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Michigan DHHS Mobile Crisis Teams and the State’s Regional Healthcare Coalition Provide Critical Staffing Support during the COVID-19 Outbreak in Long-Term Care Facilities



Aspirus Ontonagon Long Term Care Facility, located in rural Ontonagon County, Michigan, experienced a major COVID-19 outbreak in both residents and staff within their 46-bed facility. This outbreak had significant impact on all aspects of their facility as staffing was at such a critical level, they were considering a possible evacuation scenario. The facility did not have the staff to continue to provide and maintain daily operations as necessary to care for their residents. Aspirus was not the only area facility experiencing staffing shortages; the Menominee Health Services facility also experienced an outbreak of COVID, affecting not only the staff but also residents. The 59-bed facility put a call in to the Region 8 Healthcare Coalition after all other avenues were exhausted.


Image of ASPIRUS Ontonagon Hospital Emergency sign  

The first of the support staff arrived just hours after Upon Aspirus Ontonagon Long Term Care Facility requested staffing support. After about a week, the facility’s staff began to return to work, and the ​facility was again able to resume normal operations. Menominee Health Services also received staffing relief within hours, as the first of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Mobile Crisis Teams began to arrive.


Upon the arrival of staffing support at Aspirus Ontonagon Long Term Care Facility, the Director of Nursing said, “…they looked like angels coming through the door!” The administrator subsequently shared that they did not know how they would have able to care for their residents without the assistance of the Region 8 Healthcare Coalition and MDHHS Mobile Crisis Teams. The two facilities had a total of three certified nursing assistants and an infectious control nurse. Both facilities now have a deeper relationship with the Region 8 Healthcare Coalition and a better understanding of how beneficial staffing agencies can be in times of need.

This story was developed and submitted by the Amber Pitts, the HPP Coordinator for the state of Michigan. The ASPR Health Care Readiness Programs Communications Team made minor updates throughout for clarity.