CINCINNATI (WKRC) - UC Medical Center is canceling all elective surgeries that require hospitalization. It's just one of several maneuvers local hospitals are taking because of the sharp rise in COVID-19 cases taking up their beds.
“We're running into more and more difficulty when it comes to capacity,” said Rebecca, the nursing supervisor at UC Medical Center. “Because our numbers have definitely ramped up over the past couple of weeks."
UC Health officials would not go on camera Monday but did provide interviews it took of frontline doctors and nurses inside the COVID-19 unit.
"Our capacity is really limited,” said Dr. Michael Hellman, a UC Health pulmonary and critical care physician. “We've had a hard time bringing in these critically ill patients from other hospitals -- not only COVID, but other issues: liver disease, liver failure, renal failure, other kinds of respiratory failure."
Because of the surge, UC Health is taking the following actions: Effective immediately, only medically necessary, time-sensitive cases, inpatient and emergency cases and outpatient elective cases that do not require admission will be performed.
Secondly, starting Tuesday, UC Medical Center will repurpose its cardiovascular recovery unit as an eight-bed surge intensive care unit. And still in effect since Nov. 15L external transfer requests to an ICU will require advance approval and patient appointments will be moved to telehealth when possible.
At St. Elizabeth Healthcare in Northern Kentucky, all surgeries from the Ft. Thomas campus are being relocated to other surgery locations to maximize additional capacity for COVID-19 inpatients at one location in Ft. Thomas.
At Christ Hospital, elective procedures are canceled on a case-by-case basis if the appropriate inpatient beds are not available. Hospital officials are also evaluating transfer requests on a case-by-case basis.
And while the frontline workers are doing their best, they say they are exhausted.
"It's morally exhausting when I go to Home Depot to pick something up for home and I find no one wearing a mask, everyone walking around like nothing's wrong," lamented Dr. Louis B. Louis IV, UC Health's chief of cardiac surgery.
The Health Collaborative, the group that coordinates efforts between most of the area hospitals, says, as a region, hospitalizations have grown exponentially over the past month.
As of Monday, 1 in 4 patients within hospitals in Southwest Ohio are COVID-positive. That’s up from 1 in 8 just three weeks ago.
The number of patients within our region’s ICUs is the highest it’s ever been. The Health Collaborative says the best thing the public can do to help is to wear a mask, socially distance and stay home as much as possible.
If you have an elective procedure planned that requires hospitalization, you should check with your physician to make sure it doesn't need to be rescheduled.