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Ohio hospitals face staffing shortages as COVID-19 cases climb

"What we are seeing now as cases surge is an increasing demand on our staff. Every county in the state," ODH chief medical officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said Monday.

TOLEDO, Ohio — There's a dire warning from health professionals across Ohio as the coronavirus is raging throughout the state, and all of us have a role to play in stopping the spread.

COVID-19 cases are climbing at an unprecedented rate as hospitals brace for impact.

"Many of our hospitals are starting to reach their stress points and become overwhelmed and are really having a hard time dealing with the ongoing provision of care," ProMedica Dr. Brian Kaminski told WTOL 11 Monday.

But it's a different challenge during this so-called second wave, according to incoming Ohio Department of Health chief medical officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff.

"We were primarily concerned with the availability of limited global supplies, personal protective equipment, coupled with high demand for critical care and ventilator beds," Vanderhoff said. "What we are seeing now as cases surge is an increasing demand on our staff. Every county in the state."

Health experts warn if we don't get COVID-19 under control, staffing levels at medical centers across the Buckeye State will continue to decrease.

In fact, it's already happening.

"What we're seeing is we're getting a lot of our caregivers who are coming down with COVID. We have over 300 out at the Cleveland Clinic alone today," Dr. Robert Wyllie of the Cleveland Clinic said Monday at a joint press conference.

Low staffing coupled with rapidly-increasing patients is posing the biggest challenge to date at a time when hospitals are used to seeing an influx in people who need care.

"That's in addition to the, I'll say 'normal' fall flu and other types of critical illness volume that we see and it's not sustainable," Mercy Health president Ronda Lehman said.

Experts say we all have a personal responsibility to fight back and the guidance hasn't changed. Stay home when possible, wear a mask, social distance, and wash your hands often.

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