With more than 1,000 sidelined healthcare workers, Cleveland health system leaders make public plea

Leaders of Cleveland Clinic, MetroHealth System and University Hospitals are urging residents to help slow COVID-19 spread as cases rise in Ohio and their health systems see more workers sidelined due to the pandemic, according to WOSU Radio.

Leaders of the three Cleveland-based health systems expressed their concerns during a news conference Nov. 16.

"COVID-19 cases in our region and state continue to rise at alarming rates," Tom Mihaljevic, MD, president and CEO of Cleveland Clinic, said, according to local news station WKYC. "Looking back to the start of the pandemic, much of the world was on a stay-at-home order. That is not what we face today. What we face is perhaps the most sobering situation during this pandemic. It is a turning point in the truest sense, and the power to do what is right is now in the hands of each member in every community."

As of Nov. 16, about 400 patients are hospitalized across Cleveland Clinic's Northeast Ohio locations, Dr. Mihaljevic reported, according to WOSU. That same day, Cliff Megerian, MD, president of University Hospitals, reported about 200 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 at the health system, with an average of 25 to 30 new COVID-19 patients daily.

If COVID-19 continues to spread at the current rate, the number of inpatient hospitalizations could go from about 470 in Cuyahoga County, where Cleveland is located, to somewhere between 1,500 to 2,000 by year's end, said Akram Boutros, MD, president and CEO of MetroHealth System, according to local news station FOX 8.

With concerns about hospitalizations also come concerns about staffing due to employees out sick with COVID-19. According to WOSU, Cleveland Clinic reported about 800 employees sidelined because they tested positive for COVID-19, are in a waiting period since symptom onset, or are recovering and waiting until they can return to work. University Hospitals reported about 200 employees sidelined, and MetroHealth System reported about 60.

"If we have many of our staff out because of exposure, while there's a large influx of COVID patients, we will not be able to provide the best care to everyone who needs it," Dr. Boutros said, according to WOSU.

The hospital leaders are calling on the public to help protect others and healthcare workers by hand-washing, social distancing and wearing a mask. Cleveland Clinic has also further postponed some surgeries due to COVID-19 concerns.

Access a video of the full news conference here


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