Central Ohio hospitals reaching capacity limits amid delta surge

Local News

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)–As covid cases hit highs that haven’t been seen in a long time, hospital capacities are also reaching new lows.

OhioHealth taking action to address that this morning, pausing some elective procedures to free up hospitals beds.

“That’s directly related to capacity,” said Jeff Klingler, President of the Central Ohio Hospital Council. “That allows those hospitals to free up staff to focus on other high volume areas versus some of those elective procedures. I would anticipate that you could see other hospitals in the region follow those same steps.”

Klingler says last week, Central Ohio’s hospitals were 93% full. As of Thursday morning, that number hit 96%.

“As of this morning, there are 389 COVID-positive patients in our hospital region today. So that’s up 100 just from last Thursday. Putting it into another way, 14% of all beds in the region are being used to care for COVID-positive patients. Just 6 weeks ago, that number was one percent,” he said.

Late Thursday, the CEOs of Central Ohio’s hospitals released a joint letter saying, in part “in the last four weeks, we have collectively witnessed a staggering 457% increase in COVID-19 patients in our hospitals.”

As of now, OhioHealth stands alone in Central Ohio in putting a pause on services.

A spokesperson for Wexner Medical Center released a statement:

There are no current plans to delay electives here at WMC. Our ICUs are very busy, but that’s pretty routine for us. We are exploring ways to expand our ICU capacity in the coming days as the number of COVID patients increases.

Mount Carmel also released a statement:

We currently don’t have any plans to postpone elective procedures. We are continually assessing our operations to ensure we remain prepared to provide the best care to our patients and the community as COVID-19 cases continue to rise. It is critical that the community takes the current health guidelines outlined by local health officials and the CDC seriously. This current spike in cases won’t end unless everyone does their part to end it—we urge you to get vaccinated if you haven’t already, to wear masks while indoors, maintain safe distances, wash your hands and stay vigilant.

Nationwide Children’s echoed the sentiments saying:

Surge management in pediatrics is our usual course of business during winter months. This year, we have implemented strategies to optimize staffing and continually evaluate capacity, sooner than typical.

While we are busy, we continue to be able to meet the needs of our patients and community without having to systematically postpone or delay care.

Even though it’s an elective procedure getting the pause, for now, Klingler said those are still important and keeping some people in pain.

“When you’re talking about a hip replacement or a knee replacement or some sort of surgical procedure that would require an overnight stay, they are elective but they’re still important to patients. Those are procedures where the patient is in pain and they’re looking for relief,” he said.

With case numbers reaching highs they haven’t been at in months, Klingler said it could only be a matter of weeks or days before other hospitals join in pausing elective care unless something changes.

“Now is the time to really consider getting that vaccine and go back to all those things that we’ve been doing through the pandemic to help our hospitals get through the next weeks – that includes the masking, that includes the distancing those things that we’ve been doing throughout the pandemic are really important for our community over the next three to for weeks if we’re going to get through this latest surge,” he said.

But for now, all the data shows that conditions and capacities are almost guaranteed to get worse.

“We’re anticipating several more weeks of increases,” Klingler said. “If we’re looking at the experience of other states – the southern states like Texas, Florida, and Alabama – we could certainly anticipate that our trajectory here in central Ohio could increase over the next three, four weeks until we see that peak.”

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