Exceptional Care at UH Continues in the Face of COVID-19
October 05, 2021
An update on where things stand here with the ongoing pandemic
By Cliff Megerian, MD, Chief Executive Officer, University Hospitals
UH Clinical Update | October 2021
Depending on when you read this, the numbers of hospitalized COVID-19 patients we have may be dropping. Then again, another surge may be upon us later this fall.
During our previous surge – October through December of 2020 – we reached a high of 320 hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Most were seniors or middle age. However, the patients we are admitting now are much younger – by a few decades – than those we had a year ago. That is because most older people have been vaccinated, so they aren’t getting the illness. Very few people admitted with COVID-19 have been vaccinated, and of those who have been, it’s often because they have underlying conditions. So the vaccine did not provide as much of a preventive effect for them.
To keep this in perspective though, about 97.5 of the patients admitted have not been vaccinated. Also, just over 98 percent of the COVID-19 patients in our hospitals today have the Delta variant – which is twice as contagious as the previous variants, and has made even younger patients seriously ill.
To give one strikingly sad example: On a recent weekend at UH Elyria Medical Center, eight patients died when they were extubated because they were not recovering – four were in their 30s and 40s, with the youngest being 32 and the oldest 65. Our thoughts go out to the families of these individuals and also to their UH caregivers for the emotional toll they experienced.
Last week, about 20 percent of our admitted COVID-19 patients were in ICU’s, and about 20 of our COVID-19 patients are intubated. The length of the hospital stay for these patients averages about one month. In Ohio and Cuyahoga County, we have seen a decline in overall cases but a slight increase of hospitalizations and a significant number of deaths, as hospitalizations and deaths often lag by several weeks.
There are COVID-19 patients who once might have had to be hospitalized but are now being treated as outpatients because, per the FDA, we can now offer monoclonal antibody infusions in this manner -- for example, at our new infusion center at the UH North Ridgeville Health Center. Outpatient infusions were not an option in the earlier days of COVID-19.
I want to thank all of you, again, who have been working so hard, for so long, treating patients during this ongoing pandemic, which has complicated a nationwide shortage of health care workers. We appreciate every single thing that our caregivers are doing – and all of you are heroes to me.
But we also are making adjustments to provide some relief. As you may have read in a message from me last week, we have implemented a number of strategies to attempt to balance staffing for our clinicians. Many health systems across the state and country have been forced by staffing shortages and the surge in COVID-19 to make similar decisions. Doing this now reduces the likelihood that we will have to defer elective procedures for patients, as some other health systems have done.