Short-staffed Summa Health to close 121 beds

Akron, Ohio-based Summa Health said it will close 121 beds at two hospital campuses because of a staffing shortage.

In an internal memo sent to staff Sept. 27, system leaders said there is a shortage of clinical staff and other support positions at Summa, and the system is adjusting inpatient hospital capacity to the current levels of available staffing to maintain services and avoid long-term service closures. 

"We are no longer able to maintain the current level of capacity in our hospitals, and we must make adjustments to align with the current level of clinical staff," Summa leaders stated in the memo. "Work is already underway with an interdisciplinary team of people from across the organization to identify and implement steps necessary to make these adjustments." 

The closure of beds represents a reduction of about 20 percent of the available number of beds on the Akron and Barberton (Ohio) campuses. Summa said the reduction is expected to be temporary, and the aim is to adjust the combined inpatient bed capacity on the campuses from 551 to about 430 by Oct. 24. Available beds on the Akron campus will decrease from 439 to about 350. The number of available beds on the Barberton campus will decrease from 112 to about 80. 

Summa said the staffing shortage comes as it is seeing more people, often critically ill, coming in.

"While there is no question that COVID is having an impact on our volumes, the reality is, it is not the only driver of the current staffing issues that we face," the system said. "We will continue to work with our employees and community to promote the importance of vaccinations, masking and other safety precautions to prevent and reduce spread of the virus. But with COVID surges exacerbating the inpatient capacity situation in our hospitals, we must make changes to ensure that we can provide safe and comprehensive healthcare services across all settings — inpatient and outpatient — for our community and we must support and resource our employees and teams appropriately to do so."

Summa said other measures it is taking include embedding specialists, primary care physicians and/or hospitalists in emergency departments on the Akron and Barberton campuses to make care more efficient; temporarily stopping some nonemergency procedures in surgery, cardiology and interventional radiology; and scheduling surgeries daily to help moderate daily case volumes.

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