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Beaumont hospital in Wayne to reopen as surge never came

Paulette Parker
Michigan Radio

Several Downriver communities are in for some medical relief as Beaumont Hospital in Wayne is scheduled to reopen, possibly as early as Monday, after being temporarily sidelined amid the COVID-19 crisis, according to multiple sources. 

The Beaumont Wayne campus was designated a reserve COVID-19 hospital last month as the state's largest hospital system braced for a surge. With the Royal Oak, Troy and Grosse Pointe hospitals getting slammed, the Wayne campus was put in a holding pattern in case beds ran out.

But the surge never came. So Beaumont is moving to turn the campus back into what it was: a full-service hospital with the only Level III trauma center in the region.

Beaumont has declined to offer specifics on the re-opening of the Wayne campus, saying only: "As we have said from the beginning, we are going to reopen our Beaumont Hospital, Wayne campus. We are still working through the details and timing and we will share more information as soon as we can."

According to sources familiar with Beaumont's Wayne transition, the hospital could reopen as early as Monday, or even the following week, and that staff is currently being notified about moving back to Wayne. When the hospital was sidelined, many employees were transferred elsewhere and some were temporarily laid off. It is not known if all employees will return to their jobs. 

With the state's approval, Beaumont Wayne was to serve as a reserve hospital in case there was a surge in COVID-19 cases, and the hospital needed a place that was ready to treat the flood of new patients. But the surge turned out to be more moderate, with state health officials crediting social distancing, the stay-at-home order and other factors for that progress.  

The planned reopening of Beaumont Hospital, Wayne comes against the backdrop of growing demands for the state to allow hospitals to resume routine medical procedures. Among those making such pleas is Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, who on Thursday said he plans to spend the next week lobbying Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and hospital officials to provide more medical services.

Duggan cited figures showing that the number COVID-19 deaths has fallen dramatically from just a few weeks ago, from nearly 300 deaths a week in early April to 92 by months end.

Duggan said the success of efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus has resulted in 700 empty hospital beds in Detroit, and 100 empty ICU beds.

"The one thing I’m really calling on our governor and our hospitals and our doctors to work on is opening up the rest of the medical system," Duggan said. "Having 700 empty beds is something we never saw in this city in a normal year."

The state of Michigan appears to be turning a corner in its battle against the novel coronavirus, which to date has infected more than 41,300 people and killed more than 3,700 in our state.

Despite the dire statistics, though, Michigan is flattening the curve in its fight against the virus.  Michigan has gone from seeing a record 1,953 new cases a day to 432 cases in a 24-hour period as reported on Monday, though that number jumped to 980 on Thursday. Deaths have also gone down from a high of 205 in one day on April 10 to the low of 92 recorded on Monday. 

Tresa Baldas: tbaldas@freepress.com

Michigan Radio, Bridge Magazine, and the Detroit Free Press are teaming up to report on Michigan hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic. We will be sharing accounts of the challenges doctors, nurses and other hospital personnel face as they work to treat patients and save lives. If you work in a Michigan hospital, we would love to hear from you. You can contact Robin Erb rerb@bridgemi.com at Bridge, Kristen Jordan Shamus kshamus@freepress.com at the Free Press, or Kate Wells katwells@umich.edu at Michigan Radio.

Michigan Radio listeners, readers, and reporters are rising to the challenge every day. If you can, please support essential journalism during this crisis.

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