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Preparing for patients, hotels and dorms could become temporary hospitals



CINCINNATI (WKRC) - We are seeing California and King County, Washington, purchasing and leasing hotel space for additional hospital space. Here’s a snapshot of where we are in the Greater Cincinnati area:

“Build hospital capacity. We know that we have an extensive shortage of that,” said Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton in a daily news conference Monday afternoon. “We are working tirelessly to get supplies to our hospitals, getting new personnel and getting people out of retirement and literally building hospitals and beds.”

With Dr. Acton saying we have a shortage of hospital beds and seeing California and King County Washington already purchasing and leasing hotels to increase hospital capacity, Local 12 asked Hamilton County Commissioner Denise Driehaus whether we should be doing the same now.

“As we see an additional need at the hospitals,” said Driehaus at a daily press conference, “we may very well be utilizing hotels. Think about some of the other things that are empty right now: dorm rooms, for instance.”

The University of Cincinnati did not get back to us regarding its ability to provide dorm rooms. UC Medical Center did not get back to us regarding its need. But Local 12 did speak with TriHealth regarding the need for its several hospitals around the area.

“We have a couple of hundred beds that are available to us right now that are vacant, and that’s without going to other sites that were prepared for a greater surge,” said Kevin Joseph, chief medical officer of TriHealth. “That will open up at least another 100 beds as well. But as a third contingency, we are also in communications with different hotels as well as universities around the region.”

When exactly that extra capacity for hotel rooms will be needed is yet to be seen. But there is an immediate need for places doctors and nurses can stay while they are working tireless hours and trying to avoid infecting their families. That’s why TriHealth Monday made arrangements with the Residence Inn in Rookwood, which is providing rooms at the hotel at substantially reduced rates.

“Since we were fortunate enough, or unfortunate enough, to have extra capacity in our area hotels,” said Tracy Schwengman from Residence Inn, "we have been able to put them to use for the local community, particularly for those physicians that need that extra space as they’re trying to stay healthy.”

Dr. Acton said Monday in her address that she will begin reporting daily on the capacity of Ohio’s hospital system.

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