 80 percent of elective surgeries, officials said.
Fox said a large part of its operations also have been converted into facilities to screen, diagnose and treat the coronavirus.
“It’s been a lightning speed endeavor for all of us … it’s very much high-wire,” Fox said.
While elderly with chronic diseases are at a higher risk, Fox said Beaumont doctors are seeing “plenty of 40- to 50-year-olds also succumbing to the virus.”
Beaumont has treated just two pediatric patients so far.
Susan Grant, R.N., executive vice president and chief nursing officer, said Beaumont is testing about 400 people per day, but screening of high-priority patients is being conducted.
Of the 1,000 total people who have tested positive, about half have been hospitalized.