MHA CEO Report — Pediatric Capacity Crisis

MHA Rounds Report - Brian Peters, MHA CEO

Every child begins the world again.Henry David Thoreau

MHA Rounds Report - Brian Peters, MHA CEOIn all of my life experiences to date, none have been so challenging in every sense as those times when my young children were hospitalized in the NICU, fighting for their very lives. We were incredibly fortunate to have positive outcomes with both of them, thanks to the efforts of our Michigan hospitals and the incredible people who work there every day.

I share this perspective because there is a crisis throughout Michigan that truly hits home with me. I know the angst and exhaustion being felt by far too many parents right now – emotions that are also being acutely felt by our heroic caregivers. In short, it feels like déjà vu in Michigan’s children’s hospitals, but instead of a surge of COVID-19 patients stressing capacity to the limits, our facilities are strained by a high number of pediatric patients suffering from respiratory illnesses largely driven by RSV. Similar tactics that have been implemented in prior years, such as initiating incident command systems, have been in operation to ensure appropriate direction and communication is occurring throughout those systems impacted by this crisis.

Hospitals operating at capacity is nothing new and the staffing challenges that continue to result in Michigan operating with 1,700 fewer staffed beds than we had prior to the pandemic are well documented. What we’re seeing today is the real impact of what those staffing challenges mean: longer wait times in the emergency department, lack of available beds for patient transports (particularly in rural Michigan) and pediatric ICUs operating at beyond 100% capacity.

There are few professionals in the world that have proven to be more resilient than healthcare workers, whether they are physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, environmental service workers…the list goes on and on (and I am proud to say that the MHA Keystone Center has played an important role with the launch of our WELL-B initiative that continues to provide resiliency tools for our clinicians and other team members). But as residents of our communities, we can no longer take our healthcare workers and the access to care they provide for granted. These workers, and their organizations, need help.

Thankfully, the Michigan Legislature provided funding earlier this year through Public Act 9 to improve the recruitment, retention and training of healthcare workers. So far, over 69,000 healthcare workers have benefitted from that funding and it has helped to stabilize existing staffing levels. Hospitals are also exploring innovative ways to grow the talent pipeline, such as investment in higher education partnerships and other apprenticeships. However, while impactful, this funding is a finger in the dyke. Without additional attention, the problem will persist.

Addressing the strain on our children’s hospitals is a multi-pronged approach, and in addition to the aforementioned work of our MHA Keystone Center, we are also deriving input and guidance from our MHA Council on Children’s Health, led by Laura Appel, executive vice president for government relations and public affairs, as well as our system chief medical officer (CMO) group, led by our own CMO Gary Roth, DO.

While the MHA will continue to pursue legislative and regulatory solutions to the staffing crisis, there are actions anyone can undertake to help our healthcare workers caring for very sick children across Michigan, particularly as COVID-19, RSV and the flu converge to drive hospitalizations.

First and foremost, ensure that both you and your children are up to date on all the relevant vaccinations that are now readily available. The MHA is a long-time supporter of I Vaccinate which is a good source of information on vaccines, and our MHA Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and Communications Ruthanne Sudderth continues to be our point person with this organization. Second, practice proper hygiene, including handwashing and staying home when sick. Third, seek the appropriate setting for care; visit the hospital for emergencies but contact your primary care physician or an urgent care facility for testing or care for mild symptoms. Lastly – and very importantly – be sure to express some grace and appreciation for any healthcare worker you meet. As we approach the winter and holiday season, they are here to provide exceptional care to all who need it and deserve to be treated with respect both on and off duty.

If you have not done so already, please join me in sharing this messaging within your networks. Our hospitals need the support from our partners in healthcare, the business community and in Lansing and Washington, DC to weather this storm. Respiratory illnesses will always be here, but there are many small actions we can take to care for the health and wellness of our communities well into the future.

As always, I welcome your thoughts.

Parents Urged to Take Preventive Measures As Pediatric Beds Fill Up

As Respiratory Viruses Circulate, Michigan Hospitals Urge Vigilance, Prevention

Michigan children’s hospitals and pediatric healthcare leaders are raising awareness about a pediatric hospital bed shortage and urging the public to help prevent respiratory illnesses, which are rapidly spreading in the form of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza.

