Patients hospitalized with COVID-19 are being doubled-up in rooms at Springfield Regional Medical Center as Mercy Health has had to expand their coronavirus unit in order to treat more patients, Clark County’s health director said.
As of Friday, 61 patients were hospitalized at SRMC, Charles Patterson, health commissioner at the Clark County Combined Health District said. Originally the medical center had two 30 bed COVID units, but with those units full, the hospital is expanding the unit by placing two COVID-19 patients in a room together.
“I’m old enough to remember and maybe some others do too, remember semi-private hospital rooms. That’s where it was two people in the same room basically divided by a curtain,” Patterson said. “That’s basically what the hospital is setting up in the COVID-unit.”
Nanette Bentley, a spokesperson for the hospital, did not share the number of COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized at SRMC when asked by the . Bentley also did not provide the hospital’s maximum capacity for the COVID ward.
The number of beds provided for COVID-19 patients can change based on need, she said, adding she could not provide an exact number.
Mercy Health also operates the Urbana Hospital. However, patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 there are transferred to SRMC, according Mercy Health officials.
The expansion means SRMC can now treat up to 120 patients, Patterson said.
Bentley said that though SRMC is experiencing higher patient volumes, there has not been a disruption in services.
The hospital has not limited elective surgeries and continues to schedule those appointments, Bentley said.
“For those services that can be accessed virtually, we continue to offer video visits and other forms of telemedicine as an alternative to in-person visits,” she said.
Patterson added that COVID related hospitalizations is not the biggest problem the hospital is facing.
“We know that we have the capacity,” Patterson said. “The issue is going to be having enough staff and critical care trained nurses and technicians to be able to provide the care. What we really don’t want is to get to the point where we are stretching those folks.”
According to Patterson, Mercy Health has already listed their hospital staffing in Springfield at “level red,” which means, “it’s getting close to critical.”
Dr. Richard Lofgren of UC Health and the leader of Zone 3, which encompasses all of the hospitals in southwest Ohio, including Clark and Champaign counties, told Gov. Mike DeWine during a press conference on Monday that hospital staff in Zone 3 are “visibly exhausted and burnout from the sharp increase in hospitalizations while also dealing with staff shortages as workers get sick.”
The hospital has cross-trained and raised the competencies of its clinical staff, Bentley said. This allows the hospital to reposition those employees strategically when the need arises.
“Having staff available to care for patients is critical and we ask the community to continue doing its part to stop the spread of COVID-19 by making, social distancing, washing their hands and avoiding gatherings,” Bentley added.
Clark County had 5,114 cases, 128 deaths and five probable deaths of coronavirus as of Tuesday, according to the Ohio Department of Health. In total, 236 people have been hospitalized in Clark County with COVID-19 since the pandemic began in March.