Legal battle begins over MI EOs

The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation, in conjunction with Miller Johnson Law Firm, filed a lawsuit today on behalf of three medical practices who are unable to provide necessary care and a patient who is unable to schedule an important surgery due to current executive orders.

One plaintiff, Grand Health Partners, operates in the Grand Rapids area. It performs endoscopies and other elective surgeries, many of which were deemed nonessential by executive order. Due to the shutdown, many of its patients, including one needing to repair a damaged feeding tube, were unable to be treated. Another patient was forced to postpone gallbladder surgery and ended up developing gangrene.

“This shutdown is risking lives and imperiling health,” said Dr. Randal Baker, president of Grand Health Partners and a practicing surgeon. “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.”

Two other plaintiffs, the Wellston Medical Center and Primary Health Services, two family practice and urgent care clinics in Wellston and Ludington, have experienced similar challenges. Jordan Warnsholz, a physician assistant and owner of both practices, has experienced firsthand the damage from this shutdown. He is unable to see patients who need in-person monitoring for chronic conditions. This has led to heart attacks, depression and even suicide attempts by some of his patients.

“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.”

Another plaintiff, Jeffery Gulick, was scheduled to have surgery. The surgery was meant to help his knee, as he has been struggling to control his pain for a long time. The surgery was cancelled as a result of the emergency orders.

“Under both the state constitution and federal law, the governor doesn’t have the power to unilaterally shut down health care providers in the state,” said Patrick Wright, director of the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation and vice president of legal affairs at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

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