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COVID Overhelming Ohio Hospitals, Threatening Patients

A hospital sign outside Grant Medical Center in downtown Columbus.
David Holm

Ohio's top doctor said the current surge in COVID is overwhelming hospitals, causing some to cancel elective procedures or send patients elsewhere. And he said that is putting patients at risk.

Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said 292 COVID patients were admitted to hospitals in the state Wednesday. Last year, on the same day, Ohio had 103 admissions.

“Even though about half of us today are well protected by vaccination, our daily hospitalizations are about triple what they were last year. And the reason is simple. The delta variant is aggressively seeking out anyone who lacks immunity," he said.

Vanderhoff said the Ohio Hospital Association is reporting one in six hospitalized patients in the state has COVID, and about one in four in the ICU is battling the virus. He said in rural hospitals a third of patients are COVID positive, and the virus is responsible for about half of the ICU patients there.

Dr. Michael Canady, the chief executive officer of Holzer Health System, which operates hospitals in Jackson and Gallipolis, said the hospitals have 75% more patients with COVID right now than they had at the peak of the surge last winter. He said 73 are hospitalized right now, with sevent in ICU, and five of those are on ventilators.

Canady said one hospital is at capacity and he's afraid it will no longer have enough staff to take care of people. As an example, he said a patient yesterday was stabilized then transferred to a different hospital for care because there wasn't enough staff to care for him. He said it's also sometimes difficult to get ambulances to transfer patients.

Canady said it's a day-by-day, very challenging situation on the front lines.

It's not just rural hospitals that are feeling the stress from COVID patients.

Earlier this week, all of the hospitals in Toledo were on emergency bypass status for a few hours. That meant emergency squads could not bring patients to their facilities.

Dr. Brian Kaminski, the vice president of quality and patient safety at Promedica Hospital in Toledo, said one in eight patients hospitalized there right now are battling COVID.

Vanderhoff said Ohioans who think they might have COVID should avoid going to emergency rooms for testing. At-home testing kits are available at local libraries statewide.

Vanderhoff continued to urge Ohioans to get COVID vaccinations and wear a mask indoors. Though there is no statewide mask mandate, though some communities are requiring masks again.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.