A lot of activity yesterday on the COVID-19 front. We did over 400 tests again and we had 40 positives, our biggest one day total yet. Of those 40 positives, 2 were WMH employees. We are now up to 6 inpatients that are positive with 3 in ICU and 3 on the medical floor. Yesterday we saw 2 more admitted to get us to six. None of these six patients are on a ventilator, but most of them are on a high level of oxygen. At this point we are reaching our maximum capacity while trying to maintain normal operations with our current staff. We may need to start canceling elective cases again so those staff can be reassigned to the nursing floors to take care of the COVID-19 patients. I am hopeful that this won’t be necessary but it isn’t out of the realm of possibilities.
On another note, we did receive a call from McLaren Northern Michigan Hospital late yesterday and they asked if we could take some of the COVID-19 patients as their unit was completely full (28 patients) and they had 4 patients in the ED waiting for a bed. We told them that we could not at this time. They then informed us that for the short term that they will not be able to accept any of our transfers because they do not have any open beds. This will mean that if a patient is critical, for any reason, even non-COVID-19 health reasons, that we will not be able to transfer them to McLaren Northern Michigan. We also have heard the U.P. Health System is also full and is not accepting transfers. This leaves us with Munson Health System as the only hospital that we can transfer to within a 3 hour window. This will really test our EMS services in the area if a transfer is needed because they will be out of the community for longer periods of time and may refuse to transfer a patient for us.
To add one more concern to our situation, I received an email from the Michigan Department of Corrections that told me that they now have a COVID-19 outbreak at the Chippewa Correctional Facility. At this point, they are isolating the positive cases from the rest of the population (I heard that they have 40+ positive prisoners) and that most are asymptomatic at this time. If too many of the prisoners get serious medical conditions from this that could overwhelm our system as well.
I will be on the radio two times this morning to hopefully implore our community to remain safe and not overwhelm our hospital. Now more than ever we need to practice social distancing, mask-wearing and proper hand hygiene, and limit travel as much as possible. We have a lot of great doctors, nurses, and support staff here at WMH who are at the ready to serve our community but they are starting to get tired and fatigued. Our community needs to understand this so please share these statistics with anyone that you can to enlighten them on the current situation in Chippewa County.
David B. Jahn, FACHE
President & CEO
Chippewa County War Memorial Hospital
500 Osborn Blvd
Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783