Physicians Slap Whitmer with a Coronavirus-Related Lawsuit

Posted: May 17, 2020 10:25 AM
Physicians Slap Whitmer with a Coronavirus-Related Lawsuit

Source: AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File

Grand Health Partners, Wellston Medical Center, Primary Health Services and patient Jeffery Gulick on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), State Attorney General Dana Nessel and State Health Director Robert Gordon over the state's stay-at-home order. 

According to the plaintiffs, Whitmer has continually extended her stay-at-home order to "flatten the curve" from the Wuhan coronavirus. The group believes Whitmer continually extending her stay-at-home order – without approval from the state legislature – infringes upon individual rights and liberties. 

"Many decisions made in immediate response to protect against the COVID19 threat and the dire, potential public health crisis resulted in severe restrictions on the rights and liberties of both private individuals and businesses," the lawsuit states. "Michigan was no exception."

The plaintiffs also believe Michigan has succeeded in flattening the curve, a sign that so-called "elective" medical procedures can continue.

"Since early March 2020, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has taken drastic, unprecedented, unilateral executive actions in an effort to address the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19—declaring a state of emergency in the State of Michigan and justifying her restriction on rights and liberties based on the very important goal to 'flatten the curve' and avoid overwhelming Michigan’s healthcare system and hospital," the complaint states. "Thankfully, the goal of flattening the curve has been achieved, and the dire predictions of overwhelmed hospitals have not come to pass."

The state originally anticipated 220,000 hospitalizations as a result of the Wuhan coronavirus. As of April 27th, that number sat at 3,000, making it less than 1.4 percent of the projected hospitalizations. Michigan is prepared should any additional cases come forward, with over 2,400 ventilators available, almost 1,000 ICU beds and more than 7,000 unoccupied hospital beds.

Grand Health performs endoscopies, appendectomies, various types of hernia surgeries and repairs, as well as bariatric surgeries, all of which have been deemed elective. Because Whitmer's stay-at-home order, doctors are having to wait until patients are in dire need of surgery before the procedures are carried out.

"For example, patients are obtaining surgery only after their gallbladder is gangrenous or their appendix is ruptured, instead of obtaining care when their condition was in a much less severe state," the lawsuit reads. 

Wellston Medical Center and Primary Health Services provide primary care services for rural residents who are predominantly on Medicare or Medicaid. The stay-at-home order resulted in a 95 percent drop in the number of patients the clinics could see. Not having the ability to schedule simple in-office procedures resulted in at least one hospitalization. 

"For example, one patient had a stent in his ureter as a result of a kidney stone. The stent was supposed to be removed in two weeks. That procedure could not be scheduled for two months, resulting in a bladder and kidney infection," the lawsuit states. "The infection required hospitalization and emergency surgery."

The plaintiffs believe the public health threat has surpassed and because of that, it's time to allow medical procedures to continue as normal. 

“This shutdown is risking lives and imperiling health,” Dr. Randal Baker, president of Grand Health Partners and a practicing surgeon told UpNorthLive. “The curve has been flattened. There will likely be spikes of cases in the future, but we can’t shut down non-COVID health care every time. We need to reassess the best practices to save the most lives, particularly where COVID-19 cases are low.”

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Jordan Warnsholz, a physician assistant and owner of both Wellston Medical Center and Primary Health Services, said he has seen the damage caused by Whitmer's executive orders.

“Not only has this shutdown harmed my employees and my practice, but it has put my patients directly at risk,” said Warnsholz. “These oppressive executive orders are meant to save lives, but instead, they are endangering many of them.”

Patients are being put on the backburner and medical practices across the state are on the verge of bankruptcy. The Michigan Health and Hospital Association estimates that hospitals are losing $300 million per week while having to spend $100 million on costs associated with treating Wuhan coronavirus patients, like supplies, personal protective equipment and staffing, MLive reported.

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