HHS report: Grand Rapids hospital has highest average of inpatient bed utilization in U.S.

Susan J. Demas

According to federal documents, a Grand Rapids hospital has the highest estimated three-day average of inpatient bed utilization in the country.

The COVID Hospitalizations Summary Report, compiled on Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, shows that Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in downtown Grand Rapids is using 93.7% of its inpatient beds on average.

The report was obtained by National Public Radio (NPR), but is not typically made public. The documents show cities with growing hospitalizations and hospitals that are strained or near capacity. 

About 50,000 inpatient beds are in use for COVID-19 patients across the country, which is about 6.6% of all inpatient beds. This is a 15.9% increase from the 28-day average.

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On Thursday, Spectrum Health limited the number of people who can visit its hospitals to one adult family member or guest per patient. And on Friday, the Butterworth Hospital announced it is enrolling patients into a clinical trial for the same treatment President Donald Trump received when he tested positive for COVID-19,  REGN-COV2.

A spokesperson from Spectrum Health did not respond to a request for comment on the average bed utilization rate or if local, state or federal health officials have offered any support. 

Kent County, where Butterworth Hospital is located, has the fourth-highest number of COVID-19 cases in the state, with 14,164 cases and 183 deaths, as of Thursday. Only Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties have higher case numbers. 

As a state, 7.3% of Michigan’s inpatient beds — 1,585 beds — are occupied by COVID-19 patients, according to federal data.  Michigan state health officials said Thursday that hospitalizations for COVID-19 have doubled over the last three weeks, while the state death rate has increased for five consecutive weeks. 

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The report shows that Michigan as a whole has the 13th highest COVID-19 hospitalization numbers, only behind Texas, California, Illinois, Florida, New York, Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Missouri, North Carolina and Wisconsin.

The state Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday coronavirus hospitalizations have doubled in the last three weeks and the death rate has risen for five straight weeks, leading them to issue an order to better help with contact tracing and limit community spread. 

The order requires all bars and restaurants to take names and phone numbers of patrons for contact tracing purposes, limits indoor gatherings without fixed seating to and no more than six people can be seated at a table at a bar or restaurant setting.

DHHS reports 171,220 COVID-19 cases statewide and 7,298 deaths, as of Thursday.

COVID ACT Now, a national nonprofit tracking COVID-19 outbreaks, reported Friday that Michigan is either actively experiencing an outbreak or is at extreme risk, averaging at 25.7 new cases per 100,000 people. 

Allison Donahue
Allison Donahue covers education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.