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Michigan Hospitals Call On Residents To Help “Flatten The Curve”

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Leaders from four hospital systems in central Michigan held a press conference on Thursday calling on residents to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Hospital leaders said they are being hit hard by the most recent surge in COVID-19 cases. They say their hospitals are nearing capacity. 

Stephanie Duggan is the regional president of Ascension St. Mary’s Hospital. She said residents need to reconsider plans to meet for the holidays. 

“There’s nothing more I would rather do than be with all of my family around the same table we’ve been around for fifty years,” she said. “We all need the community’s help and support and it’s ok. 2020 is just a goofy year.”

Matthew Deibel is the emergency medical director with Covenant HealthCare. He said residents need to understand that even without a lockdown - the situation is serious. 

“Since we’re on a trajectory that is not good right now even if everything was to happen right now we still have 2-3 weeks before we see a significant change,” Deibel said. “So we have to do something now because we expect to see those numbers increase.”

Deibel said current COVID cases at Covenant are about 50% higher than during the spring peak. 

Hospital leaders called on residents to help flatten the curve again - by wearing masks and reducing small gatherings, even with people who aren’t showing symptoms. 

The plea comes from hospitals as the state legislature refuses to take up a state-wide mask mandate. Masks are currently required under an order from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services but Governor Whitmer has asked the legislature to take up a mask mandate to help remove politics from basic healthcare advice. 

New House Speaker-elect, Republican Jason Wentworth, has previously called the Governor’s plea a “stunt.”

On Thursday’s call with the press, hospital leaders said they were likely better suited to urge residents to follow mask-wearing and social distancing guidelines. 

Diane Postler-Slattery is the president and CEO of MidMichigan Health. 

“Who better to deliver the message,” she said. “It is much better coming from people who are in the trenches working with COVID day by day. No offense to politicians but I think it is a much stronger message saying we need your help.”

Postler-Slattery said MidMichigan Health saw 20 COVID cases in the spring. Now, the hospital is dealing with over 80. 

Steve Hall is the Health Officer with the Central Michigan District Health Department. He said masks and social distancing are just as important now as they were in the spring. 

“Avoid gatherings. That’s the big thing right now,” he said. “We’re seeing a lot of spread with gatherings with people outside of your immediate family.”

Hall said the current surge far outpaces the spring. 

Across the board hospital leaders, health experts, and Governor Whitmer have asked residents to reconsider holiday plans and to stay home with immediate family instead of meeting with relatives. 

Stephanie Duggan, with St. Mary’s Hospital, reminded residents that if they are tired of COVID-19 hospital workers are even more so. 

“We’re tired,” she said. “We’ve been doing this for nine months. We’re doing everything we can so our plea is that you make certain that you’re doing all the basics.”

And all hospitals are reminding people that anyone with concerning or emergency symptoms should come in to the Emergency room.

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