Michigan pediatric intensive care unit hospital beds are currently 89% occupied, according to data from the Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA) and Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS). Hospitals are also reporting large surges in young patients visiting emergency departments, for both emergent and non-emergent care. Hospitals are urging those with mild cold-like symptoms to stay at home. If symptoms worsen, an urgent care or primary care physician’s office would be the most appropriate setting to seek care, while emergency department visits should be reserved for those with moderate to severe symptoms including shortness of breath. Wait times and patient volumes in emergency rooms are increasing, and emergency department capacity in some areas is being depleted by visits for non-emergency medical conditions. Pervasive hospital staff shortages further complicate surges in hospital visits.

These pediatric bed shortages are impacting care statewide, making transfers of the sickest young patients to higher acuity care settings difficult.

“Hospitals are here for Michiganders, particularly in emergencies,” said Gary Roth, DO, chief medical officer, MHA. “But our capacity to provide pediatric hospital care is extremely strained. Right now, the staffing challenges we have been sounding the alarms about all year combined with rapid spread of respiratory illnesses are impacting our hospitals’ ability to care for our sickest children in a timely manner.”

The MHA and the MDHHS are monitoring the pediatric bed capacity among Michigan hospitals. Nationally, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data shows that 76% of pediatric beds across the country are full, with anecdotal reports largely pinning the shortage on widespread RSV infections.

“Many of us in the pediatric medical community across Michigan are working to care for the surge of children battling RSV,” Matthew Denenberg, MD, chief of pediatrics, Corewell Health East, the new name for Beaumont Health, and chair of the MHA’s Council on Children’s Health. “Our teams are here to help when the illness becomes severe. Parents and guardians can also help stop the spread of illness in our communities by getting children vaccinated against both flu and COVID-19. We all need to work together to keep our children safe.”

“In recent weeks we have seen a significant surge in cases of RSV which is most greatly impacting our infants and young children,” said Rudolph Valentini, MD, chief medical officer, Children’s Hospital of Michigan. “Since Oct. 1, more than 450 patients have tested positive for RSV at our hospital. This is putting a strain on our hospital’s emergency department and inpatient bed capacity; further, this could intensify if influenza cases begin to rise in the near future. It is also important to note that RSV and its associated bronchiolitis cause symptomatic disease in 20% of infants and children less than one year of age. Although RSV may only cause a mild cold in older children and adults, it is important for parents to keep their infants and young children away from others who are ill, because RSV causes inflammation to the smallest airways making infants especially vulnerable sometimes resulting in hospitalization or ICU care. Other patients who need to avoid RSV are children with a history of prematurity, chronic lung disease, congenital heart disease, immunodeficiency or solid organ transplant.”

“As we see this concerning trend in high volumes of pediatric emergent care and hospitalizations, we need to all work together to protect our children and conserve resources.  Pediatric beds are a shared resource across the state,” stated Christine Nefcy, MD, chief medical officer, Munson Healthcare. “Many smaller community or rural hospitals in Michigan have minimal pediatric bed capacity and rely on other facilities for higher level or specialty care for these patients. At this time of year, we naturally want to gather more often with family and friends; so as you make plans, we urge parents to follow these guidelines to ensure we manage this surge using all the tools at hand.”

“We are urging Michiganders to have a plan for their families this respiratory season to help prevent hospital overcrowding and prevent outbreaks of respiratory illnesses using the tools available,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, the state’s chief medical executive. “This includes getting available vaccines, staying home if unwell, having a supply of masks at home, covering coughs, washing your hands often and finding out if you are eligible for treatment options if you do become unwell.”

The MHA and its pediatric clinical leaders and partners offer the following tips for the public:

  • DON’T: Seek hospital emergency care for non-emergency medical conditions, such as mild symptoms and routine testing.
  • DO: Seek hospital emergency care if symptoms are worrisome and emergency care is needed. Emergency medical conditions can include difficulty breathing, dehydration and worsening symptoms.
  • DO: Immediately get vaccinated against respiratory illnesses. Visit www.vaccines.gov to search for vaccine availability or call your provider or the local health department.
  • DO: Be patient if seeking care through a hospital emergency department. Consider that wait times may be elevated as respiratory illnesses reach seasonal peak levels.
  • DO: Consider having your children wear a mask in public places including school when you know local case rates of respiratory illnesses are high.
  • DO: Practice frequent and proper hand washing and stay home if you’re not feeling well.

Additional information: 

Influenza is a viral respiratory illness with symptoms that include fever, cough, stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, headache, chills and fatigue. A flu test is not always needed to diagnose the flu, however in some cases it may be recommended by a healthcare provider. People at risk of complications should consult their healthcare provider.

