By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — The first death as a result of the Coronavirus — also known as COVID-19 — was reported at a Beaumont Health hospital in Wayne County March 18.
A Southgate man in his 50s who tested positive for the virus and had other underlying medical conditions, died in the morning, according to a Beaumont press release.
“Our medical team went to extraordinary efforts to care for this patient and we are deeply saddened by his passing and empathize with his family,” Beaumont Health Chief Nursing Officer Susan Grant said. “Our physicians, nurses and medical staff are all working together to care for COVID-19 patients. During a time like this, we are united to battle this virus.
“Further, we must continue to serve and care for the non-COVID-19 needs of all patients whether they are giving birth, needing essential surgery or requiring lifesaving emergency procedures.”
As of press time, the state’s virus website reported there were two deaths related to COVID-19 and 334 confirmed cases in Michigan with information updated at 2 p.m. daily with a breakdown by county.
Beaumont Health has altered its policies and implemented new tools and a separate website with numbers of patients tested with negative and positive results complied since March 1.
The beaumont.org/coronavirus website shows a total of 2,804 tested and sent home and 593 patients tested and are currently at a Beaumont hospital as of March 19.
“During this public health crisis, we have an obligation to share our COVID-19 data with the many communities we serve,” Beaumont Health CEO John Fox said. “We want to be transparent. The numbers reflect the gravity of the pandemic and our staff’s dedicated actions to detect and treat patients at all eight of our hospitals.”
Coronavirus testing has been added on site by staff on a limited basis. All eight Beaumont hospital also have added curbside screening. Curbside screenings are being conducted at Beaumont, Dearborn, from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m.
“This limited screening is only for patients who have symptoms consistent with COVID-19,” said Dr. Nicholas Gilpin, Beaumont Health’s medical director of Infection Prevention and Epidemiology. “If medical staff determines a patient needs to be tested, a specimen will be collected. Please try to call ahead to Beaumont’s COVID-19 hotline (800-592-4784) or your physician’s office before attempting to get screened.
“Testing is not necessary for everyone. Some people can develop COVID-19 and not need to be officially tested since the treatment for less severe cases does not change. Most people who become infected with the disease will not experience complications and will recover. They will just need to go home, rest and take over the counter pain medication.”
As of press time, Beaumont announced it had 86 patients with confirmed COVID-19 currently in a Beaumont facility, and 164 patients confirmed and sent home. It had 184 patients in a facility who tested negative for COVID-19, and 596 patients who tested negative and released.
Beaumont also had 323 hospitalized patients with COVID-19 tests pending, and 2,044 patients with tests pending who were released.
“Everyone who has COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath) needs to be tested,” the Beaumont website said. “Beaumont recommends talking with a physician or nurse on the phone prior to seeking testing. If a patient is experiencing life-threatening symptoms, dial 911 or go to your nearest emergency center.”
Beaumont Health’s list of prevention measures includes washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; using hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol; avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands; avoiding close contact with people who are sick; staying home when you are sick; covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue or your upper arm; and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Beaumont launched a coronavirus hotline — 800-592-4784 — as a community resource for timely, accurate information about the virus symptoms and virtual screening for people who are experiencing symptoms.
Nurses and staff members are answering approximately 5,000 calls a day regarding treating the virus at home, following up with a primary doctor and seeking treatment at an urgent care or emergency center, Beaumont said on its website.
Visitor safety restrictions were put in place at all eight Beaumont hospitals until the transmission of the coronavirus is no longer a threat. Restricted visitation will be in effect for all people, including family, friends and vendors, who enter a Beaumont hospital with some exceptions that can be made for end-of-life situations or other extreme circumstances, according to a Beaumont press release.
One visitor will be permitted for the following exceptions:
• Person who is in serious or critical condition or in hospice care.
• Person at end-of-life (may make request to nurse manager for additional family presence.)
• Person in Emergency Center.
• Mother in labor.
• Children who are 21 years of age or under (parents permitted).
• Adult patients with cognitive, physical, or mental disability requiring help with the provision of medical care or activities of daily living, speaking for the patient, and keeping patient safe.
• Person undergoing surgery.
• Person requiring an outpatient test or procedure where a companion is required for support.
• People who must exercise of power of attorney or court-appointed guardianship for a patient.
• People performing official governmental functions.
• Additional exceptions to these extenuating circumstances will be determined by the hospital’s administrator on call.
“No visitors will be allowed in rooms of patients with pending or positive COVID-19 tests, except under extreme circumstances,” the release said. “Anyone under the age of 16 is restricted from visiting, except under extreme circumstances. Most patients will be allowed two visitors who must remain in the hospital room for the duration of the visit.”
All visitors will be required to be screened for symptoms of respiratory illness: fever, runny nose, cough and shortness of breath, prior to entering one of our hospitals. Individuals with these symptoms will not be permitted to visit patients.
After a visit is complete, visitors must leave the hospital and cannot remain in waiting areas, public areas or cafeterias.
Beaumont has created a physician-led task force to develop a set of guidelines in response to the surgeons general’s recommendation to cancel elective surgeries, Beaumont said.
“Our guidelines emphasize patient safety and quality, while also considering inpatient capacity, patient flow and resources,” the press release said. “The guidelines will change as the situation unfolds. There will also be circumstances that require us to make exceptions and evaluate on a case-by-case basis.
“As of right now, Beaumont will not require surgeons to cancel elective procedures on Monday, March 16. However, depending on the circumstances, we could start canceling non-essential surgeries beginning Tuesday, March 17.”
Regarding certain adult and pediatric outpatient services, Beaumont is ensuring the safety of patients and staff and to conserve hospital resources and move staff to the areas of greatest need.
Beaumont Health has paused offering some adult and pediatric outpatient services, with rare exceptions, until further notice which are physical therapy, occupational therapy, cardiac rehab and pulmonary rehab.
“These closures are effective immediately,” a Beaumont release said. “Patients will be notified of the closures. Staff are working with patients and sharing appropriate home exercise programs to continue their care plan. If patients have questions during the closure, they can leave a message with their clinic, and a staff member will return their call.”
The coronavirus originated in Wuhan, the capital in China’s Hubei province, in December with Chinese health authorities sharing details in January. There currently is no vaccine for coronavirus.
Virus symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath which may appear two to 14 days after exposure, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website.
Also, reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for the confirmed virus cases.
For more information on the coronavirus go to www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV, www.beaumont.org/health-wellness/coronavirus or www.michigan.gov/coronavirus.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])