McLaren Macomb Hospital in Mt. Clemens has reached 100 percent bed occupancy capacity with all 68 rooms in its emergency department full of patients either waiting to be admitted or undergoing treatment.
It is one of three hospitals in Macomb County at or exceeding inpatient capacity, according to data provided by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services on April 12.
Statewide, four hospitals have reached 100 percent bed capacity — McLaren Macomb, Ascension Macomb-Oakland in Warren, Ascension St. Joseph Hospital in Tawas City and Ascension Standish Hospital — and 15 more have exceeded 90 percent, said MDHHS.
Two nurses at McLaren Macomb told Crain's that patients coming into the hospital are a mix of people with COVID-19 and the traditional emergency complaints that include stroke and trauma.
Terri Dagg-Barr, an ER nurse at McLaren Macomb and chief steward of the OPEIU Local 40, said the hospital has been filling up the past two weeks, but the last few days the ER has been regularly holding 40 patients waiting for an inpatient bed.
"You walk in and it is just insanity. Every room is full. The waiting rooms are always full. You see wheelchair after wheelchair," Dagg-Barr said. "It takes eight to nine hours to find an ER bed and people are waiting two days for a hospital bed."
Dagg-Barr said nurses and technicians are getting exhausted. "It is a constant struggle to treat patients. You look down the hall and see more and more patients," she said. "People are just sicker. Everyone took a break from seeing their doctors and now they are coming into the ER."
Despite the latest increase in COVID-related hospitalizations, McLaren Macomb hospital has not restricted admissions for either COVID or non-COVID patients due to capacity limitations, a spokesman said in an emailed statement.
"There are indeed times when, based on daily admissions and discharges, we can approach high capacity percentages," the hospital said in the statement. "However, we admit and discharge dozens of patients every day and have, over the course of this pandemic, developed effective processes for managing those patient loads.
"Of course, this can change quickly as we have seen significant volume fluctuations throughout this ongoing pandemic. We monitor our patient volumes daily and implement surge plans as necessary to address increased volume demands."
Even as the state surpasses 5 million vaccine doses, several hospitals have limited visitation, delayed some elective surgeries and procedures and expanded ICU capacity and medical floors for COVID-19 patients.
Other hospitals that are part of Henry Ford Health System, Beaumont Health and Detroit Medical Center are also nearing maximum capacity.
Henry Ford Macomb Hospital in Clinton Township is at 98 percent, Beaumont Hospital Wayne at 94 percent, Detroit Receiving Hospital at 99 percent and Beaumont Hospital Farmington Hills at 91 percent.
More than 18 percent of Michigan hospital beds hold COVID-19 patients, up from 15 percent last week. Some 31 percent of ICU beds are full of COVID-19 confirmed or suspected patients, the state said.
Dr. Mark Hamed, director of emergency and hospital medicine at McKenzie Health System in Sandusky, said multiple facilities in the Thumb are also seeing an increase of patients with COVID-19 symptoms. McKenzie has outpatient medical centers in Port Sanilac, Croswell, Peck and Sandusky.
"We're seeing a lot of a lot of patients come to the ER now with symptoms of COVID. They either test positive with COVID, or they were previously COVID positive weeks ago and coming in with more symptoms," Hamed said.
"They are in the quote, unquote, recovered phase. They are out of the acute illness, and two to five weeks later they are having difficulty breathing, fatigue," he said. "Their oxygen levels are on the lower side, 80 to 85 percent. So those patients require inpatient hospitalization."
Hamed said the range of patients are in their 40s to 60s.
"A few older ones. One was 90 and lived in a nursing home and was not vaccinated," Hamed said. "Most of the ones coming in are unvaccinated."