Ohio hospitals

Ohio COVID hospitalizations triple this time last year, ODH director says

The Delta variant is continuing to drive an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations with the number of hospitalizations reported Wednesday in Ohio nearly triple the amount reported a year ago, Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said Thursday (Source: “Ohio’s daily COVID hospitalizations nearly triple vs. year ago, Vanderhoff says,” Dayton Daily News, Sept. 16).

On Wednesday, ODH reported 7,747 new daily cases of COVID and 292 daily hospitalizations. A year ago, on Sept. 15, 2020, the state reported just over 1,000 daily cases and 103 hospitalizations, he said.

“Even though about half of us today are well protected by vaccination, our daily hospitalizations are about triple what they were last year,” Vanderhoff said. “And the reason is simple. The Delta variant is aggressively seeking out anyone who lacks immunity and is making many of them very sick.”

Report: Ohio ranks near the bottom for public health preparedness

A new national report found that Ohio ranked as one the least-prepared states for future public health emergencies (Source: “Report: Ohio Lags in Public Health Preparedness,” Spectrum News, March 10).

According to Trust for America’s Health’s new report, “Ready or Not,” Ohio is in the lowest preparedness tier, in part, because Ohio ranks the lowest in the percentage of hospitals in healthcare coalitions that focus on response preparedness.

The report indicates that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that many states were not prepared for a public health crisis. “We weren’t as prepared as we should have been for a pandemic,” the group’s policy director, Rhea Farberman, said. “That’s something that the public health experts have been warning us about for decades.”   

According to data from HPIO’s 2019 Health Value Dashboard, Ohio ranked 48th out of the 50 states and D.C. in per capita emergency preparedness funding and 45th out of 50 in state public health workforce.

Ohio COVID-19 cases continue to rise, top 2,500 on Friday

Ohio broke its record for daily coronavirus cases for the third straight day with 2,518 cases reported Friday (Source: “Coronavirus: Ohio tops 2,500 daily cases, breaks record for third straight day,” Dayton Daily News, Oct. 23).

The previous two records were 2,425 reported Thursday and 2,366 reported Wednesday. In the last two weeks, Ohio broke the state record for daily cases six times.

There have been 192,948 total cases in Ohio throughout the pandemic, according to the state health department.

Ohio reported 184 additional hospitalizations Friday, bringing the total to 17,866. Hospitalization rates have continued to climb the last two weeks in southwest Ohio, with nearly 200 more COVID-19 patients in hospitals. While the state’s hospital beds are not at capacity at this time, health officials are watching to see where hospitalizations will peak. Currently, there’s no indication of where hospitalizations will level off.

Ohio is also reporting the highest number of red counties since the state first announced the Ohio Public Health Advisory System at the end of June. As of Thursday, 74% of Ohioans are living in a level 3, or red, county. Only 1% of Ohioans live in a level 1 county. This is the lowest number of level 1 counties the state has had.

HHS changes hospital requirements for reporting COVID-19 data

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services earlier this week changed rules for reporting COVID-19 data (Source: “How HHS’s new hospital data reporting system will actually affect the U.S. Covid-19 response,” STAT News, July 16).

Hospitals are now required to report data on COVID-19 patients and deaths directly to HHS, rather than to both HHS and the CDC, as they had been doing. HHS said it would help the administration better allocate supplies and drugs.

To some, the change could have some merits. They say the CDC’s data system was built for tracking hospital-acquired pneumonias and urinary tract infections, for instance, and it wasn’t perfect for keeping up with coronavirus data. But CDC supporters saw the change as further evidence of the agency being sidelined, and hospitals decried the implication that it was their reporting — rather than changing federal requirements — that was to blame for data issues and supply shortages.

HHS to distribute $25b to Medicaid, safety-net providers

The federal Department of Health and Human Services has announced plans to distribute another $25 billion in funding to healthcare providers, with an emphasis on helping facilities that serve low-income patients (Source: “HHS to distribute $25B for Medicaid, safety-net providers,” MedCity News, June 9).

The agency will distribute $15 billion to providers that participate in Medicaid and CHIP programs, and another $10 billion to safety-net hospitals.

The funds are intended to help hundreds of thousands of Medicaid providers that did not receive funding through the general distribution that went out to providers in April and May. For example, community health centers, which provide healthcare services to low-income patients, and speech therapists and physical therapists that primarily serve children with disabilities were not included in the initial distributions of funding.

Safety-net hospitals, which provide a significant proportion of care to uninsured and low-income patients, will be able to receive between $5 million and $50 million. HHS said it plans to distribute the funds to hospitals this week.

