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COVID-19 Officially Arrives In Kalamazoo

Andy Robins

The coronavirus pandemic has officially arrived in Kalamazoo County. The county's Department of Health and Community Services said on Monday, March 23, that tests have confirmed three cases of the disease in the county. Details of those cases have not been released. County officials plan to hold a video news conference at 1 p.m.

This story was updated at 9:10 a.m., March 23.

On Sunday, March 22, a patient with the coronavirus from Calhoun County was been admitted to Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo. Bronson's chief clinical officer, Dr. Martinson Arnan, says it's been preparing to care for people with COVID-19 for weeks.

"We have made connections with clinicians and leaders all across the United States, people from the State of Washington, from California, from New York, trying understand and prepare ourselves for this patient and perhaps others that would follow."

The patient was transferred to Bronson from the Advantage Living Center in Battle Creek. No other cases of COVID-19 have been reported at the senior facility.

Arnan says parts of Bronson Hospital have been set aside to care for coronavirus cases.

"We have created special parts of our hospital where anybody who is a person under investigation or a person gets confirmed to have COVID-19 has a special place in the hospital where we have experts that are very, very familiar with taking care of critically ill patients."

Arnan says has also set up a special command center to deal with the pandemic.

"Thinking about who needs to be tested, how should we test them safely, where can we test them, and where should we place a patient that might have the diagnosis of COVID-19. These are all things that we talked through to make sure that we have contingencies for every possible issue that we might face."

The COVID-19 pandemic has stretched supplies and equipment at many hospitals around the country. But the chief clinical officer at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo says it's taking steps to cope. Arnan says that includes making the best use of things like ventilators and protective clothing.

"Nobody has more than enough of this equipment, but we are being very, very mindful about making sure that we are conserving our use of it so that we can have the ability to safely care for patients as long as possible."

Arnan says Bronson has also ramped up its use of tele-medicine to help people stay at home unless they are really sick.

"We have seen the number of video visits shoot up through the roof, and that's what we want because we want to be able to not compromise the care of patients who need to have an interaction with their provider, but we're trying to do it safely."

Andy Robins has been WMUK's News Director since 1998 and a broadcast journalist for over 24 years. He joined WMUK's staff in 1985. Under his direction, WMUK has received numerous awards for news reporting.
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