COLUMBUS (WCMH) — After the Ohio Department of Health revealed 40 new ICU admissions Monday, the number of total admissions in the state is approaching 5,000 since the pandemic began.
“People need to take this virus very serious. The capacity of our hospitals are the capacity of our hospitals, and we’re trying our best to treat everyone and do the best possible thing we can for our patients,” said Dr. Nicholas Kreatsoulas from Mount Carmel.
But for healthcare systems across the state, with more admissions comes fewer capacity.
“It’s not just ICU beds, but hospital beds in general,” warns Dr. Joseph Gastaldo with OhioHealth.
Experts said more people aren’t just contracting COVID-19, but are getting critically sick from the virus.
“We’re seeing sicker patients being admitted to the hospitals and to our ICUs,” Kreatsoulas explained.
Though the Department of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard shows nearly a quarter of ICU beds in the state still available, according to the Ohio Hospital Association, less than 200 ICU beds are open in central Ohio’s Region 4, one of the most heavily infected areas in the state.
“ICU beds are tight,” Gastaldo said. “Hospitals are able to open up more ICUs as needed and there are many switches that the hospitals can pull the trigger on if needed to increase ICU bed capacity.”
While hospitals can activate those plans at any moments, healthcare systems across the state said those decisions won’t be made independently.
“There is a lot of juggling that goes on and within the state of Ohio, and specifically within our region, the four healthcare systems are always talking to each other about bed capacity and trying to help everybody out if needed,” Gastaldo said.
ICU admissions create even more challenges when it comes to patient care.
“When COVID patients go to the ICU, they have prolonged hospitalizations, and they can be there, on average, a much longer time than non-ICU COVID patients,” Gastaldo added.
This requires an increased need for those already most as risk.
“We have beds, but we’re limited by our nursing staff,” Kreatsoulas said. “Our nursing staff, our caregivers, our doctors are exhausted.”
Among contingency plans for the state is the mobile hospital at the Columbus Convention Center, but healthcare systems said those beds would likely be reserved for people not acutely ill. However, it still requires having enough staff to be able to care for the number of patients that could be transferred there.