by Scott McClallen
State Rep. Ben Frederick, R-Owosso, today asked Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to allow Michigan hospitals and other medical providers to perform elective surgeries.
Whitmer temporarily stopped “nonessential” medical procedures on March 21 through Executive Order 2020-17.
A month and 46 executive orders later, many patients need care and hospitals, medical centers, and other facilities need the money, Frederick said.
“There are many residents and healthcare providers from mid-Michigan who have contacted me concerned that what may be routine or elective today may lead to dire consequences down the road,” Frederick said in a statement.
“I’ve heard from those facing chronic pain, recurring tumors and injuries requiring physical therapy before permanent damage who have had needed tests and procedures put on hold. Patients are in desperate need of care in ways not related to COVID-19, and medical care facilities are on the brink of closure – already laying off hundreds of workers because they aren’t allowed to help.”
Beaumont Health announced last week it is temporarily laying off 2,475 employees and permanently eliminating about 450 positions because of COVID-19.
The Health System has 38,000 employees.
Henry Ford Health Center announced last week it’s furloughing about 2,800 employees across the six-hospital system.
Henry Ford said it lost $43 million in operating income in March from canceled or postponed surgeries and other problems related to COVID-19.
“Losses for April and May 2020 are expected to surpass the loss of March 2020,” the group said in a press release.
Henry Ford said postponing elective procedures, appointments, and temporarily closing some outpatient medical facilities cut patient service revenue almost in half in one April week, compared to the same week in 2019.
Frederick said that COVID-19 fears could be driving patients away from the hospital when they need care.
“I’ve also heard from medical professionals concerned that publicized restrictions are keeping those who may require emergency care from delaying a visit,” Frederick said. “The governor should allow our medical providers to reopen safely provided the facility has the protective equipment and staffing needed to meet the medical needs of our people.”
An April 2020 Guidehouse report found that 13 rural Michigan hospitals, more than one in four, were at high risk of closing.
Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa already have or plan to allow some elective procedures starting Friday.
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square.