Cleveland COVID-19 Surge Plan Creates 10,000 New Beds, but Won't use Convention or IX Centers

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Doctors from the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals announced at a City of Cleveland press conference Friday morning that the local COVID-19 surge plan includes an increase of roughly 10,000 hospital beds.

The Cleveland Clinic is increasing its capacity from 3,000 to 8,000 beds, (including 1,000 beds at its Health Education Campus); University Hospitals is increasing its capacity from 2,000 to 6,000 beds; and MetroHealth is increasing capacity as well.



Case Western Reserve University may be used as an overflow location, depending on the severity of the surge, doctors said. The university's fieldhouse could be adapted to provide as many as 250 beds in some scenarios. Case has also offered dormitories for medical staff in the event of a surge situation where frontline personnel must work in shifts and won't have time to go home.

Mayor Frank Jackson said that the surge plan was the result of ongoing conversations between state, county and city health departments, the hospitals, the National Guard and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.



The Clinic's Dr. Bob Wiley said that it made more sense to expand capacity on existing hospital facilities, instead of repurposing locations like the Huntington Convention Center or the IX Center, which had been previously floated as surge field hospital locations. The lack of staff and equipment at those locations made an expansion much less efficient. 

The current plan creates a surge capacity 2.5-3 times more than standard levels of operation. And that doesn't include similar expansions in Akron, Canton, Youngstown and Toledo. 

The hospitals have been conducting regular "tabletop" exercises to prepare for different versions of a surge in infections and hospitalizations, which could strike as early as mid-April, based on modeling from the Clinic and Ohio State University. The hospitals have the ability, they said, to move patients and equipment around the region as needed, but they remain concerned about the supply of ventilators, PPE and test kits.

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