Is Toledo prepared to handle a potential overflow of Michigan patients?

TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Detroit-area health systems are overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, leaving some in this area to question whether those patients then will head south and come to Toledo to seek care at Northwest Ohio hospitals.

13abc reached out to local hospitals and leaders to find out if Toledo is ready and prepared to handle a potential influx or even an overflow of Michigan patients.

The latest numbers show the city of Detroit has 1,801 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 52 deaths. In contrast, Lucas County officials report there are 94 total cases and three deaths.

Detroit is roughly an hour away.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said he's aware to some extent about what's happening in Detroit. On Monday, DeWine spoke with Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz about concerns over the Glass City's proximity to the Motor City.

"The way we left that conversation was we need to get more specifics about what is going on there because frankly we're going to need some of their hospitals, too, and so there's a flow the other way as well," said DeWine during Monday's press conference.

Toledo-Lucas County Health Commissioner Eric Zgodzinksi said he contacted the Ohio Department of Health about this, too.

"We need to have something in place so when this does, when the dam does break and we start having massive amounts of people sick, that we can take care of everybody we need to," said Zgodzinksi in a local press conference Monday.

When Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer appeared on ABC's "The View" Monday she said, "We see COVID-19 growing at such a fast rate exponentially in our state. We have hospitals that are already at capacity."

State health leaders said several of those full hospitals are specifically in southeast Michigan.

Whitmer announced The TCF Center in Detroit will become an alternative care facility with approximately 900 hospital beds.

Ohio Health Director Dr. Amy Acton said her department has been communicating with health departments in neighboring states amid this crisis.

"Our healthcare systems don't stop at the border. As I said before, people live on one side and work on the other. You might go to a hospital across that," said Dr. Acton during Monday's press conference.

According to ProMedica, their hospitals in the Toledo area are already seeing some COVID-19 patients from Detroit.

"In response to the coronavirus pandemic, ProMedica is working collaboratively with other health systems in our communities and neighboring communities as we are able. Since the Detroit area has experienced a significant surge of COVID-19 patients sooner than our region and its hospitals are at or near capacity, ProMedica has started taking some COVID-19 patients from that area. We are also working closely with our governmental agencies and their disaster command centers to help manage the COVID-19 surge in our regions," said Tausha Moore, ProMedica's Public Relations Director.

While Mercy Health wouldn't share where it's patients come from, they're constantly monitoring the situation on local, state, and national levels.

"Mercy Health continues to monitor COVID-19 updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Ohio Health Department, among other local, state and national agencies," said Erica Blake, Mercy Health Great Lakes Group's PR and Communications Director.

"We have a COVID-19 Task Force that is working around-the-clock to enable an agile response to this pandemic. Our clinical leaders have implemented protocols that are consistent with CDC guidelines to ensure the quality and safety of the care we provide to our patients."

A Toledo city spokesperson said the mayor has another call with Governor DeWine at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Leaving some in this area to question will those patients then head south and come to Toledo to seek care at Northwest Ohio hospitals?

13abc reached out to local hospitals and leaders to find out if Toledo is ready and prepared to handle a potential influx or even an overflow of Michigan patients.

The latest numbers show in the city of Detroit there are 1,801 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 52 deaths.

In contrast, here in Lucas County, officials report right now there are 94 total cases and three deaths.

Detroit is roughly an hour away.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine says he's aware to some extent about what's happening in Detroit.

On Monday, DeWine spoke with Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz about concerns over the Glass City's proximity to the Motor City.

"The way we left that conversation was we need to get more specifics about what is going on there because frankly we're going to need some of their hospitals too and so there's a flow the other way as well," said DeWine during Monday's press conference.

Toledo-Lucas County Health Commissioner Eric Zgodzinksi says he contacted the Ohio Department of Health about this, too.

"We need to have something in place so when this does, when the dam does break and we start having massive amounts of people sick, that we can take care of everybody we need to," said Zgodzinksi in a local press conference Monday.

When Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer appeared on ABC's "The View" Monday she said, "We see COVID-19 growing at such a fast rate exponentially in our state. We have hospitals that are already at capacity."

State health leaders say several of those full hospitals are specifically in Southeast Michigan.

Governor Whitmer announced The TCF Center in Detroit will become an alternative care facility with approximately 900 hospital beds.

Ohio Health Director Dr. Amy Acton says her department has been communicating with health departments in neighboring states amid this crisis.

"Our healthcare systems don't stop at the border. As I said before people live on one side and work on the other. You might go to a hospital across that," said Dr. Acton during Monday's press conference.

Action News reached out to ProMedica asking about concerns that our local hospitals may soon become overwhelmed with Michigan patients.

We received this statement:

"In response to the coronavirus pandemic, ProMedica is working collaboratively with other health systems in our communities and neighboring communities as we are able. Since the Detroit area has experienced a significant surge of COVID-19 patients sooner than our region and its hospitals are at or near capacity, ProMedica has started taking some COVID-19 patients from that area. We are also working closely with our governmental agencies and their disaster command centers to help manage the COVID-19 surge in our regions," said Tausha Moore, ProMedica's Public Relations Director.

13abc also contacted Mercy Health.

This was the response:

"Although I can’t specifically speak to where our patients come from, I can share that we are working to ensure that we are prepared. Please see our statement below:

Mercy Health continues to monitor COVID-19 updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Ohio Health Department, among other local, state and national agencies.

We have a COVID-19 Task Force that is working around-the-clock to enable an agile response to this pandemic. Our clinical leaders have implemented protocols that are consistent with CDC guidelines to ensure the quality and safety of the care we provide to our patients.

All of our updates and information can be found on mercy.com and on our social media pages," said Erica Blake, Mercy Health Great Lakes Group's PR and Communications Director.

A Toledo city spokesperson says the mayor has another call with Governor DeWine at 11:30 AM Tuesday.