A Letter to Our Community

Dear Community,
This has been the single most challenging year most of us have ever experienced. While we hope that 2021 will be a better year, we are confronting another challenging period of time. Just as we did in the spring, we find ourselves once again staring down the reality of rising COVID cases.

Currently, there are just over 3,000 COVID patients hospitalized throughout Michigan. Our state alone is reporting a 15% - 20% positivity rate that is increasing the need for inpatient admissions. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, patients requiring a hospital admission are projected to increase to somewhere between 4,000 – 5,000. We are seeing a steady to increasing number of patients requiring hospitalization this year due to COVID, and we are treating higher acuity patients without COVID who delayed their care in the spring and summer.

Despite the challenges we have in front of us, our hospital staff are better prepared today to safely manage through this pandemic surge than we were in March. Surge plans that were quickly developed in the spring were tested through the early days of COVID and have been refined in the months since. We now have sufficient PPE and monitor inventory and usage rates daily. We have better processes in place to obtain N95s, isolation gowns, and hand sanitizer. The Pharmacy has worked to stockpile critical medications needed for all types of patients. And thanks to generous community members like you, staff have PAPRs to stay safe, patients in-need have access to six new ventilators, and rooms are safely sanitized with a state-of-the-art UV disinfecting robot.

We understand that you may experience a health care crisis but may be afraid to seek medical attention as you see numbers surging. We want to assure you that we are doing everything we can to protect ourselves and our community, and we are here to serve you.

Delaying care can have long-term adverse effects on your health, and we encourage you to seek medical attention for your health care needs. Cancer, heart disease, and strokes will not stop during this crisis—and neither will we. Our medical providers will continue to be here for you and your family members, and we encourage you to call your primary care physician or your specialists with any concerns you have.

You should come to the Emergency Department, or call 9-1-1, if you experience:
Trouble breathing
Lethargy (weakness)
Sudden trouble with speaking or understanding
Paralysis or numbness of the face, arm, or leg
Trouble with seeing in one or both eyes
Severe, sudden headache
Dizziness, vomiting, or altered consciousness
Trouble walking or maintaining balance
Chest pain

While there is much to be concerned about, there is also much for which to find comfort. Your caring team at McLaren Northern Michigan has provided an incredible level of care over the past eight months and we will continue to do so as we navigate through the coming months. As we face the challenges ahead, we appreciate your continued support and remain ready to care for you as we would care for our own family members. 

We are all in this together, and we hope you will join us in taking measures to protect your fellow community members by following the recommended guidelines for mask wearing and social distancing. I recently asked the hospital staff and physicians to limit their holiday gatherings to only the people within their household to be ready to care for the community in the coming months. As COVID is widespread across the country right now; our friends and family present an unintentional exposure risk. I would ask you to follow the same guidance to protect yourself and others from an unintentional exposure to COVID, particularly as we enter the winter months.

Please accept my heartfelt gratitude for your confidence in and your commitment to McLaren Northern Michigan.


Todd Burch
President and CEO
McLaren Northern Michigan