Clinic reports highest number of COVID-19 patients since last winter, and predicts worst is yet to come

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The Cleveland Clinic is now seeing its highest volume of COVID-19 patients since last winter, causing long wait times in Clinic emergency departments, and fewer nonessential surgeries.

Things are predicted to get worse. The Clinic’s forecasts predict the highest volumes of COVID-19 patients will come in the next several weeks, as this current pandemic wave peaks in northern Ohio, the hospital system said in a statement Monday.

About 460 patients — including 135 in intensive care units — are in the Clinic’s Ohio hospitals. This is more than double the number of patients that were hospitalized with COVID-19 at the Clinic one month ago. The majority of these patients are unvaccinated, the hospital system said.

Statewide, unvaccinated people account for close to 94% of recent coronavirus hospitalizations, according to data from the Ohio Department of Health.

“We urge our community to receive their COVID-19 vaccination, as this continues to be the best protection against severe illness and death from COVID-19,” the Clinic said.

In order to cope with increased demand for healthcare and staffing challenges, patients are being moved to different facilities in the health system, the statement said.

Some locations — including Cleveland Clinic Akron General, Cleveland Clinic Mercy Hospital in Canton and Cleveland Clinic Union Hospital in Dover — are scheduling fewer nonessential surgeries that require an inpatient stay.

Essential and urgent inpatient surgeries — including heart, cancer, pediatrics, transplantation and neurological cases — will continue as scheduled, the Clinic said.

The Clinic is not alone is facing staffing challenges. Summa Health in Akron is reducing inpatient hospital beds by more than 20% and temporarily stopping some elective surgeries due to a nationwide staffing shortage made worse by the pandemic, the Akron Beacon Journal reported today.

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