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Henry Ford hospitals face 'significant' challenge as staff test positive for COVID-19

Karen Bouffard
The Detroit News

Henry Ford Health System has had 169 employees test positive for COVID-19 over the past seven days, causing "significant" strain on staff at the five-hospital health system, its chief clinical officer said at a Friday media briefing. 

"In the last seven days alone, we had on average between 20 and 30 positive tests per day," said Dr. Adnan Munkarah, Henry Ford Health's executive vice president and chief clinical officer.

Nearly 19% of the 900 workers tested over the past week at Henry Ford were found to have the coronavirus, Munkarah noted. The Detroit-based health system has been testing a combination of workers with symptoms and those who show no signs of the disease. 

Dr. Adnan Munkarah is executive vice president and chief clinical officer of the Henry Ford Health System.

In West Michigan, the 14-hospital Spectrum Health system reported Thursday that about 700 of its 31,000 workers have tested positive since Nov. 1. 

About 1,600 Henry Ford employees have tested positive since the start of the pandemic out of 10,600 workers tested, Munkarah said. About one-third of the health system's 33,000 employees have been tested. 

 "The more people who are exposed and contracting and catching that virus in the community, the more of our staff are having to be quarantined and be on medical leave from their work,"  Munkarah said.

"This is a causing significant strain to the rest of the staff in the hospitals as well as providing staffing challenges for us as well as other health care systems." 

Munkarah pleaded with the public to protect themselves from exposure to the virus over the Thanksgiving holiday next week by wearing masks and social distancing, noting that most employees who are testing positive were exposed outside the hospital. 

"This is why we continue to stress the point that safety measures are extremely important to protect everyone — our families, our loved ones, as well as our health care workers, our first responders," he said.

"Continue to mask, continue to distance, continue to avoid large indoor gatherings and use hand hygiene. These have proven over and over again...to be the best measures to control this virus."

kbouffard@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @kbouffardDN