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Vaccinations and grace: Slotkin tours St. Joseph Mercy Livingston, says facility is struggling under weight of COVID

“Care about each other, care about the community, and get vaccinated.”

What is it that health care workers at hospitals across the 8th Congressional District — including at St. Joseph Mercy Livingston in Howell, which U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin toured on Monday — want their communities to do to help them through this fourth wave of COVID?

Get vaccinated.

In Livingston County, the number of COVID cases increased a whopping 2033% since July 1, 2021, according to a report released this week by the Livingston County Health Department, which calls the current rise in hospitalizations and deaths “alarming.”

Slotkin toured St. Joseph Mercy Livingston and spoke with staffers, accompanied by hospital CEO John O’Malley and Dr. Varsha Moudgal, the hospital’s chief medical officer, as well as an infectious disease expert.

U.S. Rep. gets fit tested for an N-95 mask at St. Joseph Mercy Livingston Hospital.

St. Joseph Mercy Livingston has recently been at 100% capacity, and the pressure continues to bear down on front-line healthcare staff.

“Hospitals,” Slotkin said, “are struggling.”

So, what is the No. 1 thing health care workers need from the community?

Get vaccinated.

“Ninety percent of the critical patients are unvaccinated; even those who are vaccinated and who get breakthrough cases, they are much better off” because they can avoid having to be intubated on a ventilator, or dealing with the “final urgency of care.”

“Get yourself vaccinated,” Slotkin said. “Even if you’re hesitant, because it really will matter, and it will matter to the community here (in the hospital) that is struggling so much to keep up with demand.

“Care about each other, care about the community, and get vaccinated.”

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After touring St. Joseph Mercy Livingston, Slotkin said she saw what looked like situations she’s only seen in war zones, “where you’re having to make decisions on care.”

“There are way too many people in the hospital,” Slotkin said, noting that “terribly ill” patients are lining the hallways because those with COVID are taking up all the rooms.

“The ICU is beyond full (with COVID patients). They’ve cancelled inpatient surgeries, so if you have a kidney stone or scheduled heart surgery, it’s not going to happen.”

And she’s hearing the same stories from other hospitals in her district.

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“We talked to doctors and nurses who have not had a day off in months,” Slotkin said. “We’ve talked to doctors and nurses who are missing their children’s games and events because even on their day off, they get called in to do six or eight hours of work.”

The other thing health care workers asked for?

Grace.

“They know people are upset when folks come in and their loved ones are sick,” Slotkin said. “But the doctors and nurses are doing everything they can to help care for them.

“Please treat them with decency and with grace, the way you would want to be treated.”

You can read the Livingston County Health Department’s report on COVID in the community below:
LCHD-COVID19-Report-1dec21

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