MANSFIELD — A surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations is putting a strain on area hospitals and causing the cancellation of some elective surgeries.
“Medical/Surgical, Intermediate Care and Critical Care beds are near capacity,” said Gavin Baumgardner, vice president of clinical affairs at OhioHealth Mansfield and Shelby Hospitals. “The Critical Care Units are most impacted right now with the amount of patients we are caring for with COVID-19 or other conditions.”
“Hospitalizations are very high for both COVID-19 and other conditions, and our teams are doing amazing work despite these capacity challenges."
Area hospitals have begun to limit services as a result of increased demand. OhioHealth’s Mansfield Hospital recently stopped admitting pediatric patients altogether.
“As part of our surge plan, we paused admitting pediatric patients at Mansfield Hospital in order to use the unit for adult patients,” Baumgardener told Richland Source. “We have a close partnership with Nationwide Children’s hospital and will transfer pediatric patients in need of hospitalization to Nationwide’s care, unless another hospital is requested by the parent.”
The hospital has transferred pediatric COVID-19 patients to Nationwide since the start of the pandemic, Baumgardener said. Now children brought to the hospital will be seen by an emergency physician if needed, but those who need to be hospitalized will be sent elsewhere.
With COVID-19 cases continually on the rise, Baumgardener believes that things will get worse before they get better.
“We anticipate an ongoing rise in admissions of COVID patients over the next several weeks,” he said. “To prepare, we made the difficult decision to limit elective surgeries and cardiac procedures that require overnight or inpatient admissions at Mansfield Hospital. We are still caring for all medical emergencies that come through our doors and will continue to manage the acute medical needs of our community.”
COVID-19 admissions are also straining resources at Avita Health System’s hospitals.
“Our hospital system has been running at 80%-95% capacity of inpatient beds the past few weeks due to the surge of COVID positive patients needing hospitalization,” Kim Winkle, Vice President of Operations, said.
Winkle told Richland Source that the influx is affecting multiple departments, including medical-surgical, the intensive care unit and ancillary departments providing inpatient care.
“Our Emergency Departments are also greatly affected as we are experiencing higher Emergency Department volume at all of our hospitals,” she said. “There is not a department in the hospital that has not been affected due to the increased hospitalizations.”
At times, Avita has been at full capacity. Winkle says hospital administrators are looking at surge plans for adding additional space as necessary.
They are also re-evaluating less urgent services.
"We are currently assessing all inpatient elective surgeries on a case-by-case basis due to bed availability and have cancelled elective surgeries as needed,” Winkle said.
While not all hospitalizations are COVID-related, those that are require a different care model with more clinical staff, Baumgardener said.
Baumgardener said members of the community can help alleviate the surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations by taking precautions to stop the spread of the virus.
“Please wear a mask, become vaccinated, avoid indoor gatherings and use social distance if possible,” he said.
“Caring for others, especially during a pandemic, can be challenging work and it’s not for everyone, but we are fortunate to have such a dedicated team of providers and associates who are working tirelessly to care for our patients and the community.”
A group of hospital leaders made a similar plea in a joint letter issued last week. The letter was cosigned by the CEOs and presidents of Akron Children’s Hospital, Avita Health System, Cleveland Clinic, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, OhioHealth Mansfield and Shelby Hospital, Third Street Family Health Services and Samaritan Medical Center.
“With the latest surge in COVID-19 cases, our hospitals, emergency departments, and urgent cares are seeing record numbers of patients,” the letter stated. “Many of the patients requiring hospitalization are experiencing a higher degree of illness than we have seen in the past. We are concerned with what the coming weeks will bring.
What we are experiencing is very real. It isn’t a political issue; it’s a medical issue. When we look at our patient data, a vast majority of hospitalized COVID-19 patients have not received the COVID-19 vaccine.”