MANSFIELD — As the COVID-19 pandemic sends more people to the hospital, OhioHealth is asking the public for help.
OhioHealth is searching for temporary, non-clinical patient support. This role would assist nursing and other operational staff as needed with non-clinical duties. A person has to be over the age of 18 with a GED or high school diploma to apply.
"This is really for a caring, compassionate person who wants a temporary role supporting our direct caregivers such as nurses, doctors and other care team members," said Kelly Vierling, chief nursing officer and vice president of patient services.
Vierling said this person may be responsible for running lab work, passing out water to patients, picking up meal trays, stocking supplies for patient rooms, keeping patients company, or simply answering phones.
"Someone just answering the phone allows for the nursing staff to stay with the patient and not be interrupted," Vierling said. "They might seem like small tasks in the big picture, but they're so meaningful to our direct care team. It's the small things that make a big difference."
COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Ohio, with nearly half a million confirmed cases as of Friday. At the same time, hospitalizations continue to rise and put a strain on healthcare workers and local facilities. In Ohio's Region 5, which encompasses Richland County, the Ohio Department of Health reported Friday 1,030 hospitalized COVID-positive patients, 226 in intensive care and 140 breathing on a ventilator.
According to a report from Eye on Ohio, the biggest capacity constraint for hospitals is not in physical space, but in staffing availability. The new temporary roles at OhioHealth will help ease that burden.
"We need more resources to take care of the COVID patient population," Vierling said. "We also have (staff) in quarantine based on community spread, so we have lesser people at any given time. And our COVID volumes themselves have increased.
"We're stretching the staff for direct care, so we need indirect care to support that frontline staff."
The non-clinical support work would last for 90 days, paid at $15 per hour. OhioHealth is especially seeking workers for night shifts after 7 p.m. and on weekends. The person can also request which OhioHealth hospital they would like to be placed at; in Richland County, that would be either OhioHealth Mansfield or Shelby Hospital.
A person can also specify whether they are comfortable working around COVID-positive patients.
"We have all the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), but this person would not typically work with COVID patients," Vierling said.
Mostly, OhioHealth is looking for someone who is passionate about helping others. Vierling said the role would be perfect for a college student, a person doing at-home learning, or anyone interested in healthcare who would like to see healthcare from the inside and understand more about what a care team does.
In her 33 years at OhioHealth, Vierling has never experienced this kind of call-out for community support before.
"I can honestly say I've never led through a pandemic and I hope I never lead through another one," she said. "This allows the community to give back; this is a way they can help but we can also help them by making it a temporary paid position. So we're supporting each other.
"If you have to look at the positive of a pandemic, it sure brings the community together."