State lawmakers urge Ohio Medicaid director to designate Summa Well being a ‘distressed hospital’ and supply cash for hiring extra workers

CLEVELAND, Ohio – A group of state lawmakers sent a letter on Wednesday asking the Ohio Department of Medicaid for more resources for Summa Health to hire more nurses to alleviate care bottlenecks caused by a surge in coronavirus cases Omicron variant were caused.

The letter to Ohio Medicaid director Maureen Corcoran said Summa Health, which operates two hospitals in Akron and Barberton, should be viewed as a “distressed hospital” eligible for more state and federal aid to help more nurses to adjust. The hospital system manages nearly 60% of all emergency rooms in Summit, Stark, Portage, and Medina counties.

The eleven lawmakers, seven Republicans and four Democrats, urged Corcoran to allocate money from the US dollars passed by lawmakers that year to help coronavirus.

“The Summa health system is in a state of crisis,” the letter said. “We urge you to use the resources that we supported in HB 169 to create the necessary state labor incentives so that our region can cope with this crisis.”

Summa Health President and CEO Cliff Deveny said he was aware of the letter and was in regular contact with four counties’ lawmakers and state officials. The strain on Summa Health’s ability to care for patients – both with and without coronavirus – has been caused by two main factors.

“It really is a function of the exposure to the number of COVID patients,” he said. “They stay about twice as long as a typical patient, so they use up a lot more resources. Since everyone has a problem with staffing, we spend a lot more on bonuses, overtime and temporary work. “

In the letter from the legislature, the fluctuation rate in the care sector was highlighted, which is almost 15.6% and is thus well above the fluctuation rate of 9.4% in 2019 before the start of the pandemic.

HB 169 provided US $ 124 million for “hospitals with critical access, rural hospitals, or hospitals in distress,” according to Corcoran. Summa Health manages more than 68% of all inpatient care for Medicaid recipients in the four counties.

The hospital system is also so overloaded that 30% of inpatient beds are occupied by coronavirus patients. The hospital system paused dialing operations December 6, redirecting its staff to emergency, surgical and critical care. Emergency room patients wait an average of 48 hours before bed.

According to the letter, the hospital system also manages 35% of positive coronavirus cases in hospitals across the region, 49% of patients in intensive care units, and 58% of patients who require a ventilator.

“You are essentially at a turning point,” said US State Representative Casey Weinstein, a Hudson Democrat. “It’s a combination of a surge in COVID patients, the vast majority of whom are unvaccinated, which honestly means that I am close to tending to my constituents.”

State Rep. Bill Roemer, a Republican from Richfield, said he hoped the letter would convince Corcoran to send additional money to offset Summa’s cost of hiring temporary nurses.

“We need the right funding,” he said. “Summa spends $ 180 an hour on visiting nurses. That’s the problem. We want to make sure that we can attract, retain, and adequately pay the current workforce we have so that we can address the problem. “

Deveny didn’t speculate on what could happen without help, but said Summa would expect even more hospitalizations, the peaks of which tend to lag behind the daily case numbers. The state reported more than 12,800 newly confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday, beating the daily record of 12,500 set on Tuesday. The hospital brought refrigerated trucks in case they needed extra space in the morgue.

“We are anticipating a larger wave of patients than we have now,” said Deveny.

Cleveland.com/The Plain Dealer has contacted Corcoran and the Department of Medicaid for comment.

Read the letter:

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