Hospitals, ambulances prepare for M-6 closure


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) –- Long-awaited repairs to M-6 starting this weekend may mean temporary changes to how ambulances to nearby Metro Health, Spectrum Health and Mercy Health facilities handle medical emergencies.

Beginning Saturday around 7:30 a.m., all eastbound lanes of M-6 between I-196 and Wilson Avenue in Kent and Ottawa counties will close for a total rebuild.

A map shows the stretch of M-6 involved in the construction project.

Metro Health Hospital as well as urgent cares operated by Spectrum Health and Mercy Health have locations near the construction zone, which means ambulances and medical workers be ready to navigate detours.

“We get a heads up on these types of closures fairly early on in the process and then we make our crews aware of the road closures and then really rely on them to use their expertise of the area to route around the closures,” said Patrick Lickiss with AMR Ambulance.

AMR says out of all the 911 calls they respond to, only about 5 percent are the highest priority, when they activate their lights and siren en route to the hospital. Generally, this means seconds count.

Even though one hospital may be physically closer, another may be faster to get to during a construction project, according to Lickiss.

“What they will do is take in account road closures, traffic conditions things like that and then they will select the hospital that takes the least amount of time to get to,” he said.

Metro Health Hospital and area medical centers are notifying patients and have posted information about the closure to encourage patients to navigate the detours and give themselves extra travel time to make their appointments.

“It’s the joke that its barrel season in Michigan; most of our staff is used to that. So really the impact that we find more recently is on our non-emergency transport. We may need to take someone a little earlier to a doctor’s appointment or dialysis just because of road closures. Really for our (medically) emergent population, I don’t foresee it being a huge impact,” Lickiss said.