ER at Beaumont Wayne closes to help treat surging COVID-19 cases, officials say

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Beaumont Hospital in Wayne is temporary closing its emergency room to allow for more treatment of surging COVID-19 patients, officials announced Thursday.

The health system's hospitals are treating 650 people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and more than 200 patients with tests pending, officials said.

"Patients who need emergency care, even for COVID-19, should seek medical attention at the nearby Beaumont Canton Emergency Center or another hospital," Beaumont officials said in a news release.

Beaumont Hospital staff in Royal Oak perform drive through screenings Wednesday afternoon.

Obstetrical services at Wayne also will end and efforts will be coordinated to ensure patients receive the care they need at Beaumont Hospital, Dearborn, officials said. Patients and physicians affected by the move will be contacted individually regarding the next steps.

“This approach provides strong and focused care for our COVID-19 patients at Beaumont, Wayne, and reduces the pressure on our other seven hospitals,” Beaumont Health CEO John Fox said Thursday.

The Royal Oak-based health system has been transferring some patients between sites as part of its ongoing disaster plan. 

“The number of patients coming to our Emergency Rooms continues to grow rapidly. We have decided to create dedicated surge capacity to care for more COVID-19 patients at locations such as Beaumont Hospital, Wayne," Fox said. "Also, on a limited basis, we are partnering with other Michigan health systems with capacity for COVID-19 to move patients outside Beaumont for care.”

Beaumont Health Chief Operating Officer Carolyn Wilson added: “When patients come to a Beaumont hospital to seek care for COVID-19, our physicians will assess them. If the hospital does not have the capacity to care for the patient, we will transfer more COVID-19 patients to Beaumont Hospital, Wayne.”

On Tuesday, Beaumont Health said treatment of suspected or confirmed cases COVID-19 is putting pressure on the eight-hospital system as it neared capacity for staffing, protective equipment and ventilators.

Wilson said the system is continuing to "monitor the shifting volumes and needs of our patients and teams across Beaumont to make the best decisions. I am confident the team at our Wayne hospital is ready to serve the needs of COVID-19 patients. We are sending additional staff, supplies and equipment to help support our phenomenal team at Wayne.”

Michigan has seen 2,856 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 60 deaths in the 16 days since its first case was confirmed on March 10, state officials said Thursday. On Wednesday, Michigan had nearly 2,300 confirmed cases and 43 deaths.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state's chief medical executive, have cautioned in recent days that the number of confirmed cases will continue to climb.

Earlier Thursday, Khaldun said Michigan has begun to shift COVID-19 patients among hospitals to ensure that facilities at capacity can transfer patients to locations with empty beds.

The state also is exploring locations for "alternative sites" that could host overflow from area hospitals at capacity, Khaldun said, adding that many hospitals in southeast Michigan "are at or near capacity."

Meanwhile, Whitmer has sent a letter to President Donald Trump requesting a major disaster declaration be issued for Michigan amid the COVID-19 outbreak. The declaration would allow the state to offer additional assistance programs, including providing meals to families in need and rental assistance, according to the governor's office.