Rural areas with no hospital hit especially hard by COVID-19

A USA Today analysis found that new COVID-19 cases have been confirmed at faster rates in rural and nonmetropolitan counties since mid-March, which is when growth began to slow in hard-hit cities but sped up everywhere else (Source: “Rural communities without a hospital struggle to fight rising coronavirus cases, deaths,” USA Today via Canton Repository, May 15).

A similar trend can be seen in death counts: The tally of deaths rose fastest outside America’s major cities. And now, as the daily tally of new coronavirus cases starts to shrink in cities, it continues to grow in rural areas. For the week ending May 9, metropolitan counties announced 10% fewer new cases than the previous week. By comparison, rural counties announced 8% more cases than the previous week.

For residents in those communities, including those in the highest risk categories for COVID-19 — poor, elderly and suffering from underlying health conditions — a spate of recent hospital closures means the nearest emergency room is sometimes hours away and plagued by staff shortages and financial deficits.

Ohio hospitals projecting large financial losses because of pandemic

The Ohio Hospital Association estimates a $1.2 billion negative financial impact to Ohio hospitals every month because of the COVID-19 pandemic (Source: “Ohio hospitals are prepping for big financial losses in pandemic,” Modern Healthcare, April 9, 2020).

And that number is expected to increase. For perspective, the total revenue for Ohio hospitals averages about $48 billion annually 

In addition to the cost implications of shifting away from nonessential surgeries and procedures, hospitals are grappling with increasing prices in the supply chain for the equipment they desperately need to treat COVID-19 patients. Plus, hospitals, like all businesses, are seeing effects from the volatility of the financial markets.

The $2 trillion coronavirus aid package known as the CARES Act, passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump in March, allows hospitals to receive an advance on expected future Medicare reimbursement and allocates $100 billion to reimburse eligible healthcare providers for related expenses or lost revenues directly attributable to COVID-19.

Doctor shortage in Ohio, U.S. expected to worsen

A looming primary care physician shortage has medical schools and hospital systems looking for ways to attract new doctors to the field (Source: “Doctor shortage to worsen, patients could pay more for fewer options,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, Aug. 11, 2019).

The shortage could make it harder for patients to see a primary care physician, increase health disparities among the underserved and raise costs as patients turn to the more-expensive emergency room for care, said Dr. Patricia Thomas, vice dean for medical education at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

By 2025, Ohio is projected to be shy 1,200 primary care physicians, according to estimates from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Nationwide, the number could be as high as 55,200 by 2032, according to a more recent report from the Association of American Medical Colleges.

State exploring licensing hospitals

Ohio is the only state that doesn’t license its hospitals, prompting the Ohio Nurses Association and some lawmakers to call for increased regulation (Source: “State examining ways to increase hospital regulation after patient overdose deaths at Columbus facility,” Akron Beacon Journal, April 17, 2019).

Others say there’s already enough state oversight and warn that adding more could take away from patient care.

Concerned that Ohio is the only state in the nation that does not license general hospitals, the governor and state director of public health are looking at ways to increase regulation at such facilities.

Their interest comes with the revelation that two central Ohio hospitals lacked policies to prevent staff members from bypassing alerts and approval systems to access and administer inappropriately high or fatal amounts of painkillers to patients.

“It makes absolutely no sense that Ohio is the only state that does not license hospitals,” DeWine told The Dispatch last week. “We owe this to the citizens in the state of Ohio to be able to look at a situation and say ‘Look, what have we learned from this tragedy?’”

Ohio cancels plan for $1.1 billion Medicaid cut to hospitals

The state has canceled a planned $1.1 billion Ohio Medicaid cut to hospitals, saying an uptick in the economy and reshuffling money in the health care program has prevented the reduction (Source: “Ohio cancels $1.1 billion Medicaid cut to hospitals,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 11, 2018).

The cut would have represented 5 percent of what Ohio Medicaid pays hospitals to treat some 3 million program recipients who qualify based on their incomes, health conditions and disabilities, among other factors.

Gov. John Kasich's administration had proposed cutting hospital rates by about $500 million beginning Jan. 1, said Greg Moody, director of the Ohio Office of Health Transformation. Then additional Medicaid cuts were added by the House and Senate last summer, when lawmakers crafted a two-year state budget, Moody said.

Hospitals had been bracing for the across-the-board cuts to go into effect in January. But the administration announced it was able to delay those cuts to July 1, thanks to reconfiguring Medicaid rates the state pays to managed care organizations. Then at the end of May, the administration told hospitals it wouldn't have to make the cuts at all.