Federal team to aid Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital amid COVID surge

The Detroit News

Lansing — The federal government has granted Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's request for additional staffing help at Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital amid a surge of COVID-19 patients and others in need of care.

The hospital is the fifth in Michigan getting federal aid in the form of a civilian Disaster Medical Assistance Team amid the ongoing pandemic. 

Under the agreement, the team is being sent to support Henry Ford's doctors and nurses as they tend to patients, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said Friday. 

“Henry Ford Wyandotte’s Hospital desperately needs support and resources to provide the critical care that our neighbors deserve," U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, said in a statement. "I’ve heard from members of the community and providers on a daily basis about a system strained to a breaking point, and now they will get the help they need.

The 30-member team will include advanced practice physicians, ED and ICU nurses, paramedics, pharmacists, and logistics and supply chain personnel.

The 30-member team will include advanced practice physicians, emergency department and ICU nurses, paramedics, pharmacists, and logistics and supply chain personnel.

The team will begin treating patients Monday and provide support for the next 14 days.

Bob Riney, president of healthcare operations and chief operating officer at Henry Ford Health System, noted that the hospital's team members are "battle wearied and drained emotionally, mentally and physically."

"This support couldn’t have come at a better time for us, as well as the Downriver communities we serve," he said. 

Four Department of Defense teams already have been deployed to Michigan and are providing support at Beaumont Hospital – Dearborn, Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, Covenant HealthCare in Saginaw and Mercy Health Muskegon. 

“We have been facing this deadly virus for nearly two years and our health care workers have been working tirelessly on the frontlines through it all," Whitmer said. 

Whitmer also renewed her plea for residents to get vaccinated against the virus and get booster shots as well as undergo testing if they believe they have contracted COVID-19 and to wear a mask.

"We have the tools and I am confident that we can get this done," she added. 

Elizabeth Hertel, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said with the rapid spread of the omicron variant and case rates and hospitalizations accelerating, the timing of the aid for the state's medical providers is critical and she's grateful for it.

The federal staffing teams come as Michigan hospitals strain due to a spike in COVID-19 patients, the vast majority of whom are unvaccinated.

In October, unvaccinated people had 4.3 times the risk of testing positive for COVID-19 and 13.2 times the risk of dying from COVID-19 than people who were fully vaccinated. 

From Jan. 3 – Dec. 15, 2021, people who were unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated represented: 85.1% of COVID-19 cases, 88.1% of hospitalizations and 85.5% of deaths.

As of Friday, more than 4,500 Michigan residents are hospitalized for COVID-19.