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Grand Rapids Mercy Health Saint Mary's struggles with daily cases and staff on leave due to COVID

Mercy Health Saint Mary's
Mercy Health Saint Mary's
Mercy Health Saint Mary's

Situation described as "unprecedented.”

Biersack says there’s an urgency for preventing infection; diet and exercise, sleep, preventative care, social distancing, wearing a mask in public, limiting nonessential gatherings, vaccination and boosting if eligible are essential to limiting COVID spread.

Grand Rapids’ Mercy Health Saint Mary provided a COVID update Wednesday.

The virtual briefing wasted no time getting to the point.

“I’ll start by once again characterizing the situation in Michigan and Kent County as unprecedented.”

Dr. Matt Biersack, President and Chief Medical Officer at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s explains the highly contagious Omicron variant is the reason.

“We’re seeing daily case averages in excess of 1,000, a daily death rate in excess of four, and case positivity now stands at around 40%. We’re seeing similar values for case positivity within our own Mercy Health labs.”

And the medical staff is not immune.

“Our biggest concern at this point is our ability to keep our workforce healthy. We have just under 200 Mercy Health colleagues here in Grand Rapids who are on leave due to COVID. This is a number and a rate we have not seen previously.”

That impacts the acute care system with delays to ambulance transport and long emergency room wait times. Critical patient transfers are delayed. Surgeries have been postponed prior to Thanksgiving leading to needless suffering.

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.