After seven month legal battle, Eye on Ohio wins public records lawsuit over hospital capacity numbers
Court of Claims Rules that the Ohio Department of Health must disclose the number of beds and other equipment available
This article provided by Eye on Ohio, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Ohio Center for Journalism. Please join our free mailing list as this helps us provide more public service reporting. As the ongoing pandemic continues to surge, the Ohio Court of Claims ruled last week that the Department of Health must share public records with Eye on Ohio, showing the number of beds and ventilators available for COVID-19 patients at individual hospitals throughout the state.
The ruling comes seven months after Eye on Ohio initially sought the records.
“In times of crisis transparency is paramount,” said Rebekah Crawford, who has her Ph.D. in Health Communication, Relating & Organizing from Ohio University. People want credibility and clear lines around what is known and what is uncertain. “When risk communicators are at their best,” Crawford said, “they remain credible by showing what is known and what is not known and by being clear about why we don’t know, and what we’re going to do to find out.”
When Eye on Ohio first requested records, at the end of March, the state had only about 2,200 confirmed cases and 55 deaths, according to the online Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.