COVID-19 surge: Cleveland Clinic, MetroHealth, University Hospitals limiting non-urgent surgeries – Akron Beacon Journal

Cleveland Clinic, the MetroHealth System and University Hospitals announced Friday that they are voluntarily making adjustments to the scheduling of non-urgent surgeries at certain locations due to “yet another surge” in the number of COVID-19 patients.
In Summit County, Summa Health had planned to limit elective surgeries, along with available inpatient beds, by late October to address staffing shortages, but it’s been unable to fully implement that plan as COVID-19 hospitalizations increase.
Western Reserve Hospital and Akron Children’s Hospital said they have no current plans to limit elective surgeries.
But Summit County’s four hospital systems — Summa, Cleveland Clinic Akron General, Western Reserve and Children’s — continue to see surging numbers of COVID-19 patients.
On Friday, the four systems reported 22 additional COVID-19 patients from Thursday for a total of 276, the highest number since Dec. 18, 2020, when they were treating 296 patients.
Ohio also reported 9,584 new cases Friday. 
The three Cuyahoga County-based hospital systems that announced the limits on non-urgent surgeries said they’re seeing “unprecedented demand for inpatient care across our facilities.” That’s led to their hospitals reaching nearly full capacity at many locations.
University Hospitals is experiencing a record number of hospitalized COVID-19 positive patients, with Cleveland Clinic hospitals and MetroHealth both reporting increases in hospitalized patients due to COVID-19.
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The systems also said they’re seeing a significant increase in unvaccinated patients hospitalized because of COVID-19, with more than 90% of patients with COVID-19 in the ICU unvaccinated. The majority of vaccinated patients who are hospitalized have underlying health conditions, they said.
With vaccination protecting people from severe illness, the hospital systems urged everyone eligible to get vaccinated.
The hospital systems said the scheduling adjustment “frees resources for patients with immediate and life-threatening needs and manages the demands on frontline caregivers, who have served with distinction throughout the pandemic.”
The hospital systems emphasized they remain available to provide care to patients experiencing an emergency, life-threatening illness or prescribed screening or testing, as well as providing outpatient surgeries that don’t require a hospital bed.
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Cleveland Clinic is temporarily halting the scheduling of additional non-urgent inpatient surgeries requiring a hospital bed in its Ohio locations, with the exception of Euclid and Lutheran hospitals, starting Monday, Dec. 6 through Jan. 3. Essential and urgent surgeries, as well as heart, cancer, pediatric and transplantation surgeries, and outpatient surgeries not requiring a hospital bed will continue to be scheduled during that time period.
In the Akron area, Cleveland Clinic operates Akron General, Mercy Hospital in Canton and Medina Hospital.
MetroHealth said that in response to high demand for inpatient care involving both COVID and non-COVID cases, it’s begun postponing some elective surgeries to free up space in its hospitals. It’s also encouraging more use of its Hospital in the Home program to meet the latest patient surge.
MetroHealth’s locations are in the Cleveland area.
University Hospitals is rescheduling certain non-urgent surgeries at UH Cleveland Medical Center that require an inpatient stay for a short duration of time. The medical center continues to perform urgent surgeries, outpatient surgeries and procedures that don’t involve an overnight stay.
University Hospitals is continuing to perform all types of surgeries and procedures at its community hospitals, although the hospital system said the situation is fluid and subject to change. University Hospitals’ physicians are seeing patients as they always have, and UH labs and testing centers are open.
University Hospitals operates Portage Medical Center in Ravenna.
The Beacon Journal began tracking the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Summit County on Nov. 30, 2020, around the time of the start of last year’s holiday season surge. The highest number of COVID-19 patients reported in Summit County since then was 318 on Dec. 15, 2020.
The Friday number includes 132 patients at Summa, 105 at Akron General, 27 at Western Reserve and 12 at Children’s.
Before March 2021, the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients had been generally trending downward since mid-December 2020, when the county’s hospitals reported the high of 318 patients on Dec. 15.
The figure fluctuated from the upper 50s to upper 70s throughout March but ranged from the upper 70s to upper 90s throughout April. It was back in the 60s and 70s in May, and from there, the number continued to drop, reaching a record low of 12 patients on three separate days in early July.
From there, the number again began to climb, reaching 195 by the end of September. It dropped back down again throughout October, reaching 88 at the end of the month. But the number has again been climbing since then.
Contact Beacon Journal reporter Emily Mills at emills@thebeaconjournal.com and on Twitter @EmilyMills818.

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