Next round of Ohio National Guard members to arrive at hospitals next week

About a thousand Ohio National Guard members will be deployed to Ohio hospitals next week to help hospitals overwhelmed with staffing shortages and an influx of COVID-19 patients.

Ohio National Guard Maj. Gen. John C. Harris, Jr. said the guard members will start arriving at hospitals as early as the middle of next week. A total of 2,300 Ohio National Guard members have been activated so far, with approximately 40 in Dayton. Currently 1,400 guard members have been deployed in 40 facilities across the state.

Most of the servicemen deployed are helping in non-medical capacities, with about 140 guard members with medical training helping with patients and clinical tasks.

Those helping in non-medical capacities are working to prepare and deliver meal trays, cleaning and turning rooms for new patients and transporting patients, Harris said. Guard members are also establishing testing sites and alleviating the pressure from emergency departments seeing an increase in people seeking COVID tests.

COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are continuing to set records in Ohio as hospitals across the state delay non-essential surgeries to deal with staffing shortages and a surge in patients.

While Northern Ohio is affected the most, hospitals in Dayton and Cincinnati also are starting to delay elective procedures, Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said.

Premier Health on Friday announced it will postpone nonemergency procedures amid record COVID hospitalizations, and earlier this week Kettering Health announced it was postponing nonemergency procedures requiring an overnight stay.

In Central Ohio, hospitals are delaying non-essential surgeries through Jan. 21, said The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Andy Thomas.

“That’s a pretty drastic step that hospitals are voluntarily taking so that we can have the capacity we need when we need it,” he said.

Essential surgeries include surgeries to save a life, organ or limb or to prevent the progression of cancer or severe pain.

Over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays Ohio has set multiple COVID records. On New Year’s Eve the state reported 20,590 cases in 24 hours, the most single-day cases recorded by Ohio during the entire pandemic. The state has also broken the record for COVID patients hospitalized in Ohio for eight days in row, with 6,536 people hospitalized with the virus on Thursday. On Wednesday, Ohio reported 1,325 COVID patients in its ICUs, breaking a record set during the winter surge a year ago.

“Our state is experiencing the highest number of COVID-19 driven hosptitzations, ICU admissions and patients on ventilators that we have seen in the entire pandemic,” Vanderhoff said.

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