Half of the hospitals inside Beaumont Health system, which describes itself as Michigan’s largest, are at capacity due to the increasing Covid-19 cases and it faces a crunch that includes its staffing, finances and supplies, CEO John T. Fox told CNN.
The eight hospital system located in the southeast region of the state is currently treating nearly 950 hospitalized, confirmed cases and an additional 91 who are suspected of having the virus as of 3 p.m. Thursday.
“Our biggest rate limiter is staffing,” Fox said in an interview with CNN. “The politicians are getting on the podium and saying, ‘we're building a 900-bed field hospital over here, 500-bed one over there.’ But those are empty buildings of no value without the staff. They often don't have pharmacies, they don't have labs, they don't have a lot of things and so it becomes a fiction.”
Fox also called on the state of Michigan to do more in terms of load balancing patients between hospitals in the state, as Beaumont has found it difficult to do on their own.
Fox says price gouging among agency nurses factors into the inability to acquire more staff and sucks available funds from the system. Agency nurses are contracted by hospitals at a price to help supplement staff nurses temporarily.
Twenty days ago, agencies would charge $60 an hour for a nurses with everything included. That price has more than doubled, with the agencies bidding hospitals against one another to secure a nurse for $130, sometimes $150 an hour, Fox said.