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Michigan NewsPatients concerned: Respiratory illness cases in Michigan on the rise, average wait...

Patients concerned: Respiratory illness cases in Michigan on the rise, average wait time for care raises to 4 hours

Michigan – Hundreds of thousands of residents across the country are facing some kind of respiratory illness this winter season, and these numbers are only going up in some states, especially in the weeks after the holiday period. In Michigan, the trend is similar, as a growing number of Michiganders are seeking care at emergency rooms, urgent care centers, and clinics around the state.

The influx of patients heavily impacts hospitals and healthcare providers, and, in some areas, waiting times are much longer than usual as providers fail to deliver fast and proper service.

During this time of year, it’s normal to see more sick patients because of flu, COVID, and RSV. After the holidays, these illnesses can spread really fast. That’s why hospitals like Corewell Health are under more pressure these days.

Dr. CJ Gibson, who is in charge of medical stuff at Corewell in West Michigan, mentioned that things are tough, but not as bad as the worst times of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, things are getting busy enough that the hospital bosses might have to think about changing the way they treat patients in some parts.

“As you can imagine, having that many people in the hospital at once, it makes it more difficult to do the things that you’re usually doing, like surgeries and procedures and things like that,” he said to mLive. “It’s not at the level of the pandemic but it’s certainly not as comfortable as we would like it to be.”

Walk-in clinics wait time is now 2-3 hours, emergency rooms wait time goes up to 4 hours

According to Gibson, the waiting times in walk-in clinics is 2-3 hours for care, while for emergency rooms, patients in most cases have to wait 3-4 hours to get proper care. Although times vary from clinic to clinic and the severity of symptoms, these waiting times prove that Michigan healthcare system still struggled with employees.

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“We may see you very quickly but in terms of getting your work up or getting admitted to the hospital or getting discharged, it can take several hours to complete that process,” Gibson continued. “We are more than prepared to be able to help and take care of our patients. However, this amount of volume, this mass, does put strains on our hospital system.”

COVID-19 cases in Michigan are also on the rise

Starting January 1st, in Michigan, the number of people going to the hospital each week for COVID has risen to 14.6 per 100,000 people. Back in October, it was only 4.8, and in November, it was 10.5. We haven’t seen numbers this high since February 2022.

Also, 5.7% of hospital beds are now filled with COVID patients, which is a lot more than the less than 1% during most of summer. This is the highest it’s been since December 2022.

In the Corewell hospitals in West and Southeast Michigan, there’s been about a 20% increase in COVID patients recently. The number of flu and RSV patients is going up too.

If you have an emergency, you should still go to urgent care or the emergency room. But for non-emergencies, Dr. Gibson says to choose the right place for your symptoms. For example, if you sprain your ankle, it’s better to see your regular doctor or go to urgent care instead of the emergency room.

Influenza, COVID and RSV cases on the rise in Michigan. Patients concerned as hospitals fail to deliver fast and proper service.

To avoid getting sick this cold and flu season, Dr. Gibson advises staying up to date with your vaccines, washing your hands often, staying away from sick people, drinking plenty of water, and getting enough sleep.

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Right now, Corewell Health doesn’t plan to bring back the visitor rules they had during the big COVID outbreaks in 2020 and 2021, according to what the officials said on Monday.