Local doctor says 'we're in crisis here in Northeast Ohio' days after the state deploys its National Guard

On Anderson Cooper 360 Monday night, Dr. Brook Watts, the Chief Medical Officer at the MetroHealth System in Cleveland, Ohio, discussed the overwhelming crisis the state's hospitals are facing.

Following the issue of a simple, but powerful, ad in which a group of Ohio hospitals begged for "help," Dr. Watts told John Berman, in for Anderson Cooper, "We're in crisis here in Northeast Ohio," said Dr. Watts. "I think the health systems, together, said it best this weekend, when we took out a joint ad with all hospitals in our region and it said one word. It said 'help.' It said help because our hospitals are filled with patients with COVID and we're struggling."

On Monday it was also reported that the Omicron variant is now the most dominant strain in the U.S. and, just last week, as Ohio's COVID-19 case count hit its highest point in just over a year, the state deployed its National Guard to hospitals to help with staffing shortages.

"They will be coming into our Cleveland area to help offer access for testing. Right now, because we have so many COVID cases, there isn't a rapid test to be found, and the PCR tests that are offered generally at testing sites, the wait period is approximately seven days. So the National Guard will be helping us by setting up the testing site," explained Dr. Watts.

With a record-breaking amount of COVID patients in Ohio's hospitals, Dr. Watts also shared that the majority are unvaccinated and, surprisingly, young.

"We continue to see that most of our patients, particularly the patients in the ICUs, are unvaccinated," said Dr. Watts. "I think what felt a little bit, perhaps, different for me this time having taken care of COVID patients since the beginning of the pandemic is I do feel like we are seeing more younger folks. There is nothing more heartbreaking than walking into a COVID patient's room, and seeing pictures of their young children. So, young parents."

While it seems like Dr. Watts might be overwhelmed or scared during this time, she actually just said she feels exhausted. "Last year, we were in a similar situation but we sure had a lot of hope that we were going to get to a better place. I just don't think any of us saw this coming. For us right now, most of the patients in the hospital still have the Delta variant, but as you mentioned in your intro, Omicron is coming on fast and strong and we are all sort of waiting to see what happens next. And I think that unknown and that fear is contributing to the exhaustion we are all feeling," said Dr. Watts.

Video transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

DR. BROOK WATTS: We are in crisis here in Northeast Ohio. I think the health systems together said it best this weekend when we took out a joint ad with all the hospitals in our region, and it said one word, it said help.

- On Anderson Cooper 360 Monday night, John Berman, who was filling in for Cooper, interviewed Dr. Brooke Watts, the chief medical officer at the MetroHealth System in Cleveland, Ohio, following the issue of a simple but powerful ad in which a group of Ohio hospitals begged for help. On Monday, it was also reported that the Omicron variant is now the most dominant strain in the US, and just last week, as Ohio's COVID 19 case count hit its highest point in just over a year, the state deployed its National Guard to hospitals to help with staffing shortages.

DR. BROOK WATTS: Because we have so many COVID cases, there isn't a rapid test to be found. And the PCR tests that are offered generally at testing sites, the wait period is approximately seven days. So the National Guard will be helping us by setting up the testing site.

- With a record-breaking amount of COVID patients in Ohio's hospitals, Dr. Watts also shared that the majority are unvaccinated and surprisingly young.

DR. BROOK WATTS: I do feel like we're seeing more younger folks. There's nothing more heartbreaking than walking into a COVID patient's room and seeing pictures of their young children. So young parents.

- Dr. Watts said when they were in a similar situation last holiday season, they had hope that they were going to get to a better place, however, this year, none of them saw this coming.

DR. BROOK WATTS: Most of the patients in the hospitals still have the Delta variant, but as you mentioned in your intro, Omicron is coming on fast and strong, and we're all sort of waiting to see what happens next. And I think that that unknown and that fear is contributing to the exhaustion we're all feeling.

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