At a ‘Critical Crossroad,’ a Full-Court Press for Vaccination

September 01, 2021
sept 1 briefing

DETROIT (September 1, 2021) – In a public appeal to prevent a fourth surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations, physician and nursing leaders at Henry Ford Health System and 20 other Michigan health systems on Wednesday implored unvaccinated people to get immunized.

Unless more people get vaccinated, Henry Ford leaders worry that a wave of hospitalizations in the coming weeks could challenge their capacity to care for not only COVID patients but also those with life-threatening conditions like heart attacks, strokes and trauma injuries. Frontline workers are already taxed from three prior surges.

The approaching flu season could compound the situation with an influx of patients in respiratory distress.

“We are truly at a critical crossroad with this pandemic and our message could not be more clear,” said Adnan Munkarah, M.D., Executive Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer, told reporters in a briefing. “If we don’t get more people vaccinated, our collective health systems will be strained yet again. As our children are returning to schools and colleges, and the flu season looming, the situation could get dire very, very fast.”

Currently, 90 patients are hospitalized for COVID at Henry Ford hospitals and 84% of them are unvaccinated, Dr. Munkarah said. Ninety percent of patients in the intensive care unit are unvaccinated. Among its workforce, Dr. Munkarah said at least 92% of team members have received at least their first dose or are fully vaccinated.

“The data is very, very clear. The science is clear. Vaccines are safe and effective,” Dr. Munkarah said. “Getting vaccinated is the right thing to do for your health, the health of your family and the health of your friends and the community.”

Chief Nursing Officer Barbara Rossmann, R.N., said the pandemic has taken a physical and emotional toll on frontline workers including nurses. Many are supporting patients who are much younger than the previous surges, “bringing a totally different level of stress and trauma to the bedside.”

“We’re calling on those who are on the fence about vaccination to please trust their healthcare professionals,” said Rossmann, who is also President and CEO of Henry Ford Macomb Hospital in Clinton Township. “Trust their physicians when he or she recommends vaccination. Trust your nurse who was at the bedside caring for your loved one when they were in the hospital. You trusted us when making other medical decisions in your life. Please, you can trust us now.”

Dr. Munkarah and Rossmann were among chief medical and nursing officers of 21 Michigan health systems to sign an open letter to Michigan residents pleading for people to get vaccinated. In Michigan, 65.9% of residents ages 16 and older have received at least one dose. Nearly 56% of Michiganders are fully vaccinated.

In addition to urging more people getting vaccinated, Dr. Munkarah said monoclonal antibody therapy is an effective treatment for those who test positive for COVID. It’s a one-time, free treatment that can keep your symptoms from worsening and prevent hospitalization.


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About Henry Ford Health System
Founded in 1915 by Henry Ford himself, Henry Ford Health System is a non-profit, integrated health system committed to improving people’s lives through excellence in the science and art of healthcare and healing. Henry Ford Health System includes Henry Ford Medical Group, with more than 1,900 physicians and researchers practicing in more than 50 specialties at locations throughout Southeast and Central Michigan. Acute care hospitals include Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, MI and Henry Ford Allegiance Health in Jackson, MI – both Magnet® hospitals; Henry Ford Macomb Hospital; Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital; and Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital.

The largest of these is Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, a quaternary care research and teaching hospital and Level 1 Trauma Center recognized for clinical excellence in cardiology, cardiovascular surgery, neurology, neurosurgery, and multi-organ transplants. The health system also provides comprehensive, best-in-class care for cancer at the Brigitte Harris Cancer Pavilion, and orthopedics and sports medicine at the William Clay Ford Center for Athletic Medicine – both in Detroit. As one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers, Henry Ford Health System annually trains more than 3,000 medical students, residents, and fellows in more than 50 accredited programs, and has trained nearly 40% of the state’s physicians. Our dedication to education and research is supported by nearly $100 million in annual grants from the National Institutes of Health and other public and private foundations.

Our not-for-profit health plan, Health Alliance Plan (HAP) provides health coverage for more than 540,000 people.

Henry Ford Health System employs more than 33,000 people, including more than 1,600 physicians, more than 6,600 nurses and 5,000 allied health professionals.