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With ICUs Near Capacity, Ohio Hospitals Work Together During COVID Surge

Cleveland Clinic Akron General
Jeff St. Clair
Cleveland Clinic Akron General

ICU space and in-patient hospital bed availability is nearing capacity in Summit and Cuyahoga counties. But there is a plan in place to ensure that hospitals don’t run out of space.

According to the state’s public health advisory dashboard, as of late last week, ICUs in Cuyahoga County were at 82% capacity, and 83% in Summit. Franklin County is at 84% capacity.

However, Ohio Hospitals Association spokesman John Palmer says there are a number of safeguards, including one that’s been in place for almost 20 years, where hospitals in Ohio’s 88 counties have been grouped into eight regions under a Hospital Preparedness Program.

“Well, that’s why hospitals, when it comes to a pandemic and emergency response planning, can’t work in a vacuum," Palmer said. "They work collaboratively with all other providers and health care congregate care settings.”

For the past month, Cleveland Clinic Akron General has been near or at capacity in its critical care units. Hospital president Dr. Brian Harte says the pandemic has put a lot of pressure on the hospital and its staff, but they’re making sure everyone is getting the care they need.

“We’ve used beds, at times, in our emergency department as overflow for the ICU, and as some folks know, we’ve helped create some capacity at least within the Cleveland Clinic health system by foregoing a modest number of surgeries over the past few weeks,” Harte said.

He says that while hospitals are traditionally competitors, he’s gratified by how the members of the Akron Regional Hospital Association have bonded together to address the pandemic through sharing best practices, visitation policies, and supplies of personal protection equipment. He says it’s a relationship that’s continued to grow.

Palmer says hospitals around the state are communicating and coordinating on a daily basis about their capacity. And the state has identified three zones, with plans to set up additional hospital capacity in Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati if needed.