Hospitals Prepare for Surge in Demand for Critical Care

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Representatives for area hospitals assert they are prepared for the upcoming holidays, although data shows tight capacity for critical care beds amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Data compiled from Ohio Department of Health statistics by Eye on Ohio, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Ohio Center for Journalism, shows some hospitals with only one or no critical care beds available as of Nov. 20. Postponements of certain elective surgeries has freed other beds in the hospitals.

According to the data, Trumbull Regional Medical Center in Warren had the most critical care capacity available – four beds — among local nonspecialty hospitals, as well as 62 medical/surgical beds and 38 ventilators.

St. Joseph Warren Hospital in Warren and St. Elizabeth Boardman Hospital in Boardman reported no critical care bed capacity as of Nov. 20. St. Elizabeth Boardman had 15 medical-surgical beds and one ventilator available, while St. Joseph reported 13 medical/surgical beds and nine ventilators available for use.

Meanwhile, St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital in Youngstown, reported one critical care bed available, plus nine medical/surgical beds and 26 ventilators.

In Columbiana County, Salem Regional Medical Center in Salem had one critical care bed available, one medical/surgical bed available and 24 ventilators on hand. At East Liverpool City Hospital, three critical care beds were available, 49 medical/surgical beds and 20 ventilators.

Salem Regional Medical Center

“As cases continue to rise sharply in our region, Salem Regional Medical Center is facing another surge of COVID-19 patients similar to what all hospitals across our region are seeing,” said Dr. Anita Hackstedde, Salem Regional president and CEO.

“Due to the large numbers of patients seeking care, we are expanding our ability to treat the growing number of patients seeking inpatient and emergency care by reallocating our staff and resources where they are needed the most,” Hackstedde continued. “This includes limiting our elective procedures so that we can reallocate staff from these services to help with the increased hospitalizations and provide direct patient care at the bedside.”

Salem Regional also has expanded its intensive care unit capacity to manage the surge of COVID-19 patients and accommodate more ICU patients, she said.

Trumbull Regional’s standard operations include 18 intensive care unit beds and 12 critical care unit beds, and the hospital has the ability to add more isolation areas as part of its emergency preparedness plans related to COVID-19, a Trumbull Regional spokesperson said.

Trumbull Regional Medical Center

“Trumbull Regional Medical Center and Steward [Health Care] facilities remain prepared to properly care for patients with COVID-19. We continue to work closely with the local health department and have been taking proactive steps to ensure that we have the staffing and resources needed,” the spokesperson said.   
Mercy Health, which operates St. Elizabeth Youngstown, St. Elizabeth Boardman and St. Joseph Warren, has plans in place to enhance capacity and the hospitals “are working collaboratively with other health care and government agencies through this unprecedented event,” said Jonathon Fauvie, Mercy Health public relations and communications manager.

“Our facilities continue to care for all patients, including those infected by COVID-19,” Fauvie said. Personnel have the necessary personal protective equipment to keep them safe and Mercy Health is monitoring its supplies, with plans in place to support its needs, he said.

East Liverpool City Hospital is not experiencing capacity issues heading into the holiday weekend but is experiencing staffing vacancies, though current staff is “ready and able to provide high-quality care with an ample supply of PPE in inventory,” said spokesman Richard Perez. Like other health-care representatives, he urged people to stay home, not gather in large groups, and wear masks and social distance as much as possible.

“We know that as people gather over the holidays, the likelihood of spread is real and we hope that people practice precautions,” said Rob McGregor, chief medical officer for Akron Children’s Hospital, which has its Mahoning Valley Campus in Boardman and facilities throughout the region.

The Boardman campus has 22 medical/surgical beds available.

Akron Children’d Hospital Beeghly Campus in Boardman

“At Akron Children’s, we have the PPE we need to care for our patients. Specifically at the Beeghly campus in Boardman, staffing is sufficient and we have capacity to care for patients,” McGregor said. “Our primary concern right now is the Akron adult hospitals, which are running at 80% capacity and currently diverting some patients out of the region. We have capacity at our Akron campus and are prepared to admit young adults less than 35 years of age.”

The health-care systems urged caution for the holidays.

“For months we have urged our community to wear masks, maintain social distance, wash our hands and avoid large gatherings. As evidenced by ever-growing case numbers, COVID-19 fatigue has set in across our communities,” Mercy Health’s Fauvie said.

Mercy urges people to “rethink Thanksgiving” and consider a smaller gathering of the immediate household, gathering outside if the weather permit and using technology to safely connect with friends and family.

“It’s vital that we keep one another safe, including our health-care heroes,” Fauvie said.

“During the coming weeks, especially over the Thanksgiving holiday, each person’s choices will determine whether this virus continues to spread out of control,” said Salem Regional’s Hackstedde said. “We ask everyone to wear a mask, socially distance and wash your hands to not only protect your loved ones, but our caregivers. We need them to stay healthy so they can take care of our patients.”

Steward officials encourage the community to continue following all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Ohio Department of Health guidelines and continue wearing masks in public, “social distancing and avoiding large crowds and gatherings, especially over the upcoming holiday,” the spokesperson said.

Nov. 25, 2020: Ohio’s Hospital Capacity Data in 10 Charts

Pictured at top: St. Elizabeth Boardman hospital.

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