COLUMBUS, Ohio — A panel of Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center specialists addressed a rise in hospitalizations related to COVID-19 throughout the region on Thursday.
The briefing comes in the days following an announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommending a third dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine to Americans with weakened immune systems.
Wexner Medical Center began administering doses to those patients who qualified earlier this week.
U.S. health officials on Wednesday recommended all Americans receive COVID-19 booster shots eight months after receiving their final dose in order to protect as many people as possible against the delta variant.
The Biden administration says those shots could be available as soon as September 20, based on when the vaccine was first administered.
Andy Thomas, who serves as chief clinical officer at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, drove home this point, saying medical staff will administer doses to immunocompromised patients only until booster shots are given full approval from U.S. health officials.
Thomas stressed the importance of getting vaccinated, citing a rise in hospitalizations in other states, currently overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients as one reason for concern.
“We are not there now, but if the numbers keep rising over the next four to six weeks as they have been, we’re in a significant concern that there will be problems with care here in the state,” said Thomas.
Thomas said, if hospitalizations continue at the same rate over that timespan, area hospitals will begin eliminating elective care and limiting outpatient services.
According to Thomas, one hospital in central Ohio has already taken such measures. He warned more could follow suit if trends continue unabated.
Currently in Ohio, one in seven patients in the ICU is being treated for COVID-19. Just one month ago, Thomas said that number was one in 37.
Health officials fear those numbers will only worsen in the winter and as more students return to school.
At Wexner Medical Center, there have been 495 patients admitted with the virus since April 1. Thomas said, out of those patients, only 7 were fully vaccinated when they were admitted.
10TV reached out to several central Ohio hospitals to find out what their capacity situation is.
"We are at another crucial moment in the pandemic which if not taken seriously, could result in repeating the impact hospitals experienced during last winter's surge. While Mount Carmel remains below last winter's peak COVID-19 census, COVID-19 cases continue to increase due to the Delta variant. It is critical that the community takes the current health guidelines outlined by local health officials and the CDC seriously. We urge central Ohioans to maintain the practices we know work at preventing severe disease and hospitalizations: get vaccinated, wear masks while indoors, maintain safe distances, wash your hands and remain vigilant."
Nationwide Children's Hospital:
Nationwide Children’s Hospital continues to experience a significant and unprecedented increase in patient volumes for this time of year. This surge is secondary to typical winter viruses (e.g., RSV, Rhinovirus) that historically do not infect children in August. Our volume of hospitalized COVID patients remains low. While our hospital is quite busy, we continue to have capacity to meet the needs of the children in and around Central Ohio. At this time, we are continuing to provide a full complement of care without any reductions in surgeries or outpatient services. Unfortunately, our emergency departments and urgent care sites are experiencing longer than usual wait times for illnesses and injuries that are not critical or life-threatening. Nationally and locally, there are healthcare workforce shortages. This, coupled with unseasonable volume, strains healthcare systems, including Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
OhioHealth is constantly monitoring our physical and staffed capacity. Despite current COVID-19 and Delta variant challenges, we are working together through established healthcare leadership discussions to ensure we, as a trusted health partner, maximize our resources for patients and their families. We have levers in place, as we did with earlier surges, that can be pulled in regards to elective procedures and other offerings that could ease staffing and space challenges. If we make these adjustments, they will be made as a team, not be made lightly, and be as short-lived as possible, ensuring that we take the best possible care of all of our patients. Most importantly we, as a health system, would encourage the public to wear masks indoors, even if you are vaccinated per CDC guidance, socially distance, avoid large indoor gatherings, and get vaccinated.
You can watch Thursday’s briefing in the player above.