Federal help is on the way for one local hospital as Michigan continues to see a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

At the request of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a 22-person medical team is coming to Covenant in Saginaw to support staff treating COVID-19 patients. The team includes registered nurses, doctors, and respiratory therapists. That team is expected to start Sunday.

Pino Colone is an emergency physician with the Henry Ford Health System and the president of the Michigan State Medical Society.

"Well quite frankly, it's worse than it's ever been. I, as an emergency physician, am seeing more cases of positive coronavirus than ever before," Colone said.

Colone said the weight of COVID-19 patients is putting a heavy burden on hospitals across the state.

"The hospital systems are overwhelmed, and the emergency departments are as well because we don't have rooms in hospitals to which to send sick patients with COVID-19 or otherwise," Colone said.

Federal medical teams have been dispatched to select hospitals in Michigan, including Covenant Healthcare, to bolster the number of staff treating COVID-19 patients. On Tuesday, the state senate took action by unanimously passing a bill that would allow out of state health care workers to practice in Michigan during epidemic related staffing shortages.

Colone said those measures wouldn't be necessary if more people would just roll up their sleeves.

"Honestly, it's a little frustrating that more people aren't getting vaccinated. That is still the ultimate answer, vaccines, vaccines, vaccines. And regardless of your political bend, this is a health issue, it's not a political issue," Colone said.

Colone said there is some frustration and resentment amongst healthcare workers towards unvaccinated COVID-19 patients. Despite that, Colone said every effort will be made to give them the care they need.

"Our job is to take care of people. Our job is to take care of them. Like when they come to us and we take advantage of that time to better educate them and help them get back on the road to recovery," Colone said.

Covenant plans to release more details on the support team in the coming days.

Copyright 2021 WNEM. All rights reserved.

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