Regional hospitals open more COVID units to keep up

Taylor Spicer is a nurse at Miami Valley Hospital nurse. She is wearing full personal protective equipment, including an oxygen tank on her back, as she enters data for a COVID-19 patient in the hospital's COVID-19 unit.
Caption
Taylor Spicer is a nurse at Miami Valley Hospital nurse. She is wearing full personal protective equipment, including an oxygen tank on her back, as she enters data for a COVID-19 patient in the hospital's COVID-19 unit.

Dayton-area hospitals say they have set aside more space and taken other steps to accommodate the rising number of COVID-19 patients.

This comes as a southern Ohio hospital in Portsmouth raised the alarm over the weekend that its ICU was at capacity and it was opening a fourth COVID unit.

While reports have come out of other states in recent weeks of people missing out on lifesaving treatments due to hospitals and intensive care units being full of coronavirus patients, most Ohio hospitals have not reached their capacity limits yet.

Spokespeople for Premier Health, Kettering Health and Dayton Children’s said Monday their hospitals still have beds available. As cases rise again, Premier and Kettering locations have reopened COVID-19 units established during the peak of the pandemic but not used during the early summer when cases were down.

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“We are certainly getting closer, day by day, to that previous peak of 522 patients hospitalized in our region in December of last year,” said Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association President and CEO Sarah Hackenbracht. “We are approaching that peak, and we’re approaching that peak rapidly. And we’re trying very hard to prevent that from happening. And the scenario right now is actually different because in December of last year, we didn’t have the roll-out publicly of the vaccine, whereas now we do. And so there are tools that people can help us put into place.”

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

There are 353 patients currently hospitalized for COVID-19 in the region made up of Montgomery, Greene, Miami, Preble, Clark, Champaign, Darke and Shelby counties, according to the Ohio Hospital Association.

Another 528 patients are currently hospital patients for the separate region that includes Butler, Warren, Clinton, Hamilton, Clermont, Highland, Brown and Adams counties (all-time high for that region was 820 on Dec. 15).

“In our region, we continue to have the same approach that we will surge internally, as opposed to building an external site,” Hackenbracht said. “And so hospitals are looking at internal infrastructure expansions, whether that means opening or reopening a floor that had previously been used for COVID patients, and doing what they need to do from a facility standpoint to keep those individuals separate from the other patient populations that they’re treating. The biggest challenge is that staffing continues to be an issue for overall hospital capacity.”

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A spokesman for Premier Health said that as cases have increased throughout our region during late summer, Premier hospitals have set aside more space to care for COVID-19 patients.

“While we have sufficient bed capacity, staffing is tight at our sites of care as it is across the health care industry,” the spokesman said. “We have taken several steps to avoid reaching capacity, including in our ICUs. This includes the resumption of our Helping Hands program, through which staff in nonclinical roles provide nonclinical assistance to our clinical teams at our sites of care. This program was key to our resilience during the COVID-19 surge last winter.”

A spokesman for Kettering Health said that like many hospital systems in the state, Kettering Health has had to reopen COVID-19 units to accommodate the latest surge.

“We remain capable of caring for all of our patients, and we are constantly assessing the pandemic and adapting our approach to provide the best care possible for our community,” the spokesman said.

A spokeswoman for Dayton Children’s said there are 11 kids in the hospital with COVID-19 as of Monday, and capacity is not a concern at this time.

Hackenbracht said getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is the most effective way to keep yourself and others out of the hospital and leave beds open for others in need.

“In addition to vaccinating, if your child is not able to be vaccinated, they should be wearing a mask, you should be wearing a mask and that again is helping us continue to prevent the spread of this virus,” she said.


By the Numbers

Statewide:

1 in 6 Ohio hospital patients are COVID-19 positive.

1 in 4 Ohio ICU patients are COVID-19 positive.

3,427: Current COVID-positive hospital patients statewide (all-time high was 5,308 on Dec. 15).

932: Current ICU patients with COVID-19 statewide (all-time high was 1,318 on Dec. 15).

In the region made up of Montgomery, Greene, Miami, Preble, Clark, Champaign, Darke and Shelby counties:

1 in 4 ICU patients are COVID-19 positive.

353: Current COVID-positive hospital patients (all-time high was 522 on Dec. 3).

89: Current ICU patients with COVID-19 (all-time high was 122 on Nov. 30).

In the region made up of Butler, Warren, Clinton, Hamilton, Clermont, Highland, Brown and Adams counties:

1 in 3 ICU patients are COVID-19 positive.

528: Current COVID-positive hospital patients (all-time high was 820 on Dec. 15).

148: Current ICU patients with COVID-19 (all-time high was 203 on Dec. 30).

Source: Ohio Hospital Association