Acton says Ohio “designing a new workforce that never existed” to fight coronavirus


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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton has said repeatedly since the beginning of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic that hospital capacity will become an issue as more and more people test positive for the virus.

For Acton, capacity doesn’t just mean hospital beds — it also means the health care officials who care for those patients.

During Gov. Mike DeWine’s coronavirus briefing Monday, Acton said ODH has a team working on the staffing issue, and it is looking at some unexplored avenues to help ensure people are cared for, both patients and those caring for them.

Acton said three regions in the state — northeast near Cleveland, central Ohio, and southeastern Ohio — are being used to test some ideas to help bolster the workforce.

One of those avenues is taking nursing students or trained nurses who pursued other kinds of work, and offering them online training to put them into service.

“Some of those innovations that one area of our state has already discovered, one of the things that I’m doing is trying to universalize that or share the best practices that one place is using or anywhere in this country,” Acton said.

Another thing Acton said is happening is schools are graduating medical professionals early and getting them placed where they can be of the most help.

“There’s a lot of moving pieces to the people problem,” she said.

A third effort the ODH is undertaking is getting younger medical profession students training to become “amateur disease detectives.”

The detectives would be the “boots on the ground” in numbers not seen before, even by public health departments, Acton said, and would be tracing the steps of those who test positive and people they possibly have come in contact with.

“We’re designing a new workforce that’s never existed and it will be a wonderful learning opportunity for all of those, I mean, the people who are training in health care today, this is going to be a memory, a turning point in their careers,” she said.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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