McLaren Northern Michigan Prepares for COVID-19 Crisis Despite National Testing Shortage

McLaren Northern Michigan is actively planning and preparing for the COVID-19 crisis despite a national shortage of testing kits and medical supplies.

“We want the community to know that the safety of our patients, colleagues, and entire community is our top priority,” said Todd Burch, Chief Executive Officer, McLaren Northern Michigan.

Several weeks ago, when the COVID-19 outbreak became more widespread nationally, McLaren Northern Michigan started a COVID-19 planning and preparedness team. In collaboration with the hospital and medical staff, the team implemented a containment care unit for all suspected COVID-19 cases. “This move was implemented early as an essential aspect of our pandemic preparations so that we could maintain and ensure the highest level of safety for our colleagues and patients at McLaren Northern Michigan,” said Andrew McDonagh, MD, Chief Medical Officer, McLaren Northern Michigan.

Additional steps that McLaren Northern Michigan has taken to address the COVID-19 pandemic include:
• Screening all visitors at the door of the facility to maintain a safe environment
• Working closely with all area medical providers to develop and implement complementary policies
• Contacting suppliers to secure additional supplies
• Connecting with local businesses to develop alternative supplies as needed

One of the possible plans considered was setting up a community drive-through symptom screening facility with option for testing. Hospital staff coordinated with the Emmet County Fairgrounds to set up a tent in preparation, however, with a national shortage of testing supplies, it is not possible to setup a site at this time. When supplies are available the plan is already developed and can be implemented quickly. We will make you aware when testing is available.

At this time, McLaren Northern Michigan has limited COVID-19 testing to only those individuals who have been admitted to the hospital and show symptoms of COVID-19. Additionally, test results through state and private labs are still taking 3-6 days to be returned. This means that COVID-19 positive individuals could still be transmitting the disease to others.

“The protocol for everyone, whether you receive a positive diagnosis for your symptoms or not is to remain at home, practice social distancing or quarantine, and practice good hand hygiene,” said Dr. McDonagh.

If you are not seriously ill and have questions, please call your primary care provider or the McLaren Northern Michigan COVID-19 hotline at 231-487-3550. Individuals who cannot get in to see their doctor can access telemedicine at If you are experiencing trouble breathing, please go to the nearest emergency department or urgent care. If you are experiencing life threatening symptoms, call 911.

“The community’s actions now will determine how severely COVID-19 impacts the northern Michigan community,” said McLaren Northern Michigan Chief Executive Officer, Todd Burch. “Please stay home unless absolutely critical that you go out.”