GRAND RAPIDS — Spectrum Health has moved beds and equipment into Grand Valley State University’s Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences in preparation for a surge in patients from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The GVSU facility, across Michigan Street from Spectrum Health’s Butterworth Hospital campus in downtown Grand Rapids, has space for up to 250 beds. The added capacity, if needed, would go for non-COVID-19 patients and low-acuity patients. COVID-19 patients would remain in the hospital.
Spectrum Health decided to prepare the space, available under a standing partnership with GVSU, after executives studied models in other states that are near or over capacity with COVID-19 patients. They concluded “that the current capacity that we have within our hospitals will not be enough,” said Spectrum Health President and CEO Tina Freese Decker.
“When we’re at that capacity, even after using very innovative ways within the four walls of hospitals throughout our region, we will need to expand to other sites,” Freese Decker said. “We’ve had this partnership and plan in place for over 10 years, (and) never thought that there would be a chance that we would really be thinking about do we put this into place. So on one hand, I’m extremely grateful, (but) I’m saddened that this could be the next step.”
In Grand Rapids, Spectrum Health has 1,170 licensed beds between the Butterworth Hospital campus and the Blodgett Hospital campus in East Grand Rapids.
Freese Decker and GVSU President Philomena Mantella were joined Thursday on a tour of the Cook-DeVos Center by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who praised the partnership with Spectrum Health and their “all hands on deck” strategy.
“This is a challenge unlike anything we have ever seen before. We have incredible talent around the state in our health care systems and our communities,” Whitmer said. “This partnership is something that is unique and needs to be replicated to become the rule, not the exception.”
Spectrum Health on Thursday also closed its walk-in medical clinics and urged patients to use its telemedicine service.
Some hospitals in the Detroit area said this week they are reaching capacity from patients with COVID-19. Gov. Whitmer asked hospitals across the state to help out by making 10 percent of their beds available.
Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids said Thursday it would help to “decompress” hospitals in Southeast Michigan by admitting patients from rehabilitation units there to free up beds, and by accepting acute care medical and surgical patients who need rehab.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to clarify that the GVSU facility would be used as low-acuity patient overflow for Butterworth Hospital, which will house all COVID-19 patients.