Cleveland Clinic physician says Ohio’s hospitals might not reach capacity if we continue to socially distance

Cleveland Clinic
Cleveland Clinic(East 171 off St. Clair)
Updated: Apr. 8, 2020 at 9:59 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - In just 36 hours the coronavirus killed more than 1,000 people in New York City.

In Ohio, doctors on the front lines say the reason we aren’t seeing that level of devastation is because of our early action.

While the Cleveland Clinic does have a large and growing number of COVID-19 patients, Dr. Rendell Ashton believes hospitals in Ohio still have a fighting chance to avoid the nightmare we’re currently seeing in New York, but he says that’s only if all of us do our part.

Dr. Rendell Ashton is a pulmonary and critical care physician at the Cleveland Clinic. He says everyday it feels like they are preparing for battle.

“It’s like a rising tide right now rather than a tidal wave that has crashed into us,” Dr. Ashton said. “We are still trying to prepare, hoping that that tidal wave never hits us as hard as we’ve seen it hit other places, but we hope that if and when it does we’ll be ready.”

But, he says, what we’re doing in Ohio is working.

“The bright spot for people in Ohio is we adopted a very aggressive and proactive social distancing stance very early on, and I credit the governor and the other state leaders for leading us in that way very early on,” Ashton said.

But he wants to warn Ohio that we are definitely not out of the woods yet, and if we don’t keep up the social distancing, we could end up like New York City or Detroit.

“I am fearful of that,” Dr. Ashton said. “Just the notion as I imagine myself having to ever ration care which is something I just have never had to do in my career, there a very uncomfortable thought so I am hopeful that our healthcare system is strong enough and robust enough and I hope at this point prepared enough that we can handle the increase in cases as they hit us.”

He is worried that some people, particularly younger people, are not taking this seriously.

“I wish the people could see the perspective that we have of the people who come in that are fighting for their lives and realize that this is not a hoax, and this is a real disease, and it’s a life threatening one for many many people and not just people who would be considered high risk,” Dr. Ashton explained. “There are a lot of people who are very healthy and young and have no risk factors that are still dying from the disease.”

Dr. Ashton says the biggest challenges for doctors now is the shortage of personal protective gear. He says the best way to help is to stay home and continue social distancing.

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