Ohio Governor Mike DeWine to Tackle Hospital Staff Shortages as COVID Cases Rise
UPDATE: As COVID-19 cases continue to climb in Ohio, Governor Mike DeWine said Friday morning he was sending 1,050 members of the Ohio National Guard to help state hospitals meet their staffing challenges.
“Earlier in the pandemic, our concern was about beds, space,” he said at a morning press conference. Today it is about personnel. “
DeWine said members of the guard would be on duty starting Monday. Of the 1,050, 150 of them are trained health professionals. The rest will take care of other tasks such as “transporting inside the hospital, food and the environmental work that goes on in hospitals and is so important every day,” the governor said.
Medical troops will be concentrated in the Akron, Canton, Cleveland and Wooster areas, at least initially, DeWine said. The rest will be scattered across the state. The assignment is for an indefinite period.
He said the state is also working with recruiting agencies to bring in workers from out of state to help. DeWine declined to say how many workers the state was trying to add, saying only “that’s quite a large number … and we expect that will be a significant help.”
As of July, more than 4,000 members of the Ohio National Guard have been deployed to 70 missions across the state to assist local, county and state partners, according to a press release issued then. Troops have helped deliver more than 360,000 COVID-19 vaccines; received, packaged and distributed over 150 million pounds of food and groceries to over 2.9 million Ohioans; and provided temporary medical staff to more than 30 long-term care facilities.
The governor’s briefing comes a day after the governor and his wife, Fran, declared to have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for the novel coronavirus. DeWine said he and his wife tested negative again on Friday.
The Cleveland clinic in northeast Ohio, which has been hit particularly hard by the increase in cases, announced Friday morning that it would extend its postponement of elective surgeries until the end of 2021.
“It is important to understand that our hospitals and emergency services remain open to the care of our community,” the statement said. “Essential and urgent surgeries, as well as cardiac, cancer, pediatric and transplant surgeries, and outpatient surgeries not requiring a hospital bed will continue to be scheduled during this time.”
The clinic had hoped to resume surgeries on Monday
Hospitals in the Cincinnati area are full and are facing a “dramatic situation” ahead of what could be the biggest increase in demand from the 21-month pandemic, a leader of the region’s healthcare industry conference council said on Thursday.
The Ohio Department of Health also reported on Thursday an increase of more than 11,000 new cases of COVID-19. Although the number includes a backlog of positive test results.
This story will be updated.
Anna Staver is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau. It serves the Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron Beacon Journal and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.