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Health

Ohio National Guard Medics Could Help Short-Staffed Hospitals But They Need To Request That Assistance

makeshift COVID hospital in Columbus
Columbus Convention Center
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Columbus Convention Center
The Greater Columbus Convention Center was transformed into a makeshift COVID-19 hospital in April 2020 as officials expected a surge of cases. It was torn down but officials said it could be reassembled in a few days if needed

And Governor DeWine's spokesman says, so far, the hospitals haven't started that process.

Earlier this week, all of Toledo’s hospitals simultaneously could not take patients brought in by emergency squads for a few hours because the facilities were at capacity. Only ten total beds were open in Columbus hospitals for a while Thursday night. And some rural hospitals have had to route patients to other counties.

Hospitals say the problem is they are short-staffed as employees deal with their own COVID issues at home. Add to that the fact that some medical workers have become exhausted and quit or retired since the pandemic began. And with the COVID hospitalization rates increasing to levels seen at the peak last winter, hospitals are hurting.

Some states are using National Guard medics to help hospitals. DeWine’s spokesman Dan Tierney says the state could do that but local Emergency Management Agencies would need to request help from the state's EMA.

“Ohio EMA evaluates whether, one, there is assistance that can be provided through other agencies that the requestor doesn’t know about that could be state or federal and two, we look and see whether that request would be allowable under the state of Ohio," Tierney says.

Tierney says it's up to hospitals to reach out to their Emergency Management Agency to start the process of getting extra help as the Ohio National Guard could provide.

Last year, early in the pandemic, makeshift hospitals were set up in buildings throughout Ohio. But after a while, those facilities were torn down. The governor's office said they could be resurrected quickly if needed. But there is no talk of bringing those facilities back yet. Hospitals say they are trying to deal with staff shortages by making internal changes, like administrators working on floors, to help accommodate extra patients.

The state's top doctors are encouraging all Ohioans who are eligible for the COVID vaccine to get it. And they are advising all Ohioans, vaccinated or not, to wear masks indoors and at crowded outdoor events. They say the Delta variant is spreading quickly throughout Ohio, making people sicker, quicker.

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