The following statement can be attributed to Brian Peters, CEO of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association.
The current situation facing our hospitals and health system is dire and today’s approval by the U.S. Department of Defense to grant clinical staffing support is desperately needed to provide relief to our vital healthcare workforce. Many hospitals throughout the state are operating at capacity, delaying nonemergency medical procedures and placing their emergency departments on diversion. Receiving these teams of federal caregivers can only help those hospitals.
We want to commend Gov. Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services for making the formal request on behalf of Michigan hospitals and express our gratitude to the Department of Defense for granting this request so quickly.
However, the strain on our healthcare system is severe and we still need the public’s help to slow the extreme growth of cases and hospitalizations. Please get vaccinated, whether it is your first dose, vaccination for your children or a booster dose. Adhere to the public health advisory and wear a mask in crowded indoor gatherings. And contact your primary care provider or seek care at an outpatient setting for nonemergency medical needs. Together we can get through this crisis, but it will take all Michiganders doing the right thing.
The MHA published a consensus statement Nov. 22 on behalf of chief medical officers of Michigan’s community hospitals urging the public to take action to help slow COVID-19 growth throughout the state.
Below is a collection of headlines from around the state that reference the statement and focus on the severity of the situation facing Michigan hospitals. Coverage also includes the request the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services made on behalf of Michigan hospitals to the Department of Defense for teams of medical personnel. Included are interviews conducted by MHA CEO Brian Peters and MHA CMO Dr. Gary Roth.
Michigan is once again among the states with the highest numbers of COVID-19 cases in the nation, with the New York Times reporting that Michigan and Minnesota lead the country in cases per capita. On Nov. 19, there were 3,424 adults hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19, in addition to 50 children. Meanwhile, 60.3% of Michiganders aged 5 and older had been fully vaccinated as of Nov. 19.
The MHA continues to keep members apprised of pandemic-related developments affecting hospitals through email updates and the MHA Coronavirus webpage. Important updates are outlined below.
FDA Amends EUA to Allow Booster Shots to Fully Vaccinated People Aged 18 and Up
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) amended the COVID-19 vaccine emergency use authorizations (EUAs) Nov. 19 to allow all individuals 18 years of age and older to receive booster shots of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was scheduled to meet later that day to discuss additional clinical recommendations.
In its news release, the FDA said the expanded authorization for the booster doses is based on its analysis of immune response data that supported use in the previously authorized populations for boosters. Groups previously included in the EUAs were fully vaccinated individuals who are 65 years of age and older and who are 18 through 64 years of age at high risk of severe COVID-19 and/or experience frequent exposure to the coronavirus through living situations or workplaces.
Prior to the FDA announcement, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer encouraged residents to plan to get the booster doses as soon as they are authorized. The governor noted that more than a million booster doses have been administered within the state and urged everyone to get vaccinated and receive the booster shot.
Booster doses should be administered at least six months after the second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and at least two months following the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Updated information for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are available on the FDA website that provide details on the booster shots.
MDHHS Announces Face Mask Advisory for Holiday Season
As both COVID-19 and influenza cases rise throughout the state, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) will issue a face mask advisory and offer guidance to prevent the spread of respiratory diseases during the holidays.
The department’s news releaseindicates it recommends everyone over the age of 2 wear a face mask at indoor gatherings regardless of their vaccination status. Establishments are also urged to implement policies to ensure that customers, employees and visitors wear masks. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.
During a Nov. 19 news conference, MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel, Chief Medical Executive Natasha Bagdasarian, MD, and others also urged Michigan residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the flu as soon as possible. The two vaccines can be administered simultaneously. Darryl Elmouchi, MD, MBA, president of Spectrum Health West Michigan, shared information about the unprecedented numbers of patients hospitals are seeing. He said Spectrum Health has 370 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, 86% of whom are unvaccinated against the disease.
This article was updated Nov. 17 to reflect an extension of the expiration date from Dec. 12 to Jan. 11, 2022.
The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) has provided a 30-day notice that the out-of-state licensure provider exemption will no longer be in effect as of Jan. 11, 2022. The MHA worked with the state to develop this provision effective March 16, 2020, and to keep it in effect since then. This decision means healthcare providers should not rely on MCL 333.16171(c) to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic beyond 11:59 p.m. Jan. 11. The clarification document from LARA reflects the Jan. 11 expiration date.
Providers working in Michigan with out-of-state licenses will not be grandfathered into compliance. To continue to support healthcare systems, LARA has agreed to assist in expediting complete license applications for individuals who have been using this provision in response to COVID-19. The department has clarified that this provision cannot be used for labor disputes in the days leading up to its expiration.
Members needing assistance with expediting complete license applications should contact Paige Fults at the MHA.
MLive published an article Nov. 3 on the approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The article quotes MHA CEO Brian Peters on the value of the approval when it comes to protecting younger children from severe infection and reducing the overall spread of the disease.
“At a time when children’s hospitals throughout Michigan are strained due to high rates of respiratory illness, this approval will keep children safe and help reduce the burden on our hospitals and allow them to focus on their patients with non-COVID illnesses,” said Peters.
