CLEVELAND, Ohio — What we're seeing right now is only the beginning.
Local hospitals are watching what's happening in other states and bracing for more patients and more of a demand on resources.
“It’s not hard to wake up and be a little scared for what is happening but I will say that Ohio at-large and certainly in my hospital system at University Hospital," explains University Hospitals Associate Medical Director of the Department of Emergency Medicine, Dr. Robert Hughes. "I think we have done everything possible to prepare our self as best we can for what’s about to potentially happen."
Although there are lower volumes in the emergency department right now, the hospital is starting to see an increased number of patients with symptoms of COVID-19. Thursday UH announced an upgrade to its testing procedures ‘using a method by a commercial vendor.’
The change will allow for testing to be available within several hours. According to a statement, hospital staff ‘will continue to use the original method we developed, aiming to provide those results within 24 hours, as well as state and independent reference labs as needed. Results sent out are currently taking 5-10 days.’
The priority is to test those who are sick and hospitalized as well as employees.
"We're going to certainly see an evolution over the next couple of days to weeks here, across the country, I think as this disease becomes more prevalent and as more people become ill," says Hughes.
He says Ohio has done a good job of staying ahead of the curve, trying to do its best to maximize social distancing and minimize personal interactions.
"All of us are hoping that's going to translate to a smoothed volume of people arriving to the emergency department here."
Carol Y. Joiner, 60, of Cleveland was admitted to Cleveland Clinic Marymount a day after her COVID-19 diagnosis.
At one point, she had pneumonia, a fever and trouble breathing.
"Every time I took a few steps I couldn't breathe, I was tired, I had to sit down," says the realtor who wasn't working in and out of houses.
"I was just in and out of grocery stores, I don't know how I got it. I was supposed to go out of the country but that was canceled so I didn't get it that way."
Thursday Joiner, who says she's feeling better, was released from the hospital.
"This is no joke, this is serious, you know people are minimizing it saying oh it's just the flu, no it's bigger than the flu."