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    Michigan hospitals operating ‘at near capacity levels,’ official says


    Lansing — Michigan hospital leaders urged residents on Thursday to get vaccinated against COVID-19 before the situation in the state becomes “dire” and to help the health care system avoid reaching a “tipping point.”

    The pressing problem facing hospitals is not the availability of beds but staffing, said Brian Peters, CEO of the Michigan Health and Hospital Association. He described hospital staffing as “stressed to a level that we have not seen previously,”

    “You can have all of the beds in the world,” Peters said. “If you don’t have an adequate number of nurses, physicians, other health care providers to staff those beds, that’s where we run into to a problem.

    “What’s different now as opposed to the start of the pandemic is that we have lost a number of health care employees. Many have chosen early retirement. … Many have left the hospital or health care setting altogether.”

    The comments came 18 months into the state’s fight against COVID-19 and as the number of hospitalizations linked to the virus has been increasing in Michigan for more than five weeks.

    As of Wednesday, the state reported 1,293 adults in hospitals with confirmed cases of COVID-19, the highest tally since May. While the total remains well below past peaks — the number exceeded 4,000 in the spring — hospital officials are concerned about the trajectory and a combination of factors, including the looming flu season, the start of in-person classes at schools and large numbers of patients seeking care with other issues.

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