By Carla Bumstead


— For weeks now, Sparrow Eaton Hospital (SEH) in Charlotte has been working hard to protect its patients, caregivers and community members during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

Tiffany Friar, RN, serves as the hospital’s chief nursing officer. She explained that each of Sparrow Health System’s community hospitals have “incident command teams” that are designed to be activated in times of emergency. She said SEH’s individual incident command team was activated several weeks ago.

Above photo info: Sparrow Eaton Hospital’s incident command (above) is composed of numerous leaders over key areas of the hospital, working around-the-clock and connecting daily to address the many details involved in planning and implementing the hospital’s response. All caregivers, including incident command, continue to stay geographically distant (maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet) but socially close and supportive of each other.

“We want the community to know that we remain vigilant and are working around the clock to provide care to our community and protect against the spread of coronavirus,” Friar said. “We remain available to provide emergency care 24/7 through our emergency department and urgent care and “e visits” through our provider offices.”

Friar said Sparrow does have in-house testing for COVID-19 and can turn those tests around in 24 hours. They also have drive-thru sites in which patients, with doctor’s orders, can be tested and get results within days.

“Eaton has a drive-in testing collection site at AL!VE,” Friar said.

As far as whether or not SEH is actually treating any COVID-19 cases, Friar said Sparrow is not discussing specific cases. The hospital does have the ability to treat coronavirus cases.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is reporting and tracking the number of positive coronavirus cases county by county. As of April 13, Eaton County had 74 confirmed cases and four deaths.

Supply situation

Friar said they do currently have an adequate supply of ventilators and other supplies but donations are welcomed.

“We appreciate the immense community support we’ve received,” Friar said “We have an adequate amount of supplies right now and continue to monitor our supplies and continue to urge the community to drop any items off at our collection site at AL!VE.”

Complete information on that collection site, including a list of what is and isn’t being accepted, can be found on the SEH website at

Above photo info: Caregivers are shown during a recent collaboration training held with members of Sparrow Eaton’s Emergency, Med/Surg and Respiratory departments.

‘Real-life heroes’

Obviously, Sparrow Eaton’s caregivers, along with those providing direct care across the world, are at the forefront of the response to the pandemic. Christina Campbell, who serves as Sparrow Eaton’s marketing and communications manager, said she wants each and every caregiver to know how proud of them we all are.

“When I see our caregivers fighting this pandemic for us, I am reminded of how lucky we are to have real-life heroes in our midst,” Campbell said. “Their hero gear simply comes in the form of medical masks and PPE instead of capes.”

“Our caregivers are our community, and we couldn’t do what we do without any of them,” Friar said. “The work going on behind the scenes is nothing short of extraordinary — from making sure we have enough masks to picking up donations and lending a helping hand when someone needs it most.

“[Caregivers] have been incredibly dedicated and brave during this time.”

Above photo info: These caregivers helped to distribute 31 baskets filled with grab ‘n go goods donated by the Sparrow Eaton Hospital Auxiliary.

Screening, prevention

Friar said all SEH visitors and caregivers are being screened, which includes taking their temperatures and checking for symptoms.

“Everyone must wear a mask in our hospital,” Friar said. “We have restricted visitors at all Sparrow hospitals — allowing only one visitor to patients who are in grave condition or to patients in certain units.”

Campbell stresses that flexibility is key during these unusual times.

“We are in uncharted territory,” Campbell said. “We ask that everyone be adaptable and flexible, practice geographic distancing of at least six feet and don’t be around other people if you’re feeling symptoms, such as a cough or fever.”


Top photo info:  SEH caregivers (left to right) Brandi Harmer, RN; Libby Carson, PCT; Mary Fiala, RN; and Lindsey Gray, RN, are on the front lines in the fight against coronavirus.