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As COVID-19 crowds hospital, elective surgery postponement causes trouble for some

Cynthia Jacobs
Posted at 5:50 PM, Nov 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-24 20:31:16-05

CINCINNATI — As COVID-19 patients pack hospitals in the Cincinnati area, elective surgeries and other procedures are being postponed. For one local woman, this has meant putting off a life-saving heart operation.

"This is real," said Leslie Jacobs, whose mother is in need of surgery. "This is a side of COVID that not a lot of people are talking about."

Leslie's mother, Cynthia, is at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center waiting for a heart-valve replacement, but her procedure won't happen on schedule as hospitals pivot manpower to cope with the surging COVID-19 pandemic.

"There is not a bed for her in the ICU; therefore, she cannot have this life-saving procedure today ... She really needs it today, and they're prolonging it," said Leslie.

The grandmother of two has to wait, which has her family concerned that her health may get worse in the meantime.

On Monday, Gov. Mike DeWine featured hospital leaders from throughout the state in a news conference during which officials signaled that hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients have become dire, as manpower is limited and stretched thin.

"We anticipate by next week we're going to have over 800 patients hospitalized," said Dr. Richard Lofgren, president and CEO of UC Health. "We're quickly approaching the point where the influx of COVID patients will, in fact, displace some of our non-COVID care."

Lofgren said the situation is getting worse at a rapid pace. At the end of September, the Cincinnati and Dayton regions only had 90 people hospitalized for COVID-19.

UCMC started reducing elective surgeries last week by 50%, which has meant putting off procedures like the one Cynthia needs. The Jacobs family said they hope her surgery can be done within a couple of weeks, but they understand the situation is out of doctors' hands.

"Really, all we can do is remain hopeful and in faith and in trust right now, and that's not always an easy place to be in," said Leslie.