RSV infection is a viral respiratory illness that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. Most people recover in a week or two, but RSV can be serious, especially for infants and older adults. Symptoms include runny nose, decreased appetite, coughing, sneezing, fever and wheezing.

Reporters may contact the following representatives from the Pediatric Leadership Collaborative to schedule interviews:

Natasha Bagdasarian, MD, MPH, FIDSA, Chief Medical Executive, State of Michigan
Media Contact: Lynn Sutfin, SutfinL1@michigan.gov

Francis Darr, MD, Pediatrician, UP Health System – Marquette
Media Contact: Janell Larson, Janell.Larson@mghs.org

Marcus DeGraw, MD, Chairman, Department of Pediatrics, Ascension St. John Hospital St. John Children’s Center
Media Contact: Airielle Taylor, airielle.taylor@ascension.org

Matthew Denenberg, MD, Chief of Pediatrics, Corewell Health East
Media Contact: Mark Geary, mark.geary@beaumont.org

Michael Fiore, MD, Medical Director, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Covenant Healthcare
Media Contact: Kristin Knoll, kknoll@chs-mi.com

Steven Martin, MD, E.W. Sparrow Hospital, Interim Chief Medical Officer & Co-Director of University of Michigan Health at Sparrow Children’s Center, Sparrow Health System
Media Contact: John Foren, John.Foren@Sparrow.org

Kimberly Monroe, MD, MS, Interim Chief Clinical Officer, C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital & Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital
Media Contact: Beata Mostafavi, bmostafa@med.umich.edu

Christine Nefcy, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Munson Healthcare
Jacques Burgess, MD, MPH, System Pediatric Medical Director, Munson Healthcare
Media Contact: Dale Killingbeck, dkillingbeck@mhc.net

Brian M Nolan, MD, Hurley Children’s Hospital
Media Contact: Peggy Agar, pagar1@hurleymc.com

Dominic Sanfilippo, MD, Associate Department Chief / Pediatrician-in-Chief, Corewell Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital
Media Contact: Andrea Finnigan, Andrea.Finnigan@spectrumhealth.org

Uzma Shah MD, FAAP, FAASLD, Chair, Department of Pediatrics, Henry Ford Health
Media Contact: Dana Jay, djay2@hfhs.org

Gregory Tiongson, MD, Medical Director, Bronson Children’s Hospital
Media Contact: Erin Smith, smither@bronsonhg.org

Rudolph Valentini, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Children’s Hospital of Michigan
Media Contact: Brian Taylor, BTaylor8@dmc.org

MHA Launches Physician Membership with AAPL Partnership

The MHA and the American Association for Physician Leadership (AAPL) announced a partnership Sept. 22 that will provide leadership education and training to MHA physician members. The announcement expands the range of benefits offered through the new MHA Physician Membership category, which is designed to provide physician leadership development opportunities and resources.

The AAPL remains the only association solely focused on providing professional development, leadership education and management training exclusively for physicians, making them an ideal candidate for the MHA.

The new relationship will provide membership in AAPL as part of the MHA Physician Membership. New benefits include:

  • AAPL will provide critical components and credits toward obtaining the Certified Physician Executive (CPE) certification as well as credits toward selected master’s degrees through AAPL partner universities.
  • MHA/AAPL physician members will be offered the AAPL’s Physician-Mapped Leadership Assessment & Development Tool.
  • The MHA/AAPL Physician Membership will include full access to the AAPL Leadership Library with articles, journals, case studies and podcasts and will receive a discount on AAPL programs, products, and services.

All physicians employed by a member hospital in Michigan are eligible for MHA Physician membership, as are physicians who are contracted by member hospitals or those who maintain a strong relationship with member hospitals (upon endorsement of the hospital chief executive officer or chief medical officer).

Members with questions may contact MHA Chief Medical Officer Gary Roth, DO.

Media Recap: COVID-19 and Healthcare Workforce Sustainability

MHA Portrait
Gary Roth
MHA Chief Medical Officer Gary Roth, DO.

The MHA responded to several media requests the week of Jan. 24 that focused on the status of COVID-19 hospitalizations across Michigan, ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19, violence against healthcare workers and the benefits of community colleges offering four-year nursing programs.

Bridge published Jan. 24 an article that looked at insurance reimbursement for ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19. MHA Chief Medical Officer Gary Roth, DO, is quoted in the story discussing the environment clinicians encounter when having to refuse a request for ivermectin to treat COVID-19.

“It has created quite a controversy to the point where it can become a very hostile discussion, where patients and families are demanding a treatment that a physician cannot ethically, morally, or certainly scientifically, provide,” said Roth.

