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Health officials rushing to fill hospital staffing needs before Ohio's COVID-19 surge

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Posted at 9:59 PM, Mar 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-27 23:17:09-04

CLEVELAND — Hospital staffing remains critical. Governor Mike DeWine said officials are desperately searching for doctors and nurses to help as emergency rooms and ICU’s are expected to become overwhelmingly crowded due to a surge in COVID-19 cases.

DeWine announced a plan to divide the state into eight regions. Hospitals in those regions must come up with plans by Monday to triple their capacity before the expected surge in COVID-19 cases occurs.

“Each region is working and has been working for this moment and for this moment we now move into really high gear,” DeWine said.

Part of the governor’s plan calls for cross training and to bring in graduating medical students and retirees to increase hospital staffing.

Those with the Ohio Nurses Association (ONA) said they're leaning on furloughed nurses to make a comeback.

“It’s really the utmost importance to re-deploy experienced nurses into that system first rather than taking our most inexperienced vulnerable nurses and placing them at the mercy of something that none of us even experienced have ever seen before,” said RN and local ONA President Michelle Thoman.

Thoman agrees hospitals need help. She said nurses are preparing, but it’s not easy.

“We’re being asked to do and perform with less staff and less equipment, even in this situation,” Thoman said. “This is the point in time where we need to prepare for the worst imaginable possible.”

Still, those working on the frontlines are prepared to do what it takes to save lives even if it means risking their own.

“Nurses and doctors and first responders, we all really have an attitude of 'We will take care of patients until the absolute bitter end,'” Thoman said.

Any healthcare professional looking to help during this pandemic is encouraged to reach out to a local hospital.

Thoman recommends if you’re a nurse, reach out to ONA for advice on how to help.

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