Doctors from the University of Iowa Hospitals say they are ready if there is a surge of people who would need coronavirus treatment in the intensive care unit.

Doctor Brooks Jackson says the postponement of elective surgeries helps in their ability to handle such patients. “The good news is, even with normal everyday capacity — we still have ICU capacity — so we are nowhere near our regular 90-95 percent occupancy that we would normally have,”

Jackson says. Jackson is the dean of the U-I’s Carver College of Medicine. He gave an update on the planning to the Board of Regents during their recent on-line meeting.  “We’ve created a surge plan that would be able to take us over normal operations. Our normal operations as you guys are aware is 90 to 95 percent occupancy of 850 beds. We have the ability — and we have developed a plan to staff an incremental 100 to 150 beds to serve Iowans in the face of a surge,” according to Jackson.

Jackson says they will convert medical-surgical units into ICU’s and then use recovery units for other rooms. He says they have ventilators and the ability to convert anesthesia machines into ventilators. But Jackson says having the rooms and equipment isn’t the most important part of the equation — it’s having the proper staff to operate an ICU.

“Sending more vents or sending more equipment to hospitals that have no experience in managing vents is really a difficult choice on patients,” Jackson says. “So, what we’re trying to do is create as much capacity within U-I Healthcare where you have an interdisciplinary team where colleagues can rely on one another and cross-cover this.”

Jackson says they are also willing to have staff consult with other hospitals if need to help them handle COVID-19 patients.