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Northeast Ohio hospitals reporting surge in COVID-19 patients

Hospitals in Northeast Ohio are reporting a surge in COVID-19 patients.

CLEVELAND — Editor's note: the video in the player above is from a previous story.

Hospitals across Northeast Ohio are reporting a surge in COVID-19 patients. The increase has added pressure on hospitals and emergency resources.

“On a day-to-day level, it’s been very stressful,” said Cleveland Clinic Akron General President Dr. Brian Harte.

Harte said the stress is related to keeping up with healthcare demands in the community.

“We’re seeing a higher number of COVID patients, as high or higher than what we saw a year ago which is the last time we saw a really big surge. At the same time, demand for other services are really unprecedented.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, the healthcare system has seen a significant increase in COVID patients. About a month ago on Nov. 1, the clinic reported that it had 319 patients in its Ohio hospitals. Now, that number has more than doubled at over 700 patients.

“Unfortunately, we still have a large number of people that are not vaccinated, and that’s driving the hospitalizations,” said Harte.

Harte said about 80 percent of COVID patients at Akron General are unvaccinated. He notes that with the surge of patients, the demands on emergency departments increase. It’s something North Canton Fire Chief John Bacon has witnessed first-hand in Stark County.

“Normally we’re in and out in about 35 to 40 minutes tops,” said Bacon. “But we’re doubling our times at the hospital.”

Bacon said the long wait times leads to concerns on staffing and responding to other emergencies.

“Small department like me, I have four ambulances. If three are at the hospital, I’m left with one,” said Bacon.

That demand changes day-to-day but hospital and emergency officials say the need to stay prepared and alert remains the same.  

“We’re all seeing substantial demands on our emergency departments and longer wait times than we’re comfortable with,” said Harte.

There’s no timetable on when the trend may change to relieve stress on hospitals and emergency services, but Harte said they’re not out of the woods yet.

“Even once the number of cases go down, which I hope they do ASAP, the challenge on the hospitals will remain for quite some time,” said Harte.

University Hospitals has also noticed an increase and released the following statement to WKYC:

Health systems nationwide are experiencing a surge due to increased COVID-19 hospitalization and non-COVID-19 demand. Our region is not exempt from this. University Hospitals is leveraging the strength of our 23-hospital system and is able to provide for the health care needs of our patients.

The surge of severely ill patients admitted to our hospitals for COVID-19 is nearly all unvaccinated patients. We continue to provide information about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines and encourage our patients to get vaccinated.