Munson Healthcare Prepares for Winter Season, Possible Second Wave of Coronavirus Infections

Munson Healthcare is preparing for a difficult next few months as cold and flu season coincides with a rise in coronavirus infections.

The hospital system is busy preparing and stocking up right now to fight a possible second wave.

Although supply chains have been disrupted, they have enough personal protective equipment and testing kits to support current needs for the next few months.

“Now, we may order 1,000 N95 [masks] and get 500, or they’re a week late, or we just don’t get them,” said Dr. Christine Nefcy, Munson’s chief medical officer. “We’ve got enough rolling out for our use to last us for months at a time, but if that supply chain got disrupted in the middle of that, that would change pretty quickly.”

Right now, ICU beds in the Traverse City area, considered region 6 by the state, are 77% occupied, while they’re 67% full in the Upper Peninsula.

Dr. Nefcy says the system’s biggest concern is having enough manpower to care for patients if the hospitals get more full.

“It’s not our bed capacity that’s going to be the issue, it’s actually our staffing that’s going to be the issue,” Dr. Nefcy said. “Finding the right number of nurses so we can keep our ICU beds fully….manned….so we have the right number of people to care for those patients.”

If occupancy becomes a problem this winter, Munson has a plan, but not as much flexibility as hospitals downstate.

“We’re prepared, and we are prepared to spread those patients out in hospitals throughout the region,” Dr. Nefcy said. “[Hospitals downstate] have a little more flexibility than we do. Many of our Munson Healthcare hospitals are the sole healthcare providers in their community and our hospitals are not big. We could get overwhelmed very, very quickly.”

Dr. Nefcy said they’re seeing some positive trends right now.

“The patients seem to be less ill, so we have fewer patients in our ICU beds and fewer patients that are ventilated than we did in the spring, we’re not sure why that is,” she said.

She’s asking the community to keep up the good hygiene and wear a mask in the meantime. She also said getting your flu shot is more important than ever.

“The end is in sight, but it’s not next week. We still have a little bit of long haul ahead of us. This is where we need to hunker down, find our inner strength and keep going,” Dr. Nefcy said.

Categories: Coronavirus