‘Our hospitals need our help now’: Ohio health leaders urge vaccines, COVID safety


COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) – The Ohio Department of Health held a press conference with other state health leaders Wednesday amid a record-setting number of new COVID-19 cases.

ODH Director Bruce Vanderhoff, MD, MBA, spoke with Major General John C. Harris, Jr., Adjutant General of the Ohio National Guard who is overseeing the deployment of national guard troops to help ease the burden on the state’s hospitals.

Harris says they’re looking at other “testing missions” to add more COVID testing sites and understand capacity at their current site, which was shut down due to overwhelming response Tuesday.

Here is where they are planning deployments:

  • Cleveland Clinic Akron General Hospital (Summit)
  • Summa Health Akron City Hospital (Summit)
  • Cleveland Clinic Mercy Hospital (Stark)
  • Mercy Health St. Elizabeth Hospital (Mahoning)
  • Mercy Health St. Joseph Hospital (Trumbull)
  • Promedica Hospital in Toledo
  • Mercy Health St. Vincent Hospital (Lucas)

“Our hospitals need our help now,” Dr. Vanderhoff said.

David Custodio, MD, MBA, FACEP, President, Summa Health System Akron and St. Thomas Hospitals was also at the press conference.

Summa Health announced this week that it had added refrigerated trucks to prepare for extra capacity at the morgue.

Custodio says there are backups in the emergency department. He says 1 out of every 3 beds there is occupied by someone who is being treated for COVID.

UC Health Associate Chief Medical Officer and Infectious Disease Physician, Jennifer Wall Forrester was also at the press conference.

4,797 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in Ohio, according to the Ohio Hospital Association.

1,206 of those people are in the ICU.

Dr. Vanderhoff said people need to do their part for the community when asked if there would be new COVID restrictions.


  • Bruce Vanderhoff, MD, MBA, Director, Ohio Department of Health 
  • Hospitals are pleading with people to get vaccinated – Dr. Vanderhoff
  • “All of us, regardless of where we live, need to work together to take the pressure off our hospitals.”
  • “If you’re vaccinated and you contract COVID-19, you’ll have milder symptoms, if you have any.”
  • 584 new hospitalizations reported Tuesday
  • “We should all be very concerned about the tidal wave of COVID hospitalizations.”
  • “Our hospitals need our help now.”
  • Dr. Vanderhoff is urging people to get COVID tests at pharmacies and urgent care. Many have had a hard time finding at-home tests.
  • Dr. Vanderhoff did not directly answer whether there would be new COVID restrictions but said it’s on the community to do their part
  • Major General John C. Harris, Jr., Adjutant General, Ohio National Guard 
  • Guard members are in pre-deployment training to understand certain protocols
  • More testing missions expected
  • Guard members with hospital background will likely work in ERs. Those without will help with whatever is needed to help hospital staff.
  • David Custodio, MD, MBA, FACEP, President, Summa Health System Akron and St. Thomas Hospitals  
  • “To date, we’ve treated over 10,500 patients for COVID.”
  • 1 out of every 3 beds is occupied by COVID patients he says
  • Backups in emergency department
  • Procedures postponed due to COVID

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