Spectrum Health Announces First Death of a Patient with COVID-19

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., March 21, 2020 – A male patient in his 70s, who tested positive for COVID-19, passed away earlier today at a Spectrum Health hospital in West Michigan.

“On behalf of Spectrum Health and the clinical team dedicated to caring for this patient, we extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of this individual,” said Joshua Kooistra, DO, chief medical officer, Spectrum Health. “We were saddened by his death and realize it is difficult news for our community as we face the reality of the COVID-19 outbreak. All of our team members, from clinicians to support staff, are committed to caring for our COVID-19 patients. We are united with our communities in fighting this virus together.”

Spectrum Health has been planning for months and continues to expand its operations to address the needs of patients. In addition to sending specimens to state and commercial labs for testing, Spectrum Health this week began processing COVID-19 tests at its lab in Grand Rapids and has completed almost 600 tests so far.

Spectrum Health has taken several steps to help fight the spread of COVID-19:

  • Prevention: We continue to encourage people to practice prevention efforts. Wash hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds, cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing, avoid touching your face and avoid large gatherings. Social distancing of at least six feet is recommended.
  • Free virtual screenings: Spectrum Health offers free virtual screenings for COVID-19 to those in Michigan who have symptoms and may be concerned they have the virus. Callers to the hotline (616.391.2380) will be asked a series of questions about their condition by a Spectrum Health provider who will advise whether they need to seek additional care. The hotline has received more than 20,575 calls since it opened March 6, including approximately 2,000 calls yesterday.
  • Emergency Department Triage Tents: Triage tents have been opened at Butterworth and Blodgett hospitals and Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital and are being set up this week at Spectrum Health regional hospitals. It’s a dedicated space for patients with symptoms that could be related to COVID-19. Anyone who feels they have a cough, shortness of breath or fever, and needs emergency level care can be treated safely in this space.
  • Community Information and Resources: We have posted downloadable materials, travel tips, videos and other information on our website to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Community members, churches, schools, businesses and others are encouraged to visit to access the resources.



Spectrum Health System, a not-for-profit, integrated health system, is committed to improving the health and wellness of our communities. We live our mission every day with 31,000 compassionate professionals, 4,500 medical staff experts, 3,300 committed volunteers and a health plan serving 1 million members. Our talented physicians and caregivers are privileged to offer a full continuum of care and wellness services to our communities through 14 hospitals, including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, 155 ambulatory sites and telehealth offerings. We pursue health care solutions for today and tomorrow that diversify our offerings. Locally-governed and based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, our health system provided $585 million in community benefit in fiscal year 2019. Thanks to the generosity of our communities, we received $30 million in philanthropy in the most recent fiscal year to support research, academics, innovation and clinical care. Spectrum Health has been recognized as one of the nation’s 15 Top Health Systems by Truven Health Analytics®, part of IBM Watson HealthTM.

Bruce Rossman
Media Relations
Office: 616.391.3706
Mobile: 616.443.3242

Tim Hawkins
Media Relations
Office: 616.486.6091
Mobile: 616.443.0361