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You can now see how many COVID-19 patients are in each hospital system

Emergency room hospital

You can now look up the number of COVID-19 patients at a particular hospital or health system, as well as the total capacity of beds being used, and the number of days of personal protective equipment left on hand.

The data were released by the state health department and the Michigan Health and Hospital Association (MHA) on Thursday afternoon, after reporters had been requesting this and additional data from officials. It comes from the state’s EMResource data system, which all hospitals are required to use. The data are updated twice weekly, and are collected and checked 48 hours prior to posting.

As of April 23, there are now 3,639 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Michigan. And 1,155 of them are in intensive care. The majority of those patients are in southeast Michigan, the part of the state hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic. Beaumont Health has the most, with 701 COVID-19 patients and 57% of beds being used. Henry Ford Health System has 615 patients, and is at 66% capacity. Ascension has 556 patients, with 64% of beds filled.

Meanwhile, Trinity (a multi-state health system based in Livonia) is at the highest occupancy rate, with 89% of its beds being used - even though it has 443 COVID-19 patients. Hurley Medical Center in Flint is at 87% capacity, with only 61 COVID-19 patients. That’s followed closely by the Detroit Medical Center health system (81% capacity with 342 patients.)

Notably, UP Health has the fourth highest occupancy rates, with 72% of available beds filled, despite just 5 COVID patients - all of whom are in the ICU. 

What’s missing

What’s conspicuously missing, however, is any information about patient outcomes by health system - including deaths. When MHA was asked during a virtual press conference why that information wasn’t being included, Vice President of Data Policy and Analytics Jim Lee said they were “evaluating” it.

“We’re evaluating all the different data points that we’re currently collecting through the state system, and we can make that determination at a later date. Obviously, deaths are being reported by a region and state perspective on the state’s website, as well,” he said. 

Also missing: the number of health care workers who’ve been sickened by COVID-19 at each health system.

“That’s not something we’re able to do at this point,” said MHA spokesperson Ruthanne Sudderth. “The MHA simply doesn’t have that information at this time. Many hospitals have reported that on their own. But that's a system and a hospital-level decision, because of being a personnel issue as well. So that’s not something we’re able to do right now. And if that changes, we’ll certainly take a look at it.”

The data do not include the number of critical patients a health system or hospital has transferred or received from another location, and the cumulative COVID-19 patient load that a particular health system has had over time. The data do include the number of days’ worth of personal protective equipment (PPE) each hospital system has on hand, but the dashboard doesn’t dive into specific quantities of PPE, noting only that it takes “the number of COVID-19 patients, beds, industry standard usage and conservation techniques” into hand when calculating the number.


Credit Beaumont Health

On Tuesday, Beaumont Health released a chart showing how the number of COVID-19 patients had changed at each health system over the last several weeks - but the names of all the health systems had been removed, except for Beaumont’s.

The data released Thursday also only offer a snapshot in time, so you can only see what the bed occupancy rate is at the current moment, as opposed to during the surge. Back in early April, Beaumont CEO John Fox publicly complained that without daily updates about the number of COVID-19 patients in each health system, there was no way to know whether the load was being fairly distributed across southeast Michigan health systems.

“We know there’s obviously a very strong interest in this data, and there will be going forward,” Sudderth said. “So we’ll continue to look for opportunities to provide additional information. We absolutely support transparency in this and all efforts, and we’ll continue to work with the state to get everyone the most accurate and meaningful information possible.”

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health. She was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her abortion coverage.
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