The MHA conducted Nov. 4 a virtual press conference announcing the Healthcare Workforce Sustainability Alliance, a newly formed partnership with the Health Care Association of Michigan (HCAM), the Michigan Association of Ambulance Services (MAAS), the Michigan Community College Association (MCCA) and the American Nurses Association of Michigan (ANA-MI). The press conference featured Michigan healthcare and education leaders advocating for a $650 million investment to support staffing needs in hospitals, nursing facilities and emergency medical services and workforce training programs to grow the healthcare talent pipeline.
Michigan leaders advocate for a $650 million supplemental to support medical services, workforce pipeline
A newly formed coalition – the Healthcare Workforce Sustainability Alliance – has released a plan more than 19 months into the pandemic calling upon Michigan’s elected officials to address the emerging crisis of a shortage of healthcare workers to provide lifesaving medical care.
The Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA) in collaboration with the Health Care Association of Michigan (HCAM), Michigan Association of Ambulance Services (MAAS), Michigan Community College Association (MCCA), and American Nurses Association of Michigan (ANA-MI) are advocating for a $650 million investment to support staffing needs in hospitals, nursing facilities, and emergency medical services and workforce training programs to grow the healthcare talent pipeline.
“Michigan healthcare workers are the essential responders to the COVID-19 pandemic and, unfortunately, the healthcare staffing shortage that existed pre-pandemic has become significantly worse in recent months,” said Brian Peters, CEO of the MHA. “Staffing at our hospitals is absolutely a crisis. With the support of our partners in the healthcare and education sectors, we are pleading with our Legislature to fund a future for the healthcare workforce that will help ensure lifesaving services are able to continue across our state.”
The Healthcare Workforce Sustainability Alliance is calling upon the Michigan Legislature to pass a $650 million supplemental to recruit and retain healthcare workers and a scholarship program to establish a workforce pipeline. The proposed Healthcare Worker Payments would be directed to healthcare front-line workers and health facility employees.
“The shortage of Michigan EMS heroes is getting worse by the day, and we desperately need more paramedics and EMTs in the field,” said Angela Madden, executive director of the Michigan Association of Ambulance Services. “The lack of training options has become a crisis for EMS and we’re proud to work with our fellow healthcare partners to help get more workers into healthcare fields quickly.”
The Future Healthcare Worker Scholarship Program would be designed to provide two years of scholarships to individuals pursuing a degree in a clinical healthcare field. The Future Healthcare Worker Scholarship Program would provide payments at qualifying institutions. Based upon estimates of eligible Michigan residents, grant amounts and years in the program, it is estimated that as many as 25,000 students would qualify for and could take advantage of the Future Healthcare Worker Scholarship Program.
“The state of our healthcare system has a direct impact on the health of our future. We need lifesaving care and transport, which means we need people able to provide those services,” said Michael Hansen, president of the MCCA. “Establishing a pipeline for these jobs by incentivizing students to go into and afford these careers is absolutely necessary to ensuring our communities stay healthy and appropriately staffed.”
Michigan hospitals have reached new record-high occupancy rates, requiring staff scheduling and capacity adjustments several times daily to preserve patient care standards. For many healthcare facilities, vacancy rates are 20% or more of their workforce. Patients experience delays of sometimes several days waiting for transport between a hospital and a nursing home, inpatient psychiatric hospital or rehabilitation facility due to the shortage of qualified paramedics. Some hospitals must regularly divert ambulances away from their emergency departments, which delays emergent care, especially in Michigan’s many rural areas.
“Working in long-term care is a calling, a fulfilling career that gives people a purpose,” said Melissa Samuel, president and CEO of HCAM. “Caregivers who have served on the front lines of a health crisis the world has not experienced in 100 years need and deserve our support. The pandemic has made an expected shortage of healthcare workers happen sooner and to a much worse degree. New admissions to skilled nursing facilities are being limited or halted because providers are taking a proactive measure to focus their care on current residents. We must address this workforce crisis to ensure our seniors have access to the care they need.”
Healthcare workforce staffing shortages existed prior to COVID-19 but have worsened and are expected to persist beyond the pandemic. Michigan must address both the short- and the long-term workforce crisis that is driving this problem before it forces even more difficult healthcare decisions. Contrary to the early support shown to healthcare workers in the beginning months of the pandemic, a 2021 survey has found that 34% of nurses reported experiencing workplace violence, which can lead to higher rates of burnout.
More detail about the Healthcare Workforce Sustainability Alliance’s $650 million plan will be available at www.mha.org as the group continues to work with policymakers.
The following statement can be attributed to Brian Peters, CEO of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association.
The approval today of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is another significant milestone in combatting the spread of COVID-19. The new vaccine eligibility not only protects younger children from severe infection but reduces the likelihood of younger children infecting other vulnerable populations with the disease.
At a time when children’s hospitals throughout Michigan are strained due to high rates of respiratory illness, this approval will keep children safe and help reduce the burden on our hospitals and allow them to focus on their patients with non-COVID illnesses.
We encourage parents to contact their child’s physician office, their local health department or preferred health system for any questions they have and to schedule a vaccine appointment.