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Hospital bed availability hits record lows

733 out of 29K medical / surgical units open in Ohio

Hospital bed availability in the state hit all-time lows on Friday, and availability in Mahoning Valley hospitals remains tight.

The availability of intensive care unit beds in the state on Friday was at 167, the lowest it’s been since the beginning of the pandemic, according to Eye on Ohio data released Monday for figures last updated Friday. Eye on Ohio, the Ohio Center for Journalism that collaborates with news organizations across the state to share data and search for evidence-based solutions, obtained the data in a public records lawsuit.

At the beginning of the month, the state had 184 beds open, but at the beginning of the pandemic, more than 6,000 ICU beds were available.

That leaves an average of 1.09 ICU beds open per hospital in the state, reflected in ICU availability in the Mahoning Valley, where St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital and St. Elizabeth Boardman Hospital each had zero open ICU beds to end the week, St. Joseph Warren Hospital had just one bed open and Trumbull Regional Medical Center was the outlier with six open ICU beds Thursday.

The numbers fluctuate daily, and local hospital officials have said even when capacity is listed at zero that room can be found in the facilities for other beds.

The state also hit an all-time low for open medical / surgical bed availability on Friday, with just 733 open, compared with more than 29,000 beds available at the beginning of the pandemic. That averages out to about eight open beds per Ohio hospital — the lowest since the beginning of the pandemic.

St. Elizabeth Youngstown had the most open beds when last reported, with 21, up from 13 available the week before; followed by Trumbull Regional with six, down from the 14 reported the previous week; St. Elizabeth Boardman reported three open beds to end the week, up from zero on Oct. 2; and St. Joseph reported zero open beds — as it did on the first of the month.

One out of 6 patients in the state’s hospitals are COVID-19 positive, while 1 out of 4 patients in the ICU are COVID-19 positive, according to data provided by the Ohio Hospital Association. Two months ago, 1 in 16 inpatients in the state were positive for the virus, and 1 in 9 ICU patients were positive for the virus.

Mahoning Valley hospitals are in the Ohio Department of Health’s Region 5. The ODH divides the state’s 88 counties into eight regions.

In the Mahoning Valley’s region, a larger percentage of hospitalized people have the virus. One in 5 hospital inpatients have the virus, while 1 in 3 ICU patients do. Two months ago, in Region 5 just 1 in 10 ICU patients had the virus and just 1 in 14 inpatients tested positive.

Since Jan. 1, 29,357 people have been hospitalized with COVID-19 that are not vaccinated, and 8,683 unvaccinated people have died from the virus. In the same time frame, 186 vaccinated people died from the virus and 1,133 vaccinated people have been hospitalized with the virus, according to the ODH.

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