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Conversations from Studio B

Local Hospital Administrators Describe Their Planning for Pandemic Surges

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With local COVID numbers changing daily and surges coming at various times, planning for hospital services takes a team of dedicated people both locally and on a regional level.


Planning for surges is like trying to hit a “moving target,” says Dr. Lucy Bucher, local obstetrician/gynecologist and senior director of Medical Affairs at OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital in Athens.


Numbers are constantly changing demanding that the local hospital be able to react quickly to assure service to the region.


She says it takes a team effort of all the elements of the hospital plus experts at OhioHealth to plan, with statistical predictors and modelling, the amount and kind of services that must be available in these times of crisis.


Dr. Bucher and other staff members meet regularly to plan so that local hospital needs can be met – including staffing, supplies, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other essentials can be assured for patients and staff.


Rhonda Dixson, chief nursing officer, says during the COVID battle, her nurses are on the frontlines of care. They often have to walk a fine line between attentive care and self-protection, but she says, her nurses are dedicated and resilient and put their patients’ needs first.


Both Dr. Bucher and nurse Dixon are concerned with staff burnout so special efforts are made to boost morale and set a positive “tone” for all of the difficult work being done.


Even through stressful times, Dr. Bucher says that the local O’Bleness Hospital is meeting the needs of the community. She says that if you suspect that you have COVID, first check with your local physician but if you feel really sick, go to the hospital Emergency Room for evaluation and care.


If specialized care is needed, and not available here, Dr. Bucher says a patient can be transferred to a “tertiary” care center in Columbus such as Riverside Hospital or Grant Hospital.


Both Dr. Bucher and nurse Dixon advise people to continue to wear masks, practice social distancing, and not congregate with large groups of people.


Hear Dr. Bucher and nurse Dixon discuss, in depth, the systems in place at OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital to meet the needs of the community during the ever-changing phases of the pandemic. They talk with host Tom Hodson on this edition of WOUB’s Conversations from Studio B.