Home News Southwest Ohio gets new COVID-19 hospital zone lead

Southwest Ohio gets new COVID-19 hospital zone lead


​​​COLUMBUS, Ohio — A UC Health official was picked to lead the COVID-19 hospital response in southwest Ohio, as officials in the state consider the transition to the endemic phase of the pandemic.

What You Need To Know

  • Dr. Stewart Wright, UC Health, interim chief medical officer, assumed the zone lead role
  • Ohio’s three zone leads coordinate COVID-19 hospital response regionally
  • Wright’s background includes leadership as UC Health’s COVID-19 core team commander

The health system’s former CEO Dr. Richard Lofgren departed earlier in the month to lead OU Health in Oklahoma, bringing an end to his tenure as one of Ohio’s three COVID-19 hospital zone leads.

Gov. Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Health named Dr. Stewart Wright, interim chief medical officer at UC Health, as the zone 3 lead, officials told Spectrum News. 


Wright takes over the position two years after DeWine divided the state into three zones and appointed Cleveland Clinic Chief of Medical Operations Dr. Robert Wylie, Ohio State Wexner Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Andrew Thomas, and Lofgren to be the hospital zone leads for the regions. 

An emergency medicine physician, Wright became UC Health’s COVID-19 core team commander in March 2020, leading an internal team for COVID-19 response. In December, he began his current role as interim chief medical officer.

Ohio’s zone leads have been responsible for coordinating virus patient transfers to balance the load during surges, exchanging experience about patient treatment, managing the sharing of equipment like ventilators and BiPAP machines between hospitals and working through best practices when hospitals were setting up their vaccine programs and monoclonal antibody infusion operations, among other COVID-19 hospital response matters. 

The zone leads also appeared with state leaders during news conferences to apprise Ohioans of the status of the pandemic in their regions.

They typically hold their own meetings at 6:30 a.m., a practice which continues today, Thomas said Wednesday.

“I was just on the phone with those folks this morning,” he said. “We still meet weekly, in early morning discussions, and now we’re to the point where we’re discussing how do we ramp down to an endemic status?”

Thomas said the zone leads were discussing policies related to hospital visitation and universal testing of admitted patients, working on info to spread to hospitals across Ohio.

In recent weeks, their jobs have gotten a bit calmer as the virus has waned and the state is reporting under 400 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, a low level that was only previously reached during a five-week period at the beginning of last summer.

Lofgren, who led UC Health for eight years, spent his last day on March 4, spokesperson Amanda Nageleisen said. 

Overseeing COVID-19 response, Lofgren led the implementation of early community testing, rollout of the vaccines in the region and participation in COVID-related clinical trials, UC Health said in a release last month 

“Leading and convening our region’s health care response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been an experience I will never forget and certainly one I will share with future generations,” Lofgren said in the release.

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