‘Never felt so helpless’: Ohio doctors describe latest COVID-19 surge


COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW)– The Ohio Department of Health held a conference on COVID-19 Thursday morning to highlight the conditions of hospitals across the state.

State Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff led discussion, and was joined by Holzer Health System Chief Executive Officer Dr. Michael Canady and Dr. Brian Kaminski, vice president of quality and patient safety at ProMedica.

“I’m afraid that if someone comes in with a medical problem or a surgical problem that we would normally be able to take care of, that we won’t have the ability to do that simply from staffing and beds,” Canady said. “We are so short staffed right now from nurses who have burned out, left, gone to traveling nurses agencies… I’ve been in health care over 40 years and I’ve never felt so helpless. And I don’t know that the public knows how much we are really struggling with this.”

The Ohio Hospital Association said one in six patients in hospitals across the state has COVID-19, and one in four patients in the ICU has the virus.

Kaminski described it as a perfect storm with one in eight patients hospitalized at ProMedica because of COVID-19. He said for 12 to 14 months, there was lower demand for care as people were afraid to come to hospitals. But now, there is a bent-up demand paired with COVID patients.

“Earlier this summer, I think we all felt like we were reaching a point where we were putting this to rest, a lot of the restrictions were loosened and you know, we weren’t wearing masks for a while outside the hospital setting,” Kaminski said. “With the delta surge, we went back to the pandemic we knew before. The mood is very somber. People are definitely stressed. It’s very rare to run into health care workers, patients or family members who have not been impacted by COVID.”

On Wednesday, the Ohio Department of Health reported 7,747 new cases of COVID-19 over the previous 24 hours, which is up from the 21-day average of 6,037. There were also 292 hospitalizations, 18 intensive care unit admissions and no deaths. In early July, Ohio was seeing about 200 to 300 new COVID-19 cases daily.

The trio of doctors stressed getting vaccinated. Vanderhoff called it a, “Pandemic of the unvaccinated.” Kaminski said while there are break-through cases, the large amount of COVID-19 hospital admissions are among the unvaccinated.

“We simply have to get those vaccines in as many arms as possible. Our staff hasn’t taken it as willingly as I would like them to. It’s very challenging when people just don’t understand that this vaccine technology has been around for 30 years. It’s safe. There are no long-term consequences to the vaccine like there are with COVID.”

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