No Field Hospitals Yet for Omicron Surge In Part Due to Staffing Issues, Whitmer Says

Whitmer discusses the state’s response to the omicron surge and her priorities for 2022.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer points to staffing problems as one major reason why the state has not begun to organize and build large field hospitals to help relieve the burden on Michigan’s overloaded health care systems.

“Every one of us is at risk if our hospital systems are at breaking points, like we know Beaumont is at the moment.” –Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

Whitmer made the comments on Friday during an appearance on WDET’s Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson.

Listen: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer talks about the state’s response to the omicron surge and policy priorities in 2022.

“I can tell you that that conversation has never stopped,” says Whitmer, referring to considerations about building field hospitals, a step the state took early in the pandemic but only treated a relatively small number of patients.

“That has always been a possibility and something that we have kept on the back burner,” she continues. “One of the issues with a field hospital is staffing. And we know that just in our traditional hospital settings, we are understaffed as it is. And so that is a complicating factor I share with you as one part of the consideration that we’re continuing to assess. But if and when that becomes clearly necessary, we will move forward with it. But at this juncture, there are a lot of different parts of the analysis that are going to inform whether or not that’s something that we utilize.”

Beaumont Health, Southeast Michigan’s largest health care system, sent out a massive email blast on Thursday night saying, “We’re at a breaking point.”  It urged recipients to get vaccinated, get boosted, wear a mask, practice social distancing and limit gatherings, “stay home if you’re feeling sick,” and “encourage friends and family to take action/get vaccinated/pay attention.”

“Hospitalizations at Beaumont have increased 40% in the past week,” it reads. “62% of our COVID patients are unvaccinated and only 8% have received a booster. More than 430 Beaumont employees are also out with COVID symptoms,” the email read.

“Every one of us is at risk if our hospital systems are at breaking points, like we know Beaumont is at the moment,” Whitmer says.

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