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Some northern Michigan hospitals prep for coronavirus transfers from downstate

Taylor Wizner
Interlochen Public Radio

  Last week, hospitals in the Detroit area reported being at full capacity.


The state asked hospitals to make room for any COVID-19 patients that might need to be transferred. It suggested hospitals to increase the number of Intensive Care Unit beds to 10 to 20 percent and prepare an emergency plan.



Now, some northern Michigan hospitals are making room for possible transfers.


McLaren Northern Michigan says a portion of its Intensive Care Unit beds are available. The hospital says the number of reserved beds fluctuates based on how many people in the region the hospital might need to care for, how many COVID-19 patients are being treated and the number of other patients are in the hospital.


Munson Helathcare says right now it has no plans to take patients from outside the region at any of its hospitals.


Experts say hospitals determine how many transfers they can accept based on a number of factors including the amount of equipment, PPE and staff available.


Geography plays a role patient transfers. For patients with severe symptoms, hospitals say it doesn’t make sense to risk time away from the medical care to send them north.

The state has an up-to-date database that categorizes the amount of equipment, the number of ventilators and ICU beds for each hospital.


That is a source for hospitals should they become overwhelmed. Some hospitals already have working relationships with other regional hospitals, so for the sake of ease and time, transfers will likely happen within the region first.


Taylor Wizner covers heath, tourism and other news for Interlochen Public Radio.