Newest projections for Ohio suggest we need to follow the stay-at-home order strictly to avoid running out of space in our hospitals

UH Chief Medical Officer says the hospital system is preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best

Newest projections for Ohio suggest we need to follow the stay-at-home order strictly to avoid running out of space in our hospitals
UH closing North Ridgeville emergency department for 60 days to use resources to fight COVID-19 elsewhere (Source: Vic Gideon)

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Hospitals in Ohio are continuing to prepare for an influx of coronavirus patients. Many are hoping the early action by Governor Mike Dewine could help Ohio escape the fate of other states whose hospital systems have been crippled.

It's every healthcare providers worst nightmare, being forced to decide who lives and who dies based on the number of available hospital beds or equipment.

“You know I do think about it,” said Dr. William Brien, University Hospitals Chief Medical Officer. “It’s one of those things that keep me up at night.”

Dr. Brien says they’ve developed models that take them from 100% capacity to 300% over capacity.

“So when we’ve done this we’ve looked at where we are and with that type of surge we would ultimately flex our system from about 1968 total beds in the system to about 6,000 beds in the system if we got to a 300% surge,” explained Dr. Brien.

He says they’ve also partnered with Case Western Reserve University to use their field house and that would give them an additional 250 beds, but where will the other 4,000 beds come from?

“The space would be in our own facilities,” said Dr. Brien. “Sometimes you cohort people into larger units. Obviously in critical states you don’t use single bedded rooms sometimes you have to move into multibedded rooms and if patients are COVID positive you could cohort them into groups because there’s no risk of getting the disease because they already have the disease.”

According to the latest projections for Ohio from COVID Act Now; 5,954 people will be in the hospital by June 4th if we follow the stay-at-home order strictly. Compare that with 34,379 people hospitalized with poor compliance of the order. At that time it is estimated we will have 33,271 available hospital beds in our state.

If we follow the stay-at-home order for three months but with poor compliance, it’s estimated that our hospitals will be full in Ohio by June 3rd.

On the other hand, if we follow the stay-at-home order strictly for three months our hospitals will never fill up.

“To those people who think that we’re out of the woods yet, we’re not and to those who think this is a hoax that is an absolutely incorrect position to take,” warned Dr. Brien. “This is serious.”

The latest projections for Cuyahoga County indicate that with poor compliance of the stay-at-home order our hospitals will be full by May 28 with about 5,500 people hospitalized and less than 4,900 beds. Compare that to less than 1,400 people hospitalized by May 31 if we follow the order strictly.

COVID ACT NOW projections are based on the current general scientific consensus, but of course it is just a prediction and these numbers can change.

“One needs to be cautious in interpreting these results,” explained Dr. Brien. “We’re not like South Korea where they were testing huge numbers of people, we just don’t have the kits right now to be able to do that.”

If you want to look up the projections for your county, visit covidactnow.org.

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