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Officials say Kalamazoo's health care system is in "crisis"

John McNeill

Kalamazoo's health care system is in crisis because of the lingering COVID-19 pandemic. Area medical and health officials held a news conference Tuesday, December 7, urging people to get vaccinated.

They say the latest surge has stressed capacity and staff to the breaking point. Dr. Scott Gibson is the director of Bronson Healthcare's emergency room. He says all patients face treatment delays, transfers, and a greater risk of negative outcomes.

"This pandemic is now taking down our ability to provide standards of care that we've accepted over the past ten to 20 years," Gibson says. "And you tell that all of us got a little emotional up there. A few of us had some hitches in our voice. It wasn't just that people are dying; it was that our health care system's stability is threatened."

Gibson says burnout, risks of infection, and a lack of community support have decimated the hospital's staff.

"And my heart goes out to them. My appreciation goes out to them. Everybody in the community ought to give them a pat on the back. We were pretty good at that at the beginning of this, because it felt like a sprint, and everybody felt like they could take it. But it's not a sprint anymore; it's a slog."

Bronson Healthcare pediatrician Aaron Lane-Davies says COVID admissions at his hospital are as high as they've ever been.

"Last week, 23 people, 23 members of our community, died from COVID in Bronson hospitals. And that's the highest number of deaths in the Bronson system since the beginning of the pandemic."

Officials at Ascension Borgess Hospital in Kalamazoo also say its emergency room patients are suffering delays in being admitted, increasing their risk of complications because of the pandemic.

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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