Cross-training staff positioned Metro Health - University of Michigan Health for COVID second wave

Nov 19, 2020

Metro Health University of Michigan Health
Credit Metro Health University of Michigan Health

When the pandemic began earlier this year, Grand Rapids’ Metro Health – University of Michigan Health prepared for the predicted fall, second wave of COVID cases.

“We’ve been able to surge up our ICU capacity because a lot more of these people end up in the ICUs. We’ve tripled the size of our ICU and got a lot of nurses cross-trained.”

Steve Polega is Chief Nursing Officer at Metro Health – University of Michigan Health.

“We started in January and February with a 13 bed ICU and we have the capability today to surge up to 58 ICU patients. That would be a major strain on the system because to get to that amount of nurses cross-trained is something we’ve been working on all along.”

Seven-hundred nurses participating in a surge staffing plan that is now being challenged.

“Now our staff are starting to get sick and our staff are starting to test positive for COVID. So, we have anywhere from oh, 20 to 40 staff members off every day with COVID-like symptoms.”

Making it harder to care for the surges of patients.

“When we’re that short and nurses start to get sick, the nurses that are here have to take higher assignments. So, they’re sometimes seeing sicker patients and they’re taking more of them and that’s part of our surge plan.”

Polega says Metro is actively working to secure more support, but the competition for frontline help is fierce, everywhere.