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Greater Cincinnati ICUs over 100 percent capacity amid omicron surge

Northern Ohio is getting it worse than the Tri-State right now, but fears abound we’re only a few weeks behind.
Published: Dec. 31, 2021 at 5:59 PM EST
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - While many are getting ready to ring in the new year, Tri-State hospitals and hospital staff are dealing with a crisis of overcrowding.

Ohio had more COVID-19 hospitalizations per capita than any other state in the country as of Thursday. Another 250 patients were admitted statewide Friday.

Intensive care units in the region are at 102 percent capacity. Staffing shortages continue to bedevil area healthcare systems.

The hospitalization surge comes amid a surge in cases of the omicron variant.

The variant has been widely reported to cause less severe sickness among vaccinated people than the original virus. Still, severe sickness remains a possibility, especially among the four million Ohioans who are not fully vaccinated.

“We’re so maxed,” said critical care nurse Jennifer Hollis. “We are tired. We are frustrated. We obviously want the best for our patients.”

UC Health President Dr. Richard Lofgren says the area had a nursing shortage before the pandemic even began.

“The pandemic only exacerbated it,” he said. “In Cincinnati, there are close to 2,000 nursing vacancies. It is a chronic problem that has been exacerbated by the burnout and the demands of this pandemic.”

According to the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, there are more than 20,000 openings for nurses in the state. There are 13,000 additional openings for medical-related jobs.

In the Tri-State, more than 1,700 jobs are available at Cincinnati Children’s, another 2,200 at TriHealth and nearly 2,000 more at UC Health.

Those shortages are why Gov. Mike DeWine has deployed the Ohio National Guard to hospitals in the northern part of the state.

The Cincinnati Health Collaborative says this region is around two weeks behind those health systems in requiring additional help.

“I know we will continue to see a rise, but it is not as dramatic as what we are seeing in the Cleveland area,” Lofgren said. “My fear is we are only a couple of weeks behind.”

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