Bridge also published Jan. 26 a story on House Bills 5556 and 5557 that would allow community colleges to offer four-year Bachelor of Nursing programs. The MHA’s support of the bills is mentioned in the article, as the legislation “would increase access to high-quality nurses in areas served by Michigan’s small and rural hospitals where a four-year school does not currently exist.”

Michigan Radio looked Jan. 24 at the status of COVID-19 across the state and if the omicron surge had plateaued. In the story, the MHA Director of Communications John Karasinski shared that the state is “trending in the direction of declining statewide daily COVID-19 hospital admissions and total COVID-19 hospitalizations.”

Two additional stories were published on violence against healthcare workers based on interviews with MHA CEO Brian Peters. WILX News aired Jan. 28 a story that included a focus on House Bills 5084 and 5682 that expand the penalties for assaulting emergency department employees. MiBiz published an article Jan. 30 on how increased rates of violence against healthcare workers increases burnout.

“These are individuals who come to work every single day and put themselves on the line in a difficult environment and they are trying to do their very best,” said Peters to WILX. “To think that there are these acts of violence that could take those caregivers away from that incredibly important duty — it’s absolutely untenable so we’re very supportive of legislation that’s been introduced here in the state that would increase the penalties of those perpetrators of violence.”

Members with questions on COVID-19 efforts and resources should contact Ruthanne Sudderth, and any questions regarding media requests should be directed to John Karasinski at the MHA.

Headline Roundup: Michigan Hospital CMOs Urge Action Against COVID-19

MHA CEO Brian Peters appears Nov. 23 on CNN

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.

MHA CEO Brian Peters appears Nov. 23 on CNN
MHA CEO Brian Peters appears Nov. 23 on CNN

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 (MDHHS) made on behalf of Michigan hospitals to the Department of Defense for teams of medical personnel, as well as a joint press release published Dec. 2 by the MDHHS and MHA on the high proportion of unvaccinated COVID patients in hospitals.

Included are interviews conducted by MHA CEO Brian Peters and MHA CMO Dr. Gary Roth.

Saturday, Dec. 4

Friday, Dec. 3

Thursday, Dec. 2

Wednesday, Dec. 1

Tuesday, Nov. 30

Monday, Nov. 29

Sunday, Nov. 28

Saturday, Nov. 27

Friday, Nov. 26

Thursday, Nov. 25

Wednesday, Nov. 24

Tuesday, Nov. 23

Monday, Nov. 22

Members with questions on COVID-19 efforts and resources should contact Ruthanne Sudderth, and any questions regarding media requests should be directed to John Karasinski at the MHA.

CEO Report — Incorporating a Federal Advocacy Strategy

MHA Rounds Report - Brian Peters, MHA CEO

“You want a friend in Washington? Get a dog.” – Harry S. Truman

MHA CEO, Brian PetersI have a dog — a beautiful German Shepherd that joined our family in the midst of the pandemic.  I know that many of you have a family dog too, and they are indeed wonderful friends. But as it turns out, the MHA family is also fortunate to have friends in Washington, DC, and never before has that been more important.

Hospitals and health systems play a key role in their local communities, both as healthcare providers and economic engines. While much of the funding, regulatory, and other public policy decision-making occurs at the local or state level, the truth is that federal politics has become increasingly important, as decisions made at the federal level can have profound impacts on the healthcare delivered in Michigan. The dramatic increase in enrollment for both Medicaid (a shared state/federal program) and Medicare (a strictly federal program) is just one of many reasons why.

Over the years, the MHA’s engagement at the federal level has increased dramatically, to the point where we have now established meaningful relationships with the entire Michigan congressional delegation and their staffers. These relationships were on display early in the pandemic when we were able to convene conference calls with our delegation — both Republicans and Democrats together on the line at the same time — to listen to our insights and requests and target much-needed assistance to our members who were dealing with a true crisis. We have done all the blocking and tackling that is instrumental to federal advocacy, including routine in-person visits to our delegation members’ DC offices, developing congressional district-specific data and talking points on key issues, coordinating closely with the government relations officers of our member health systems (including those with multistate operations), organizing fundraising events and much more.

We are fortunate to have a very close partner in this regard: the American Hospital Association.  I’m happy to share that more than 100 of our Michigan community hospitals are also AHA members, a penetration rate that puts Michigan in the very top tier nationally. As a result, our voice is heard clearly as many Michigan healthcare executives are actively involved in the policymaking process of the AHA, serving on various committee and task forces, including the AHA’s Regional Policy Boards. In this manner, we are able to identify needs unique to our region and provide direct input on public policy — and political strategy — to the AHA.  On that note, we are fortunate that Michigan’s own Wright Lassiter, president and CEO of Henry Ford Health System, is now the chair-elect of the AHA Board.

