Tim Colburn

Tim Colburn

CIRCLEVILLE — OhioHealth Berger Hospital President Tim Colburn shared his concerns with the community in an open letter ahead of Labor Day weekend.

“Labor Day is a holiday which celebrates, honors and recognizes the American labor movement and the contributions of laborers to the development and achievements of our country,” Colburn said. “I’m proud to say, the contributions OhioHealth Associates have given our communities through their work, especially throughout COVID, has been remarkable.

While their efforts have been heroic, as they’ve led our community through a long 18 months, we’re now in our fourth surge and I’m deeply concerned. I’m worried for their well-being. Due to COVID, they are carrying the emotional burden of watching patients pass away from this terrible virus. We have been asking so much of our healthcare professionals nationwide and they are tired. Leaders across the system are focused on doing everything we can to help them, but we need our community’s support too.”

Colburn said beds are nearly full and emergency departments and urgent care facilities are experiencing record volumes.

“Our associates are struggling to take time off and are working excruciatingly long hours,” he said. “The number of COVID patients in our hospitals is impacting patient care for other non-COVID related issues, due to staffing and bed space. Many of these patients are on ventilators and are younger than they were in the beginning of the pandemic. The most important fact to note is the large majority of our COVID patients are unvaccinated.

Put simply, our team is being stretched dangerously thin. We are fortunate to be a member of OhioHealth because it allows us to utilize many resources smaller hospitals don’t have.”

Colburn said there are a few things they’re doing to address the issues, including offering referral bonuses to address staffing shortage, “pandemic” pay bonuses throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, increased on-call rates, bringing in traveling nurses, redeploying staff where necessary, delaying elective tests and procedures for those who can.

“We have made all these changes to not only aid our staff, but also so we can ensure proper care for our community,” he said. “As I said earlier, we really need our community’s support in this fight against COVID.”

Colburn said there are a few areas the public can help.

“Please respect our masking and visitation polices, wear masks in crowded areas, even if the facility doesn’t require one, and get vaccinated,” he said. “If you are hesitant, please have a conversation with your primary care provider. The vaccine is our best chance at beating the pandemic and keeping you and your loved ones out of the hospital.”

Colburn offered several resources and links to the OhioHealth Blog, including information on when to report to the emergency room and urgent care, testing for COVID-19 and what to do if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19. Those articles can be found at blog.ohiohealth.com

“As president of OhioHealth Berger Hospital, I am responsible for doing whatever I can to protect my associates and help them care for our community,” he said. “Therefore, I am respectfully asking for your support. I hope you have a safe and joyous Labor Day weekend. Our community is a great place to live and work; we have much to celebrate.”

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