DETROIT — A draft policy at Henry Ford Health System has suggested that the worst of COVID-19 in hospitals may be yet to come, while also suggesting that doctors may have to ration potentially life-saving care, in regards to ventilators, at some point.
The information was revealed by BridgeMI.com, which later updated its story to make clear that the letter is a draft and was not sent to families or patients. It was addressed to families and patients for possible sending, but not sent to them.
An update on Friday from Henry Ford Health System added that the hospital system had not seen any instances of such a scenario, although it is preparing for a potentially large increase in patients.
“We’ve by no means exhausted all of our resources or all of our options to take care of the patients,” said Dr. Adnan Munkarah, Henry Ford’s executive vice president and chief medical officer.
A ventilator (also known as a mechanical ventilator, respirator, or breathing machine) is a life support treatment that helps people breathe when they can’t do so on their own, according to the American Thoracic Society. The machines work to get oxygen into the lungs and the body and help to expel carbon dioxide through the lungs.
Most hospitals in the U.S. had enough ventilators to serve their patients before the pandemic according to Dr. Albert Rizzo, chief medical officer at the American Lung Association. But now, many are fearing they will run out soon as the virus begins to reach its peak in the United States.
“This is a disease that people are dying of because of respiratory illness. They’re not dying because their heart fails, they’re not dying of shock,” Rizzo said according to NBC News.
The vast majority of those infected by coronavirus do not need hospitalization, according to World Health Organization Director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who said that 80 percent of those who got the coronavirus could be treated at home based on recent study results.
Of the 20 percent who required hospitalization, 13.8 percent had a serious case including respiratory problems, while 6.1 percent, mostly the elderly with underlying conditions, had critical illness including respiratory failure.
General Motors has since been ordered by President Trump to begin making ventilators for hospitals that may have shortages in the coming weeks. He did so after reluctantly invoking the Defense Production Act following criticism that he and U.S. manufacturers were not doing enough to tackle the shortage.
Trump added that he expected the United States would make or obtain 100,000 additional ventilators within the next 100 days according to Reuters.
Beaumont Hospital in Wayne Closes ER to prepare for expected COVID-19 patients
The emergency room, obstetrical services and curbside COVID-19 testing will halt at Beaumont Hospital in Wayne as the facility seeks to become an overflow center for cases of the disease in the region, according to Mark Geary, a spokesman for Beaumont.
The hospital will now take COVID-19 patients when other Beaumont Health system hospitals don’t have the capacity for them, according to a Thursday evening press release.
Beaumont’s system had been caring for 650 patients who tested positive for COVID-19 as of 4 p.m. Thursday according to the release.
To accommodate the change, hospital officials will work to move as many patients as possible from the Wayne location.
“We will safely discharge as many patients as we can within the next 24 to 48 hours to the appropriate level of care and cohort our remaining non-COVID-19 patients,” he said.
People who need emergency care, including for COVID-19, are asked to go to the nearby Beaumont Canton Emergency Center at 7300 N. Canton Center Road, or to another hospital.
Obstetrical services patients will be contacted individually about what to do next and will receive care at Beaumont Hospital in Dearborn officials said.
As of 3 p.m. Saturday Michigan had 92 deaths attributed to the virus, and the average age of those who died was 68.4 years.