In addition, the MHA’s political action committee, Health PAC, also has a formal working partnership with the AHAPAC, allowing us to support our members of Congress in this important way.

Recent examples of this partnership in action include our advocacy to protect the Affordable Care Act (ACA), as well as the 340B Drug Pricing Program, and our efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Several weeks ago, the United States Supreme Court released its opinion in the California v. Texas case that challenged the constitutionality of the ACA. The opinion reversed the Fifth Circuit’s judgement in the matter and upheld the constitutionality of the ACA. The MHA was formally involved in the case, as we joined a number of other state hospital associations in filing an amicus brief with the Supreme Court. We are very pleased with this outcome, which will help to preserve coverage for as many Michiganders as possible — a key MHA priority.

The MHA has also been involved in the federal legal strategy to support the 340B Drug Pricing Program, which is a federal program created by Congress to help provide relief from escalating drug prices to safety-net hospitals and other healthcare providers serving vulnerable patient populations. Over the past year, six drugmakers have stopped providing discount drug prices for pharmacies that contract with 340B providers. The MHA is working with the American Hospital Association Advocacy Alliance for the 340B Drug Program and the 340B Health coalition to protect this vital program. Last fall, the MHA organized a letter to the Michigan congressional delegation that was signed by representatives from 68 of the more than 80 Michigan 340B hospitals to share hospitals’ concern regarding drug manufacturers’ attempts to limit payment to contract pharmacies and other actions that are a significant detriment to 340B hospitals and the services they can provide to eligible patients because of the program. The MHA also joined other state hospital associations earlier this spring in submitting an amicus brief in support of the AHA’s petition to the U.S. Supreme Court for certiorari (a formal request to the court to take up the case) in its appeal of an appellate court decision unfavorable to hospitals on 340B.

Lastly, the MHA has been involved with various aspects of the COVID-19 response at the federal level, from advocating for provider relief funds to providing data and insights on the impact of the pandemic. In May, the MHA worked quickly to get a majority of Michigan’s U.S. House delegation to sign onto a letter urging Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra to extend the deadline for hospitals to use provider relief funds. This joint effort with the AHA and other groups ultimately led to the HHS announcing extended deadlines by which hospitals and other providers that received Provider Relief Fund (PRF) money may use their COVID-19 PRF payments. We also had several MHA members directly involved in submitting statements to Sen. Gary Peters on the impact of healthcare supply chain shortages during the pandemic, which were utilized by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that Sen. Peters chairs.

The MHA is currently working on a comment letter for the recently released federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS). Although the AHA achieved several improvements in the final proposed ETS, a number of issues remain. Because Michigan uses a state plan for OSHA regulation, MIOSHA adopted these rules June 22. The MHA is aware that the federal ETS is under regular review and amendments are possible. Filing comments brings attention to those parts of the rule that require further action.

Laura Appel, MHA senior vice president of health policy and innovation, has done an outstanding job as our point person on federal advocacy for many years now. I can tell you from firsthand experience that she knows her way around the federal policymaking process as well as she knows her way around the maze of offices on Capitol Hill. In addition, MHA Executive Vice President Chris Mitchell is serving as the chairman of the SAGRO (State Association Government Relations Officers) group, representing all the state hospital association advocacy leaders. MHA Chief Medical Officer Gary Roth, DO, is also serving as chairman of the SHAPE (State Hospital Association Physician Executives) group, leading his peers across the country. And for the past year I have had the privilege of serving as the chairman of the AHA State Issues Forum, which is the group of state hospital association CEOs focused on the strategic issues that we all share. Collectively, these engagements are just another indication of the stature and leadership of our association on the national level.

As you can see, our dedication to advocating for our members — and the pursuit of our mission to advance the health of individuals and communities — extends from Lansing to Capitol Hill. I am proud of the strong foundation that we have established in this regard and, given the increased focus on hospitals and healthcare in the national conscience as a result of the pandemic, I am convinced that our work at the federal level will continue to be critical.

As always, I welcome your thoughts

Headline Roundup: Week of March 29 for COVID-19 in Michigan

Gary Roth on CNN

MHA CMO Dr. Gary Roth appears on CNN on March 30.As Michigan hospitals face a third surge of COVID-19 patients, the MHA has been actively fielding and responding to media requests related to the increase in infections and hospitalizations over the past week.

