Monday, January 24

desperate request from hospitals fighting covid-19

(CNN) — “Help”.

That word, in big black letters and surrounded by white space, called out Ohio’s largest newspaper: a desperate request from six Cleveland-area medical systems facing a flood of COVID-19 cases.

“We need your help,” read the bottom of ad. “We now have more covid-19 patients in our hospitals than ever before. And the vast majority are not vaccinated.”

The announcement was sponsored by Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, MetroHealth, Summa Health, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and St. Charity Medical Center. It follows a similar request from Minnesota hospitals earlier this month. , who ran a full-page newspaper ad that read: “We are devastated. We are overwhelmed.”

Sunday’s announcement in the Cleveland Plain-Dealer was a response to the latest Covid-19 health crisis raging in northern Ohio, nearly two years into a pandemic that killed more than 810,000 Americans and struck to many hospitals in the country.

This ad for six Cleveland-area health centers appeared on Sunday

“Right now we are in an important wave and we are raising awareness about the importance of vaccination, underlining that the majority of people who are hospitalized due to covid are not vaccinated,” said University Hospital spokesman George Stamatis, commenting on the ad intent.

Cuyahoga County, where Cleveland is located, has one of the highest rates of COVID-19 hospitalizations and accounts for 60% of all COVID-19 hospitalized patients in the state, said Dr. Alice Kim, chief medical officer. Cleveland Clinic Operations Department at a Dec. 15 briefing.

“As we see the cases increase, we also see how sick these patients are,” Kim said. “They are definitely sicker than we had experienced in the first months of the pandemic in 2020.”

The number of covid-related hospitalizations is at its highest level since December 22, 2020, Governor Mike DeWine said at a news conference on Friday.

Given the stress on hospital staff, DeWine noted that nearly all northern Ohio hospitals discontinued elective surgeries.

The governor mobilized more than 1,000 members of the National Guard on Friday to “help ease the strain on hospital staff caused by the growing number of patients hospitalized by Covid-19,” according to a press release.

A COVID-19 free testing center with staff from the Ohio National Guard and the Ohio Department of Health opened in Cleveland on Tuesday. But it was closed at the end of the day due to overwhelming demand. The Ohio Department of Health said more than 1,000 people underwent the tests, but that registrations were no longer being accepted.

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More than a third of the Cuyahoga population remains unvaccinated, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

“We continue to see that the majority of our patients, particularly those in ICUs, are not vaccinated,” Dr. Brook Watts, medical director of community health for the MetroHealth system, told CNN’s John Berman on Monday.

Having cared for covid patients since the beginning of the pandemic, Watts said the difference this time is that they are seeing younger people, especially young parents arriving with covid-19.

“There is nothing more heartbreaking than walking into the room of a covid patient and seeing photos of their young children,” Watts said.

CNN’s Liam Reilly and Raja Razek contributed to this report.

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