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Cleveland Hospitals Still Have Capacity, Despite Rise In Hospitalizations

These charts show Ohio is seeing an increase in overall hospital admissions and ICU visits. [Ohio Department of Health]
These charts show Ohio is seeing an increase in overall hospital admissions and ICU visits. [Ohio Department of Health]

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the state and in Northeast Ohio, local hospitals have space to handle the expected increase in new patients, officials said.

The Ohio Department of Health divides the state into eight regions for data collection. Northeast Ohio is  region 2, which includes, Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain, and Geauga counties. 

The number of hospitalizations in Region 2 increased in the last few days. Area hospitals reported there were 142 total COVID-19 patients hospitalized on Saturday, with 46 patients in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and 23 on a ventilator. Two days later, on Monday, that number had grown to 174 total COVID-19 patients in the hospital, with 58 in the ICU and 30 patients using a ventilator.

Despite the rising numbers, Cleveland-area hospitals still have plenty of capacity, according to hospital officials.

University Hospitals is at 77 percent of its overall bed capacity and 67 percent of its ICU capacity, according to Dr. Daniel Simon, president of UH Cleveland Medical Center.

UH is currently treating 55 COVID-positive patients, Dr. Simon said in an email.

The Cleveland Clinic has seen the same trend of increasing numbers of COVID-19 patients, including in the hospital’s ICU.

In August and part of September, the number of hospitalized patients at the clinic declined, but there has now been an increase in cases again, said Andrea Pacetti, a clinic spokesperson in an email response.

Statewide, the largest percentage of cases is in the 20-29 age range, but the Cleveland Clinic is seeing more older patients being admitted due to COVID-19, Pacetti said.

MetroHealth System is also reporting slightly higher rates of hospital admissions, but the in-patient COVID census remains low, sadi Dorsena Drakeford, a hospital spokesperson.

Across the region, hospitals are using slightly higher than 30 percent of the total ventilator capacity.

In some other states and cities, COVID-19 cases have increased so rapidly that hospital resources are being strained. According to a report from National Public Radio, cases climbed on average nearly 60% in the two weeks before Oct. 22, in the Midwest, compared to 35% nationally.

And across the country, most non-metropolitan counties  have now recordedat least 100 cases or more per 10,000 people since the pandemic began — that's almost double what it was in  early September.

In Northeast Ohio, the three major hospital systems have not reached bed capacity, but if they did, hospital officials report that they have room to grow, which is called surge capacity.

MetroHealth can surge to more than double its typical capacity, and University Hospital can grow to almost triple. The capacity can grow by adding acute care and ICU beds to underutilized areas and floors, officials said.

Hospital officials said they don't expect to use the extra capacity.

The hospitals report a sufficient amount of personal protective equipment (PPE)  for staff as well.

lisa.ryan@ideastream.org | 216-916-6158