Cincinnati hospitals face residual effects of COVID-19

Bed capacity in intensive care units remains low in the Cincinnati region as hospitals attempt to recover from the omicron surge that staggered the community just two months ago.

Area health experts say residual effects of the latest spread such as lingering COVID-19 patients, and the return of many non-COVID patients and procedures, are the main reason why ICU and medical-surgical beds are still stuffed with sick patients even while virus -related hospitalizations continue to plummet.

A workforce shortage, particularly in the health industry, also persists, limiting the capacity for certain units only to what resources are available on any given day.

Hospitals were so overwhelmed in January, the systems connected on expanded space and resources, mainly through assistance from the Ohio National Guard in order to meet basic patient needs.

Ohio National Guard members pictured with health workers at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center during the omicron-fueled case surge in early 2022.

The local systems have enjoyed some relief since then as the omicron variant has deteriorated as rapidly as it rose. But a number of challenges still remain as the hospitals enter what Tiffany Mattingly, vice president of clinical strategies for the Health Collaborative, calls a “recovery phase” of the pandemic.

According to the latest data from the Health Collaborative’s Situational Dashboard, ICU beds in the Cincinnati region are still 94% full and medical-surgical beds are 93% full.

Percentage of adult beds occupied in the Greater Cincinnati region as of March 29.

Both of those numbers are still above pre-pandemic levels, even though only 1 in 20 patients in 40 local hospitals currently has COVID-19. At the height of the omicron surge, as many as 1 in 3 patients at the hospitals had the virus.

“Some of the capacity limitations are due to staffing, which will continue as we work through these shortages,” said Mattingly, who analyzes COVID-19 data trends for the region. “On top of that we have regular patient flow. Many people delayed their care for many reasons. There were concerns about going to the hospital, they were delaying getting their primary or specialty care. Those delays can have an impact on people’s health and people are coming in sicker than they were previously.”

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Positive trends in COVID-19 cases

The number of COVID-19 patients in the ICU has significantly dropped since January. In the Cincinnati region. According to the latest data, 92 patients remain hospitalized with COVID-19, while 14 individuals are being treated in the ICU and eight are on ventilators.

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