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Federal medical team deployed to Sparrow Hospital in Lansing

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

A sixth federal medical team will be deployed to Michigan in the coming days, this time to the Lansing-based Sparrow Health System, according to the state of Michigan. 

The up to 25-person team will support Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, which on Monday reported being near 100% capacity and having 166 COVID patients amid an omicron surge in Michigan. As of Monday, about 138 caregivers were out because of COVID-19, according to the hospital system. 

The team will begin treating patients for a 30-day period starting Feb. 7, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. 

“These federal medical teams are providing much needed relief and a morale boost for our dedicated health care workers who have given so much over the past two years of the pandemic,” department Director Elizabeth Hertel said in a statement Monday. “We are extremely grateful for the continued support from our federal partners during this latest surge of COVID-19."

On Monday, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported 3,941 adult patients were hospitalized with COVID across the state. The tally marked a continued decrease in hospitalization in recent days from a peak of 4,580 Jan. 10 and 4,518 on Dec. 13. About 81% of the state's inpatient hospital beds are occupied.

Other federal teams have been deployed to Henry Ford Hospital in Wyandotte, Mercy Health Muskegon, Covenant HealthCare in Saginaw, Beaumont Hospital in Dearborn and Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids. 

Lansing's Sparrow Hospital has been at or near capacity for several weeks now and, on Monday, reported having 166 COVID-positive patients including 110 in isolation, 26 on ventilators and 13 in critical care. 

Sparrow Health System President and CEO James Dover said the hospital hopes the federal team will help to address pressure points in the emergency department, intensive care unit and overflow area. In just one week, Dover said, the emergency room had 350 positive COVID-positive patients and is the hospital's "area of greatest need." 

"We want to thank Gov. Whitmer and the state for its help and especially Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, who has been steadfast in advocating for boots-on-the-ground support for Sparrow in combating the huge surge of COVID cases among both patients and our caregivers," said Dover.

Slotkin said Monday the hospital has needed more staff and aid since December and received help from six Michigan National guardsmen "a few weeks back." The federal Department of Defense team will supplement that aid. 

"The doctors, nurses, and hospital staff across the 8th District who have been on the front lines of this battle are exhausted and trying to keep our community institutions afloat," Slotkin said in a statement. "With the help of this federal team, I hope we can turn a corner for them and their families."

Both Slotkin and Dover called on the Legislature to appropriate about $4 billion in federal provider relief funds that could help Michigan hospitals to weather the omicron storm. 

"We're hoping that they'll act on that soon," Dover said. 

Both Hertel and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer urged Michigan residents to "do their part" by staying up to date on the COVID vaccine, staying home if sick and wearing a mask indoors. 

“Our health care professionals have been on the frontlines of the pandemic for nearly two years, and I urge Michiganders to do their part to keep themselves safe and help our hospitals," Whitmer said.

Staff Writer Sarah Rahal contributed.