A leaked memo circulating on social media indicated that Henry Ford Health System in Detroit might be in the process of rationing ventilators for COVID-19 patients at its hospitals. But Henry Ford officials at the six-hospital system said the document was developed only for “an absolute worst-case scenario” and has not been implemented.
“With a pandemic of this nature, health systems must be prepared for a worst case scenario,” Adnan Munkarah, M.D., Henry Ford’s executive vice president and chief clinical officer, said in a statement Friday morning.
“Gathering the collective wisdom from across our industry, we carefully crafted our policy to provide critical guidance to health care workers for making difficult patient care decisions during an unprecedented emergency,” Munkarah said.
“These guidelines are deeply patient focused, intended to be honoring to patients and families. We were pleased to share our policy with our colleagues across Michigan to help others develop similar, compassionate approaches,” he said. “It is our hope we never have to apply them and we will always do everything we can to care for our patients, utilizing every resource we have to make that happen.”
In the memo, Henry Ford explains the community is in a public health emergency “that is making our supply of some medical resources hard to find. Because of shortages, we will need to be careful with resources.”
COVID-10 positive cases have exploded in Detroit and Southeast Michigan, creating one of three so-called “hot-spots” of coronavirus positive testing. More than 800 COVID-19 positive patients are hospitalized at Henry Ford and Beaumont Health hospitals, with more expected over the next several weeks.
To date, more than 60 people have died from the COVID-19 infection and those numbers are expected to increase dramatically in the coming days. Henry Ford has the most ventilators in Southeast Michigan, with 360. Henry Ford said it had 304 hospitalized COVID-19 patients on Thursday. It is not known how many are being used for patients with COVID-19 or other respiratory problems.
The Henry Ford memo continued: “Patients who have the best chance of getting better are our first priority. Patients will be evaluated for the best plan for care and dying patients will be provided with comfort care.”
It also stated: “Patients who have a ventilator or ICU care withdrawn will receive pain control and comfort measures.”
The memo, which was not dated, was addressed as “To our patients, families and community.” Henry Ford officials said they created the document in preparation of a worst-case scenario, in which it would be released to the public.
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