By Jon King /

A local healthcare system says they are other hospitals throughout Southeast Michigan are at a “tipping point” and are asking for the community’s help to get back on track.

The Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, which operates both St. Joe Mercy Livingston Hospital in Howell and the St. Joe Mercy Brighton Health Center, issued an advisory on Friday in which is stated that hospitals and EMS systems in the region have been operating at extremely high capacity for weeks and that the “strain on our system is due to the COVID-19 response, plus the many other demands our teams are facing to care for seriously ill patients.”

The notice said that as a result, wait times for emergency, urgent or primary care may be much longer than usual, ambulance transfers may be delayed, surgeries or procedures may be deferred to a later date, visitor restrictions will remain in effect and that residents may have a prolonged stay in the emergency department waiting for a bed in the hospital. The email then went on to say that if “more people were vaccinated, that would help reduce the number of COVID-19 patients, as most of the COVID-19 patients in the ED and admitted remain unvaccinated,” adding that the situation “is impacting our ability to care for those who are seriously injured in a car accident, suffer a heart attack, stroke, or experience another medical emergency or issue. We are concerned there will be a surge of influenza along with the current COVID-19 surge adding to the capacity issues. We strongly urge people to get the influenza vaccine as well.”

Healthcare system officials say they are “pleading” with community members to do everything they can to avoid COVID-19 and lead a healthy lifestyle, including getting a COVID-19 vaccination or booster if you are eligible, getting children 5-18 a Covid-19 vaccination, washing your hands frequently, wearing a mask when in indoor public spaces or outdoors when unable to socially distance and practice healthy behaviors such as socially distancing, getting good sleep, eating well and exercising.”

The advisory concluded by saying they know that together the community can get through this safely, but they need everyone’s help.