Bill Childers introduced today’s speaker, Bill Benoit, COO of University Hospitals South Market, noting that he has worked very hard over the last few years to enhance and upgrade all things at UH Portage, formerly Robinson Hospital. Mr. Benoit is a native of New Orleans, grew up in Brunswick, Ohio, and previously worked at Lima Memorial Hospital in Lima, Ohio.
Bill began by telling the story of UH Portage’s experience during the ongoing pandemic. Estimates in the early days of the pandemic called for a surge of patients from a typical census of about 100 to 250 beginning in May of 2020.  Reality was much less, fortunately, but December and January were difficult and UH Portage did see an uptick in census in May. At UH Portage, he noted, we have yet to have a day with no admissions for Covid, the vast majority of which are adults ages 20-75.
Staff testing positive for Covid numbered 130. As a result, remaining staff worked outside their traditional areas of expertise to screen visitors and provide patient care. Because of the diligence of the staff, UH Portage did not see an increase in infection rates because of the increased catheter and central line use.
During the transition period, new beds were purchased for the Step Down Unit, appropriate flooring replaced carpeting, the Emergency Department was updated, and the Meds to Beds pharmacy program helped patients afford their medications.
Some of the impacts of the pandemic on patients and staff include some delays in elective procedures, increased use of tele-medicine appointments, behavioral health needs at an all-time high, and more collaboration among competing hospital systems such as Summa. The hospital has been able to admit all patients who needed hospitalization without running out of room but did run out of space in the morgue at one point and had to rent a refrigerator truck. Tragically, we are seeing anger from some visitors over Covid related restrictions, which has even spilled over into assaults on nurses and other staff.
Today, about 70% of staff at UH Portage are vaccinated. Ongoing education continues to encourage all eligible to take advantage of testing and vaccination, especially because of concern over the Delta variant, however UH projects no mandate for staff at this time.