A few other states have announced hotels and convention centers are being converted into triage centers to deal with COVID-19 patients and a top public health administrator in Iowa says discussions are underway here to determine how to manage patient flow.
“We are currently working within each of our health care coalitions on a regional level and we have been going that for years,” says Iowa Department of Public Health deputy director Sarah Reisetter, “but we are intensely having conversations with them currently to understand what their capacity is both within their local communities, within their own individual counties and then also as we expand out regionally to some of our more rural counties.”
Reisetter says patients from rural counties with complex health conditions are routinely transferred to hospitals in some of the state’s larger metros and that’s likely to be the case with COVID-19 patients.
“We’re continuing to have those conversations. We had those conversations with Linn and Johnson County over the weekend. We had one with Polk County yesterday,” Reisetter says. “We anticipate having those conversations with Cerro Gordo County and Pottawattamie County and Woodbury County over the next week as well.”
Governor Kim Reynolds says she is meeting regularly with the leaders of the state’s major hospitals as well as with representatives of the Iowa Hospital Association. Reynolds says each has a “surge capacity plan.”
“Also a part of the coordination and collaboration that we have in place with the Iowa National Guard is they have regional medical coordination centers,” Reynolds says, “and so they are also part of this conversation to just helping to facilitate the dialogue to make sure that we have a plan in place if we do happen to hit a surge in a certain area.”
Governor Reynolds and the public health department’s deputy spoke over the noon-hour during a news conference broadcast on Radio Iowa stations.