Beaumont Hospital near capacity for patients, facing limitations on staff, equipment

Two weeks following Michigan's first confirmed case of coronavirus and one of the state's biggest hospital systems is already nearing its limit.

Almost 450 COVID-19 patients have been admitted across the eight Beaumont hospitals, while 212 more people admitted to the hospitals have test results pending. 

With these numbers expected to rise even more the hospital's CEO said they would need to soon start "coordinating the care of acute COVID-19 patients across the region and beyond."

"This is why we have been discussing statewide coordination with other hospitals and MDHHS to care for COVID-19 patients," said John Fox. "We also recognize some systems might not be caring for as many COVID-19 patients as others right now. All health systems in Michigan need to work together to help care for these patients."

The strains on the system aren't just from the sick side but from those treating the sick as well. The hospital system is experiencing limitations on staffing and a shortage of personal protective equipment and mechanical ventilators.

"We are taking steps to increase our capacity, such as converting some of our operating rooms into intensive care units," said COO Carolyn Wilson.

Tuesday recorded the state's highest daily confirmation total of coronavirus, with 293 more people testing positive. The state's total is nearing 2,000 and has already recorded 25 deaths linked to the virus.

RELATED: 1,791 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Michigan, 24 deaths

While the first concerns over resources and space were echoed from states and countries already hit hard by the pandemic prior to Michigan's outbreak, it became a reality following the state's first death.

After a Southgate man in his 50's died from coronavirus a week ago, an infectious disease expert and chief medical director with the hospital told people who didn't have symptoms or weren't suffering from underlying conditions to just stay home. 

A lack of testing and space means they can't test every person concerned they were infected by the coronavirus, said Nick Gilpin.

"A positive test will not necessarily change the course of treatment for patients who have a mild case of COVID-19 that does not require hospitalization," he said.

As hospitals begin to stare down the possibility of reaching capacity, they've been pleading with the community for supplies like face shields, face masks, and disposable gowns. 

RELATED: Ford teaming up with 3M, GE Healthcare to make respirators, ventilators, and face shields

It's becoming a game of catchup for American industry to see if enough ventilators, respirators and other protective equipment can be produced as hospitals face the exponential spike in cases. Ford and General Motors have already agreed to aid in that production, however, it could be a while before all supplies can be built.

Public officials continually point to Italy as an example of when a country is hit by an outbreak and isn't prepared. It was weeks ago when doctors were advised to start considering who they should be saving - a moral judgment that health experts believe could be next for the U.S. if tough restrictions on social distancing and public spaces is not enforced.