Beaumont Eyes Oakland University As COVID-19 Cases Rise

The hospital system is not at capacity, but administrators are making arrangements to convert facilities, possibly including Oakland University, to house patients.

Beaumont Health officials say its hospitals are not yet at capacity, but preparations are underway for that scenario.

Hospitals nationwide are reporting surges in cases of suspected COVID-19. The eight hospital system received more than 500 coronavirus patients in the last two weeks, with 200 suspected cases incoming as the time of publishing.

“We can’t have people drive by a hospital that [has more] capacity, and then pull up into the [emergency room] of a hospital that’s super saturated.” — John Fox, Beaumont, President and CEO

Beaumont says it’s actively shuffling resources to treat more COVID patients. That includes converting some of its operating rooms to intensive care units. But one issue they’ve encountered is with “load balancing” between hospitals.

“We can’t have people drive by a hospital that may have 10 percent capacity more for ventilators or other things COVID patients need,” said John Fox, Beaumont President and CEO. “And then pull up into the [emergency room] of a hospital that’s super saturated.” 

Fox says Beaumont is talking with Oakland University about potentially opening dorm rooms to house COVID patients if hospitals run out of room.

“That could have the ability to provide food, laundry, they’ve got beds in them,” Fox said. “The tricky part is providing patient care in those spaces.”

Fox says the potential of housing coronavirus patients in hotels or college dorm rooms would present a number of logistical challenges. He says it could be hard to provide the necessary medical equipment on site, and medical staff is already spread thin.

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