Detroit Mercy researchers define impact of COVID-19

Unless the public cooperates with public health agencies and hospitals to prevent the spread of COVID-19, hospitals will run out of beds, resources and staff.

Zigmond A. Kozicki
Zigmond A. Kozicki

These are the findings of an extensive study of Michigan hospitals and public health agencies examining the impact COVID-19 has had on organizational operations done by Detroit Mercy faculty member Zigmond A. Kozicki, researcher Stephanie J.S. Baiyasi and Health Services Administration (HSA) students Mari Landis and Shari Storms.

Stephanie J.S. Baiyasi
Stephanie J.S. Baiyasi

The study, titled “Operational Challenges Experienced by Michigan Hospitals and Public Health Agencies in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic,” surveyed 24 Michigan hospitals and 27 public health organizations from June 30-Sept. 16. Results show that more than 87% of hospitals and 96% of public health agencies said that COVID-19 had caused significant stress to operations and that 92% of hospitals indicated the need for assistance via donations from the public and federal government to supplement personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies, provide funding and assistance from public health departments. Fortunately, more than 90% of public health agencies and hospitals were working together to respond to the COVID-19 epidemic.

As the second wave of the virus continues to surge across the world, Kozicki says this new research reinforces calls for help from hospitals and health organizations around the world.

“It is absolutely essential that the public is made even more aware of the importance of the CDC guidelines to mount a defense against a surge in new cases,” Kozicki said.

The importance of wearing masks, avoiding large gatherings, social distancing and good hygiene are more critical than ever as the nation heads into the holiday season.  

As an associate professor of Health Services Administration in Detroit Mercy’s College of Health Professions, Kozicki has spent years studying health systems and operations.

“For months, we have heard about the tremendous struggles of these hospitals and health care organizations. But this study puts real scientific data behind this struggle to show the devastation it can and will cause these organizations as they try to save lives,” Kozicki said. “I would not be surprised to see many hospitals and health organizations shutter their doors because of this epic struggle.”

Baiyasi, his research colleague, is a public health researcher and veterinarian, as well as a graduate of Detroit Mercy’s Health Services Administration certificate program. She brings a wealth of critical knowledge to this ongoing population health project by adding research she conducted in 2020 about the One Health Initiative.  Her 2020 survey of Michigan veterinarians (titled “Veterinarian Involvement in Zoonotic Disease Prevention Practices in Michigan”) and Kozicki’s study of hospitals and public health agencies lead them to conclude that the promotion of One Health as a proactive model would bring the human medical, veterinary medical and environmental science experts together to prevent infectious disease.

For Detroit Mercy students Mari Landis and Shari Storms, both of whom helped conduct this research project, the study was eye-opening. Landis, an undergraduate student in the HSA program, will graduate in December 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in Health Services Administration. “There needs to be more information available to the public about how COVID-19 is affecting hospitals. Hospitals should be more willing to give out information about how they are responding to the COVID epidemic.”

Storms explained that the public health agencies “were extremely busy with the COVID epidemic. The common concern was that there was not enough PPE and the conditions kept changing.” She will graduate in May 2021 with a master’s degree in Health Services Administration. “We need to better prepare for the future,” she added.

Recently, the Detroit Free Press published an in-depth story on the impact of the COVID-19 virus on hospital and healthcare organization operations, which included the results of this study. In addition, Kozicki and Baiyasi also produced a recent video on this study to provide further information. The video can be found here.

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