MIAMI VALLEY, Ohio (WDTN) – During a COVID-19 press update on Thursday, the Ohio Department of Health Director shared that the overwhelming of the state’s hospitals could lead to difficult decisions made by healthcare staff in the near future.

“We do not want to arrive at the place where we have to make difficult decisions regarding who gets prioritized for urgently needed care,” said Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, director of the ODH.

But Vanderhoff also shared that the hospitals being full of COVID-19 patients is also leading to a strain on the healthcare professionals who treat people.

“Our hospitals are being stretched toward capacity, not only because of the high numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations but also as a result of staffing challenges,” he said.

Top doctors in the state say what they’re seeing in their hospitals is unprecedented.

“I’ve been in healthcare over 40 years and I’ve never felt so helpless,” said Dr. Michael Canday, Chief Executive Officer of Holzer Health System in Southeast Ohio.

In the Miami Valley, Kettering Health doctors say they are prioritizing their staff’s mental health to avoid a mass exodus of people or a culture of burnout in their employees.

“We give people breaks, let them breathe, develop respite areas in our facilities…,” explained Dr. Patrick Lytle, Vice President of Clinical Outcomes at Kettering Health. “We believe that medicine is a team sport and we’re a family.”

However, health experts say if the trends of full hospitals and increasing case numbers continues, the quality of care offered to patients could seriously be impacted.

“We are, quite frankly, at a breaking point,” said Canday. “I don’t know how much more we can handle without, unfortunately, patients not being able to get the care that they deserve in our healthcare system.”