Ambulances are breaking down across some Michigan cities and as the number of patients coming in as well as the severity of their illnesses continues to climb, many area hospitals are struggling to keep up.
Patients with symptoms ranging from dehydration to fever to obesity to even depression are finding themselves stuck in the emergency room on a daily basis.
Fox 2 reports that the unprecedented number of patients, coupled with few beds available at some area hospitals is putting a strain on the mental and physical health of many area families.
Hospital conditions have been reported as poor at the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor, the not-for-profit system’s emergency department is dealing with a steady stream of patients that can take upwards of nine hours to recover from.
Some parents have told the network their children have not slept since their arrival and are simply trying to wait out the chaos and will return only when they’re physically ready.
The sheer numbers of patients and the severe congestion that frequently occurs, can lead to pressure on emergency rooms and early readmissions at some areas of the hospital system, making the system simply unsustainable, according to the network.
As of now, the University of Michigan Medical Center has no plans to add beds in the facility, not to mention additional hospital beds are required to address the larger number of patients filling emergency rooms across the city.
Duluth.org, the website for the Green Bay-based medical center, indicates that at the University of Michigan Medical Center “hospitals, average room occupancy rates remain high, even with a 50-percent decrease in patients.”
The vast number of patients and their increasing need for medications and hospital services is pushing staff to their limits.
“We’re at capacity, our beds are full. If we get more we’ll take them, but everyone’s getting sick. It’s like a tidal wave,” said Belinda Novak, president of United Health Care, a United Healthcare company.
This excessive increase in emergency room patients is happening even as more patients are being seen at physicians’ offices. To put this into perspective, some workers have suggested that emergency rooms now are being overwhelmed as the average stay at doctors’ offices is only about an hour.
Still, many area doctors’ offices are not receiving enough patients to provide needed care for their patients.
And these doctors’ offices have not been immune from emergency room visits. The average patients visit to each of the United Health Care physicians’ offices have increased by nearly four percent, putting them at just under 64,000 patients each month.
“It certainly concerns me, but our staff is committed to managing any upticks in volume without compromising patient safety,” said the Michigan-based medical system’s medical director, Dr. Timothy Huber.
As of now, eight general hospitals in the region are experiencing a difficult situation as they do not have the resources to address the current patient needs.
Each of these hospitals has someone responsible for making sure their hospital system has the tools needed to meet the growing demand.
Fox 2 reports that Dr. Linda Ruddock, a group president, will oversee the urgent care system, while Dr. Steven Wegner will direct the hospital and emergency department.
Some of the hospitals that will not be joining the United Healthcare’s system are wondering if and when they will be required to upgrade their facilities.
This increased demand is forcing area residents and health care professionals to do what they can to aid area hospitals with necessary equipment.
Fox 2 reports that Community Care of Michigan, a United Health Care company, is purchasing an Intuitive Surgical robotic arm system that will be sold to other area hospitals who can’t afford it.
Although most of these hospital systems do have the current access to new equipment, for those experiencing more acute issues, help is only hours away.
On twitter, another Michigan hospital, the Grand Rapids Medical Center, will be giving away free disposable breathing masks that they have, as a part of their “H2LVx” program. The masks, which can be used to help air pressure in closed rooms and used with oxygen, will be distributed to friends and family of patients who are involved in drug-induced respiratory distress.
“From the respirator to the mask, these are things we take for granted and people have their own medical conditions. That’s been our process,” said Robert Bacala, a PR Manager for the medical center.
The “H2LVx” program will soon be able to provide 3,500 masks and the hospital is accepting names and messages on Twitter regarding what kinds of equipment or supplies they need to help their patients.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.