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Munson Healthcare Moves to Pandemic Level Red Status

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Munson Healthcare announced Tuesday that they are activating protocols for Pandemic Response Level Red for the first time in the organization’s history.

They say while COVID-19 numbers are decreasing across the U.S., positivity rates and hospitalizations continue to steadily increase while northern Michigan’s positivity rate is even higher than Michigan’s overall rate.

According to Munson Healthcare Chief Medical Officer Christine Nefcy, M.D., FAAP, Pandemic Level Red indicates that the current coronavirus positivity rate across northern Michigan communities is putting the health system at risk of overcapacity.

“The number of patients we are seeing in our hospitals right now are close to those we experienced during the worst of the pandemic last spring,” said Dr. Nefcy. “We’ve been closely monitoring this prolonged surge and preparing for this contingency to ensure we continue to serve the needs of our communities.”

“There has clearly been geographic pockets throughout this pandemic that have had these big surges and declines, and it’s not always clear why this area would be affected more than the other,” said Dr. Christopher Ledtke, an Infectious Disease specialist for Munson Healthcare.  “One thing that is clear that we’re seeing is the Delta variant is obviously much more transmissible and the vaccine, although it significantly reduces your risk of getting infected or hospitalized, it’s not as effective against the Delta variant and it’s also clear that vaccine waning immunity is legitimate. Even though our vaccination rate is high, we still have breakthroughs and some of those breakthroughs get sick.”

  • Pandemic Level Red is the highest of Munson Healthcare’s five-stage pandemic preparedness plan under which:
  • Pandemic-related care is prioritized above all other issues which provides the flexibility to pause some services and assess non-urgent surgeries on a case-by-case basis to shift staff and resources to where they are needed most.
  • Primary care practices, outpatient clinics and labs remain open and virtual visits are available. However, hours of operation may be impacted, and certain services may be scaled back as resources are shifted and adjusted according to need.
  • The current visitation policy remains in effect but is subject to change depending on community positivity rate and patient volume in health system hospitals.

Munson Healthcare states they are committed to aligning resources and services to continue to deliver high-quality care as the Delta variant surges.

They say patients will be notified directly by their healthcare provider if a procedure needs to be rescheduled. Lab and clinic hours are kept up-to-date on

“Now, more than ever, we need our communities to band together with us by getting vaccinated, wearing a mask in public, practicing proper hand hygiene, and avoiding large gatherings whenever possible,” said Dr. Nefcy. “The support for our healthcare heroes during the pandemic has been overwhelming and every one of us can make an impact to protect our friends, neighbors, loved ones and community.”

Munson Healthcare also discussed their employee vaccine mandate after the federal government extended the deadline for companies to January 2022.

They are currently at 80% mark for staff.

“We are accelerating our timeline to December 5th that all healthcare workers have at least their first dose of Pfizer or Moderna or J&J,” said Dianne Michalek, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer. “We will be doing everything we can to make it as easy as possible for all our healthcare workers.”

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