By Sara Powers

(CBS DETROIT) – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s request for additional staffing from the federal government was granted for a third Michigan hospital amid the COVID-19 surge.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced that a 22-person medical team to Covenant HealthCare in Saginaw under the agreement.

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“I’m grateful to our federal partners for delivering much-needed relief to Michigan’s hospitals and healthcare personnel who have been on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic for over 18 months,” said Governor Whitmer. “We know that the vast majority of their patients are unvaccinated or have not yet received a booster dose. We can all do our part to help reduce the strain on our hospital systems by getting vaccinated, making an appointment to get a booster dose, and continuing to take precautions to keep ourselves and loved ones safe. We are in this together.”

The staffing team being sent to assist Covenant Healthcare will include nurses, doctors, and respiratory therapists. They will begin working in Saginaw on Dec. 12 and assist for the next 30 days.

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“We are incredibly grateful that the Department of Defense has stepped up to offer their support to our employees and community as we continue our battle against COVID-19.  The Covenant Team has been on the front lines of the pandemic since March of 2020,” said Kevin Birchmeier, Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer, Covenant HealthCare. “As the largest acute care hospital in a 20-county region, patients and other hospitals rely on us for care. We take this responsibility very seriously and want to do anything we can to keep our patients, staff, and community safe.”

This is the third staffing team sent to Michigan, following the teams sent to Beaumont Hospital in Dearborn and Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids. They come as Michigan experiences a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

According to Michigan Health & Hospital Association data, three out of four COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated (76%), 87% of COVID ICU patients are unvaccinated, and 88% of COVID ventilator patients are unvaccinated.

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