“They were too full”: with hospitals at full capacity, some forced to travel for treatment


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – With many hospitals in western Michigan at or near full capacity, some have to travel longer distances to get medical attention.

Lutricia Harmon needed open heart surgery and had to have the procedure in Muskegon instead of her hometown of Grand Rapids.

A photo of Lutricia Harmon. (courtesy)

Her daughter Ashley Durr says they knew it might be difficult to find a location that could perform the surgery with a hospital bed available.

“She needed the operation right away and there was no one available,” said Durr.

Durr says his mother initially wanted the procedure in Grand Rapids at Spectrum Health, but the hospital system was unable to get her an appointment quickly enough due to the high number of patients already occupying hospital beds.

“They were too full and Muskegon was the first place to open up,” Durr said.

The first appointment they were able to get was three days later at Mercy Health Muskegon, the next nearest hospital that can perform the procedure.

“She needed this surgery that night,” Durr said. “His heart was contracting and it was like very scary.”

This week’s numbers show Spectrum Blodgett at 100% capacity and Spectrum Butterworth at 92% capacity.

The hospital system on Wednesday was treating 489 COVID-19 patients and the latest figures available from Tuesday showed 87% were unvaccinated.

The family wants everyone to know the pandemic is not over and reminds people to take precautions to stay healthy.

“Definitely keep a mask with you wherever you go,” Durr said.

The family raises funds to help cover medical expenses. If you would like to donate, you can contribute through their GoFundMe page.

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