The MHA issued a press release March 24 that shows hospitalization rates are increasing rapidly for younger age groups that are less likely to have been vaccinated while the vaccine is seemingly preventing hospitalization at or near 100%. The release continues to attract state and national media attention.

Below is a collection of headlines from around the state that include statements from the MHA.

Sunday, April 4:

Saturday, April 3

Friday, April 2

Thursday, April 1

Wednesday, March 31

Tuesday, March 30

Monday, March 29

Members with questions on COVID-19 efforts and resources should contact Ruthanne Sudderth, and any questions regarding media requests should be directed to John Karasinski at the MHA.

Headline Roundup: Week of March 22 for COVID-19 in Michigan

Chris Mitchell on ABC57

MHA Executive Vice President Chris Mitchell interviewed by ABC57.As Michigan hospitals face a potential third surge of COVID-19 patients, the MHA has been actively fielding and responding to media requests related to the increase in infections and hospitalizations over recent weeks.

The MHA issued a press release March 24 that indicates that the large growth in hospitalizations in Michigan in March is occurring among younger age groups that have the lowest vaccination rates among the state population.

Using hospital inpatient data, the MHA was able to show that hospitalizations are increasing the slowest among the age groups that have a higher percentage of vaccination. The release also includes quotes from MHA CEO Brian Peters and MHA Chief Medical Officer Gary Roth, DO.

Below is a collection of headlines from around the state that include statements from the MHA, including coverage of the press release.

Sunday, March 28

Saturday, March 27

Friday, March 26

Thursday, March 25

Wednesday, March 24

Tuesday, March 23

The MHA also saw extensive coverage across social media (primarily Twitter), including from accomplished media professionals such as Rachel Maddow, MSNBC (10.6M followers); Liz Szabo, Kaiser Health News (67.6K followers); and Jackson Proskow, Global News/Global National (50K+ followers).

Members with questions on COVID-19 efforts and resources should contact Ruthanne Sudderth, and any questions regarding media requests should be directed to John Karasinski at the MHA.

COVID-19 Hospitalizations Increasing at Alarming Rate for Unvaccinated Adults

March 2021 Hospitalizations vs Vaccination Rates

COVID-19 daily hospitalization data indicates that the large growth in hospitalizations in Michigan in March is occurring among younger age groups that have the lowest vaccination rates among the state population, according to inpatient data collected by the Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA).

From March 1 to March 23, hospitalizations increased by 633% for adults ages 30-39 and by 800% for adults ages 40-49. Hospitalization growth rates decline as the vaccination rates per age group increases, with hospitalizations increasing by just 37% for adults 80 or older, of which 44% of the population are fully vaccinated in the state. The correlation between high vaccination rates and lower hospitalization growth rates shows the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine and how it protects from the risk of severe disease or hospitalization. The data also indicates that, although older adults still have a higher risk of hospitalizations, the percentage of hospitalized patients who are younger than 40 years old has doubled, showing that adults of any age are vulnerable to complications from the disease.

Graph of the inverse relationship between the increase in daily hospitalizations and vaccination rates by age group (March 1,- March 23, 2021).

“Michigan is making progress at ultimately defeating the COVID-19 pandemic through increasing vaccination rates, but the war is not yet over,” said MHA Chief Medical Officer Gary Roth, DO. “Now is not the time to let our guard down and risk contracting COVID-19 with more contagious variants emerging and vaccines becoming widely available. My prescription to all Michiganders is to wear your mask, wash your hands, avoid crowds and when it is your turn, get your vaccine. You must continue to take preventive measures even after you’re vaccinated because it takes at least two weeks for a vaccine’s full protection to kick in following the last dose, and it will take time to vaccinate everyone.”

Michiganders are being urged by the MHA to commit to proven COVID-19 preventive measures and to get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it is available to them amid increasing COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.

“While much of our healthcare workforce is vaccinated, caring for a third surge of COVID-19 patients is mentally and physically draining for all front-line caregivers,” said MHA CEO Brian Peters. “Failing to follow proven preventive measures is not only dangerous to our health but hurts our economy and delays when in-person activities such as returning to work can occur with minimal restrictions. It will still take a few more months to vaccinate everyone, which is why we have to do everything in our power to slow the current growth. While you wait your turn for your safe and effective vaccine, mask up, practice social distancing and wash your hands.”

For questions regarding media requests, contact John Karasinski at the MHA.