How Dayton-area hospitals are meeting the COVID-19 surge

Dayton-area hospitals are navigating how to meet the COVID-19 surge with enough staff and beds while planning for their next steps, with all local hospitals last week reporting at least 10% of their hospitalized patients have the virus.

“We are, we are seeing the highest numbers that we have seen both within our network as well as within a community,” said Brenda Kuhn, chief clinical officer at Kettering Health Network.

Kettering Health operates Ft. Hamilton, Grandview, Greene Memorial, Kettering Medical, Soin, Sycamore, Southview, Troy and Kettering Behavioral hospitals.

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Earlier this year, the hospital network opened an ICU at Soin, which she said helped with capacity. They have designated units at their larger facilities in both med/surge and ICU units for COVID patients. Kuhn also said the hospitals have spaces not currently used for any patient care that could potentially be modified.

“So we have a gym in our Kettering campus. And we would build that out if we needed to to accommodate additional patients, but we have been able within our bed capacity to manage the patients within the normal areas we would care for patients,” Kuhn said.

To fill staff, she said the system has used travel agencies. They have a float pool they developed early on that she said lets them move staff to where they have the greatest need. They have incentives to pick up extra shifts.

“So we can train people to deliver trays that might normally work in a business function. One of the key components of that is making sure that we have worked with those teams and are orienting them to those positions prior to needing to get to that staffing level,” Kuhn said.

Premier Health also currently has a “Helping Hands” program, which “through which support staff can provide additional support for our health care heroes so those front-line staff can maintain focus at the top of their skill set.”

“We have filled hundreds of shifts through this program and expect that this support will continue to grow during the holiday season to keep pace with community need,” the health system stated.

Premier operates Miami Valley Hospital and its sister sites Miami Valley Hospital North, in Englewood, and Miami Valley Hospital South, in Centerville; Atrium Medical Center, in Middletown; and Upper Valley Medical Center, near Troy.

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When asked about what kind of beds, units, or floors have been added to increase capacity, Miami Valley Hospital said in a statement it has been able to increase the number of units dedicated to the care of COVID patients and at the same time, has been able to “maximize our physical space utilization to help care for all our patients without compromising the quality of care.”

Federal data shows that the number of Miami Valley Hospital patients hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 has been climbing. From Oct. 2-8, the hospital had an average of 66 COVID-19 inpatients a day. For the latest reporting week, from Dec. 4-10, there were on average 198 COVID-19 inpatients a day.

About 81 COVID-19 daily hospitalized patients were reported at Kettering Medical Center on average for the week of Dec. 4-10. For the first reporting week of October, there were on average 12 COVID-19 patients a day.

In March, facing an unknown virus and amid a shortage of gloves and masks and gowns, hospitals agreed to cancel their elective procedures. In this surge, electives remain permitted and, locally, hospitals say they are managing to care for both the needs of COVID and non-COVID patients.

“We are still performing surgeries and haven’t had to postpone electives at this point,” Kuhn said.

When asked about electives, Miami Valley stated Friday that at this time, during the current surge of COVID-19 cases, they were “balancing schedules to maximize the care we can provide, including elective surgeries.”

“When appropriate, some procedures are being rescheduled to ensure this balance. We understand that just as COVID-19 is not letting up, neither are many other health care needs in the community,” the Premier Health -affiliated hospital stated.

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As part of their surge plans, both Kettering Health and Premier Health have had a few patients who have met the criteria to be transferred to Dayton Children’s.

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