Hospital Leaders Provide Testimony Amid Latest COVID Surge

Adam Carlson provides testimony before the House Appropriations Committee.

Hospital leaders from around the state testified Dec. 1 before the House Appropriations Committee, chaired by Rep. Thomas Albert (R-Lowell). They discussed the current challenges Michigan’s hospitals face as they near the statewide record for COVID-19 hospitalizations while having more COVID-19 patients in the ICU than at any point during either of the last two surges.

Those providing testimony were Michael McKenna, MD, chief medical officer, McLaren Health Care; Ane McNeil, chief human resources officer, Trinity Health; Chad Tuttle, senior vice president of hospital and post-acute operations, Spectrum Health West Michigan; and Adam Carlson, senior vice president of advocacy, MHA.

“We are seeing high numbers of patients with other medical conditions requiring care. Collectively, the statewide average ICU occupancy exceeds 85%. This combination is straining or exceeding the capacity of emergency departments and hospitals across the state,” said Carlson.

In addition to the latest hospital data on COVID-19 hospitalizations and ICU admissions, the group provided evidence that the best defense against the virus continues to be vaccination. Vaccines have been a very effective mechanism at preventing the illness. Without vaccination we would be in a situation five times worse.” said McKenna. Monoclonal antibodies were presented as the next best option, which help reduce the severity of the illness and prevent hospitalizations.

Recruitment and retention of personnel was another major issue discussed during the committee hearing. Across the state, resilient and dedicated healthcare workers in hospitals stand ready to care for emergency medical needs, but the reality is most hospitals throughout the state have more patients in their emergency departments than they do available rooms and staff to care for them. Today, we are in a healthcare giver crisis. The risk is limiting our services that we make available to our community,” said McNeil.

Support from the state or federal government is vital, as staffing costs continue to far exceed budget expectations with no signs of slowing down. The MHA will continue to work with elected officials to advocate on behalf of Michigan hospitals and health systems for funding and support to end the pandemic. Members with questions should contact Adam Carlson at the MHA.