PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (WCMH) – A hospital at southern Ohio has sent out an urgent message.

The Southern Ohio Medical Center (SOMC) posted the message on social media on Saturday. “This is an announcement we never wanted to make: Our ICU is at capacity,” the top of the message reads.

“We never wanted to get to this point. We’ve watched the news all over the country for the last year and a half and we’ve seen hospitals in this same situation,” said Amy Fraulini, Nursing Director for Critical Care Services & Heart and Vascular Services at SOMC.

Fraulini has been helping lead the hospital’s COVID-19 response and says the ICU is full. She says the situation in the medical center now is worse than the winter surge. Equipment and staffing are both challenges with staffing being the bigger challenge at this point in the pandemic, according to Fraulini.

“We don’t have the critical equipment everywhere so we’ve got to strategically figure out where to put patients, but our bigger concern today is staff to man those beds,” she said. 

The hospital is adding a fourth COVID unit to address the surge, according to SOMC’s post. Fraulini also says they are looking at changing their one patient ICU rooms into two patient ICU rooms. Both are steps not taken at earlier points in the pandemic.

“We just decided we needed to let our community know what’s going on here in their community hospital and we felt it was important they understand there’s long waits in our ER now,” she said.

“And we are getting short on beds, and we are becoming overwhelmed with these COVID patients to the point where you know there may not be enough resources and beds available for others in the community.”

Most of SOMC’s COVID patients are not vaccinated, according to Faulini. She says some have begged to get the vaccine when they’re about to be put on a ventilator. The hospital is in Scioto County. Data from the Ohio Department of Health shows 38.5% of the people in Scioto County are fully vaccinated. Scioto has the highest percentage compared to its neighboring counties. 

“Every vaccination I believe helps us get a step closer to having another bed for a critical patient in an emergency situation that really needs to be here and to get care,” said Fraulini. 

The post says the hospital “desperately” needs to the community’s help and explains getting vaccinated, wearing masks, and social distancing can all help. Usually when SOMC is strapped for resources, it can transfer patients to other hospitals. Fraulini says doing that is a challenge right now because other hospitals are also dealing with influxes of COVID-19 patients.