"Health care workers ... can't keep this up," Beaumont Health says in a plea for Covid precautions to run Sunday in the Detroit Free Press and elsewhere.
"For the first time, Beaumont purchased full-page ads in local papers asking community members to help stop the spread of the virus," the state's largest hospital network says in a media release and Zoom news conference Thursday (video below).
The message, titled "We're at a breaking point," is designed to both show support for our staff and further emphasize to the community that this fourth surge is putting a severe strain on health care.
It comes as Beaumont cares for over 750 Covid patients in its eight hospitals while more than 430 employees are "out with Covid symptoms," the release says. The network's current pandemic cases are up 40% since Dec. 23.
"Sixty-two percent are unvaccinated," according to Beaumont, which warns: "The Omicron variant is spreading rapidly throughout the community."
The hospital system is trying to start rapid antigen testing to bring employees back after seven days of isolation, instead of 10, says Dr. Nick Gilpin, medical director of infection prevention and epidemiology. Federal guidance now lets health care workers to return after five days.
"We're really taxing both sides of the equation here," Gilpin said during the Zoom call. "We have more Covid patients in the hospital and we have fewer staff to treat these patients. ... Throughout each surge, that's been one of our biggest issues.
"Our health care systems are overwhelmed. If you have ignored our pleas for help before, now is the time to take action. We need everyone's help to get through this fourth surge."
The health system's weekend ad (left) says: "Our ability to care for you and your family is at risk. So please: Wear a mask. Get vaccinated. Get a booster."
The newspaper appeal comes three weeks after a similar one in Cleveland by six hospitals there and four weeks after nine Minnesota providers bought a Sunday page in the Minneapolis Star Tribune headlined: "We're hearbroken. We're overwhelmed."
The local hospital network also announced Thursday:
To assist Beaumont staff during the ongoing fourth surge, [a] U.S. Department of Defense medical team will now spend an additional 30 days at Beaumont Hospital, Dearborn.
The original 30-day medical mission was scheduled to end on Jan. 2. With the current ongoing Covid surge, the mission was extended
The military support consists of six registered nurses assigned to the Emergency Center, eight registered nurses working in intensive care units, two respiratory therapists and two advanced practice providers.
Beaumont's patient care and staff strains reflect a national Omicron surge that's expected to crest this month.
"The United States is likely to document more Covid-19 cases in January than in any previous month of the pandemic, but a smaller fraction of those cases will require hospitalization," Dr. Jeffrey Shaman, a Columbia University epidemiologist and infectious disease modeler, writes Thursday in a New York Times commentary.
Our projections depict a rapid surge of cases nationally that peaks at record high numbers during the first one to three weeks of January.
... The long-term implications of Omicron remain unknown, but in the near term, everyone should expect an intense month of disruption. Still, the familiar advice remains the best: Get vaccinated, get booster shots and prepare for a bumpy January.
Video news conference Thursday: