Henry Ford Health System Announces First COVID-19 Related Death, Urges Community to Help Stop the Spread of the Virus

March 19, 2020

Detroit – Henry Ford Health System today announced its first COVID-19 related death. The 81-year-old woman from Wayne County died Wednesday at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, MI. She had underlying health issues.

“As we continue to respond aggressively to this pandemic and monitor developments, both around the world and now here in our nation, we knew we would eventually have to make this announcement,” said Bob Riney, President, Healthcare Operations and Chief Operating Officer, Henry Ford Health System. “We are deeply saddened by this outcome and our hearts remain with the patient’s family and friends.”

“This is a sobering reminder about how critical it is to prevent the spread of the infection,” said Adnan Munkarah, M.D., Executive Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer, Henry Ford Health System. “We must continue to urge our families, friends and neighbors to take the recommended steps to protect ourselves and our most vulnerable patients – namely the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions.”

As of March 18 (end of day), the health system identified more than two dozen COVID-19 positive cases across its facilities and expects that number to rise, now that additional testing capabilities are up and running, including its own lab at Henry Ford Hospital.

In its first day, the lab received more than 1,200 orders for testing. Currently, the lab has the capacity to run approximately 100 tests per day, with results processed within 24 hours.

If You Think You May be Infected:

  • Patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection have reported the following symptoms: fever, cough and shortness of breath.
  • People who may have been exposed to COVID-19 and/or have mild symptoms are advised to stay home and avoid going out in public. Mild symptoms are fever, cough, muscle aches or fatigue. If you have these symptoms:
    • Consult with your doctor by phone, virtual care or your MyChart account for next steps.
    • For your safety and the safety of others, do not go to a Henry Ford facility unannounced, including ERs, walk-in clinics and urgent care. Please call ahead.
    • If your symptoms worsen – high fever and/or rapid breathing – call 911 and alert the 911 operator of your exposure so the EMS crew can be prepared for your transport and limit others from being infected.

To Stay Healthy:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Avoid touching your face – especially your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • If you have cold or flu-like symptoms, stay home.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.


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