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Ohio Hospitals Getting Requests From States Overwhelmed By COVID

Sign directing patients and visitors to the emergency room outside an Ohio hospital
Karen Kasler
/
Statehouse News Bureau
Sign directing patients and visitors to the emergency room outside an Ohio hospital

Ohio's hospitals are not at dangerous levels of capacity, but health officials admit they're worried.

Ohio’s hospitals are reporting increasing numbers of COVID positive patients in regular admission and in intensive care units.

But because there’s still room, they’re being asked by other states that are running out of beds to take in sick patients.

Two weeks ago, Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center chief clinical officer Dr. Andy Thomas said he got a call from Texas – one of several COVID hotspot states in the south.

“They wanted to fly individual patients here in fixed-wing airplanes, jets, because they were out of beds and they’d used up all the capacity in their adjoining states – Louisiana, Oklahoma, etc.," Thomas said.

Thomas said they saw that situation coming, and chose not to take in those patients.

UC Health in Cincinnati got a request to transfer a patient from Alabama but had to turn them away too.

This comes as some hospitals say they're being pushed close to capacity and have to consider options such as postponing elective procedures. There's been a statewide, 10-fold increase in COVID patients in the last two months.

This isn't just happening in Ohio. Other states are reporting getting calls about transferring patients from areas where there are no more hospital or ICU beds.

Texas has reported being overwhelmed with COVID cases for more than two weeks. Alabama ran out of ICU beds several days ago. Florida, Georgia and Louisiana are also reportedly nearing or exceeding hospital and/or ICU bed capacity.

(NPR has a tool to research how full hospitals are and where overcrowding might be happening here.)

UC Health said it sometimes will take in a patient from another state if they are an Ohio resident. And the Cleveland Clinic said it will take in patients if there’s a need in an area that system specializes in.

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