UM Hospitals opens 32 bed RICU for COVID-19 patients | Michigan Radio
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UM Hospitals opens 32 bed RICU for COVID-19 patients

Mar 16, 2020

Microbiologist Kerry Pollard performs a manual extraction of the coronavirus inside the extraction lab at the Pennsylvania Department of Health Bureau of Laboratories.
Credit Natalie Kolb / Comonwealth Media Services/Flkr/creative commons

Michigan Medicine, which includes the University of Michigan Hospitals, says it is working to be "optimally prepared" for COVID-19 patients.  

As part of that effort, the hospital system has just opened a 32-bed regional infectious containment unit (RICU) that will be able to care for COVID-19 patients.

CEO Dr. Marschall Runge says there are other locations in addition to the new RICU where COVID-19 patients can be isolated and cared for safely.

And of the possibility of a big surge in cases, Runge says, "nobody can predict what the needs will be here in the Midwest. It may be a little behind the rest of the country. But we're ready for it."

Overall, Runge says the hospital system has 900 beds, with the capacity to increase and care for many more patients than that.

Some elective, non-emergency, and routine care is being rescheduled, Runge says, to make room and time for caring for COVID-19 patients.

But Runge says care for serious conditions like cancer is ongoing.

"We are geared up to take optimal care of COVID-19 positive patients, but we are not walking away for a moment to our commitment to the patients we care for that have all kinds of diseases," he says. 

He says the limited ability to test for COVID-19 is starting to ease. Michigan Medicine is now using the services of a private company for testing, in addition to testing available at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. 

The health system also hopes to receive approval within a week or so in order to use a test it developed in-house.

Michigan Medicine is also giving all its staff an extra 120 hours of paid time off if they must quarantine as a result of caring for confirmed COVID-19 patients.  

That's in addition to the 80 hours of special paid time off given to all U of M employees for dealing with the crisis.  

This post originally stated "RICU" stood for respiratory intensive care unit, when it is actually regional infectious containment unit. We regret the error.

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