Demand for coronavirus testing is so high that the Lima Public Library, which has been distributing free at-home rapid tests to the public, was waiting on another shipment of testing kits to arrive Wednesday afternoon.
Lima hospitals are seeing as many patients admitted with coronavirus disease today as they did when hospitalizations peaked last fall, as 60% of Allen County residents remain unvaccinated and at risk for severe disease.
The latest surge of coronavirus patients has forced St. Rita’s to open four additional nursing units and to double the size of its critical care unit.
Roughly 25% of all patients at Lima Memorial Health System and Mercy Health-St. Rita’s Medical Center were being treated for COVID-19, with one in four of those patients in critical condition as of Wednesday morning, the hospitals reported.
Allen County has reported more than 1,500 coronavirus cases in September, with about 21% of all COVID-19 tests processed in mid-September coming back positive, according to Ohio Department of Health data.
Mercy Health-St. Rita’s Medical Center has established drive-up testing centers at its University of Northwestern Ohio and Bluffton family medicine practices to alleviate the emergency department, although patients are encouraged to call ahead or seek testing and treatment for mild symptoms through pharmacies, urgent care and primary care providers.
Lima hospitals have halted many surgeries, particularly those that require an overnight stay, and are boarding patients in the emergency department for hours at a time as they wait for beds to become available.
“One thing we do have in large supplies is there’s plenty of vaccines still available,” said Dr. Dennis Morris, vice president and chief medical officer for Lima Memorial Health System.
Hospitals contend with dual challenges created by latest coronavirus surge